Live at The Regent Theater

Los Angeles, CA

November 19th, 2016

Review and Photos by Travis Baumann

If you are going to choose a name like Epica for your band, you better be able to live up to it. This group of Dutch artists absolutely live up to the moniker, and their live performances are powerful Symphonic Metal experiences at their best.

The universe has conspired to keep them from playing Los Angeles for many years now, with canceled tours and family emergencies waylaying their return time and again. Finally they have made it to the West Coast and with a concert roster of fellow musicians that make a dream billing for those of us in the Metal scene.

Opening bands including Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italia, Arkona from Mother Russia, and The Agonist from Canada set the tone for the evening before the sextet even set foot on stage.

The audience reacted emphatically when Ariën van Weesenbeek took his place behind the drums and Coen Janssen stepped up to the keyboard on the risers at the back of the stage. They were soon joined by Isaac Delahaye on lead guitar, Rob van der Loo on bass guitar and band founder Mark Jansen on rhythm guitar.

The cheering intensified when the beautiful Simone Simons came out, her gorgeous red hair shining in the stage lights and her tight metallic dress showcasing her fashion sense. She isn't just all killer looks however, as is immediately apparent the moment she opens her mouth and lets her angelic, operatic voice weave the esoteric tales that the band are known for.

They started off the set with new material from their latest album, " The Holographic Principle" including the opening track, "Edge of the Blade" and "A Phantasmic Parade"; giving the audience a great dose of what we have been missing at the same time as treating us to something we have never seen live before.

Simone said that it had been a very long time since they played for us and that the "Third time is a charm" in terms of attempts to perform in LA. She said that tonight, the set list would span songs from all over their career and with that they performed "Sensorium" from their debut release, "The Phantom Agony".

Anxious to share their latest endeavor with the an enthusiastic audience, they returned to the latest album for two more awesome songs with "Universal Death Squad" and "Divide and Conquer".

Epica hosts a rich and layered sound with two guitars building headbanging riffs, deep bass and blasting drums laying in bombastic percussion, and keyboards and orchestrations elevating the delivery to a grand affair. Simone's flawless, operatic delivery juxtaposes with Mark's deep growls, the two playing back and forth in a lyrical dance that mimics life's bipolar nature.

They played one of my favorite songs of theirs next with "Storm the Sorrow" from the 2012 album, "Requiem for the Indifferent". Moving through their entire back catalog and touching upon each album they tapped "The Quantum Enigma" for an excellent rendition of "The Essence of Silence".

Hitting another one of my all time favorite songs, they went back to the 2007 album, "The Divine Conspiracy" for "The Obsessive Devotion". While serving up plenty of fan favorites from older albums, they definitely kept the spotlight on the new album with another two back to back songs; "Ascension -Dream State Armageddon" and "Dancing in a Hurricane".

They did a second song from their previous to latest album, "The Quantum Enigma" with "Unchain Utopia". They were nearly at a dozen songs for the evening and had not even hit the encore but it was time for the final song of the main set; the fittingly epic and uplifting "Design Your Universe" from the album of the same name.

The band left the stage but the keyboard player, Coen quickly returned with an unusual portable keyboard that curved down like an upside down "U" slung around his neck.  He bantered jovially with the audience before beginning an orchestrated solo piece.

Before long Simone joined him and began the beautiful intro to "Sancta Terra" off of "The Divine Conspiracy". The rest of the band re-emerged and the song hit full strength with all the grandeur the band is known for. Giving the crowd one last taste of the new album, they played "Beyond the Matrix" from "The Holographic Principle".

At this point, the night had grown long and there was only one album from their repertoire that they had not played anything from. They have a long history of ending their concerts with the title track from their sophomore release and it would be no different tonight. They finished up their immense set with the fan favorite, "Consign to Oblivion".

It was an amazing show and well worth waiting all these years to finally see. Simone is like an angel in appearance and in voice and with the group of stalwart musicians that she has surrounding her, Epica is truly the pinnacle of this style of music and what a live performance is about. Hopefully we won't have to wait that long to see them next time.

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