Live Coverage || Epica @ Floyd, Athens (26/10/2023)

 It's safe to say that 2023 was one of Epica's busiest years; they kicked off the year with the rescheduled Epic Apocalypse tour, played a few dates with Metallica in May and June, performed at major festivals throughout the summer, released a digital live EP from their biggest show to date in Amsterdam, and are now closing the year with a few headlining performances. I was able to fangirl over see them at Summer Breeze back in August, in what I consider the best appearance I've witnessed to date so I kinda knew what to expect setlist-wise and definitely in terms of energy. Epica is at the top of their game and they're not fucking around.

The symphonic metal titans returned to Athens on October 26th, just 14 months after Release Athens festival, to play an impeccable show. This return to Greece was however marked by the absence of founder and guitarist, Mark Jansen, who is expecting his first child. With the Epica family expanding, Asim Searah was brought in to help with guitar duties and screaming. And the man delivered. But let's take it from the top.

It was a lovely autumn evening when hundreds of Epicans made their way to Floyd Live Venue, eager to enjoy their beloved Dutchies. At 10pm, and with no support for the warm up (I personally didn't mind that at all), the intro "Alpha" resounded. One by one, the members made their way to the stage and took positions, ready for the big party. As "Abyss Of Time" kicked in, everyone could feel the burst of energy in the room. Epica took no prisoners that night; guitarist Isaac Delahaye and bassist Rob Van Der Loo made sure to hype the fans, constantly engaging with them and also interacting with Asim, who was also turning 34 and got a "happy birthday" from the fans. Despite starting off the show confined in the back, keyboardist Coen Janssen was as always my personal favorite, singing and being his silly self while not missing a single note. Singer Simone Simons remains impressive, delivering a powerful execution in all her registers. 

I must admit tough that, while the lightshow and visuals were on point, the sound wasn't always the best; at times the choirs where low, and the rhythm section would cover the orchestral parts. Even that small "inconvenience" wasn't able to overshadow the overall result.

The setlist was an excellent alternation of new and older songs ("Essence Of Silence", "Victims of Contigency", "Unchain Utopia", "The Skeleton Key"), but I truly think Simone shone on "The Final Lullaby", where she sang the parts of Jørgen Munkeby in the verse, with Asim assisting in the chorus, and on "Rivers", where the members took a small break, leaving the singer and Janssen to kick off the power ballad under the crowd's flashes lighting the stage. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear "Fools Of Damnation" and "Code Of Life", which is still one of my absolute favorites off of "Omega". Speaking of surprises, Epica decided to seize the opportunity to premiere the song "The Miner", where they first collaborated with Searah. Although not my favorite song on "The Alchemy Project", it was interesting to hear it live for the first time -and see Simone occasionally peeking into a cheat sheet for the lyrics.

For the encore, the band returned to their roots with "Cry For The Moon", where the packed venue echoed the "forever and ever" chant. We reached the end with heavy metal cardio; "Beyond The Matrix" got the crowd and band alike  jumping up and down, while on "Consign To Oblivion", it is customary for fans to form an "epic wall of death" -and they did. 

Epica came, saw and conquered Athens once more, with a truly amazing show. I hope that Greece becomes a staple in the future touring arrangements, and that when they return (hopefully with a new record) they will exceed the high bar they have already set for themselves.

All pictures courtesy of Dearohwell photography

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