Sunday, September 24th, Orlando, FL was treated to being one of the stops on The Ultimate Principle Tour. Epica had been here not too long ago, but this time they came back touring with Lacuna Coil. The tour was being held at The Plaza Live, one of the oldest theaters in the city hosting standing room around 1300+ attendees. I was beyond excited at getting my first chance to see Epica live and seeing Lacuna Coil for a second time.
When I arrived at the venue, fans were already lined up for the show. The line wrapped around the back of the venue. From the outside, The Plaza Live looks very small and you can tell it’s old. Fans boasted their Epica and Lacuna Coil t-shirts while others wore goth attire. When they opened the doors at 6 PM it was slow going getting people inside as security was being very cautious getting everyone through the metal detectors and checking bags. Once I got inside, I was extremely surprised.
The merchandise tables were right past the doors in a nice open area, which was easily accessible without getting in anyone’s way. The venue itself is a large wide open space for standing room. Even more impressive is the balcony area for those who want to sit during the show. And no matter where you stood, you had an excellent view of the stage. The crowd spread themselves out in various spots waiting patiently. When the house lights went down (and it was dark when it did), the crowd cheered as Elantris walked on stage.
Elantris was formed around 2014 and comes from Lisbon, OH. They define themselves as a symphonic metal band, which makes them a perfect fit touring with Epica. Though they are listed as female fronted, the band shares vocals between Tom Ullom and Lindsay Ketchum. The rest of the band includes John Dobosh (bass), Garret Chetok (guitar), Mark Liber (keyboards), and Erik Liber (drums). Unfortunately, due to an injury on the tour for his Achilles tendon he was not able to continue on the tour. Instead, Lacuna Coil drummer Ryan Blake Folden filled in.
From the start, Elantis has a presence on stage that can’t be denied. Whether it is Tom’s deep screaming voice, to Lindsay’s clear vocals, to their energy on stage, the crowd definitely kept their eyes on the band. They started it off with “Ellie” which has some haunting and powerful keyboard music Mark provided. Lindsey and Tom compliment each other very well from clean to unclean vocals. The followed with “Strings of Silk” which I think was a great showing of their metal side. It is a great metal melody with Josh and Garret meshing together very well on bass and guitar, Ryan with rapid drumming, and Mark providing a harmonious background keys. But the vocals from Lindsey and Tom are truly impressive with their range, their power, and clarity. Personally, I loved watching as one of them was singing, the other was mouthing the lyrics. It shows how much they love what they do and how much they love their craft. This is a band that should (and I believe will) be getting more attention because they are a very talented and I loved their performance. And the Orlando crowd did as well giving them a solid round of applause. Their most recent album ‘This Sacrifice’ is available now.
Insomnium was coming up next. The Finnish band from the town of Joensuu came together in 1997. By 2001 they had released two demo tracks that got the attention of UK’s Candlelight Records who signed them to their label. By 2002 the death metal band released their first studio album ‘In The Halls of Awaiting’. It wasn’t until their third album ‘Above The Weeping World’ that the band finally made their way onto the Finnish album charts. From that point on, every album peaked within the top 10 of the Finnish charts and they started touring outside of their homeland. The band is now currently signed onto Century Media Records. Their last album was released in 2016 titled ‘Winter’s Gate’. Insomnium is Niilo Sevänen (vocals, bass), Ville Friman (guitar), Markus Hirvonen (drums), and Markus Vanhala (guitar).
They started off with “The Primeval Dark” from their 2014 album ‘Shadows of a Dying Sun’. The opening to the song is this amazing melodic mixture of guitars and bass that hooks you in. Niilo’s gravelly voice reminded me a lot of Johan from Amon Amarth. The guitar and bass riffs in this song are absolutely enchanting and just pull you into the song. Before you know it you’re banging your head to the music and absorbing it all in. Insomnium had me hooked from this song alone. But, even better is they slid right into their next song “While We Sleep” as if it was one long song. The transition is smooth and Ville provides clean vocals along with Niilo’s vocals. Ville and Markus V. beautifully intertwine their guitar riffs and Markus H. drums blends in perfectly. Insomnium then played Parts 1 through 4 of their 2016 albums “Winter’s Gate”. The album is a 40 minute track separated into 7 parts. Ambitious, creative, and delivered to perfection. The crowd was absolutely loving their set, moshing, head banging and cheering them on. They are definitely a band to watch and listen to and I look forward to their return and next album.
Lacuna Coil was getting ready to grace the stage, one of the bands, I was most excited to see. The band was technically formed in 1994 under the name Sleep of Right with Andrea Ferro leading the band and on vocals. Cristina Scabbia was asked to provide some backup vocals to some songs they were recording. Eventually, Andrea asked her to join the band. In 1997 they were signed to Century Media and decided to change their name to Ethereal. But, the name was taken and they decided on Lacuna Coil. The band released a self titled EP in 1998 and started to get noticed. They toured within Europe starting to make a name for themselves.
It wasn’t until 2002 with the album ‘Comalies’ that started to gain them U.S. attention. “Heaven’s a Lie” the first single began to get national airplay. It was also used in a the video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and on the movie soundtrack to Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The popularity garnered them an opportunity to tour in the U.S. and even perform at Ozzfest. From that point forward their popularity skyrocketed producing 5 more studio albums, more U.S. tours with bigger bands, and multiple festival shows. There were lineup changes that occurred right before the release of their most current album, ‘Delirium’, released in 2016. Lacuna Coil is Andrea Ferro (vocals), Cristina Scabbia (vocals), Marco Coti Zelati (bass), Ryan Blake Folden (drums), and Diego Cavallotti (guitars).
