EPICA + Lacuna Coil At Marquee Theatre

September 17, 2017
4:00 pm
Tempe, AZ
EPICA + Lacuna Coil At Marquee Theatre
EPICA + Lacuna Coil At Marquee Theatre

 

Excellence. Power. Intelligence. Creativity. Ambition.

The world of symphonic metal is all about big ideas and high standards, but few bands have taken this most bombastic of genres to such momentous creative heights as EPICA. Formed in the Netherlands in 2002, these perennially dynamic masters of sonic opulence swiftly grabbed the world’s attention with their 2003 debut album The Phantom Agony. With a fresh and vital sound that struck a sublime balance between orchestral grandeur and pure heavy metal grit, EPICA’s music showcased the compelling contrast between singer Simone Simons’ soaring vocals and guitarist Mark Jansen’s guttural growls; between Isaac Delahaye’s unstoppable core of scything riffs and keyboard maestro Coen Janssen’s intricate, hugely cinematic arrangements and embellishments. All of this backed by a powerful tandem: Ariën van Weesenbeek blasting his drums and Rob van der Loo providing tasteful low end.

The lyrics, too, made EPICA stand out from the crowd, as they eschewed the traditional symphonic trope of fantasy and began to explore and dissect notions of philosophy, science and spirituality. By the time they released 2005’s grand evolutionary step Consign To Oblivion, the Dutch sextet were widely regarded as the genre’s brightest hopes and international success was in their grasp.

The decade that followed has seen EPICA grow from plucky contenders to their current status as symphonic metal heavyweights with a huge and still expanding worldwide

The year is 2014, and the album is ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ – it marks the latest chapter in the ongoing LACUNA COIL legacy, a dark and sultry ride that started in Italy and has resonated in an opaque wake of sonic splendor throughout the world.

Time has been good to LACUNA COIL, who are a flagship band on Century Media Records and a proven commodity worldwide, in the past two years alone having toured the globe as headliners, as well as in support of Megadeth, Motorhead, Volbeat, Sevendust and Paradise Lost. ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ is the band’s seventh studio album, and the highly-anticipated follow-up to ‘Dark Adrenaline’, which was released in January 2012 and debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, helping the band eclipse one million cumulative sales in North America alone.

But as the title suggests, ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ isn’t about everything that’s good – it’s about everything that is real. In particular, the world as it exists in 2014. “We’ve always been fascinated by the differences and comparisons between real life and fairy tales, and on this album we decided to mix the two worlds when writing our lyrics,” says frontman Andrea Ferro, who along with frontwoman Cristina Scabbia form the most effervescent one-two vocal punch in hard rock and metal. “We’ve fused dark and horror elements with real life situations and have created a metaphor – we are fighting for a kingdom and a crown that is not what it seems, it represents the moment of confusion we’re living in and the very fragile situations we face every day.

“In the past year we’ve been dealing with a lot of pain that has brought us down as a band and left us broken and shattered. But it also made us realize how much time has made us stronger,” continues Ferro. “There have been times that we’ve been trapped in our past, only to discover that no one but ourselves can free us. When darkness holds you close, you need to open the wound and let it bleed out…”

And bleed it does, from the resounding drive of opening track “Nothing Stands In Our Way” and the resolute march of “Zombies”, into the thundering anthem “Die & Rise” and the soaring rhapsody that is “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name).” ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ looks at life through blood red glasses and casts a beautifully melancholic hue over the world we wander. It is unapologetically brute with a vindictive air, and simultaneously supple and warm, beckoning you in and challenging you to join the movement. If you notice a flair for the cinematic in the eleven tracks, your perception is spot on, as LACUNA COIL wear the influence of their rich Italian culture and heritage on their sleeves.

“We’ve always been fascinated by soundtracks and Italian horror movies,” says Scabbia of the band’s influence on ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ – “Dario Argento is not only a favorite of ours, he’s also a cult favorite around the world, and bands like The Goblin wrote the soundtracks for a lot of those movies. Growing up with these movies and music, we really absorbed those influences.” Expands Ferro: “Movies like ‘Deep Red’, ‘Suspiria’, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’, and musicians like Ennio Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani continue to leave their mark on us… Marco [‘Maki’ Coti-Zelati, bass] often likes to write songs while watching those old movies and war documentaries without the sound and playing over the visuals.”

Joined in their Milan, Italy hometown by producer Jay Baumgardner [P.O.D., Sevendust, Evanescence, Papa Roach] and engineer Kyle Hoffman [P.O.D., Bush, Zebrahead], LACUNA COIL recorded in the storied “Officine Meccaniche” studio, owned by famed songwriter and musician Mauro Pagani of the Italian prog band Masters P.F.M. The vintage gear and classic influence collided with the rough and tumble modern world with unique and invigorating results.

