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Dutch gothic metal masters

In the growth of such female fronted bands as Nightwish, Within Temptation and their endless clones, it is rare to find another lady-metal band that are of such a quality and calibre that they really make you sit up and take notice - at Thirteenth Day 2005 Epica were this band. Providing a stunning mix of traditional heavy metal and gothic-influenced choral sections, I am certain I am not alone in saying they were a true highlight of the festival.


After using the opening intro song "Hunab K'u" from their most recent album "Consign To Oblivion" the band instantly tore into the song "Dance of Fate" before following up with other premium cuts off this album, including the oh-so-catchy "The Last Crusade" and "Mother Of Light", making a strong and instantly appealing opening to their set. Luckily although their most recent album was disappointing in places, the translation of the songs to the live setting improved their quality; something that is not really found in many bands around today. Songs that come off as weaker or less appealing on the album such as "Dance Of Fate" became heavy head banging anthems whilst the song "Quietus" gained from the addition of extra growled vocals not present on the album which was a real treat for fans.


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Front woman Simone Simons had a captivating stage presence and provided (more importantly) a more convincing performance than some other female metal singers of the moment. Also unlike some other female fronted bands around at the moment, her vocals constantly matched the quality of their studio recordings and were only marred by the occasional dips in sound quality. The rest of the band performed more than adequately with a particular highlight being the pleasingly heavy guitars.


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The only real problems the set faced were some minor issues with the sound which really made no impact when considered in the light of their talent anyway and there was also, sadly, a large focus on their recently released 2nd album. Whilst all of the tracks off this album are certainly of a high quality it would have been interesting to have seem them play one or two more off their first album "The Phantom Agony" to please the long time fans.


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When the words "This will be our last song" came the disappointment I felt was audible in all of the crowd around me, thankfully we were saved by the magic words "It is ten minutes long" and the ensuing metallic bombast of "Consign To Oblivion" really showed precisely what it is that makes Epica such a formidable live act. Their mixture of fantastic vocals, heavy-as-hell guitars and formidable stage presence during this song really summed up the whole of their set. The next time they visit this country can't come soon enough.



To view all photos taken during this set click here. There are 31 available.