Archive for Design Your Universe

Epica unveil live clip of Martyr of the Free World; taken from new live DVD Retrospect

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 27th November 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

23rd March this year saw Dutch symphonic titans Epica celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band with a special concert known as Retrospect. Accompanying the band on stage for the 3 hour show was the seventy piece Extended Reményi Ede Chamber Orchestra and the Miskolc National Theatre Choir. The event was filmed for the band’s new live DVD, also known as Retrospect. The band have posted the live clip of Martyr of the Free World (Taken from their Design Your Universe album) from the DVD online. Watch the clip below:

Epica online:


Interview with Isaac Delahaye [Epica]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , on 18th December 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Nico Davidson has a last minute interview with Epica lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Isaac Delahaye at Corporation, Sheffield. The two discuss the next Epica album, Requiem for the Indifferent and other things.

Nico: Hi Isaac, it’s an honour to meet you. How are ya doing?

Isaac: I’m doing great, thank you.

N: Good, good. How’s the tour gone so far then?

I: Well, it’s still starting. We went to Switerzland and then France, did a couple of shows there, so yesterday was really the first one in the UK.

N: Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, what are the main concepts surrounding the album?

I: You mean lyrically?

N: Yeah.

I: Well, basically, it’s not a concept album but the main topics are concerning like if you look around at what’s happening. It seems like the world is going down, it’s not going that well with the financial crisis, all the oil leaks and tsunamis, other natural disasters and all that kinda stuff, dictators and stuff and all that is very present lately. To us, it seems like the concept, the title; Requiem For The Indifferent and the people who are just like “ah, I don’t care what’s happening around me” and “it doesn’t make a difference if I do this” and that’s being indifferent, basically, so that’s a very big part of people who basically don’t care what’s happening around them and because of that, the people who have the power, which is a very small amount of people, they just get more and more power. Even if, say the financial bubble explodes, and if we wouldn’t care about anything, these same people will take power again and the whole thing will not change eventually. So basically, it’s sort of a wake-up call for people to actually do something about things, if they don’t agree on what’s actually then maybe it’s time to just do something about it. It’s basically the same theme as Design Your Universe [2009], like if you design your own universe you can’t really blame yourself for trying and if your motives are right then eventually you’re gonna live your dream or gonna get where you want to be, if you do it with the right attitude and the right goal.

N: How would you say Requiem For The Indifferent differs from the previous album, Design Your Universe?

I: Well, thing with Design Your Universe, it was seen, to many people, as a sort of masterpiece within the genre, so that obviously puts quite some pressure on our shoulders. Therefore, the first thing we agreed on was to not try do something similar, so it’s obviously still Epica and still has all the same elements, but we wanted to start really fresh and with new ideas and not really compare it to what we did in the past and I think one of the main differences was writing the album, incorporating the vocal lines really early in the whole process and I think eventually in the whole album, the whole music supports more and more of the vocal lines and therefore, they appear to be a little bit more catchy, I think and the overall atmosphere of the album is more dark than ever before. I think that’s also due to the lyrics because we wanted it to match. So yeah, it’s a little darker and there’s a little more grunts and more heavy parts, so the dynamics are a little wider. But apart from that, it’s still the standard Epica stuff – choirs, symphonic orchestras, grunts, normal vocals. So, it’s not that we’re a different band.

N: What would you say is your favourite track from Requiem For The Indifferent?

I: I think the opening track, after Monopoly On Truth, is really cool because it basically has what any opening track from any album has – For an Epica album, it contains all the elements right there, it’s aggressive, it’s pretty intimate sometimes, a lot of orchestration and choirs and a song like Deter The Tyrant is cool because it’s a little different from what Epica has done so far because there’s guitar melodies, which are still kinda new to Epica’s music, so there two are cool. I think it’s always hard to pick one because Epica makes albums, not songs. So, it’s like the whole album is seen as one thing.

N: Epica has had a really busy schedule this year touring Europe, the US, South America, Australia and now, obviously, the UK. So far, for you, what’s been the best show of the year?

