Archive for Simone Simons

Epica – The Solace System

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 4th September 2017 by mickbirchy

Epica
The Solace System
Symphonic Metal, Progressive Metal
Released 1st September 2017
via Nuclear Blast Records

Epica have been on a roll as of late. Last year they came out with one of their most commercially accessible, biggest sounding and most fun album to date. They have followed this up with another little taste of this sound. The Solace System is the new EP that continues the big bombastic sound that they created on The Quantum Enigma and The Holographic Principle. When Epica are truly behind something they put their damnedest into making it sound its best.

They manage to effortlessly weave together beautifully poetic lyrics with brutally harsh and excellently composed and layered musical production. The production is simply phenomenal and every track really hits home. The tight chemistry of the band really shines through on the production, creating some really memorable tunes that feel more complex and interesting. The duel vocal stylings that they are known for sound great once again impress me as they seamlessly dart between the two. Although the EP sounds great, it does come across as a little formulaic.  The more I think about it, the more it feels like they’re treading the same water again. At times it just feels a little too… Expected of them. They really haven’t thrown much into this EP to give it it’s own identity. Maybe if they experimented with a few new ideas but there’s nothing here which isn’t territory they have covered before.

In all honesty, I keep flipping back and forth on this album. As much as it feels passe and ineffective, I’m still enjoying the work. It sounds really pretty. Simone’s vocal work is gorgeous, it sounds really clear and is filled with emotion. That is something that she can always do, she jsut throws herself into her lyrics. The music is tight and well written so I can’t complain. However, I wish they would have tried something a little different rather than give us the scraps of what probably didn’t make the cut on The Quantum Enigma or The Holographic Principle. As most of the songs sound like they could have been ripped straight off of one of them. None of the songs are bad by any stretch of the imagination and maybe these songs are different in theme. So yeah giving their own EP makes sense on that front but they could have used this as a platform to try something new.

I’m trying so hard not to make it sound like I don’t like this EP, I do. I really do. There’s some fantastic tunes and well written songs here. However, I’m one of these people that like artists to at least try something different on every release. Yet, after 15 years maybe they just know their market and know how to make the most out of their audience. As for my final thoughts on this EP… It’s good and let’s face it, if you’re an Epica fan… you’ve already bought it.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

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Liv Kristine: “I’d love to further cooperate with Simone”

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 9th January 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Nico interviewed Liv Kristine, the charismatic and Valkyrie-like frontwoman of Leaves’ Eyes in Sheffield on their UK tour, in support of the new album King of Kings.

Nico: Hi Liv, how are you?

Liv: Very good, how are you?

N: I’m great, thanks.

L: Good to see you again.

N: Good to see you too. How has the tour gone so far?

L: Really really well. We’re on the UK leg of the tour now and we have one third of the tour still to play. That’s going to be for the UK only. The first leg was for the rest of Europe which was really nice too. Paris: awesome, Belgium: awesome. But the UK is always something special, we have a very big and strong fan base here. We have fans and friends who follow us for every gig and that’s a privilege. I see that the market for our kind of music is growing here, and that’s maybe not the case in Germany. So it’s very good to be back, we’ve already played three gigs and it has been absolutely fantastic.

N: You’ve released a new album recently: King of Kings – which you’ve based on Harald Fairhair. Obviously Scandinavian history, old Norse history in general, is full of fascinating characters like Eirik Bloodaxe.

L: That’s one of Harald’s sons. You’ll find him in the first or second bonus track, it’s called Trail of Blood. That’s a song about him. So who knows what the next Leaves’ Eyes album is going to be about. We know that Harald had many sons and daughters.

N: There are so many other characters like Erik the Red or Leif Erikson. What is it about Harald Fairhair that stood out from the rest of all these great characters and infamous villains? What made you want to do an album based on his life and his legacy?

L: Because I grew up with the legacy of Harald Fairhair. The decisive battle that made him become the king of Norway took place in a fjord called Hafrsfjord, which is my birthplace. So Harald Fairhair has always been there. I’ve always been interested in history and it happened exactly two years ago, over a morning cup of coffee that Alex came up with this idea: what about king of kings? I started digging through all my books and I contacted my mother in Norway to collect stuff at museums and libraries. So it has been amazing to study Harald Fairhair’s life and to divide it into twelve chapters. Parallel to my studies, Alex and Thorsten composed songs at the studio. We’ve been very busy, it has been a very intense process but highly creative. We had so much fun and it means a lot to me to have this album released. It’s definitely a milestone in the career of Leaves’ Eyes. And as I said, it happened at my birthplace so.

N: I highly praised the album for Valkyrian Music..

L: Thank you very much! I read it, of course.

N:Good! Obviously it’s brilliant to see that you guys got back to how you originally started with tales of Viking warriors, going forth into battle, exploring lands and so on. How would you say that King of Kings compares to the rest of the Leaves’ Eyes discography?

