Epica (band): Wikis

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Epica

Epica performing at The White Rabbit (Texas, USA) in 2007.
Background information
Also known as Sahara Dust
Origin The Netherlands
Genres Symphonic metal, progressive metal, gothic metal
Years active 2003–present
Labels Transmission, Nuclear Blast
Associated acts After Forever, God Dethroned, Kamelot, Delain, Sons of Seasons
Website www.epica.nl
Members
Simone Simons
Mark Jansen
Isaac Delahaye
Yves Huts
Coen Janssen
Ariën van Weesenbeek
Former members
Jeroen Simons
Helena Michaelsen
Ad Sluijter

Epica is a Dutch symphonic metal band founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen subsequent to his departure from After Forever.

Contents

History

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Cry for the Moon (2002–2003)

In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever over creative differences. He then began looking for musicians who would work towards a more classical/symphonic type of music project; this was initially named "Sahara Dust"[1]. In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen[1] (from Trail of Tears) as its frontwoman, but shortly after she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, who was Jansen's girlfriend at the time. The band's line-up was completed by guitarist Ad Sluijter, drummer Jeroen Simons, bassist Yves Huts, and keyboard player Coen Janssen. The name was later changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot's eponymous album.

Epica then assembled a choir (made up of two men and four women) and a string orchestra (three violins, two violas, two cellos and an upright bass) to play along with them. Still under the name Sahara Dust, they produced a two-song demo entitled Cry for the Moon in 2002. As a result, they were signed to Transmission Records.

The Phantom Agony (2003–2004)

Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was produced by Sascha Paeth (known for having produced bands such as Angra, Rhapsody of Fire and Kamelot) and released in late 2003. The song "Façade of Reality" on the album was written about the September 11, 2001 attacks and includes fragments from speeches by Tony Blair[2].

The album was followed by three singles: "The Phantom Agony", "Feint" and "Cry for the Moon".

Consign to Oblivion / The Score (2005–2007)

Their second release, entitled Consign to Oblivion, was influenced by the culture of the Mayan Civilization[3], which can be noticed on songs in the "A New Age Dawns" series. "A New Age Dawns" refers to the time system of the Mayan people, which extends up to the year of 2012, and makes no reference of what may happen past said year. Consign to Oblivion was composed with film scores as a basis, with Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman cited as major inspirations. The album features guest singing by Roy Khan[4] (from Kamelot) on the song "Trois Vierges". Epica also joined Kamelot as a support band on parts of their tour for promotion of the The Black Halo album, to which Simons had contributed her vocals on the track "The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)"[5].

Two singles were released from the album, "Solitary Ground" and "Quietus (Silent Reverie)".

Epica's non-metal album The Score - An Epic Journey was released in September 2005 and is the soundtrack for a Dutch movie called Joyride, though it could also be considered to be their third album. Mark Jansen describes the album as typical Epica, "only without the singing, without the guitars, no bass and no drums".[6]

In 2005 and 2006 Epica went on their first tour throughout North America with Kamelot. After the tour, drummer Jeroen Simons left the band because of his wish to pursue other musical interests. In Fall 2006, Simone once again contributed vocals to album of Kamelot, this time on the tracks "Blücher" and "Season's End" on the album Ghost Opera. In December Ariën Van Weesenbeek from God Dethroned was announced on Epica's official website as the guest drummer for their new album, but not a permanent band member.

The Divine Conspiracy (2007–2009)

In September 2007, Epica headlined their first tour through North America and released their third album, The Divine Conspiracy, this time on a new label, Nuclear Blast. That December, Ariën Van Weesenbeek was announced to be Epica's permanent new drummer. The band toured North America again in April 2008 with Into Eternity and Symphony X, this time with Amanda Somerville because Simone had contracted a staph infection (MRSA).

The first single of the album was released on August 10, 2007 entitled "Never Enough".

The second single, "Chasing the Dragon," was released in 2008 without an accompanying video.

On 16 December 2008, Ad Sluijter left the band. He left a message on his Myspace page with his reasoning for leaving the band, which included frustration over being unable to enjoy composing music because of deadlines. Ad's successor on guitar was announced in January of 2009 to be Isaac Delahaye, who is formerly of God Dethroned fame.[7]

In May of that year, Epica recorded The Classical Conspiracy, their first live album. The live show included a 40-piece orchestra and a 30-piece choir. It was released on May 8, 2009 through Nuclear Blast Records.[8]

Design Your Universe (2009–Present)

On March 4, 2009, Epica announced their return to the studio where they would begin the recording process for a new album. In April 2009, it was revealed that the new album's title would be "Design Your Universe". It was said to continue the A New Age Dawns saga which started on Consign to Oblivion. The album was released on October 16, 2009. To promote this release, they performed in Amsterdam at Paradiso on October 10, 2009. [9] This album will be new guitarist Isaac Delahaye's first.[10] The record also contains a guest appearance from Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony Kakko on the song "White Waters"[11]. The album debuted in #8 in the Dutch charts[12]. On new years eve it was announced through their website that a new single will be released. The song is called "This is the Time" and all profit will go to WWF. [13]

Style

The contrast between Simone Simons' operatic vocals and Mark Jansen's death grunts is a feature of Epica's music.

