My Review of Epica + Blaaykum’s concert in Lebanon (Byblos Festival 2.8.2014)

epicaxxx

After a long wait for the symphonic metal fans in general in Lebanon, and Epica fans in particular, the day finally arrived. On august 2 of 2014, at 8:30 pm, the opening band Blaakyum showed up on the stage. They started with a song called “Ceasefire”, and from the title we can tell that it is about what is going on currently in the region, and after it the lead singer of Blaakyum called for a minute of silence for all the victims of terrorism and Israeli attacks in the Arab world. Then, despite the technical problems, Blaakyum didn’t disappoint the audience, providing an outstanding performance which restores faith in the metal scene in Lebanon, along with their stage presence and interaction with the audience (especially when they asked for a mosh pit). Not to forget their unique sound which mixes thrash metal sounds with traditional Arabic melodies.
After the opening band’s performance was over, the fans waited with playback music in the background, then a playback of Originem – the intro track of Epica’s latest album The Quantum Enigma. Then, Epica finally appeared, starting with another track from their latest masterpiece, The Second Stone, followed by The Essence of Silence and Victims of Contigency!

The Quantum Enigma perfectly presents the essence of Epica’s musical style – the angelic/demonic balance between Simone Simons’ pure vocals which blew the fans away during the show, and Mark Jansen’s brutal vocals in harmony with orchestral and heavy melodies creating a bombastic performance during the whole show.
But the setlist did not consist only of tracks from The Quantum Enigma. Unleashed from Design Your Universe followed, then their most successful single Storm The Sorrow from Requiem For The Indifferent. The show continued with Chemical Insomnia, followed by the epic masterpiece from Design Your Universe – Kingdom of Heaven part 1, then Natural Corruption from The Quantum Enigma, after it the first track from The Divine Conspiracy during the show – The Obsessive Devotion. After a heavy track such as The Obsessive Devotion, Epica returned to their symphonic roots of their first album with The Phantom Agony. Despite the track being symphonic and orchestral, the band gave it a dance-y edge in some parts during the performance, but this didn’t affect its quality in a negative way, instead, it made the performance even more interesting!

Epica couldn’t play in an Arab country without performing Sancta Terra with its distinctive oriental melody, and of course Cry For The Moon – the classic (demanded by the fans) which proved that Simone’s operatic vocals keep getting better, though she went off tune sometimes during some tracks. Also the band showed that they do not only seek to provide a great show for the fans, but they also enjoy what they are doing and have some fun on stage and interact with the fans. First, Simone asked the fans to repeat the chorus of Cry For The Moon after her, then she introduced each of the band members by their names and the instruments they play instead of singing the original lyrics. Cry For The Moon ended with a drum solo from Arien. The show ended by Unchain Utopia and Consign To Oblivion.

During the whole performance, Simone and Mark stayed in touch with the fans and the fans responding by chanting “Epica! Epica! Epica!” while the band said that the Lebanese crowd was the best crowd, and promised to return. The stage effects, the uplifting sound, the great stage presence and overall performance of the Epica members made the show the most epic metal concert which Lebanese metalheads ever had.
Thanks to Epica, Blaakyum and Byblos Festival for the great work and the unforgettable night !

( image above found on glamroz )

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