L: I’d say King of Kings has a connection to The Vinland Saga, which was thematically about Leif Erikson and his discovery of America. So if there is a link to any other album, I’d say The Vinland Saga. You already mentioned the folky instruments and the folky touch and the orchestra and everything so it has been there all the time but every album has been different. Now King of Kings happened, it was great to see how everything came together. We worked on every song as if it were one individual piece of music. We added any instrument from London Voices to White Russian Orchestra, cello, flutes…everything. We worked on every song until all three of us, Thorsten, Alex and I being perfectionists, said okay let’s go for the mix, its fine.

N: On this album you added Simone Simons from Epica and Lindy-Fay Hella from Wardruna. What was it like working with those two women on the two tracks that they featured on?

L: Absolutely amazing. Of course I know of the series Vikings and I just thought the music is amazing, the soundtrack is amazing! Who is that girl singing? I found out she’s from Bergen! Through a common friend of mine and of Wardruna, I got Lindy-Fay‘s contacts. I contacted her and she said “of course, I know you and I would really like to work with you”. So I sent her Blazing Waters and we were blown away. A couple of weeks later I flew to Bergen and met Lindy-Fay. I presented her Blazing Waters and she loved it, it was definitely golden. She’s a lovely girl and a great musician.

Simone lives one hour away from us so it was about time to invite her to come to our studio. She’s been at our place before but it has been quite a while. She’s a mother now so she’s busy, but she came by and she listened to the song and…I’d say we are a perfect match. Lovely, lovely to work with her.

N: Obviously Epica and Leaves’ Eyes, despite falling into the symphonic metal genre, have got two completely distinct styles. Do you think there will be any sort of crossover between from the recent collaboration between you and Simone?

L: I don’t know. I have no clue, we’ll see. I love Simone and her work, she’s a lovely girl and we are both mothers… We live one hour away from each other so who knows. I’d love to further cooperate with Simone. It would be great.

N: Going back to Harald Fairhair. You obviously studied his saga, his life story quite extensively for the album. What would you say is the most fascinating aspect about the man?

L: We got a few facts about Harald through Snorri, but Snorri came about a couple of hundred years later. Next to that we got the sagas and the tales of the Norwegian kings, where you can find a lot of interesting written words about them to honor them. I think it is absolutely amazing to read the different approaches to his person, because he must have been exactly as unruly, wild like his son Eirik Bloodaxe. He must have been exactly like that himself. In many of the tales or poems about Harald it is told that he was beautiful and that he could have had any woman: he was very glorious. It’s fascinating to read other stories like the battle of Hafrsfjord; about blood being everywhere and the fjord burning or different sceneries, a different Harald.

N: He certainly sounds like an interesting figure. As a fan of both Vikings and Game of Thrones, which one do you prefer?

L: Vikings. Last time it would have been Game of Thrones but it’s Vikings now because of the music. Of course because of my friend Lindy-Fay who’s in there. Although it’s made in Hollywood, I think it’s very nice. It’s very nice to watch those great actors. I love it. And also because I’m Norwegian.

N: That’s very good. Thank you for your time. Have a lovely show tonight.

L: You’re welcome, thank you very much and thanks for coming.

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de 

Leaves’ Eyes – King of Kings

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes
King of Kings
Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal
Released: September 2015
via AFM Records

If you call yourself a symphonic metal fan and you’ve never come across Leaves’ Eyes, then clearly, you live under a rock. Formed by former Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes have become an established act known for their fusing of folky elements, crestfallen symphonies and straight up metal. Following their arrival at AFM Records, King of Kings became one of the most anticipated albums within the symphonic metal genre this year.

Sweven opens up the track with an almost mournful composition that clearly shows traditional elements of Norse music. The soaring vocals of frontwoman Liv add to the mourning emotion of the song. The title track, King of Kings, marches with a regal use of orchestral compositions, that bolster the ranks of the song while the differing use of vocals – choir, Alexander’s and Liv’s – make the song ever more enchanting.

Halvdan the Black lunges forward with a tragic sounding choir and the rune-binding voice of Liv. Alexander’s bestial voice adds a fierce, war-like edge to the song, joining the antagonistic riffs and narrative symphonies. The Waking Eye dances ever so gently with its alluring concoction of different elements, each note more winsome than the last and the vocals sound so sirenic during this track.

Feast of the Year acts as a good-natured interval before the more Celtic-orientated waltz that is Vengeance Venom enters the ballroom. The Celtic-styled melodies bring an upbeat atmosphere to the album while the lyrics, poetically sang, appear to be of a darker nature. Sacred Vow has all the makings of a heroic piece: A powerful story involving the love of a fair maiden, a war between clans and awe-inspiring music. Everything just seems to fall together, as though this song was meant to be.

Leaves’ Eyes have been known to have guest appearances on their albums in the past, so it comes as no surprise that Edge of Steel features none other than Epica vocalist Simone Simons. The track comes across as an anthem of war, one to be sung by Nordic warriors as they charge into fray armed only with an axe and shield. The orchestral aspects of the song sound quite lion-hearted, adding renewed vigor to the vocals and potency to the already snarling guitars. Simone’s saintly voice cuts through the track like a knife through butter – The duet between herself and Liv Kristine is better than imagined.

