Aug 9, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - The History of EPICA

Posted: Sep 24, 2007 11:56 AM

Epica is a Dutch symphonic metal band which puts emphasis on the use of operatic elements and death grunts, also performing some song passages in Latin. It was founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen subsequent to his departure from After Forever.

In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever due to creative differences and began looking for musicians to integrate a new musical 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. Their name was changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot's album Epica.

Epica then assembled a choir (made up of two men and six women) and a string orchestra (three violins, two violas, two cellos and a double bass) to play along with them. Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was produced by Sascha Paeth (known for having previously produced bands such as Angra, Rhapsody of Fire and Kamelot) and was released in late 2003.

Their second release, entitled Consign to Oblivion, was influenced by the culture of the Maya civilization, a fact which can be noticed, for example, on songs which integrate the "A New Age Dawns" arch. "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 (from Kamelot) 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 Simone had contributed her vocals.

Epica's 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. Characterised by guitarist, Mark Jansen, the album is "Typically 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, due to his wish to pursue his other musical interests. In December Arien Van Weesenbeek was announced at the official website of the band to be the drummer for their new album.

In September of 2007, Epica will for the first time be the head liners of their next North America tour. It will also see the release of their latest commercial album, which they began recording in late 2006.

Simone Simons - Mezzo-soprano vocals
Mark Jansen - Guitar and grunts/screams
Ad Sluijter - Guitar
Yves Huts - Bass
Coen Janssen - Synthesizer and piano

Past members
Jeroen Simons - Drums

Session members
Arien Van Weesenbeek - Drums (Epica's 2007 album)
Koen Herfst - Drums (For Epica live in 2007

The Phantom Agony (2003)
Consign to Oblivion (2005)
The Score - An Epic Journey (2005)
The Divine Conspiracy (2007)

"The Phantom Agony" (2003)
"Feint" (2004)
"Cry for the Moon" (2004)
"Solitary Ground" (2005)
"Quietus (Silent Reverie)" (2005)
"Never Enough" (2007)

We Will Take You With Us (DVD, 2004)

Other releases
Cry for the Moon (Demo, 2003)
The Road to Paradiso (Photo sound book, 2006)


Simone Simons (the singer)

Simone Simons (born January 17, 1985) is a Dutch mezzo-soprano singer who is the lead vocalist of symphonic metal band Epica.
Simons has had an interest for music since she was ten years old, and after listening to the Nightwish album Oceanborn at the age of fifteen, she began taking classical singing lessons. She sang in a choir for a couple of months in 2002, joining Epica soon after. She was previously in a romantic relationship with Epica guitarist Mark Jansen and co-writes the band's lyrics with him. She is currently engaged with Oliver Palotai, of the band Kamelot.
Her favourite song to perform is "Reprendo mai piu" by Emma Shapplin...

Online "news" sources have been spreading rumours that Epica vocalist Simone Simons has been in talks with Nightwish about joining the band. Epica has addressed the issue via their official website with the following statement:

"The last few months there have been a lot of rumours about Simone, implying she would leave Epica to join Nightwish as their new vocalist. With this rumour being published in a Finnish celebrity gossip magazine we are again getting a lot of questions whether or not this is true, so once again: Simone is not in contact with Nightwish nor their management and will not be leaving Epica. Don't believe everything you read, specially not in gossip magazines.

Oh and by the way, we are still looking for a new drummer.

BW&BK can confirm that Epica's statement is not a whitewash, as they recently met up with backing vocalist Amanda Somerville, who began working on pre-production for the next Epica album at the beginning of the month at Gate Studios in Wolfsburg, Germany. According to Somerville work on the album is due to continue in January.

Nikos Deja Vu

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