Tag Archives: bands from the netherlands

Epica @ Gramercy Theatre (1/29/2010)

Logo - Epica

Artist: Epica
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Threat Signal, Blackguard, Cypher Seer & Phoenix Reign
Date: 1/29/2010
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

“Design Your Universe” was the mantra being spoken by Dutch Symphonic purveyors Epica and this new album was being supported with a rousing tour and making a stop in good ole’ New York City. I was really happy to find Epica returning to the states for a tour because they have remained one of my very favorite of the whole Symphonic Operatic Metal bands that are out there and this interest of mine began with their “Phantom Agony” release back in 2004. The band has not been to this region for a tour since their last headlining gig which was in 2007 and sadly a very ill-attended event when it hit NYC. This surprised me as the bill was killer and found Visions Of Atlantis, Unexpect and The Agonist on the tour as well. Perhaps the free Ozzfest that had just been held was the cause for this, but either way that is a show long gone and now we move forward. Tonight’s gig at the Gramercy Theatre had sold out by the time the doors opened and the tour was following the adventures of Epica who were joined by both Threat Signal and Blackguard as the major bands with some warming the crowd up by local openers as they hit each city. Our gig found the likes of Cypher Seer and Phoenix Reign getting the people into the mood and here is how the night progressed for those who didn’t manage to secure a ticket.
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God Dethroned @ Blender Theater at Gramercy (10/16/2009)

Logo - God Dethroned

Artist: God Dethroned
Venue: Blender Theater at Gramercy (New York, NY)
Opener: Abigail Williams, Augury, Praetor Morte, Regain The Heart Condemned, Woe Of Tyrants
Date: 10/16/2009
Label: Metal Blade Records

I know the Fall season was upon us, but man was it cold the night of this show and perhaps some of the kinds of music that we were about to witness had something to do with it. After all, this would be the first time in about four years that the guys in God Dethroned had made an appearance in NYC. The last time they came around was for a Death Metal festival that took place at the long shuttered C.B.G.B.’s. Direct support would come from Abigail Williams who we saw in this same venue as a headliner not too long ago and if that was not enough to spark your interest well there were four other bands on the bill that made this a very awesome treat for the ticket price.

Preator Morte: What I caught was not bad at all but I missed the larger part of their set based on the show starting much earlier than it had been announced as starting. Generally a show like this starts off at 7:30 which was when I arrived but by this time the band was almost done with their set. Oh well. Regain The Heart Condemned was up next and another new name in my Metal book.
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“The Classical Conspiracy” by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “The Classical Conspiracy”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 5/19/2009
Genre: Symphonic Operatic Metal
Rating: 5/5

While there were already quite a few female-fronted Symphonic Operatic Metal bands in existence at the time that Nightwish came into their biggest prominence, it was their overall success at the craft that allowed other bands who offered an equally interesting sound the chance to rise to greater heights themselves. One such band is Epica, whom I have enjoyed since I first heard their debut “The Phantom Agony” and with each release they never cease to amaze me with their levels of creativity and powerful Symphonic Metal. The band was founded by guitarist Mark Jansen, who came to notoriety from another Dutch band called After Forever, and together with Mezzo Soprano vocalist Simone Simons have really pushed the envelope in terms of what one can do with this kind of Metal. “The Classical Conspiracy” is a very interesting live effort that finds the group performing with a full symphony orchestra much like we found Within Temptation doing with their own “Black Symphony” release. However, the difference between the Epica recording from their Dutch counterparts, the group delivers the first half of the show as a full on classical recital while the second act presents a healthy dose of their rocking Metal originals.
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“Mother Earth” (remaster) by Within Temptation

Artist: Within Temptation
Title: “Mother Earth” (remaster)
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 8/5/2008
Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

My introduction to Within Temptation does not come without some back story to it for I remember that I had only been turned on to Nightwish a couple of years earlier and while sitting in the cubicle at one of the gulag’s I worked in, I was listening to the freedom that music offered a person from that realm via Yahoo’s Music player. When I set the player up to bands I enjoyed, it said “listeners who like Nightwish also like Within Temptation” or something to that effect, and with this being before the days of mass Ipod use or millions of web-based music sites, this was pretty cool. The songs that the Yahoo player started delivering were from Within Temptation’s “Mother Earth” album and I was immediately hooked on the powerful symphonic drive of the group as well as some of the haunting melodies that they blended so well together. Of course, being 2002-2003, finding this album stateside was impossible and now thanks to Roadrunner Records releasing a remastered and expanded edition a larger fan base can finally catch on to them in 2008. “Mother Earth” is the bands second studio album and probably the best place that a listener can come on board and begin their own appreciation of them based on the overall strength of the material and the fact that the band had moved on from a far darker sound with this album and maintained course since. Opening with its title track “Mother Earth”, the release sets the mood in dramatic fashion and while the band crunches and grooves behind her, singer Sharon den Adel simply mesmerizes you. Her voice is fantastic and while she can attain some of the soaring operatic heights she also sings at a normal register and that fact makes the album a little easier to appreciate. The song has remained one of my own favorites since this was the first track that I ever heard from them.
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“After Forever” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “After Forever”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 9/25/2007
Genre: Melodic Gothic Metal
Rating: 4.5.5

I’m happy to report that I had been a fan of After Forever’s for a few years by the time that their signing to Nuclear Blast Records was announced, so when this happened I was not only excited about it but I also felt that I had a little bit more lead into what a whole new world of Metal fans would soon experience and most definitely enjoy. For those unaware, After Forever is a Dutch Symphonic Melodic Metal band that started out a little more on the Operatic side and this was when such a style was not as common as we find today. Since forming in 1995 they have morphed in sound and style and as result found themselves at times Dark Metal and almost always on the Progressive side. With After Forever music it is continually about power and majesty and now with their self-titled debut on Nuclear Blast Records are giving a brand new audience a taste of not only how they sound today but also a little look back into their storied past. The band was previously signed to the now defunct Transmission Records along with their current label mates Epica, another Dutch band of note that features AF’s former guitarist Mark Jansen. He would start Epica after leaving the ranks of AF and while they share a label once again each band offers the listener enough difference to have them equally enjoyable without any fear of repetition. Can we say that one group is better than the other well that is up to the listener to decide and I have to admit that I like the two acts equally. The newest album “After Forever” begins with a rousing flourish as the tune “Discord” kicks into gear and offers up a great Beauty & The Beast vocal duel. As soon as the song is underway you realize just how incredible the voice of Floor Jansen is.
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