Epica performs a blend of progressive metal,[14][15][16] gothic metal[17][18][19] and symphonic metal.[20][21] Another component of Epica's style is power metal[20], their former guitarist Ad Sluijter having described the band as "a bridge between power metal and gothic metal."[22] Vocalist Simone Simons has expressed a preference for the group to be described as symphonic metal[23] though the founder of the group Mark Jansen notes that they do not mind being called gothic metal.[24]

The music of Epica is aggressive, bombastic[25] and excessive[21] with some songs being "epic, grand and majestic" and others "more subdued and introspective."[18] The band is also known to have progressive tendencies[26] while a gothic atmosphere and sentimentality is also present in their music.[18][21]

Epica uses a "trademark of many symphonic and gothic metal bands" in contrasting "two extremes, death grunts and brutality on one side, airy female melodiousness on the other."[21] Eduardo Rivadavia of Allmusic notes that the band's "attraction ultimately hinges on exploring the sonic contrasts of light and dark; the punishing intensity of those elephantine guitar riffs and hyperactive drumming cast against the soaring, layered sweetness of the orchestrated strings and keyboards."[27] Simone Simons delivers operatic vocals in a mezzo-soprano range[26] though she has also been known to sometimes sing "with a clear alto voice that has a flawless tone and a lot of emotion."[18] Mark Jansen delivers death grunts "that are secondary to Simons' singing, but very important in terms of balance and variety."[18] The group is also known to employ human choirs and orchestras[26] with additional embellishments such as spoken word recitals and lyrics in Latin and Arabic.[20]

Line-up

Former members

Session members

  • Koen Herfst – drums (tour 2007)
  • Amanda Somerville – vocals (North American tour 2008), background vocals on The Phantom Agony, Consign to Oblivion, The Divine Conspiracy, and Design Your Universe.
  • Oliver Palotai – keyboards (North American tour 2010)[28]

Discography

Demos

Studio albums

EPs and singles

DVD

Compilations and other recordings

Music Videos

  • 2003: "The Phantom Agony"
  • 2004: "Feint"
  • 2005: "Solitary Ground"
  • 2005: "Quietus"
  • 2007: "Never Enough"
  • 2009: "Unleashed"

References

  1. ^ a b Epica @ metalstorm.ee
  2. ^ Reviews and Interview @ musicaldiscoveries.com 2004
  3. ^ REviews and Interview @ musicaldiscoveries.com 2005
  4. ^ Consign to Oblivion @ metalstorm.ee
  5. ^ The Black Halo by Kamelot @ metalstorm.ee
  6. ^ Jansen, Mark (2005). Album notes for The Score — An Epic Journey.
  7. ^ Epica: Isaac Delahaye is the New Guitarist: News @ idiomag.com
  8. ^ "EPICA To Release 'The Classical Conspiracy' Double Live Album". Blabbermouth.net. 2009-03-12. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=116011. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  9. ^ Epica @ Paradiso - Amsterdam!
  10. ^ "EPICA: New Album Title Revealed?". idiomag. 2009-04-20. http://www.idiomag.com/peek/77281/epica. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  11. ^ "Epica - Design Your Universe Review". AngryMetalGuy.com. October 12th, 2009. http://www.angrymetalguy.com/?p=719. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  12. ^ Epica - Design Your Universe (Album) dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved on 2009-10-23.
  13. ^ http://www.epica.nl/?page=news
  14. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. Epica biography allmusic.com. Retrieved on 10-01-09.
  15. ^ "Musical Discoveries Epica". Musicaldiscoveries.com. http://www.musicaldiscoveries.com/reviews/epica.htm. Retrieved November 3 2008. 
  16. ^ "Musical Discoveries Epica 2008". Musicaldiscoveries.com. http://www.musicaldiscoveries.com/reviews/epica2008.htm. Retrieved November 3 2008. 
  17. ^ Epica biography @ musicmight.com
  18. ^ a b c d e Bowar, Chad. "The Divine Conspiracy Review". About.com. http://heavymetal.about.com/od/cdreviews/fr/epicadivine.htm. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  19. ^ Smit, Bas. "Consign To Oblivion Review". Lordsofmetal.nl. http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/showreview.php?id=5322&lang=en. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c Rivadavia, Eduardo. "The Phantom Agony Review". Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0bftxqeald6e. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  21. ^ a b c d Fox, Keith. "The Divine Conspiracy Review". Metalreview.com. http://www.metalreview.com/4074/Epica-The-Divine-Conspiracy.aspx. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  22. ^ Cursed With Oblivion. "Interview with Mark Jansen, Simone Simons and Ad Sluijter of Epica". Xs4all.nl/~cursed. http://www.xs4all.nl/~cursed/epica-interview.htm. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  23. ^ Rademacher, Brian. "Interview with Simone Simons of Epica". Rockeyez.com. http://www.rockeyez.com/interviews/int-epica-simons.html. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  24. ^ Vayner, Ofer. "Interview with Mark Jensen of Epica". Alternative-zine.com. http://www.alternative-zine.com/interviews/en/76. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  25. ^ Van der Wal, Kim. "The Divine Conspiracy Review". Lordsofmetal.nl. http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/showreview.php?id=10237&lang=en. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  26. ^ a b c Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Consign to Oblivion Review". Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jjfixqrsldje. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  27. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Divine Conspiracy Review". Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0nfwxzwgld0e. Retrieved March 30 2008. 
  28. ^ "Epica keyboardist to sit out North American tour". Blabbermouth. January 20, 2010. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=133736. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  29. ^ Nuevo single y video de Epica - Unleashed jimcueva.com. 2009-09-06. Retrieved on 2009-09-06. (Spanish)
  30. ^ http://www.epica.nl/?page=news

External links


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