is a Dutch symphonic metal
band founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen
subsequent to his departure from After Forever
Cry for the Moon (2002–2003)
In early 2002, Mark Jansen
left After Forever
over financial differences and began looking for musicians to who would work towards a more commercial type of music project, initially named "Sahara Dust". In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen (from Trail of Tears
) as its frontwoman, but shortly after she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simons
, 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 2003. 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 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
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
, 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
being cited as major inspirations. The album features guest singing by Roy Khan
) 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)".
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 can also be seen as their third album. Mark Jansen describes the album as typical Epica "only without the singing, without the guitars, no bass and no drums".
In 2005 and 2006 Epica went on their first tour throughout North America with Kamelot. After the tour, their drummer, Jeroen Simons, left the band, because of his wish to pursue other musical interests. In fall 2006, Simone once again contributed vocals to Kamelot's new album Ghost Opera, this time on the tracks "Blücher" and "Season's End". In December Ariën Van Weesenbeek from God Dethroned was announced at the official website of the band to be the drummer for their new album, though not to become a band member.
The Divine Conspiracy (2007–present)
In September 2007, Epica headlined their first tour through North America
and released their latest 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. They will once again tour North America in April 2008, with Into Eternity
and Symphony X
, this time with Amanda Somerville
because of Simone's infection from MRSA
The first single of the album was released on August 10, 2007 entitled "Never Enough".
In mid-2008 the second single was "Chasing The Dragon," though it didn't have a video to accompany it.
Epica's performs a blend of gothic metal and symphonic metal. Another component of Epica's style is power metal with their guitarist Ad Sluijter describing the band as "a bridge between power metal and gothic metal. Vocalist Simone Simons has expressed a preference for the group to be described as symphonic metal though the founder of the group Mark Jansen notes that they do not mind being called gothic metal.
The music of Epica is aggressive, bombastic and excessive with some songs being "epic, grand and majestic" and others "more subdued and introspective." The band is also known to have progressive tendencies while a gothic atmosphere and sentimentality is also present in their music.
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." 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. Simone Simons delivers operatic vocals in a mezzo-soprano range though she has also been known to sometimes sing "with a clear alto voice that has a flawless tone and a lot of emotion." Mark Jansen delivers death grunts "that are secondary to Simons' singing, but very important in terms of balance and variety." The group is also known to employ human choirs and orchestras with additional embellishments such as spoken word recitals and lyrics in Latin and Arabic.
- Jeroen Simons - drums
- Helena Michaelsen - vocals
EPs and singles
- 2003: "The Phantom Agony"
- 2004: "Feint"
- 2005: "Solitary Ground"
- 2005: "Quietus"
- 2007: "Never Enough"