The music of Dutch symphonic metal band Epica was once described by their former guitarist Ad Sluijter as the “Bridge between power metal and gothic metal“ (April 2003). We were lucky enough to enjoy the band as they explored this ‘bridge’ at their enthralling and astonishing performance at Bilston’s famous Robin 2 venue this week.
With recent songs like “Monopoly On Truth” from new album ‘Requiem for the Indifferent‘ the bond between power and destiny has been ably explored by the band. When Epica played this song at The Robin, we were knocked off our feet by the furiously pliant bass notes that seemed to throttle the drums. Painstakingly rendered vocals (from lead singer Simone Simons) plumed out. Earthy, subhuman growls and shrieks were provided by Mark Jansen (guitar and vocals). And the spectral torment of their grand operatic vision was sublimely consummated.
On the song “The Obsessive Devotion” (from ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ 2007) synths and tapes (Coen Janssen) produced the incarnation of orchestral depth. The melody provided flawless intrigue. The voice of the tattered angel sat atop the wounding, fermenting sounds. And as the percussive acids started to bubble up alarmingly – and the guitars began to foam splendidly- that angelic voice from Simone twisted and contorted like a defanged Appalachian cobra ready to strike back at her master. Scratching and biting, this song delivered anguish and rapture in equal measure.
One of several achievements during the amazing performance came when the band performed their 2004 song “Cry for the Moon” (introduced, by Simone, simply, as their “Biggest hit on YouTube.”) The dramatic exaltation started with a detached somnolence. A sadness that was edged with regret. And in the folds of this gloom a melody was gradually developed. The beauty of the song then went on to break all of our hearts. A clamoring, percussive drive moved the song relentlessly forwards , towards an unravelling climax of sorrowful splendor and power. This was the ultimate Missa pro defunctis for a severed heart.
Each note of Simone’s vocal on the encore song “Storm the Sorrow” was like a diamond being drilled into our open hearts. It was an impeccable concoction of raw emotion and unadulterated power. Bass notes (from Rob van der Loo) punctured our cores, whilst ripples of fascinating keys flowed magnificently from the hands of Janssen. Pincer sharp drums (from Ariën van Weesenbeek) added pepper and poison to the imposing celestial machinations.
It was an incredible performance of resolute harmony and expressiveness. Tempered with controlled power and the kind of lethal dynamism that we now expect from Epica. Amazing.
-© Neil_Mach December 2012 –