“We set the bar pretty high with ‘Dark Adrenaline’ and it hasn’t been easy bringing our sound to the next level, but we have lived, learned and grown through a year of personal issues and change,” says the band in a unified voice. “We learned to be strong and get stronger, and we felt an inner vibe in this band that we haven’t felt before. ‘BROKEN CROWN HALO’ is Lacuna Coil introducing a new order, and letting nothing stand in our way…”

Hailing from the land of thousand lakes, boasting with a thousand melodies and spawning a thousand emotions comes “Shadows Of The Dying Sun”, sixth studio album of Finland’s melodic metal magicians INSOMNIUM. An album born of the melancholy, sorrow and dreariness of long winter nights, as relentless and overwhelming as an autumn storm and yet as refreshing as the first sunbeams of a spring morning and as peaceful as a mild summer’s eve.

Two and a half years after their acclaimed masterpiece “One For Sorrow” the Finns return with an album that brings them one step closer to the Olympus of melodic metal where their established countrymen Amorphis shouldn’t ensconce themselves too comfortably. “Shadows Of The Dying Sun”, which once again immerses deeply into stirring abysses of melancholy, is even more varied, intense and dynamic than its predecessor – with each new album INSOMNIUM seem to bring their songwriting craftsmanship closer to perfection. “We haven’t changed our style dramatically”, vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevänen explains the general approach of the new album. “Fans can rest assured that it is still classic INSOMNIUM. Of course there’s also some new flavors here and there, and maybe it’s even more diverse compared with the last album. The easy stuff is easier than before, the heavy stuff is heavier. The contrasts between the songs are probably bigger than on any of our previous albums.”

Exhibit A for the impressive sonic range INSOMNIUM cover on “Shadows Of The Dying Sun” is placed right in the centre of the album: While the beastly “Black Heart Rebellion” features brutal blast beats and even ventures into black metal realms, the ensuing gut-wrenching semi-ballad “Lose To Night” may be the softest song INSOMNIUM have ever written. An emotional roller coaster the listener cannot flinch from. Of course it takes some reruns to fully grasp all the subtleties and details of the majestic compositions gathered on this tantalizing opus, however, those are the kind of records that outlive the rush of fresh excitement and finally become something bigger than just another new album, aren’t they? “That’s what we aim for, to have an interesting, diverse, long-lasting album that you don’t get fed up with”, Sevänen describes the musical self-conception of a band that has evolved impressively since their foundation in the Finnish university city of Joensuu back in 1997.

Inspired by bands such as their legendary countrymen Amorphis and Sentenced, early Paradise Lost or Swedish genre pioneers à la In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates or Opeth, 17-year-old Sevänen buried his grunge band and asked his metalhead schoolmates Ville Friman and Markus Hirvonen if they wanted to form a metal band with him. From that point, the only direction for INSOMNIUM was up: album by album – from their 2002 debut “In the Halls Of Awaiting” via “Since The Day It All Came Down” (2004), “Above The Weeping World” (2006) and “Across The Dark” (2009) through to their Century Media debut “One for Sorrow” (2011) – also introducing Markus Vanhala as the new fourth member. And tour by tour the passionate musicians edged their way to the very top of the scene and have by now become the spearhead of melodic death metal made in Finland.

Even the departure of longtime guitarist Ville Vänni shortly before their tour supporting “One For Sorrow” at the end of 2011 couldn’t knock INSOMNIUM off course. With new guitarist Markus Vanhala, who has contributed considerably to “Shadows Of The Dying Sun”, they found an equal substitute for Vänni who left the band amicably for personal issues.

Maybe an album title like “Shadows Of The Dying Sun” might sound cliché for a melodic metal band from Finland at first. However, once you are lost in the fascinating sonic realms that INSOMNIUM conquer here, “Shadows Of The Dying Sun” suddenly becomes the only title possible. Branding the band as cliché Finns would be quite superficial anyway, especially as melodic monsters like “While We Sleep” or the album’s first single “Ephemeral” exude an immensely positive aura. “Somehow our music has always something sad, dark and dreary, and our lyrics just fit the music. It’s the kind of music we love and want to make, the kind of music that makes us feel good. It doesn’t mean that we are depressed or sad in our lives”, Sevänen muses. “And we do have empowering, hopeful and uplifting songs as well, even though at first sight some song titles may appear quite sad and melancholic. But there is an optimistic vibe hidden somewhere in our lyrics, some hope that not all is lost.”

An optimistic vibe becomes INSOMNIUM anyhow, seeing that they are about to conquer new frontiers with their manifold sixth studio album whose cover was once again designed by Ghost Brigade guitarist Wille Naukkarinen who had already done such a great job on “Across The Dark” and “One For Sorrow”.

Fearlessly and wakefully, INSOMNIUM now dispel the shadows of a dying sun – and head into a new tomorrow: The dawn of musical majesty.

Elantris – Female fronted symphonic metal hailing from Ohio, USA – Est. 2014

Elantris (formerly known as Blacktorne) is a Symphonic Metal band from Ohio. Elantris brought together a wide range of influences to create what we feel is a unique sound that still fits comfortably in all ranges of the Symphonic Metal genre.

Elantris have shared the stage with many amazing bands such as, Sonata Arctica, Xandria, Delain, Epica and Eluveitie.

In recent months, Elantris have signed up to worldwide agency Metal Music Bookings and Management and are set to head out on tour throughout the USA with Epica.

 

 

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