FESTIVAL REVIEW: EPIC METAL FEST Live at 013, Tilburg
October started great here in 013, with Epica’s own curated festival, Epic Metalfest, packed full of excellent bands of various kinds. It was also Epica’s album release party, and from the moment you walked into the venue, it was clear that Epica at the end of the night would be the main event for most visitors.
Myrath from Tunesia opened the day, giving a tremendous show with a delightful Middle Eastern folkloric sauce throughout their power metal. Their stage presence was solid, and the vocals were exceptionally good, though the abundance of smoke on the stage made things a little hazy. It’s a pity that this band was on as early as they were, because they did deserve a bigger crowd.
Textures are an amazing live band, and playing a crowd they knew well suited them. However, there was one issue they will always have: their music is very progressive and complex, and this meant that the crowd lost their place between the rhythms and off-rhythms. And while immensely enjoying the gig (as shown by the sheer noise the row made between songs), every time the crowd started to mosh or headbang, they petered out after about a minute. No matter how expertly frontman Daniël de Jongh whipped the crowd up, they just couldn’t keep up with the baffling display of musicality smashing forth from the stage.
Next, we viewed Stream of Passion’s swan song, and what a swan song it was. The band clearly carried the early 2000’s, almost nu metal influences through their music – reminding us of bands such as Evanesence and even older Korn in the basslines – but vocalist Marcela Bovio was something special. Stealing the limelight and tying the band together though was bassist Johan van Stratum, his antics clearly seting the tone for how close and friendly the band is together. And while this was one of the last shows the band will ever play in the Netherlands, there was absolutely no animosity between them and they were a pleasure to watch.
Evil Invaders went full speed ahead, and possibly gave us the most kick-in-the-teeth set of the day. This was no-nonsense retro hard rock/thrash metal played by four young lads with more energy than a preschooler left alone in a candy store. The dark light and smoke made taking photos a modern art experience, and definitely created a somewhat menacing atmosphere, especially when the guitarists leaned over red or green lights cleverly hidden in the floor of the stage. The vocals deserve their own honourable mention: it’s very rare to hear a vocalist do the 80’s style as well as this guy did. Hopefully the manic, youthful energy this band has will propel them far along the lanes of rock and roll, and we will hear more of them soon.
Fleshgod Apocalypse sadly suffered from abominable sound, only balanced a little by the sound desk. The biggest issue they had was the incredibly tinny sound of the drums, which were also a little too loud in the mix, drowning out the other instruments. While the band are possibly one of the best shows to watch visually, with everything worked out in detail, they just weren’t as strong as I’d seen them before. The overly present vibrato of their female vocalist also started grating on my nerves after a while.
It’s not every day you see a woman on vocals in a melodic death/metalcore band, and it’s even more rare that she actually tears your throat out with her growls. The Agonist were amazingly vivid and intense live, Vicky Psarakis’ vocals being very good in both growls and cleans, and nicely mingling with bassist Chris Kells’ lower growl. The rest of the music and show were incredibly gripping and visceral as well, and definitely a solid wake-up call for anyone dosing off.
Not even playing at full force, Mayan took the stage with their modern, eclectic mix of metal, clean vocals mixed with intense guitar solos, and some very impressive grunts by George Oosterhoek, who definitely knew how to growl. For a number of songs, Stream of Passion’s singer even joined them. The band commanded the stage and the attention of the audience very well, and could even have done with a larger platform. As the crowd all tried to pile into the small room, those stuck in the door craned their necks to try and catch a glimpse of the very energetic performance put up on the stage. An excellent show.
Next up, melodic doom masters Katatonia took the stage. Singer Jonas Renkse leaned forward, his hair dramatically swaying as he sang, while the rest of the band kicked the show up a notch and even caught some of the sparing light. The longer the gig went on, the darker the atmosphere became, melancholy rolling out over the audience like a thick fog. There was even a moment where the band seemed to experiment with more modern metal influences, and seemed to get into a bit of a djent groove, but overall, Katatonia was and will always be old-school melodic doom with some almost gothic cadences — melancholy at its finest and comparable with Anathema’s ‘Alternative Four’ and ‘Natural Disaster.’
The Ocean are known for their aquatically-themed post metal, and their incredibly energetic liveshows owing to the hardcore/metalcore background of many of the band members. Sadly though, singer Loïc Rossetti could not perform this day, which took a tremendous amount of energy out of the show. Fans in the first rows filled in the missing vocals, but an emptiness hung in the music and on the stage — a void clearly left by the lack of vocals.
And then we were in for the main event: Epica. The band were clearly enjoying themselves tremendously, hopping from platforms to the dramatically-curved mic stand Simone Simons used to lean over. The new music went down a treat too, and the packed room couldn’t get enough of the expert show. This was clearly what everyone had been waiting for all day. Vocally, the band were exceptionally strong this evening, and the show was clearly well thought through, with a great ending for a magnificent release party in the fireworks, flames, dancing, and a hell of a lot of energy.
Bottom Line: Epica threw one hell of a party, and are even going to take it on the road to Brazil. We got a varied and interesting mix of modern metal bands, where strong vocals were a common shining point for all the bands involved. Epica themselves gave one hell of a show, though for me personally, the highlights were Katatonia and Evil Invaders.
Also check our out Photo Gallery of the festival here!