Epica w/Support @ The Palladium, Worcester

Epica, Alestorm, Insomnium, System Divide, and Blackguard
The Palladium, Worcester, Massachusetts
27th October

It was a cold night when I arrived at The Palladium for the Epica North American Tour 2012, but it became incredibly warmer once I was confronted by the hundreds of metal fans of all kinds (power metal fans, death metal fans, and even fans who dressed up as pirates) waiting eagerly along the side of the building to get inside. It was a bit more packed than it should have been because in a different part of the venue, Taproot and Nonpoint were playing a show as well. How random, right?

Before I even got into the show, I did an interview with Blackguard front man Paul Ablaze. I then made my way inside to stand in front of the barricade to take pictures. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever use a photo press pass at a show again just because it felt like I was detached from the show and not so much a part of it, and not to mention I kept getting heckled by the security who thought I was a total pain in the ass. Although it was a nice change from being crushed by topless, sweaty dudes who reek of eggs and despair.

Anyway, the show starts off with Blackguard, which I was relieved to see because The Palladium usually likes to add on local acts to bigger shows, and sometimes those bands are unbearable.  They only played for a half hour, which consisted of only newer songs. They even played a new track, In Dreams, which will be on their next album.  For some reason, I felt like this was not Blackguard’s best set. I’ve seen them many times in the past few years, and I suppose what was missing was that folky element that their older songs have. Not to say that their newer stuff is bad, but they were definitely lacking that fun and energetic aspect that they usually portray in their live shows. Their energy was still very high and the songs made the crowd break out into a sea of windmills, but it just felt different to me this time.

Following Blackguard was System Divide. I was familiar with the band after listening to their EP a few years ago, and their set was actually better than I had anticipated it to be.  I also forgot that Sven De Caluwe, vocalist of Aborted, does vocals for System Divide as well!  Paired along with Miri Milman, who is the female vocalist in the group, the band definitely had a unique set mixed with heavy but melodic guitar and a mix of clean and growl vocals. It’s always interesting to me when there are two vocalists in a band because from what I’ve seen, one vocalist is usually predominate over the other which makes the other vocalist completely unnecessary. However, both vocalists meshed very well together and the mixed styles had some people in the crowd booing, but their stage presence and high energy was a winner to me.

I was most looking forward to Insomnium’s set not only because I have never seen them live before, but they’re also one of my favorite melodic metal bands of all time. That same powerful feeling I experienced from listening to the albums was also portrayed in their live show. Starting their set with the song Inertia, their beautiful riffs paired with their low and enticing vocals created a serene but dark atmosphere that was just absolutely captivating. They also played Down With the Sun which is off my favorite album from them, Across the Dark, but most of their set was relatively newer songs. They had a slower set, but I believe they played the best out of everyone that night. It’s hard to keep a crowd’s attention when playing songs that are not as upbeat, but Insomnium did an excellent job at setting a more somber mood without losing the focus of the audience.

Last time I saw Alestorm, I did not really get to enjoy their set due to the amount of crazy, drunken pirate fans that literally kept throwing themselves on top of me trying to climb their way onto the stage. However, after being able to watch them, Alestorm’s set was so upbeat that there were people in the pits who were literally dancing and skipping around! They played a bunch of fan favorites such as Keelhauld, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, and Leviathan, and the crowd couldn’t help but break out singing very loudly and drunkly to Nancy the Tavern Wench. The keyboards and keytar mixed with talk about squids and other pirate banter made the crowd pumped and ready for Epica’s set.

Having seen Epica once before, I was anticipating a highly awesome performance. However, I only managed to watch the first three songs before I had to head out from the show. From those three songs alone, which were Monopoly on Truth, Sensorium, and Unleashed, it was hard to not become enthralled by the seemingly beautiful vocals of Simone Simmons paired with the melodic and charismatic riffs of the guitars and keyboards. The flashing of the lights in the background and the positive energy from the audience only added to the, dare I say, epic feeling that Epica was giving off. I later found out that Epica did a few encore songs: Cry for the Moon, Blank Infinity, and Consign to Oblivion, and these concluded another spectacular performance from this band.

Having to wake up early and basically bust my butt to make it to this show was entirely worth it. Hopefully Epica comes back really soon so I can fully appreciate and enjoy them like I did the first time around, and hopefully the other bands come and tour around American again really soon!

Lauren Gowdy

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