It's always a special occasion when a band decides to do an album launch concert, gig, party, however you wish to term it. The truth of the matter is that not only are album launch parties great for showcasing a wide variety of bands, in this case metal bands, but also the nationalities drawn it from it. With Epica's EpicMetalFest II, people from far and wide came to the 013 Poppodium in Tilburg to witness bands from Europe and as far away as Tunisia and Canada.
(This was my first time at a concert abroad and first time flying alone having come from the UK)
Sadly despite best efforts, due to some rather annoying maintenance works going on the Dutch railway and highway between Arnhem and Tilburg, I missed Off The Cross (BE), For I Am King (NL) and Myrath (FR / TN) and so cannot really report on either band. However, by chatting to some punters who said all three bands were on the ball, I'll take their word for it and give all three bands a 7.50/10.
Dutch Modern Metal outfit Textures certainly had their A-game in check as they carried off where Tunisian Oriental Metallers Myrath had finished. By unleashing a charismatic on-stage presence with some rather tight and malicious sounding music, there was no reason why the crowd couldn't have matched the intensity radiating from Textures performance. Underrated at times, Textures have shown during this evening why they're worthy of a Bloodstock slot next year. Ballistic at all angels, Textures were simply raising the bar for the evening, was there anyone capable of stealing the show (besides Epica)?
Having only made their Napalm Records debut last year, Belgian Speed Metallers Evil Invaders showed exactly why the Austrian label snapped up the quartet without question. Blisteringly fast riffs crashed against all four walls of the Universe Stage, all whilst Textures were doing their own shindig next year on the Storm Stage. Evil Invaders have been knocking around for nearly 10 years and yet despite the age of the band as a unit, the members started off as teenagers, yet they're capable of proving that they've shed their teenage skins and morphed into a formidable, respectable force. By belting out songs as if they went out of fashion, Evil Invaders only had one thing in mind... total carnage and boy did they deliver.
One of a handful of Dutch Metal bands performing at this year's EpicMetalFest, Stream Of Passion are really no newcomers to the erotic world of female-fronted Symphonic Metal, in fact all but one band member have been in previous bands thus being no strangers to the scene. Moreover here is a band who despite their best efforts at delivering sweet music that is so sumptuously good to the ears, hasn't yet managed to reach the heights of their fellow contemporaries in Within Temptation and Epica. However their set demonstrated that they're on the path to achieve that goal and despite it still being late afternoon, had no reservations about keeping the crowd on their toes. Drinking was in full flow during their set, Stream of Passion? A Stream of alcohol more like.
Since the departure of Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist kicked Alissa out of the band, thus enabling her to join Arch Enemy after Angela Gossow became band manager; thereabouts), The Agonist have been finding their way with their new vocalist Vicky Psarakis. Now, Vicky showed she is up to the task-in-hand by delivering a performance worthy of continuous applause if not for some of the other band members who seemed rather lost and at times not fully convincing; it's as if they haven't stepped out of the shadows of their former vocalist, resulting in a rather disappointing set. Not entirely sure what their plans were for the evening but it seemed to not involve band practise, despite this the whole set was of reasonable standard yet without a doubt, probably the most disinteresting performance of the night.
Herewith is an example of grandiose perversion of the extremely meticulous kind, and now you're probably thinking what the actual f*ck am I on about? It's certainly a technical sentence no? Perfect for Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse who once again don the theatrics and emit such musical ferocity that earth tremors could be felt. Seriously enough they did not put a foot wrong, in fact they are so rehearsed in their dramatis personae that they would do well at Eurovision next year (are you reading this RAI?). Strobe lights abound and an air of operatic grandeur circumventing the venue was certainly the case, plenty more where those came from as walls of death came to and fro by the commands of Tommaso Riccardi; it was as if he was playing the king and the punters as the fools, either way Fleshgod Apocalypse demonstrated once again why they are still underrated.
Where Fleshgod Apocalypse managed to succeed in shitting the audience, Katatonia did not, instead they commenced the slitting. A once great and brutal institution has now turned for the dank and dismal worse; it was as if they weren't meant to be here because to be quite frank, the music did not fit in with the rest of the evenings line-up. That said, at least Katatonia trump Justin Bieber hands down and have the decency to sing, not lip sync live. But Katatonia just could not get the audience going, some just standing and watching bare-face, expressionless, it was as if they have been subjected to a public culling of animals, it was horrific. Despite all their might, Katatonia just did not deliver tonight... well they delivered, but the music was stale and too depressive.
Now whilst I interviewed Anis Jouini from Myrath, The Ocean were doing their thing (and we could hear it, so let's give them a decent 7/10). Now the time had come for the star performance of the evening, well it is Epica's show of course... joking aside, Epica are another band who know how to deliver a mesmerizing yet epic live show and they did not disappoint. Using props designed to mimic their new album's artwork (The Holographic Principle), Epica used laser deflecting pyramids to divert light beams across the stage, creating a psychedelic feeling as a result. Additionally in tow was Coen Janssen and his 'keyscooter' (let's call it that because it's a keyboard on wheels) and of course the expected pyrotechnics (which culminated in the end to a firework explosion). Epica simply were sensational, by delivering a set, performance and indeed day-concert worthy of being unleashed on DVD, all in the namesake of their new album, calling it magical is simply not enough and does not describe the overarching package that is EpicMetalFest... may the 2017 edition be as breathtaking.
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