Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
Epica recently concluded their North American trek entitled ‘The Ultimate Principle Tour’. This marked their second leg around the continent in support of 2016’s ‘The Holographic Principle’. These Dutch symphonic metal titans have recently unleashed the brand new EP, ‘The Solace System’ via Nuclear Blast to celebrate this run along with giving their fans a fresh musical treat. The band invited Italian gothic metal giants Lacuna Coil, Finnish Melodic death metallers Insomnium, and Ohio-symphonic metal newcomers Elantris along with them. The journey began on August 31st in Boston and concluded on September 29th at New York City’s Playstation Theater. We were lucky to make it to their last stop and typically anything goes on the final night.
The evening started with Elantris as they were there to promote their debut album, ‘The Sacrifice’. Vocalist Lindsay Victoria Ketchum paid an homage to Epica with her wardrobe selection, making it evident that this group idolizes the headlining act. Their performance resonated an early-Epica era along with introducing an original flavor of their own. While a few aspects showcased their shyness, they do not hold back at engaging with the audience.
In terms of genre, Insomnium were the odd ones out. However, many arrived that night just to see them. It was two years ago when these Finnish metallers headlined North America. During that run, frontman/bassist Niilo Sevänen had to drop out due to an emergency leaving the group to find a last-minute replacement. Therefore, this return was rather triumphant and they brought their latest effort 2016’s ‘Winter’s Gate’ via Century Media along for the ride. Whether they put on a cowboy hat, shred, or headbanged, they looked comfortable while doing it on the stage. Songs included “The Primeval Dark,” “While We Sleep,” “Winter’s Gate, Part 1,” “Winter’s Gate, Part 2,” “Mortal Share,” “Winter’s Gate, Part 3,” “Winter’s Gate, Part 4,” “Change of Heart,” “Ephemeral,” and “The Promethean Song.”
Lacuna Coil was up next and similar to Insomnium, there were people who were specifically there for them. These Italian giants could be classified as a mainstream act – I.E. pairing with Evanescence or Within Temptation. Therefore, this diversified the concertgoers. Similar to their previous North American headlining tour, they brought their latest effort ‘Delirium’ (2016) to the stage. The cryptic lighting enhanced the band’s genetic horror/gothic look as they continued to deliver a strong set. Since this was the last night of the tour, vocalist Cristina Scabbia invited Epica’s Simone Simons to join her on stage to sing “Heaven’s A Lie.” The setlist included songs “Ultima Ratio,” “Spellbound,” “Die & Rise,” “Heaven’s A Lie,” “Blood, Tears, Dust,” “Ghost in the Mist,” “My Demons,” “Trip the Darkness,” “Our Truth,” “Nothing Stands in Our Way,” “The House of Shame.”
Finally, it was time for Epica. The group started out on a solid note as they brought ‘The Holographic Principle’ to life with the introductory track “Eidola” followed by “Edge of the Blade.” As the set continued to flourish, Simons introduced the new song “Wheel of Destiny,” taken from their new EP. Following that tune, they went into “The Essence of Silence” from 2014’s ‘The Quantum Enigma’. This particular album is considered as the turning point in Epica’s career, as they upped their game by moving into a more orchestrated direction. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen wrote this track based on clearing his mind. In a previous interview, he told us, ” Clear the mind exactly! I really need that because I’m a thinker and I always having thoughts that’s why I wrote the song “The Essence of Silence,” the lyrics because there are always thoughts in my mind and it keeps going continuously and when I’m cycling there’s at least a few moments that it’s gone.” For those who thoroughly follow the group, there was a moment of embrace by the way Jansen introduced the track to the crowd.
The set mainly consisted with their new style with songs from their latest effort and ‘The Quantum Enigma’. For the fans who wanted to hear songs such as “Obsessive Devotion,” “The Last Crusade,” “Sensorium,” “Design Your Universe,” etc.. most likely felt slightly disappointed. However, Epica’s performance execution made it instantly forgivable.
Simons knows how to gracefully and simultaneously interact with the band and the crowd, while keyboardist Coen Janssen moved around on wheels. Their performance surpassed the music that blasted through the speakers, their synchronized movements and chemistry was what shined throughout the venue.
Simons invited Lacuna Coil’s Scabbia to the stage for “Storm the Sorrow.” However, since this was the final night, members from Lacuna Coil, Insomnium and Elantris appeared on the stage. Whether they joined in with Janssen on the keys or Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums, they were there to goof off and have a good time.
It was obvious that Simons was exhausted and struggling with her notes.The band embraces challenges and continues to push their musical limits musically, therefore, it’s not easy hitting those high notes night after night while breaking your neck from headbanging on stage. She was a trooper. Simons stuttered her words when she introduced the song “Reverence.” It looked like she was getting emotional and teary-eyed when she expressed how much that song means to her.
However, when Simons introduced the track, “Cry For the Moon,” she reminded everyone that it was written when they first started as teenagers. It was after this song when Weesenbeek shined behind the kit. However, the band remained on stage and circled around him while holding hands. It showcased the bond they have with each other, which other bands should take a few notes from.
The encore started with Janssen and guitarist Isaac Delahaye chit chatting to the crowd. Eventually, they went into the classic tune “Sancta Terra” from 2007’s ‘The Divine Conspiracy.’ Simons introduced “Beyond the Matrix,” which involved the band burning off their calories jumping up and down to the song. At one point in the encore, Delahaye grabbed his guitar to the seated area in the back of the house to shred while Janssen brought his keyboard with him to crowd surf.
Despite all of the endless action, there was time for one more song. The band demanded the audience to go into the wall of death during the classic song 2005’s “Consign to Oblivion.” Jansen set off the countdown and on three, the mass crowd smashed into each other.
When the night was officially over, no one wanted to leave. They were all taken back by the magic the band created. Epica yet again and as always made a memorable evening for their obsessively devoted fans. We are looking forward to seeing them return to North America as soon as possible.
“Edge of the Blade”
“Wheel of Destiny”
“The Essence of SIlence”
“Ascension – Dream State Armageddon”
“Dancing in a Hurricane”
“Victims of Contingency”
“Storm the Sorrow”
“Reverence (Living in the Heart)”
“Cry for the Moon”
“Beyond the Matrix”
“Consign to Oblivion”