Oceans of Slumber open up the night with their dynamic, atmospheric, and bluesy sound.
They fill the venue with a very melancholic atmosphere, almost as if the venue had been turned into a 1930’s jazz club, with vocalist Cammie performing like an old school blues and R&B singer – but with just enough bite to stand out amongst a band that goes into a big, dooming sound.
Each song feels like it is going through a journey, building to crescendos or dropping to a very slow march, rather than just riffs and verses put together.
They’re not the type of band to move and jump around the stage or pull rock star poses for the crowd, but that suits the music much better, as it allows the band to tell you the story they want to present to you, rather than concentrating on whether the crowd is energetic enough.
Oceans of Slumber were a great choice of opener for the show, not necessarily because they were a fast paced symphonic metal band like Epica, but because they added a very relaxed and sombre start to the show to contrast with them. They were also a brilliant match for the following support act, Myrkur.
Of all the bands on tonight’s bill, none stir up as much heated online discussions as Myrkur.
Amalie’s vocals are the key to the sound of the band.
While many metal bands today now rely on screamed vocals, or clean vocals to get their lyrics across, Myrkur has turned her voice into another melodic instrument, reminding me of the choirs in The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, their reverberated sound and feeling of ambience.
I think I may have heard some pre-recorded harmony vocals in the PA to flesh out the sound, but it was still Myrkur’s live voice leading the melody.
She gives off a very demanding stage presence, not because she is running around screaming, but because she makes a good connection with her audience and breathes a unique intensity that suggests a dark undertone to her work.
Her backing band for this tour does a fine job in that they don’t stand out or play anything flashy – they just keep a nice solid rhythm and backing for Myrkur to create the atmosphere her music needs.
Myrkur was a good match for support along with Oceans of Slumber, as they both blend very soft and emotional music with short bursts of intense, screamed metal. Myrkur’s music was a bit more energetic than Oceans, and so was a nice build up to the main band of tonight, Epica.
In their 16 year history, it’s actually a bit surprising to hear that tonight is Epica’s first ever Irish show, given the crowd has been packed since doors have opened. Perhaps the excitement for their Irish debut is why the crowd is so eager.
Epica are rightfully put into the symphonic metal genre, but they have a sound that very much sets them apart.
They don’t have the gothic influence that Nightwish did so well, or have enough cheese to be considered power metal, and while they flirt with death metal riffing and growling, their sound is still based around a melodic approach to metal, led by Simone’s operatic vocals.
The band has created a setlist with no motive other than creating a great live show.
The starting few songs are full of energy and fan favourites, with the band playing tightly, and Simone’s vocals soaring on top. Simone’s vocals are well trained and pitched as expected from a trained opera singer, but still contain enough power to stand out against a fast, heavy metal band, and compete against the Mark’s growls, in their Beauty and the Beast vocal trade off.
Epica aren’t in Dublin tonight to present a dark atmosphere, or dial in a performance for the money. They are a very passionate band, very energetic, and still have a great joy in what they do.
Their keyboardist Coan Janssen spends his night jumping around the stage, spinning his keyboard around, or donning his wireless ivories to solo and play side by side with the band up front (until his wireless keyboard stopped working as the encore started, and he spent the rest of the song posing with fans and taking selfies with their phones).
The band looks delighted at the crowd tonight, which is very active for the full night, singing along, moshing or jumping along at every opportunity.
During the last two songs the crowd uses up any energy they have left with the whole floor jumping to Beyond the Matrix, and throwing in some walls of death for good measure during the last song, Consign to Oblivion.
The show ends on a high note with a crowd that finally got their wish for an Irish Epica show and the band themselves very pleased with tonight and hopefully coming back to Irish shores sooner rather than later.
–Cormac Jordan ::: 15/03/18
–With thanks to Roisin Burns and Brian from Jenova for the pics