I: It’s hard to say. The thing is if you do festivals, like in the summer, it’s good weather, you see your friends from other bands, other bands you’ve toured with in the past and it’s kind of a holidays feeling and you play for a shit load of people at once, so that’s cool but by the end of summer season, “oh, I’m looking forward to these club shows again” but at the end of a tour, it’s the other way round like now, with it being the end of the year, you’re like “yeah, it would be cool to play a big festival again”. So, it’s really hard to answer that question because it all has a certain atmosphere, good or bad. I think that basically, if you go to a show or if I go on a stage, people are enthusiastic, even if it’s ten people or ten thousand people, as cheesy as it sounds but I’m not picky when it comes to having a good time on stage and it’s not always perfect, but I learn to deal with it. Yeah, as long as the people are having a good time and are basically happy – Lately, most of the shows are like that, luckily, so I can’t complain. I’ve had a really good year touring. Apart from that, it’s also about the production. The UK, for instance, like this tour, we’re in a market where we still have to grow – It’s not our main market but we still try to bring as many things as we can like little details for the stage, the lights and we have our own light engineer and stuff. So we always try to do something special and I really like it when you can see it coming alive during the show and you hear afterwards from people who are like “I really liked the lights” or this or that element. So yeah, I can’t complain. I like playing more than being in a studio. They’re all cool in a certain way.

N: Even though Requiem For The Indifferent was released earlier this year, does Epica have any plans for new material?

I: We’ve almost wrote a whole new album ready. We have kind of a crazy schedule but still, like in the meantime, when we’re home, especially me and Mark [Rhythm guitarist]. We write a lot. We sit sit down and start writing more and more ideas, one after the other. For some reason, it matches really well when he composes starting from the orchestration while I compose starting from the guitars, so the match is really good. So far, we have something like ten songs but with really basic structures. I guess after this tour, we have some rest but then we start doing pre-production and then I think we’re gonna start recording somewhere late summer next year, for end of the year release, maybe or early 2014 or something like that if we survive, because you know, the whole world is gonna go down.

N: Like you’ve just stated, you’ve pretty much wrote an entire new album, is there any lyrical themes surrounding the new material at this point?

I: We don’t really have anything lyrically yet because that’s the next step. With the basic structures, we’re gonna start incorporating vocals and all that, so concerning lyrics, we don’t know yet. From what I hear now and from what we have now, it’s gonna be like what I said with Requiem For The Indifferent, a little dark, you know, it has some quite progressive elements. Sometimes, over-the-top elements but I think with the new album, from what I hear now, it will be a little less dark and more catchy and easier to grab. Requiem was an album that if you didn’t listen to it ten times, you didn’t get it. It’s not something you pick up right away, which is what we like but some people just listen once and they go “ah, it’s shit” and they just leave it for what it is. So I think the next album is gonna be a little more straight forward, so we’re probably going back to the beginning for next album. But there’s still so much pre-production to be done, so it’s hard to say. That’s how I see it right now. You know, you’re never gonna do the same album twice and it’s a good counter for what we did with Requiem.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

I: Well, I wish I would have made the one for Gladiator. But replace? I wouldn’t replace it, it’s brilliant. I don’t know, I guess if I don’t remember the music then it’s to be replaced. If I don’t like it then I don’t really notice the music.

N: Last question then. What song do you feel defines Epica as a whole?

I: I don’t know. I guess if you put all the opening tracks together, like I said, and the last tracks of every album then that would basically be every song that represent Epica, like all the elements and stuff.

N: Thanks for your time, Isaac and good luck with the show tonight.

Epica – Requiem For The Indifferent

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 16th March 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Epica
Album: Requiem For The Indifferent
Release Date: March 2012
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

It’s been two and a half years since the release of Design Your Universe, an album which, in my opinion, pales in comparison to other Epica releases. So far, Requiem for the Indifferent has received many praises, building up quite the hype for it amongst fans.

Karma opens up the album, in true Epica fashion of orchestration, though taking on a more tense sound than previous opening tracks. The choir section adds to the mystical soundings of the song before Monopoly On Truth tears through with a mixture of gutsy riffs and symphonic elements, that along aside the choir vocals, command the track with a certain unrelenting power. The vocal work of both Mark and Simone are pretty much capital to the track, making it a standard Epica track. The fine-spun solo sounds quite bluesy and old school while keeping a twist of modern elements. Storm The Sorrow kicks off with a tragic yet beautiful introduction that lay down the foundations for Simone’s aw-inspiring vocals to build upon, whilst the well-structured, sophisticated guitar work of Mark and Isaac lift the symphonic and choir elements to new heights, following well with the rhythm sections. Mark’s vocals are quite sinister, leading unexpectedly into the soothing piano-and-vocal combination. Eventually, the song ends on a firm note.

Delirium starts in similar fashion to Living A Lie, due to the hummed choir section. The ethereal piano medley that follows causes the track to differ from Living A Lie, as Simone’s steadfast vocals softly echo throughout. Ariën’s drum work allows for the piano medleys to be led down a subtle flow of rhythm, leading into the steady guitar solo. I would definitely count this as a “chill out” track. The next track, Infertal Warfare, which is dedicated to the victims of Anders Breivik (the Norwegian terrorist who killed several youths and bombed a government building in July 2011), has a very dramatic introduction. Simon’s vocals sound darker and somewhat terrifying, a massive contrast compared to her usual full-of-life vocals, yet a good contrast as her vocals mix in well with nebulous and lurid orchestration. The choir offers a sullen sound to the music but the guitars and Mark’s vocals offer the more macabre touch to the song, with the guitar and keyboard solos having an almost Dragonforce-like touch to them.

