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The Garage, Glasgow
Saturday 14th November 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland


Dutch Symphonic Metallers Epica have worked long and hard to get where they are. Taking the premise that you need a work ethic which is the equal of your talent to succeed in the music business these days, they have toured constantly in support of their six full length studio albums to date.

This has seen their audience and reputation grow accordingly and it's apparent that they have no intention of slowing down either.

This gig is in the second and final batch of shows in support of 2014's 'The Quantum Enigma' and they seem to realise that there are still new audiences to find. It's great to see that on only their second ever visit to Scotland they have sold out this 700 capacity venue.

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The last couple of times I have seen Epica live it has been on much bigger stages than the one here in The Garage but as soon as the band step out in front of an expectant crowd it is abundantly clear that this makes no difference to them at all.

Totally professional in their outlook and performance, the sound is crystal clear from the start and the impression you get is how much of a unit this band is. They have a very busy style of music, full of time changes and big sounds with everyone going full blast but also riddled with beautiful subtleties.


Keeping things tight and together sounds like it would take a lot of focus but I'm struck by how much confidence the band have in each other, they trust one another to do their job and the vibe is relaxed and full of smiles.

Guitarist Isaac Delahaye is full of fun, joking and laughing with his bandmates and picking out people in the crowd for a smile or to throw a plectrum their way. Keyboard player Coen Janssen is constantly moving around his pivoting keyboard and obviously loves the freedom he has later in the set to get front and centre with his unusual looking portable unit.


Drummer Arien van Weesenbeek likes to have fun too but that simply seems to involve playing drums as fast and hard as the songs will allow. There are seemingly a million quick and complex fills in every song from the guy the rest of the band call 'The Beast' but everything is perfectly suited to the songs. He really is an impressive talent and has become an integral part of the band's unique sound.


All the fun the band have on stage doesn't stop them being intense and heavy and during parts of songs like of 'Martyr Of The Free Word' and 'Unleashed' their credentials as a full on Metal force are there for all to see with Delahaye, Mark Jansen and Rob van der Loo strung out across the stage and blasting away.

Jansen adds a serious edge with his growls too and he is the one who makes the dedication to the terrorist incident in Paris and leads a minute of silence in memory of the dead (marred by two quickly silenced assholes but otherwise impeccably observed).

They have all that going for them and I haven't even mentioned singer Simone Simons. An icon among many Epica fans around the world, she is an imperious beauty standing there and letting her gorgeous mezzo soprano tones float majestically over the fury of the music behind her.


Yet at other times she can be headbanging furiously just like someone in the crowd or smiling and laughing and embracing the joy of the moment.

The final ingredient is the songs themselves, they now have an embarrassment of riches in their back catalogue to choose from such as the epic singalong build up of 'Cry For The Moon' and the symphonic hooklines of 'The Obsessive Devotion'.

There is no let up when they play the newer songs either. 'The Quantum Enigma' is a cracking album which has been embraced completely by their fanbase so songs like 'The Essence Of Silence' and 'Unchain Utopia' are cheered as loudly as anything else.

Epica shake up the set list regularly as they tour and tonight the title track from 'Design Your Universe' got an airing. It is a tremendously atmospheric song through its ten minute length but I wasn't sure about it being placed as last in the main set as the quiet ending left the audience a bit unsure if the main set was finished at that point.


There was no such issue with regular set closer 'Consign To Oblivion' though, with everyone roaring along with Jansen's growls and even a mini version of the traditional wall of death at the start in the tightly packed venue.

This was a fantastic show from a band in really great form right now. The line up has developed to the point where they are full of energy and charisma on stage and bursting with creativity off it.

With reportedly over twenty songs already being worked on for the next album the only thing I can see from here is that they are going to get bigger and deservedly so. Epica's time is now, grab the chance to see them before you have to go to an arena to do it.


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