Live at The Novo

Los Angeles, CA

September 15th, 2017

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Dutch symphonic metal masters, Epica return to Los Angeles for "The Ultimate Principle: North America" tour. After a long drought of Epica awesomeness, they finally made it back to Los Angeles last October. We are now fortunate to have them play again just short of a year later.

Despite having just released the new EP, "The Solace System", this tour was still predominantly in promotion of their latest full length release, "The Holographic Principle". This release marks their eighth studio album since their inception in 2002 and has been cited as their most ambitious offering to date.

Charismatic front-woman Simone Simons leads a group of men that provide a layered backdrop of keyboards, guitars, growled vocals and quite a bit of hair whipping. Her operatic vocals soar over the uplifting and downright heavy musical movements.

Founder Mark Jansen handles all of the growled vocals and rhythm guitar. Coen Janssen provides the symphonic atmosphere and keyboard pieces. Isaac Delahaye plays lead guitar with Rob van der Loo on bass guitar, and they are all backed by Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums.

They started off the set with "Edge of the Blade" from the latest album. A powerful musical assault to initiate the audience, Simone's voice soothing yet commanding.

Their set list proved to be built from all over their back catalog with "Unleashed" off of the "Design Your Universe" album up next.

For their third song they performed the only song off of their new EP with "Wheel of Destiny". The names of their albums and songs are quite telling in regards to the subject matter that is the essence of Epica. They look into the mysteries of the universe, specifically how it relates to our existence and where that may lead.

"Essence of Silence" drawn from "The Quantum Enigma" proceeded an extensive delving into "The Holographic Principle". They played "Universal Death Squad" followed by "Ascension- Dream State Armageddon", and "Dancing in a Hurricane".

Epica was touring with the equally amazing Lacuna Coil and as a special treat for Los Angeles fans, Cristina Scabbia came out and joined Simone for an awesome duet for "Storm the Sorrow". This song is a personal favorite and the only song taken from the "Requiem for the Indifferent" release.

They finished up the main set with "Unchain Utopia" from "The Quantum Enigma" followed by the fan favorite, "Cry for the Moon" which was their first song written and officially released on "The Phantom Agony" debut. The band left the stage while the audience cheered for more.

Coen returned to the stage with a portable keyboard attached and welcomed the fans and talked a little bit about the tour including how great it was to tour with other bands that are actually nice to them (but not wanting to elaborate so not sure on who they referred to from previous tours... Arkona? Perhaps Flesh God Apocalypse?".

After a few more jokes he started off the next song with a keyboard introduction. The rest of the band returned to the stage and they played "Sancta Terra" from "The Divine Conspiracy".

It was Simone's turn to joke saying, "This is what we have become, a parody of ourselves. Well the circus continues..." and they played "Beyond the Matrix" from "The Holographic Principle".  

I am not a betting man but I have seen Epica over six times now and as far as I can recall, they always end the show with one particular song. I would have been right had I bet money, however as they concluded the show with the ominous "Consign to Oblivion" off of their sophomore release of the same name.

Once again, Epica have proven to be everything their name suggests and more. Their music is huge and moving. The female vocals are impeccable and delivered by such a beautiful person inside and out. The male vocals are growled and sinister but still accessible like a necessary voice in the play they are putting on. The assembled force of drums, keys, orchestrations, guitars, and backing vocals create this amazing experience that really has to be seen and heard in person to be fully appreciated.

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