Live Review || Epica - Omega Alive livestream (12/6/2021)

Symphonic metal titans Epica have presented their first ever livestream event titled Omega Alive. Speaking with guitarist Mark Jansen a while back, I had asked if they would ever consider doing a livestream and he was hesitant, as it wouldn't fully replace the actual experience of a show. Thankfully, his hesitation was lifted. Serving both as a release party for their latest album, "Omega", as well as a best-of type of concert, this 1H45' show was bombastic in every sense. I will do my best to keep this text as condensed as possible, although I have many, and I mean
many things I want to say. 

Unlike many streaming events, this one had an opening act, Off The Cross. I am familiar with their music but not really a fan. Despite that, their performance was a very interesting appetizer before the main event.

Once the intro "Alpha" sounded and transitioned into "Abyss Of Time", I was already lost in the music. Epica was delivering and I genuinely wished I was singing obnoxiously out of key next to a stranger. Listening to the new songs live for the first time was something I was very curious about and my initial impression was very positive. The livestream was divided in five parts, all acronyms for the word "omega". Lead singer Simone Simons was a sight for sore eyes; charming as ever, she sometimes had a Florence Welch-like charisma, while others she transformed from a cheerful siren to an imposing valkyrie -all while the control of her voice was exquisite. The band interacted as if they hadn't just spent 17 months without playing a show, with Isaac Delahaye and Coen Janssen being ador(k)able, Arien Van Weesenbeek proving once more he's a human octopus, Rob Van Der Loo with his beautifully decorated bass guitar flipping his luscious mane non-stop and Mark Jansen sounding on point and being the habitual monster to Simone's beauty.

The setlist was rather unpredictable, with certain fan-favorite songs ("Victims Of Contigency", "Obsessive Devotion", In All Consciousness") making a grand return and others ("Kingdom Of Heaven" parts 1 & 3) combining unexpectedly well and without boring the listener despite occupying about 1/4 of the setlist. Sure, it would be impossible to fit their entire discography but the selection didn't disappoint. If we're being honest, Epica themselves had given us plenty of teasers on what to expect but even then they were able to top everything up; rain drenching the stage and band, pyros, dancers and acrobats, a children choir, an adult choir doing "Rivers" a capella, Coen playing a piano in flames... You name it.

I have binge-watched A LOT of livestreams in the past year and a half. Epica performed a phenomenal show which, hands down, took the cake -major props are due to director Jens De Vos, lighting director and special effects technicians too. Incorporating so many eye-catching elements while maintaining focus on the music performance isn't easy yet the Dutch powerhouse was giving (almost) free lessons to other bands, putting the vast majority of them to shame. Epica came, saw and conquered; that simple. Hopefully a large portion of this stage production makes it to a stage near us too soon.

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