Silver Spring, MD – It was supposed to be a simple mission. Drive to The Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD on October 6, 2022 to deliver a heartfelt thank you and an update to EPICA‘s Simone Simmons.
The first time I caught EPICA was at Webster Hall in NYC in January 2020 (my last metal show before COVID). Simone took one of my photos and shared it, helping others find their way (so to speak). When I found out EPICA was returning to the US to tour with Sabaton, I knew I had to seek them out and give thanks!!
The ‘journey of gratitude’ would not be an easy one. The road was riddled with stop and go traffic and fallen trees (in the middle of Washington DC of all places). Thanks to an AWD vehicle (I like to call it Metro Mudding), no officers at a VERY amber stoplight, and mowed grass in the median, no obstacle was too much. We did arrive!
EPICA, consisting of Mark Jansen (growls and guitar), Coen Janssen (keys), Simone Simons (vocals), Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums), Isaac Delahaye (guitar), and Rob van der Loo (bass), opened with “Abyss of Time” from their newest album, Omega. After some slight technical difficulties (no Simone vocals, her lips were moving but no sound), the show started to roll. When sound was restored the crowd roared as Simone and Mark killed the vocals as expected. The band kicked ass too, as they carried the song through the vocal-less start and slayed to the end. Despite its imperfect start, it was still a perfect way to kick off a perfect night.
Now to be honest, I did not think it would have been possible for the performance to exceed what I reviewed in January of 2020. It may have been a better sound system (once glitches were fixed), a more intimate venue, a longer US tour (I believe 2020 was just three US stops) or it was just an overall phenomenal performance. Regardless, the show was awesome and the band was tight!!
They played a mix of old and new, including “Essence of Silence“, “Victims of Contingency“, “Unchain Utopia“, and “Cry for the Moon“. Simone’s nearly pure soprano combined with Mark’s contrasting growls added emotion and a sense of light and dark to each piece. Throw in Coen’s showmanship and keyboard finesse, Isaac and Mark’s powerful guitars, and pounding bass and percussion supplied by Rob and Ariën, and you have the formula for a memorable operatic metal symphony. They did not disappoint.
In a fun moment, Mark asked if we wanted more (DUH?). “This next one is called ‘Freeeeeedooommmmmm!” he said with a Mark growl, accompanied by a few thousand fans growling in unison. The went into “Freedom – The Wolfs Within“. WOW!
Winding down their set, they finished with “Beyond the Matrix” (one of my favorites) and a signature, “Consign to Oblivion“. With the last note, their set was over. The sold out crowd roared with appreciation and the stage went dark.
A lot has changed since the last time I caught them in New York. My work with Virginia Opera and Richmond Symphony, has given me a ton of insight into what it takes to create and perform this type of music (in particular the symphonic intonation combined with the vocals). I am already looking forward to their next trip to the U.S. Better yet, I am feeling there may be a trip to Europe to catch a festival or two (can you say Wacken?) in the future.
So was I able to say thank you for showing me the way? Sadly, no. The venue was sold out and even if the band had found their way on to the floor, I would have never found them. Thanks again, Simone and EPICA for showing so many the way (and thanks for your sense of humor). Until next time!
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Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity
The Essence of Silence
Victims of Contingency
Cry for the Moon
Freedom – The Wolves Within
Code of Life
Beyond the Matrix
Consign to Oblivion
Show Date: October 6, 2022
Want to see more? “Unchain Utopia” is AWESOME!!