Haraldskvædi – which appears to be based on the Old Norse poem Hrafnsmal (Raven’s Song) – combines both English and Norwegian lyrics with eerie whispering, low-spirited vocals and traditional folk elements, with flows smoothly from the previous track and into the next song. Blazing Waters also features a special guest, Lindy-Fay Hella, who is best known for her work with Wardruna.  The song begins with the alluring sounds of traditional folk instrumentation and hypnotic vocal lines before the guitars and drums jump forward, roaring like Fenrir at Ragnarok. The contrast of three vocalists with the differing elements of folk and metal really shows the adaptability of Leaves’ Eyes both in talent and sound.

The album finishes with Swords In Rock, another song that makes a powerful use of Celtic-inspired medleys. The pace and feel of the song makes the listener want to jump up and start dancing some sort of Irish jig, while guzzling whiskey or something of the like from a horn. A fine way to finish the album.

With King of Kings, Leaves’ Eyes appear to have gone back to their earlier roots – not just with the Viking inspired lyrics but the folk influences as well though there are a lot of new aspects for the band found in the album as well. King of Kings is a testament to the continuing saga of Leaves’ Eyes as well as their talent and adaptability, clearly they’re a band that won’t stay within the borders of their safe zone when there are new musical lands to be discovered and conquered by these fine warriors.

5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial
http://twitter.com/leaves_eyes

Epica announce small run of UK shows

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 22nd April 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

The Dutch titans of symphonic metal, Epica, have announced that they will return to the UK in November for a small run of shows. The UK tour will be in support of the band’s most recent masterpiece, The Quantum Enigma, which saw a change of style for the band which modernised their sound while sticking to their roots in symphonic metal. Epica’s mainman, guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen comments:

We had such a great time when we played an one-off UK show at The Forum last year that we will come back for a short run of UK dates this autumn. We will be joined on this run by Eluveitie and Scar Symmetry. I am very pleased to tour with this strong package. I’m sure you all won’t regret coming out to one of these shows and partying with us. See you!!!

Support comes from 2 Nuclear Blast label mates. Switzerland’s Eluveitie released a new album last year, the Celtic Folk influenced ‘Origins’, which they performed at a string of sold-out UK dates last Autumn. Swedish melodic Death Metal band Scar Symmetry complete the bill, performing their first UK dates since the release of their new album ‘The Singularity Phase I: Neohumanity’ , also released in 2014.

Tour dates are as follow:

11-11-2015 UK-Bristol O2 Academy
12-11-2015 UK-Manchester Ritz
14-11-2015 UK-Glasgow Garage
15-11-2015 UK-London Forum

Epica online:

http://epica.nl
http://facebookc.com/epica
http://twitter.com/_epica

Dragonforce announced to co-headline with Epica at London show in December

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 25th June 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

UK power metal heroes Dragonforce have been announced to co-headline with Epica at their only UK show in London later this year. The show will take place at The Forum in London on 6th December. Fans are advised to grab their tickets quickly as demand for this double bill will be high. Tickets are on sale now via SeeTickets.com.

In related Dragonforce news, the band also unveiled their new video for  The Game last week. The video can be viewed below.

Dragonforce online:

http://www.dragonforce.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dragonforce

Epica announce one-off UK show as part of European tour

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd April 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Dutch symphonic metallers Epica are set to embark on the first leg of their European tour in Winter this year, in support of their upcoming album, The Quantum Enigma which is set for release on 5th May 2014. The new album will be released via Nuclear Blast. Frontwoman Simone Simons comments:

After a little break from touring, we can’t wait to be on stage again and perform the new songs along with the old. Europe here we come!

As part of the European tour, the band will be hitting The Forum in London for a one-off UK show this year! Tickets are available from this location. Dagoba are the support act on the European tour.

Epica online:

http://epica.nl
http://facebook.com/EPICA
http://twitter.com/EPICA
http://YouTube.com/EPICA
http://instagram.com/EPICAOFFICIAL

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Epica – The Essence Of Silence [Single]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th March 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Epica
The Essence Of Silence
Released March 2014
Symphonic Progressive Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Formed by former After Forever guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen, Epica have been dominating the symphonic metal scene for the last decade. With six studio albums under their belt already, Epica have been busy recording the seventh album which is set to kick start a new decade for the band. The Essence Of Silence is the first single to be released from The Quantum Enigma, which is set for release in May.

Beginning with a mystifying strings and piano arrangement, the song soon throws the listener into a maelstrom of heavy riffs and Mark’s terrifying vocals and Simone’s more tragic yet angelic voice. The choir adds a new depth to the song, sewing the other elements together. The guitar passages, as performed by Mark and Isaac, exceed the strength and heaviness of previous Epica elements, showing a definite evolution in the band’s sound since Requiem For The Indifferent. The rhythm section, made up of Rob van der Loo on bass and Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums, lay down a strong foundation for the song while Coen’s keyboard medleys sprinkle the track with the typical dramatic flavourings found in Epica’s music.

The Essence Of Silence is only a small glimpse into what awaits on the new album but it shows a distinctly positive change in the band’s sound. If the rest of the album is anything like this track, then it’ll no doubt be a masterpiece.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Epica online:

http://epica.nl
http://facebook.com/epica

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