Live at the House of Blues

Los Angeles, CA

February 18, 2010

With the release of “Design Your Universe”, Epica has once again raised the bar for female fronted metal bands around the world. Hailing from the Netherlands, they produce an epic conglomerate of beautiful operatic female vocals, harsh guttural male vocals, driving guitars, majestic vocal choirs, and atmospheric keyboards.

I have seen Epica once before at a smaller venue when they toured for the previous album so I already knew what a treat it was to see them live and was especially excited about seeing new material from their latest release.

They started the set with the intro from the new album, "Samadhi" which lead directly into "Resign to Surrender" as it does on disc. It was great that they started off the set with new material and a great song choice as well.

Following that, they jumped back to their debut release a "Phantom Agony" with the song "Sensorium" so within the first two songs they had encompassed their entire musical history and made their long time fans extremely happy.

I was hoping for more new songs and was in luck because they switched back to the new album for two more in a row with "Unleashed" followed by "Martyr of the Free World".

From here the concert took a pleasantly unexpected turn when Simone left the stage and the musicians broke into what was absolutely the coolest version of the "Imperial March", also known as Darth Vader's theme song from the Star Wars movies. I know other bands have done it before but never like this, it was really great.

Simone came back out and they did some older material including "Mother of Light" off of the second release and "Cry For the Moon" which comes from their first album. Everyone but the drummer, Ariën Van Weesenbeek, left the stage and he did an impressive drum solo.

For this tour, and the last album for that matter, they had a new guitarist, Issaic DelaHaye. He did a good job live and I am not sure you would have seen things like the "Imperial March" with the previous guitarist. He seemed a good match for the band and fit in well.

Their regular keyboard player was not present on this tour but they hired the best replacement you could ask for with Oliver from Kamelot. The two bands have had many run ins over the years, from support on tours to guest vocals on each others' albums so it was a fitting choice.

From here they jumped around all of their releases but the big favorite of the night for me was "The Obsessive Devotion" which still ranks up there with one of their best songs ever and I really love seeing this one live. They did a three song encore with their final piece of the night being "Consign to Oblivion"

Simone looked gorgeous as always. She really is a star with such charisma and vocal talent as well. I think Mark Jansen, the band founder who also plays guitars and sings the male vocal parts, is always entertaining and he and Simone's on stage chemistry was fun to watch.

It really was a great show and surpassed the last time I saw them in terms of venue and sound quality. The audience was full of fans that appreciated the song selection and it showed with the band smiling in response to the crowd's reactions. They did every song I could have hoped for.

It would be fun to team them up with other bands that play in a similar symphonic metal style next round and make a female metal voices type tour. I can just imagine country mates ReVamp and Within Temptation opening up for them and having the Dutch Women of Metal tour, that would be a show out of this world.

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