Review: Epica – ‘Ωmega Alive’

Some 17 long months after their last gig, Epica returned to the stage for their first-ever streaming event, and their biggest production to date; ‘Ωmega Alive’. This specially recorded show gave the legions of Epica fans their first chance to hear new material from this years ‘Ωmega’ album live in the flesh (sort of), and it’s fair to say that the Dutch masters of symphonic metal made it a night to remember for each and every ticket holder, as well as setting new heights when it comes to live stream productions. Kiss might boast of how their New Year’s Eve show in Dubai broke a few Guinness World Records (for highest flame projection in a music concert and for most flame projections launched simultaneously in a music concert – yawn), but to be honest, in reality, it was a bit shit. With ‘Ωmega Alive’, Epica promised a show like no other, and they certainly made good on their promise.

It’s one of those dilemmas of whether or not to go into excessive detail when reviewing the show as when certain things happen throughout the nearly two-hour show, they come as a great surprise (keep an eye on Coen Janssen’s piano during ‘Kingdom of Heaven Part III). If you have already caught the teaser trailer then you will know that Epica enlisted choirs, acrobats, ballet dancers, and other performers to help bring a Cirque du Soleil-like vibe to the evening. But, in fairness, that’s only half of the picture. Throw in a setlist consisting of five different acts with different productions, a tiered stage with some amazing props, and pyro…lots of pyro, and you have the makings of the best stage show since Rammstein last laid-waste to your country.

The band is, obviously, up for it from the word go; the screen goes black and opens on a child awaking in a bed with what looks like branches of a tree starting to grow menacingly around her, the overture starts to fade and BLAM! Epica is there onstage with bursts of flames all around them as they plow straight into ‘Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity’. The harsh vocals from Mark Jansen sound as fearsome as ever and work in perfect unison with the peerless Simone Simons, zero signs of rustiness from either and if anything Simons sounds, even more, larger than life than usual, and the look on her face as the opening song crashes to a crescendo of a conclusion is priceless. There is a raised length of the stage behind Ariën van Weesenbeek’s drum kit and throughout the set, it is used to great effect, no spoilers here – except to say that you can’t take your eyes from the screen for even a split second as you might miss something, especially during ‘Skeleton Key’ which features some gnarly riffage from Jansen and his six-string compadre (and the only guy to look cool with a man bun) – Isaac Delahaye. ‘Unchain Utopia’ is the first of the older material aired and tonight’s version is particularly fiery and elevating (nudge-nudge), like an Alice Cooper show, something happens during each song and there is no time to pause for a breath or nip to the bar.

The standard of the playing from all involved is incredible, the guitar work is razor-sharp and when Jansen and Delahaye lock into a groove it is a sight to behold. The backbone of the band, bassist Rob van der Loo and drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek refuse to be outshined and both play out of their skins, as does Coen Janssen. If you have caught Epica live before then you will know that Janssen is never static behind his keyboard while the frontline is having all the fun, and tonight is not any different. Curious to know his step-count for the evening though.

Highlights are too numerous to point out without giving any spoilers away, musically Act III – Elysia is hair-raising, especially when ‘Kingdom of Heaven Part 1’ leads into the new classic-in-the-making ‘Kingdom of Heaven ~ Part III – The Antediluvian Universe’, performed in front of a different set-up – it’s a spellbinding 15 minutes or so. Then there is a special version of ‘Rivers’ which feel free to cast out anyone who spoils it for you in advance. Act V – Alpha ♾ Omega is as equally as impressive and as with everything that came before it, it would be foolish to look away. Ending on ‘Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres’, this is hands-down one of the best-ever live streams; in terms of production values, camera work, sound and lighting, thinking outside of the box, and all-round value for money, it’s pretty much untouchable, and has set the benchmark for all future live streams to follow suit.

‘Ωmega Alive’ is released in multiple formats on December 3rd via Nuclear Blast, the vinyl version especially looks stunning. The Blu-Ray version is of course a no-brainer, a genuine piece of art that needs to be witnessed in the best possible format available.

EPICAis:
Simone Simons | vocals
Isaac Delahaye | guitars
Mark Jansen | guitars, grunts, screams
Coen Janssen | synths, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek | drums
Rob van der Loo | bass

More info:
www.epica.nl
www.facebook.com/epica
www.instagram.com/epicaofficial
www.twitter.com/epica
www.nuclearblast.de/epica

Photo credits:

Image on front page – Jonas Demeulemeester

All others – Tim Tronckoe

Catch the band on one of the following dates:

EPICA + APOCALYPTICA
Support: WHEEL

The Epic Apocalypse Tour 2023

23.01.2023 NO Oslo – Sentrum Scene
24.01.2023 SE Stockholm – Berns
25.01.2023 DK Copenhagen – Amager Bio
27.01.2023 NL Amsterdam – AFAS
28.01.2023 DE Hamburg – Georg Elser Halle
29.01.2023 BE Brussels – Ancienne Belgique
30.01.2023 UK Bristol – o2 Academy
01.02.2023 UK Nottingham – Rock City
02.02.2023 UK Glasgow – o2 Academy
03.02.2023 UK Manchester – Academy
04.02.2023 UK London – Roundhouse
06.02.2023 LU Luxemburg – Atelier
07.02.2023 FR Paris – Zenith
08.02.2023 FR Toulouse – Le Bikini
10.02.2023 ES Barcelona – Razzmatazz 1
11.02.2023 ES Murcia – Gamma
13.02.2023 ES Madrid – La Riviera
14.02.2023 PT Lisbon – Coliseum
12.03.2023 DE Hanover – Capitol
13.03.2023 DE Cologne Carlswerk Victoria
14.03.2023 DE Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
15.03.2023 DE Ludwigsburg – MHP Arena
17.03.2023 CH Zurich – Komplex 457
18.03.2023 CH Lausanne – Metropole
19.03.2023 IT Milan – Fabrique
20.03.2023 DE Munich – Tonhalle
22.03.2023 HU Budapest – Barba Negra
23.03.2023 AT Vienna – Gasometer
24.03.2023 CZ Brno – Hala Vodova
25.03.2023 PL Warsaw – Progresja
27.03.2023 PL Gdansk – B90
28.03.2023 DE Berlin – Columbiahalle
29.03.2023 DE Leipzig – Haus Auensee

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