I’ve had the esteemed pleasure of touring with Epica in past years, and a few weeks prior to this particular tour starting I was offered a spot on their crew for the first three dates. Naturally I agreed to the position, and therefore got to take in these shows while spending time with old friends. Epica had with them an eclectic roster of support bands, The Agonist and Fleshgod Apocalypse. As expected, epicness ensued.
Montreal’s The Agonist were the first to grace the stage, and grace it they did, with fierce determination and energy. The group’s set was concise and to the point, mostly playing songs and singles from their last three records, from what I could tell. The band recently released their newest album Five unto the world, and I was pleased with the way those songs added a dynamic within the set. Five is not without its bite, but its mellower moments gave the crowds plenty to headbang to, yet not pummelling them with aggression. I’ve seen The Agonist only a couple of times over the past few years since singer Vicky Psarakis took over lead singer duties with the band, and her growth as a front womansince her inaugural show is beyond apparent. Next to her more seasoned band mates, her confidence and command of the stage helped tie the whole show together.
Few bands have been able to strike the sublime balance of beauty and brutality in extremes the way Fleshgod Apocalypse has, and beholding it live for the first time was quite the sight. Donning classical performance and operatic garb, they demand your attention before a single note is struck, but the theatrical element to their show acts only as the exclamation point to the sheer force and talent exuded by the band. Their merging of brutal technical death metal and neoclassical elements is a new take on familiar sounds that is executed with masterful precision. F.A’s fan base has looked to have grown exponentially over the years from their high-profile support tours; if these past few show are any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them headlining sooner than later.
Making their triumphant return after a couple of false starts over the last few years (for various reasons), Epica are armed to the teeth with a new record (The Holographic Principle) and the biggest stage set I’ve seen from them yet. They are one of the few bands who have both maintained a following and grown in popularity within their genre over the last few years, even when a number of power metal bands have seen steep declines. Thankfully, they always give their fans good reason to come back for more, and even after seeing them copious amounts of times, their shows still feel fresh. Out of the fourteen songs played, half were dedicated to the new record, which may mark the first time that I was actually happy about a band playing so much new material. Crowd favourites like “The Obsessive Devotion,” “Design Your Universe,” and “Consign To Oblivion” were there to satiate the audience’s thirst for the classics, but this tour is certainly devoted to pushing the new album. Visually, the show was on point, with a great energy from the band and a stellar light show, but the crown jewel for me was the U-shaped walkway complete with guiding track so keyboardist Coen Janssen could walk his keyboard around.
I said it before in my review of The Holographic Principle: Epica are at the top of their game right now. I highly recommend everyone to check out their show, not only for them but for all of the stellar bands on the bill.
Written by Paul Ablaze
*edited by Kate Erickson