Epica + Myrkur + Oceans of Slumber
@ O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
April 13, 2018
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
They’ve been going strong for 15 years, and for their 999th show, dutch symphonic metallers EPICA returned to the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London for a massive headline show to end their UK Holographic Principle tour (aptly named the United Principle). Support from Danish black metal act MYRKUR and American prog metal outfit OCEANS OF SLUMBER completed the bill, with a diverse range of genres to take in.
Making my way from the box office to the front of the stage was hardly a challenge, as few people seemed to show up for the first band of the night, Oceans of Slumber.
The Texas-based six-piece just recently released their third studio album The Banished Heart, and supported Epica throughout their dates in the UK this April. The Americans discreetly take to the stage, for what was to become the biggest disappointment of the night.
Their music seems disorganized and chaotic, even for progressive metal, to the point where it’s hardly possible to follow the songs with much interest. A lot of their set just seems like filler; moments forgotten as soon as they end.
I gave Oceans of Slumber the benefit of the doubt, and went home and listened to their newest record. My impression of the band still stands, and judging by the (relatively small) crowd around me during their time on set, they hardly fit in well with Myrkur and Epica.
All the criticism aside, female vocalist Cammie Gilbert has a smooth and sensual voice, which is often well-accompanied by harsh vocals delivered by the guitarists.
They are obviously skilled musicians, but the monotonous style of their music and the non-existent stage show and crowd interaction made Oceans of Slumber unable to impress in a live scenario.
1. Fleeting Vigilance
2. A Path to Broken Stars
3. Howl of the Rougarou
4. The Decay of Disregard
5. No Color, No Light
Danish black metal singer Myrkur has only gained traction since her debut show at the Danish Roskilde Festival in 2014.
Her latest album Mareridt (Danish: “nightmare”) released last year to mixed responses from the metal community, but it’s safe to say that she is still growing as an artist.
Myrkur, whose real name is Amalie Bruun, made her third visit to London in the span of just six-months that night. She supported Solstafir in November, and returned for a unique, intimate acoustic experience in January. Now, back for probably one of her biggest shows in the UK to date, there was much anticipation in the air as she took the stage at 8:20.
Bruun is a true pleasure to behold on stage, as her theatrical and dramatic performance conjures a sinister atmosphere, much to the pleasure of the now considerably larger crowd. Her minimalistic, yet mystic, stage presence works so much better than the previous band on stage, and she shifts seamlessly from sensual clean vocals to scary-as-hell harsh black metal screams.
Her band does a fantastic job of backing her up with a very full sound, and a well-balanced sound mix makes sure the focus is never too far off Bruun herself. The set smoothly transitions from one track to the other, with little interaction in between, and ends with the Norwegian medieval ballad “Villemann og Magnhild”.
1. The Serpent
3. Onde Børn
4. Vølvens Spådom
7. Villemann og Magnhild
The headliners of the night need no introduction, and as the lights go out and the intro track “Eidola” sounds over the PA, the crowd breaks into massive cheers, knowing what is to come.
Moments later Epica take the stage, tearing into “Edge of the Blade” from their latest album. The crowd goes wild, and rightfully so, when the stage is coated in red and “Sensorium” from their debut album follows.
Guitarist Mark Jansen does a great job with his harsh vocals, nicely supplying them in contrast to frontwoman Simone Simons soothing voice. Guitarist Isaac Delahaye effortlessly shreds his way through the solos of their set, and seems to be having a great deal of fun while doing so. Keyboardist Coen Janssen has his usual fun with the rail tracks behind the drums, sliding from one side to the other.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to be here!” Simone proclaims, before introducing “Cry for the Moon” as an “oldie, but goldie”. A sea of banging heads builds up the energy in the venue, which in turn is released once again with “Unchain Utopia”, with its all too catchy chorus.
The setlist featured an interesting mix of old and new songs. “Fight Your Demons” from the Solace System EP works as well live as any of the Holographic Principle songs, and the title track from 2009’s Design Your Universe works great as the last song of the regular set.
Finally hearing the title track from The Holographic Principle live is also quite a treat, and I must say I am quite happy the band decided to mix up the setlist a little since their last London show around the same time last year.
Their encores however are the same as before, but I have no reason to complain about the succession of the playful “Sancta Terra”, to the energetic jump-along-song “Beyond the Matrix”, to the massive sounding symphonic masterpiece “Consign to Oblivion”.
With Epica, you get exactly what you expect, and in their case that seems to always be a good thing. The band is still in top form, and following their 1000th show this weekend, let’s hope for a thousand more to come.
1. Edge of the Blade
3. Fight Your Demons
4. Reverence (Living In The Heart)
5. The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality
7. Victims of Contigency
8. Cry for the Moon
9. Unchain Utopia
10. Design Your Universe
11. Sancta Terra
12. Beyond the Matrix
13. Consign to Oblivion