Musical Joy




Epica is a Dutch symphonic metal band which puts emphasis on the use of operatic elements and death grunts. It was founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen subsequent to his departure from After Forever. In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever due to creative differences and began looking for musicians to integrate a new musical project. Initially the project was named Sahara Dust. In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen, then of Trail of Tears and later founder of Imperia, as it’s frontwoman. But it was soon clear that the band needed a lady with a slightly different sound and feel and she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simmons, who was Jansen’s girlfriend at the time. The band’s line up was completed by guitarist Ad Slujiter, drummer Jeroen Simons, bassist Yves Huts, and keyboard player Coen Janssen. Their name soon changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot’s album of the same name. Epica then assembled a choir made up of two men and six women and a string orchestra of three violins, two violas, two cellos, and a double bass to play along with them. Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was produced by Sascha Paeth and was released in late 2003. Their second released, entitled Consign to Oblivion, was influenced by the culture of the Maya Civilization, an easily acknowledged fact when one notices the songs that integrate the “A New Age Dawns” arch. The album features guest singing from Roy Khan of Kamelot on the song Trois Vierges. Epica also joined Kamelot as a support band on parts of their tour for promotion of The Black Halo album. Epica’s The Score – An Epic Journey was released in September of 2005 and is the soundtrack of a Dutch movie called Joyride, though it can also be seen as their third album. Characterized by guitaris, Mark Jansen, the album is “Typically Epica. Only without the singing, without the guitars, no bass, and no drums.” In 2005 and 2006 Epica went on their first tour of North America with Kamelot. After the tour, their drummer Jeroen Simons, left the band due to his wish to pursue his other musical interests. In December Arien Van Weesenbeek was announced at the official website of the band to be the drummer for their new album. In September of 2007, Epica will for the first time be the head liner of their next tour of North America. It will also see the rlease of their lasted commercial album of which they began recording in late 2006.

Discography (That I Own)

  1. The Phantom Agony 2003 – The first full length studio album by Epica. On this album Mark Jansen continues with a collection of songs known as “The Embrace that Smothers.” The first of these songs appeared on After Forever’s debut album Prison of Desire. This album displays all that I love in this genre of music. It is symphonic, operatic, grandiose metal… in a word epic! The singing of Simone Simmons is simply beautiful. Her mezzo-soprano voice is just lovely without being overkill.
  2. Feint 2004 – The second single from Epica. I was blown away the first time that I heard this song. It is so very beautiful! Simone Simmons voice is perfect for such a beautiful ballad.
  3. We Will Take You With Us 2004 – The first DVD release by Epica. The majority of the songs are from their very first album with the exception of Memory which was an Andrew Lloyd Webber composition for his broadway play Cats. There are different versions of Feint and Run For A Fall on this one as well.
  4. Consign to Oblivion 2005 – The second album by Epica. This album features guest singers Trois Vierges and Roy Khan of Kamelot. The inspiration for this album is the Mayan Civilization as one can guess from looking at the cover art of this album. This album truly impressed me. It has the feel of a great hollywood score with romance, adventure, and of course tragedy, for the final song depicts the end of the Mayan Civilization.
  5. Solitary Ground 2005 – The first single from Epica’s album Consign to Oblivion. A simply beautiful ballad performed to perfection by the lovely voice of Simone Simmons.
  6. The Score – An Epic Journey 2006 – A score written by Epica for the film Joyride. This is definitely Epica with a classical edge. Gone is the hard metal sound and in it’s place is a full orchestral feel.
  7. The Divine Conspiracy 2007 – The third album by Epica. This is another outstanding release. This album is melodic and powerful. The angelic vocals of Simone Simmons backed by forceful grunts of Mark Jansen and combined with the powerful guitar and bass riffs from Ad Slujiter and Yves Huts gives this album a wonderful sound that can enthrall the listener.

In Conclusion
Epica has truly caught my attention. I eagerly await another album by this band. Simone’s voice is simply marvelous and original, which I found refreshing when compared to many femme metal vocalists who start to blend together after a time.


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