Dutch symphonic metal titans EPICA recently concluded their North American trek with LACUNA COIL, INSOMNIUM and ELANTRIS on September 29. We were lucky enough to travel to their Baltimore show on Wednesday, September 27 at Rams Head Live! This isn’t the first time the group headlined North America, and it definitely won’t be their last. However, it’s safe to say this was their biggest North American run in their career. This was a continuation to promote their latest album The Holographic Principle, which was released last year via Nuclear Blast Records. Leading up to this particular journey, they surprised their obsessively devoted fans once again with the brand new EP, The Solace System.
The evening kicked off with the Ohio-based symphonic metal act, ELANTRIS. It was evident that this group were influenced by the headliner, as it featured unclean vocals by Thomas Ullom and vocals by Lindsay Victoria Ketchum. The band has potential as their sound perked quite a few eardrums that night.
INSOMNIUM made their triumphant return with vocalist/bassist Niilo Sevänen on stage. Two years ago Sevänen had to drop out from their headlining run due to an emergency. The group had a choice to either cancel or find a quick replacement. During that time, they found a multi-talented musician from Los Angeles who knew how to play bass and sing, making it evident that nothing would stop them. Despite the last minute setbacks, they had a fantastic tour back in 2015. Additionally, it proved that guitarist Markus Vanhala is unstoppable since that run included his other band, OMNIUM GATHERUM.
With that being said, seeing these Finnish melodic death metallers fully return to the stage was priceless. They also managed to perform a few parts from their latest effort, Winter’s Gate. Hopefully, they will return for a headlining trek of their own in the near future.
The house filled up by the time LACUNA COIL walked onto the platform. These Italian metal warriors have been around for nearly twenty years and they were there continuing to promote their latest effort, 2016’s Delirium via Century Media Records. They are a natural at bringing Italian horror to the stage and yet, Cristina Scabbia continues to mesmerize the audience with her extensive personal facial expression catalog.
Fans ranged from members jumping off of their feet in the shadows to a toddler staying up past her bedtime just to get a glimpse of the show. The set included songs “Ultima Ratio,” “Spellbound,” “Die & Rise,” “Heaven’s a Lie,” “Blood, Tears, Dust,” “Ghost in the Mist,” “My Demons,” “Trip the Darkness,” “Downfall,” “Our Truth,” “Nothing Stands In Our Way,” and “The House of Shame.”
EPICA drastically changed when they released 2014’s The Quantum Enigma as their music holds more bold orchestrated arrangements. Therefore, if you are waiting to hear songs such as “The Last Crusade,” think again. However, they do pick a few earlier selections including “Cry For the Moon” from their debut album, 2003’s The Phantom Agony. However, when you walk into an EPICA show, the setlist shouldn’t matter. They know how to shine on and off the stage. Simone Simons alone moves around each member, while keyboardist Coen Janssen rotates on wheels.
EPICA will remind you to just have fun and enjoy the moment. A few highlights from this evening included introducing the song “Wheel of Destiny” from their EP live to the crowd. Simons also invited LACUNA COIL’S Scabbia onto the stage to sing “Storm of Sorrow” with her.
However, their encore set proves that they have a new tradition. The group burned off their calories by jumping up and down to “Beyond the Matrix,” while guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen yelled the final countdown for the audience to embark on the wall of death during the final song “Consign to Oblivion.” EPICA should be a genuine example for musicians and the crowd, teaching everyone how to remain humble on and off the stage.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: ZENAE D. ZUKOWSKI