Requiem for the Indifferent brings the staunch Arabic sounds of previous Epica tracks back into use, fusing them with solemn acoustic elements before the full force of the guitars and drums are put into action alongside the dusky orchestration. The guitars are, for me anyway, the highlight of the song with their ever changing sound and the ability to adapt to the orchestration. The choirs add a very Shakespearean tension to the music, making it more climatic than most Epica tracks. The following track, Anima, serves as a very emotive interlude, bringing the proverbial calm before the storm that is Guilty Demeanour, a song that is relatively slow paced when compared to the rest of the album. The orchestration is virtually flawless, while Simone’s vocal work feels a bit toned down. A breath taking string section introduces Deep Water Horizon, accompanied by Simone’s vocals. The percussion adds to the hypnotic effect of the song and the guitars are quite piercing, adding a sharpness to the music.

The tragicomic soundings of Stay The Course come net, with Mark’s vocals being harsh yet mesmerising. The acute orchestrated pieces keep the song exciting, as do the progressive guitar stylings of Isaac and Mark. Simone’s vocals are quite graceful sounding on this track, artistically domineering the song. Deter The Tyrant starts with what could easily be mistaken for a stripped down introduction to a Powerwolf track. The guitars are callous in some of the sections, struggling to match the more experienced sounding orchestration. Simone’s vocals echo delightfully throughout the track, going head-to-head with the exquisite vocal stylings of the choir. Mark’s vocals also make a very distinct appearance during the latter half of the song, reinforcing the Epica sound we’re all accustomed to.

Despite its name, Avalanche, comes in quite softly, like a mouse scurrying through an empty church. The orchestration is semi-majestic, allowing for a mystical sound to be created along side Simone’s vocals. Mark’s vocal stylings strike unexpectedly, adding a dose of brutality to the song, blending with the heavier sections of the song like some sort of demonic ichor. The choir parts add a very thespian feel to the song, as does the orchestration. The song comes to its end very softly, allowing for a breather as the piano introduction of the final track, Serenade Of Self-Destructive, eases its through the speakers – That is until the orchestration and guitars come crashing down like a landslide of finely composed music. Both Simone’s and Mark’s vocals are performed radiantly, making this the most illustrious tracks of the album. The percussion is spot on, as is the bass work of Yves. Musically, the song is probably the most diverse piece on the album, mixing the overwhelming power of the orchestration with the aggressive guitars and drums, topped off with the differing yet beautiful vocal parts.

Requiem For The Indifferent is the most powerful release from Epica since the release of Cry For The Moon and The Divine Conspiracy. They have taken their sound apart and rebuilt it, stronger than ever while staying true to their origins. The orchestration and vocals are the parts that stand out the most, as they the album its powerful, emotional sound while the guitars help keep the essence of previous Epica releases flowing. If anything, I don’t think another symphonic metal album, let another Epica release, could top this.


Nico Davidson

Epica – Storm The Sorrow [Single]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 23rd January 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Epica
Single: Storm The Sorrow
Release date: 20th January 2012
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast

I was first introduced to Epica’s music, by my brother, shortly after the release of their album “The Divine Conspiracy” but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with the stuff they released before that album. “Design Your Universe” felt like a let down compared to their previous albums, so obviously I’m hoping that the next album “Requiem for the Indifferent” [due for release early March] will be an improvement. Just a few short days ago, Epica released “Storm The Sorrow” as a single from the aforementioned album.

Straight away, the song begins with an overpowering symphonically beautiful tragic sound that pave the way for Simone’s vocals (which are on top form). Mark’s and Isaac’s guitar workings are well structured, carrying the use of symphonic melodies and choir vocals well throughout the song while the rhythm sections [drums and bass] offered up do much to keep the track sounding solid. Mark’s vocals make an appearance quite unexpectedly, with Simone’s vocals (At least I think her vocals – I could be wrong). the piano-vocal section that follows creates an oddly soothing aura within the music. “Storm The Sorrow” ends in a similar fashion to its beginning – staunch and symphonic.

Epica have proven themselves to be one of the finest symphonic metal acts on the European – and possibly the international – scene. If “Storm The Sorrow” is anything to go by then “Requiem for the Indifferent” might be the greatest Epica release to date. I don’t know about any of you, but I’m certainly looking forward to it now after hearing “Storm The Sorrow”.

Nico Davidson