Epica: Live Review
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
February 18th 2010, House Of Blues, West Hollywood CA: This was a really interesting touring line-up with three very different bands on the same bill. So going in, other than Blackguard whom I had seen once before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had heard about Epica as being an unusual kind of band, having a quite unique style of music and hadn't even heard of the name Threat Signal.
The first band to entertain the audience was Blackguard, who played a five-song, 30-minute set for us. I loved these guys when they opened for Ensiferum back in November and they were every bit as good this time around too. They definitely give it their 100%, if not more, and one thing they do well is pick good bands to open for on tour. Their brand of music can be termed as melodic death metal with folk influences. I personally love this kind of music, with the likes of Children Of Bodom being one of my favorite bands. The Epica fans present here tonight seemed to enjoy every bit of this as well, giving the band a warm welcome. Paul "Ablaze" Zinay is the driving force on stage, ably supported and complemented by the others. Paul managed to get the crowd singing along and dispersed his seemingly boundless energy into them. As said by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen in my interview with him, 'I hope that band is big in the future'.
The next band were Threat Signal, another Canadian band, but of the groove/metalcore kind. They did have some tight riffs and solos in them and I enjoyed some of their songs. The crowd didn't really seem to get into them at all though and it looked like they were waiting for the band to finish their set. I would say the songs off of their latest album Vigilance sounded much better than the ones from the first album. I give them kudos for coming out on tour with bands totally different in musical style. I'm sure they would have had a better response at some of the other venues. The bassist Pat Kavanagh was really energetic with his playing as well as head banging, as was the band as a whole. The music is pretty good for their genre. It wouldn't have been such a bad thing to get exposure in front of diverse crowds here and I hope they find more similar bands to tour with next time around.
After a half an hour wait, the lights went out and the prelude 'Samadhi' started among loud cheers. The place wasn't packed, but those in attendance were surely loud enough, as Epica hit the stage with the song 'Resign to Surrender'. You couldn't help but admire frontwoman Simone Simons' amazing vocal prowess, lending her operatic vocals and swaying to the music, creating quite an atmosphere at the House Of Blues. One of the better songs of the night, 'Sensorium' was up next. I was enjoying this song even as I was in the photo pit, busy taking pictures of the band.
I had heard a lot about Simone's live powerful performances and every bit of it was true. Not to say that the other members aren't worth mentioning. Mark Jansen is obviously the creative force in the band and did justice to all his compositions on the stage as well. The other guitarist Isaac, who recently joined the band, seems to have made a big difference in keeping with the energy levels. Two more new songs 'Unleashed' and 'Martyr Of The Free Word' followed. I hadn't heard the new album before this and the music seemed quite different from some of the older stuff I had heard. Fans were delighted to hear the song 'Fools Of Damnation' after this. Make shift piano player Simone's boyfriend Oliver Palotai did a good job with his solo.
Simone displayed her magic on vocals in the ballad 'Tides Of Time'. They had a good selection for the remaining songs as well, bringing out two more songs from the first album Phantom Agony. The encore performance consisted of 'Cry For The Moon', 'Quietus' and they ended with 'Consign To Oblivion'.
Overall, it was a very interesting and entertaining night of diverse music. I'm glad I got a chance to get to know the music of two bands whom I wasn't familiar with and explore my taste in music just that little bit more. As for the fans, they were having a good time on the floor, singing and clapping along to every prompt by Simone and Mark and getting some mosh pits going during the faster sections of the music. Epica's 'Design Your Universe' tour 2010 is definitely a success.
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