After a weekend at a festival, I had almost a week to rest up for another show. This time I find myself at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto Canada to see Dutch symphonic metal legends Epica brought to you by Inertia Entertainment.
Epica was in Toronto back in January 2016 which I hate to admit I missed the show to take my wife to see So You Think You Can Dance. Enough said!!
Lots of excitement leading up to this day, but I was disappointed that Xandria (who was one of the openers) were unable to make it for the tour. Taking their place was Atmora from Windsor, Ontario. Also on the bill: The Agonist from Montreal, and Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy.
For me tonight was all about Epica. However, I was very impressed with the first band of the night, Atmora. Lead singer Bailey Soulliere has a wonderful voice and the band sounded great. I don’t mind some growls in the music but this is all clean vocals with heavy riffs and it put this band high on my radar. It is great seeing Canadian symphonic metal bands as they are rare in our country.
Next up – The Agonist. Wow! What a powerhouse Vicky Psarakis is on vocals. When she sings clean, it is brilliant but the growls are not for me. Lots of moshing and body surfing going on so I stayed clear and watched from the side of the stage as the crowd ate it up.
Not knowing anything about the next band Fleshgod Apocalypse, I was floored with their stage presence, their Victorian style clothing and overall stage appearance. With heavy white Victorian face powder and a serious look, they put the crowd in a trance of metal heaven, or shall I say “glorious hell” to the audience!! All growls on vocals except the beautiful opera background vocals of a female vocalist. I don’t know if I have ever seen a drummer move so fast but he sure can pound the skins. As great as they are for their style of Death Metal this is not a style I can handle.
With Arien Van Weesenbeek starting with drums, the rest of the band follows. Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, backing vocals, Rob Van Der Loo – bass, growls, Coen Janssen – keyboards, Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, growls/screams and finally the beautiful and talented Simone Simons on lead vocals.
The setlist started off with the first single from the new album “Edge Of The Blade”. Trying to get as many photos in as possible, I catch myself with excitement and singing along.
Since I have the live Blu-ray of Epica Retrospect 10th Anniversary in my collection, I was amazed on how great that show was — to see them live up close and personal like this it had me fighting back tears of joy.
Staying with the new album they break into “A Phantasmic Parade” which is a symphonic piece of metal art. Simons‘ powerful range is complimented with her fellow band mates’ growls.
With a heavy concentration on the new album The Holographic Principle (8 tracks), Epica does not disappoint the fans as they go throughout their epic collection of music all the way back to the start with “Sensorium” from their 2003 release The Phantom Agony. Not as familiar with their early stuff, I find myself in a trance with this style of music and this track is a reason why Epica keeps getting more popular around the world.
“Universal Death Squad” is the newest single and they do a fantastic job playing this live, showing why their new release is the best material they have ever written.
With interviewing Mark Jansen (Interview) recently I asked about his favourite song to play live. Hard to pick one, the next song they played live was one he listed, “Divide And Conquer” also from the new album. As I mentioned in my album (review) this is a powerful symphonic metal masterpiece and it is wicked to hear it live.
Slowing this down a bit with “Quietus” has Simons captivating the crowd with each note gracing our ears with her pure, exquisite vocal talent.
Another one of Jansen‘s top songs is next with “The Obsessive Devotion” showcasing the talented vocal growls. Full of different textures in music and vocals, I feel like we are not just at a concert but a theatre production.
Epica continues to keep the crowd thriving with moshing, and body surfing throughout the show. With another handful of songs, Epica takes a break. As the crowd chanted for more the band came back with a slower track – “Sancta Terra” to warm them up for possibly my favourite song off the new album “Beyond The Matrix“. At Simons‘ command, the crowd starts jumping with them. A highlight for me hearing this live.
Every good thing comes to an end. They leave the stage for a short time to come back on for the last track. Going back to 2005, the title track “Consign To Oblivion”. One of the most played live tracks in Epica‘s collection and a crowd favourite.
After an hour and forty minutes, the show comes to an end. A Sunday night is never fun going to a concert when you start the work week nice and early on a Monday morning but it was worth every moment of lost sleep. If Epica comes to your area, do not miss this show!
Edge of the Blade
A Phantasmic Parade
Universal Death Squad
Divide and Conquer
The Obsessive Devotion
Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
Mother of Light
Dancing in a Hurricane
Once Upon a Nightmare
Beyond the Matrix
Consign to Oblivion
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin