Tag Archives: Epica

The Simple Things Make You Happy…

Hi folks – normal blog service is now resumed.

It’s a long story involving curtailed holidays, pets and places we won’t be staying in again until Heck freezes over.  Ask me again at some point and I’ll give you the real skinny – it’s probably best to give that particular story some much-needed room to breathe.

No sooner had I arrived back from a nice break in a place that the Internet has yet to arrive than I discovered that Swedish Power Metal loons, Sabaton…

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Plus Swiss Pagan/Folk Metal Ragers, Eluveitie 

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…are playing at Sheffield’s Corporation club on the 11th of November this year.  It’s become quite difficult to type as my fingers are forming involuntary horns.

What with Firewind/Leaves’ Eyes, Nightwish, Epica and now Sabaton/Eluveitie on my gig list for the Autumn, it’s getting difficult to see how my gig-going could get any better for the rest of the year.

Anybody want to persuade Within Temptation and Diabulus In Musica that they really need to tour the UK this year?

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Epica – Symphonic Christmas

More proof, compadres, that Google is your buddy.

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Epica are only playing Corporation in Sheffield just before Christmassymphonic metal festive season frenzy ahoy!

They released their latest record, “Requiem For The Indifferent”, earlier this spring and I fully intend to get around to listening to it in due course – with the prospect of seeing their live show now acting as a strong motivator for me to dig back into the Epica catalogue and test the structural integrity of my already bowing CD shelves by acquiring their stuff (downloading from iTunes isn’t quite the same, to be honest – there’s not the same romance to browsing a PDF of the liner notes that you get from even a cursory glance at the CD booklet).

Think big riffs, soaring female vocals, gruff male singing and a sound composed of equal parts prog noodling, very melodic metal and even some approachable classical influence chucked in for the music students.  Yes, they’re very much a part of the ‘corset metal’ movement recently decried by the Metal Hammer podcast (somebody play them some Machine Head to distract them – stat!), but that’s my favourite style of rock, so I don’t see a problem with the designation.

Wednesday December 12th can’t get here quickly enough…

 

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Delain/Trillium/Halcyon Way at Corporation, Sheffield, 13/05/2012 – gig review

I love going to gigs but I don’t love the rather perverse reaction that I have to them – I can only describe it as being akin to having the kind of nerves you would have if you were actually on stage.  For the couple of hours before I go to see a show, there’s a distinct sense of my stomach doing loop-de-loops, my heart racing and all kinds of reactions which are back-to-front and just plain daft.  It would be great if I could just fold my arms, ignore the band and check my text messages as a few punters seem to enjoy doing, but I’m not of that mindset.

All of which preamble leads me to talk about going to see Delain, Trillium and  Halcyon Way at the Corporation in Sheffield on Sunday night.  A good time, you’ll be pleased to hear, was had by most.

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The Corporation is a small venue but it’s got atmosphere to spare and you get up close and personal with not only the bands but a wide variety of fascinating personalities.

Hence the comment about people and their mobiles – a trio of rock fans standing near me last night, who had presumably paid £13 or £14 to attend the show, did their very best to ignore the bands all night and were sharing regular texts, photos and FaceTweets.  If they’re that keen to have the bands not spoil their night, I’d be happy to go round to their flats and stand in front of them whilst they just play the CD, knock back pints of rubbish lager and occasionally stand on my checkerboard Vans.

The first band on last night were Georgia progressive metallists, Halcyon Way, who had the dubious honour of being odd men out in some respects.  Their sound – punchy, technical, intense and lyrically rather more bleak than the other bands on the bill – didn’t seem to go over brilliantly at first but their reception improved through their half-hour set.  I think that it’s a case of the audience not being familiar with the band rather than the band not being up to much – their Last.FM page lists reference points like Dream  Theatre and Slayer, which is somewhere near to how I’d describe them.  I was getting old school thrash alongside progressive solos and anthemic, fist in the air choruses.

Amanda Somerville, from Trillium. They’re quite ace.

Occupying the unenviable position of being the band before the headliners, Trillium might have been an unknown quantity to some in the crowd but I was more familiar with Amanda Somerville’s metal project as she’s worked with Fluffrick approved bands like  EpicaKamelot and my beloved Avantasia (their tune, “The Story Ain’t Over” is one of my very favourite songs).

I’ve heard some of the Trillium album and it didn’t really win me over too much but the live performance of the songs was a revelation – so much so that I’ll be picking up the record and giving it my full attention, as Somerville’s the kind of vocalist who really should be a massive star.  Simply put, she owns the stage and commands your attention for every second of Trillium’s set – she’s a proper, honest to goodness rock star whose work should be in your collection if you love European flavoured rock and metal, albeit with a distinctive soulful edge which sets her apart from the symphonic bands who think that having a female vocalist is akin to doing fifty percent of the work.

My favourite song from Trillium proper was “Purge” although my favourite song of the set was “Set Afire” from the Kiske/Somerville collaboration – though the band was properly on fire by the time that “Bow to the Ego”, “Path of Least Resistance” and “Coward” rounded out the set with Somerville’s R&B/Soul influences taking flight and ending their show on a roof-obliterating high note.

The only name which does Amanda Somerville justice is ‘Valkyrie’.  I like to think that any passing Vikings who happened upon Trillium’s set on Sunday night would have seen a kindred spirit.

After some more setting-up, gusts of experimental dry ice and the venue filling up a little more with an intriguing varied selection of punters – Hey, bloke who looks like he shops at the (hypothetical) Jeremy Clarkson collection at M&S!  Hi, dude in well-weathered Sisters of Mercy shirt! – Delain‘s intro tape started and the lights took their sweet time about dropping down.

Image of Delain’s Charlotte Wessels via some internet ninja action.

This tour has been all about introducing the band’s third album to fans after a protracted, business-related delay in getting it released and with the internet being the delivery system that is, a great many fans were word-perfect with songs which don’t properly hit streets until early June, a fact acknowledged by Charlotte between songs as she noted that we could hear the new songs first on YouTube or at the gig tonight.

Happily, the new stuff is ace.  You might have heard recent single “Get the Devil Out Of Me” wherever good music is heard:

Delain – Get The Devil Out Of Me

It’s a good indicator of where this third album is going – tighter, focussed lyrics and with tons of symphonic melody, huge metal riffs and Ms Wessels’ distinctive voice somehow meeting brilliantly in the middle and making perfect musical sense.  I hate to use them as an example of a rock/metal band that you could introduce to non-metal fans who think that the genre’s just noise but the fact is that Delain manage to be accessible to both the rock-phobic and the die-hard headbanger alike.

We had a satisfying mix of stuff from the first album – “The Gathering”, one of my favourite Delain tunes, was the last song of the night, so I left the venue smiling – “April Rain” and June’s “We Are The Others”.  I was particularly taken with new, Facebook/social media-inspired “Generation Me” (did the trio of phone-addicted kids in front of me have an ironic twinge at any point during that song, I wonder) and the older “Virtue and Vice”, whose male harsh vocal bridge was gleefully undercut by Charlotte bouncing up and down and grinning like a metal diva exercise instructor at the same time.

It’s the little things, you know.

I loved Delain, let’s be honest – like Trillium, they’re a band who gain so much from the live experience that you owe it to yourself to see them if they come to your town.  I would venture that fans of hyper-glum Black Metal might beg to differ but Delain were one of the best bands that I’ve seen in a long while.  Admittedly, they are totally up my street being Dutch, unapologetically tuneful and ever so slightly nerdy (I’ve been listening to Delain on a loop as I read Markus Heitz’s “The Dwarves” – full disclosure), but don’t let my cheerleading put you off.

Melody, metal and foot-long grins on every one’s face – that’s the Delain experience for you.

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Behold – Symphonic Metal!

Remember how I told you that I was reading the Motley Crue autobiography (as dictated to a no doubt increasingly bemused and horrified Neil Strauss), “The Dirt”? Yep, it’s every bit as eye-rolling, mind-boggling and stomach-churning as I predicted it would be. And, of course, it’s utterly compelling reading from first page to last. Funny how that happens.

I don’t know that it has given me any more appreciation for the Crue (Especially when Nikki Sixx essentially admits that a number of albums were so compromised by the band’s various addictions that they were basically ‘phoned-in’ efforts) but it does make me boggle that Amy Winehouse can depart the planet at such a young age when these guys are still merrily touring away despite having ingested enough chemicals and adult beverages to convincingly fell a herd of elephants.

All of which preamble, whilst delightful, buffers us from the purpose of this news post – Dutch symphonic metallurgists, Epica, have gone into the studio in Germany to record their next long-player, as reported today on the Roadrunner Records-affiliated Blabbermouth blog.

If you’re into the likes of Within Temptation and Delain, you’ll possibly have given Epica’s symphonic metal a listen. If this is your first encounter with the band, why not give “Never Enough” a try. Go on, I’ll wait.

If you waited thirty seconds before coughing “Evanescence”, then you’re a better person than I. Whilst you’ve got to wonder if Within Temptation, Leave’s Eyes and Epica would have careers without Amy Lee and co blowing up the spot with “Bring Me To Life”, there’s something distinctly European and pleasingly eccentric/old-fashioned about these bands and their slightly overwrought take on rocking your socks off.

It’s a bizarre thing, really. Who would have thought that record companies, in their infinite wisdom, would collectively reach the belief that what rock fans REALLY want is a less threatening Papa Roach fronted by Sarah McLachlan? Funny old world.

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