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Epica at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London - live review

Symphonic metallers defy restraining orders

Epica live on stage in London

BEYOND THE BLACK’s [6] symphonic metal isn’t reinventing the wheel, but Lost In Forever and Shine And Shade gleam with enchanting bombast. Compared to the vast spaces co-headliners POWERWOLF [9] command across Europe, the Empire must seem snug.

That doesn’t mean the Germans are compromising on their horror-drenched theatrics; they assemble half a monastery onstage and demonstrate why their epically cheesy metal has propelled them to the front of the power contingent. Spinetingling organs kick off a turbocharged Blessed & Possessed as Attila Dorn toasts the crowd with a golden goblet before leading hymnal chants to the glorious refrain of Armata Strigoi and brilliantly silly Resurrection By Erection. Not as fun but still impressive are EPICA [8]. Everything about the symphonic Dutch sextet sounds huge, from their choir-clad sonic ambitions and galaxy-themed staging, to flame-haired Simone Simons’ faultless vocals as she dances amid glass prisms and refracted light. The band have a formidable back catalogue to call upon but newer tracks spark just as much headbanging and pumping fists as older heavyweights Storm The Sorrow and Unchain Utopia. Epica are at the top of their game.

Danniii Leivers writes for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, The Guardian, NME, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, The Line Of Best Fit and more. She loves the 90s, and is happy where the sea is bluest.