When Lacuna Coil took the stage, they were all wearing white strait jackets. Cristina had writing on hers that looked like The Joker got to it. Marco, Diego, and Ryan all came out in white makeup with their outfits, supporting their ‘Delirium’ album. Now, we were all in Lacuna Coil’s sanitarium. They opened with “Ultima Ratio” from the ‘Delirium’ album. Andrea comes out blaring with his powerful voice with Marco laying down a heavy bass rift. Cristina joins in with such clarity and power. It’s a great start to the show. They followed up with “Spellbound” from ‘Shallow Life’. Diego leads the song through with alluring guitar rifts and Andrea and Cristina providing vocal hand offs without missing a beat. It’s amazing how easy they make it look and sound on stage.
Cristina did get emotional during the show talking about how everyone has lost someone and while they are not physically with us and how they will still always be with us in our hearts. For “Nothing Stands in Our Way”, Cristina got the crowd chanting “We Fear Nothing” before they jumped into the song. Andrea and Cristina mentioned how much they appreciated the fans and how much they enjoyed being here that night. Some of their other songs included “My Demons”, “Die & Rise”, “Downfall”, and “House of Shame”. Lacuna Coil provided the fans with an amazing set of music that will be definitely remembered until their return.
Finally, the headliner, Epica was getting ready to perform. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about them on this tour so I was excited to finally see it for myself. The Dutch band formed in 2002 after Mark Jansen left the band After Forever. He put together a band originally titled Sahara Dust and was later changed to Epica with Simone Simons as their female vocalist. The band started to receive worldwide recognition in 2005 as they toured with Kamelot in North America. In 2007, Epica headlined their first tour in North America with many more to come. Epica has released 7 studio albums, the latest in 2016 titled ‘The Holographic Principle’, and 1 EP titled ‘The Solace System’ released in 2017. Epica is Mark Jansen (vocals, guitar), Simone Simons (vocals), Coen Janssen (keyboards), Arien van Weesenbeek (drums), Issac Delahaye (lead guitar), and Rob van der Loo (bass).
As the house lights dimmed and the haunting background music started the crowd screamed loudly. One by one Epica came out on stage and then started into “Edge of the Blade” from ‘The Holographic Principle’. Immediately you heard the symphonic sounds with operatic vocal backgrounds and pace of music. And Simone’s vocals runs chills over your skin. She has the power and range of an opera singer and passion and intensity of a heavy metalist. Coen’s keyboard playing heavily ingrained in the song and he’s not only excellent but very expressive. And of course, Mark Jansen’s screaming vocals is the contrast to Simone’s which makes Epica what they are today, a powerhouse, symphonic, death metal, creative, and talented band.
“Victims of Contingency” from ‘The Quantum Enigma’. Arien’s drum playing is one of the fastest I’ve ever heard and is the backbone to the song. Rob lays down quick bass riffs to match Arien’s playing while Issac merges his guitar riffs in as well. But Mark really goes into his guttural vocals during this song. They followed with “Wheel of Destiny” from ‘The Solace System’ EP. This time Issac’s guitar playing and Coen’s keyboards lead the way with a nice long instrumental before Simone jumps into it with vocals. The crowd was absolutely loving what Epica was bringing on so far and this was only the start of the show.
The one thing about Epica that is so obvious to see is they love performing for a live audience. They’re animated, active, and have fun on stage. Mark Jansen said the band loves to have fun and goof around with each other on stage. The lighting crew also did a spectacular job properly adding the mood of each song. One of the things that made me laugh was Coen’s keyboard was on wheels. During the show he would move it from one side to the other. But, he didn’t walk it across, he would glide it like a professional ice skater, lifting up his leg and posing as he did. Quite a sight to see.
Simone had a surprise for the fans that night as she brought out Cristina from Lacuna Coil to perform “Storm the Sorrow” from ‘Requiem for the Indifferent’. Simone mentioned it during a Facebook Live session in September and again on stage that Cristina is one of her best friends and how honored and happy she was to have Cristina and Lacuna Coil on the tour. Together, they were perfect alternating lyrics and harmonizing during the chorus.
Epica finished their set with “Cry for the Moon” from ‘The Phantom Agony’ and walked off stage to the crowd chanting “Epica! Epica!” Their set was only 10 songs, but if you know the length of some of these songs that’s a long set. Eventually, Epica came back out to encore. Their encore set included “Sancta Terra” from ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ and “Beyond the Matrix” from ‘The Holographic Principle’. Before they started their final song, “Consign to Oblivion”, the title track from the second album, Issac asked the crowd to part down the middle, urging the moshers to give it all they got. Before they got into the song Issac told everyone to “HOLD!…..HOLD!…..GO!” and the moshers ran at each other as Epica started off the song. It was one of the biggest mosh pits I had seen in an indoor venue in some time. Epica appeared impressed and pleased and the crowd was as well. When they finished the crowd cheered, hollered, and applauded for Epica’s performance and it was one Orlando would remember.
Overall, this was one of the best combinations of band I’ve seen outside of a festival show. A variety of metal with 3 female fronted singers and tons of talent throughout all the bands. It is definitely one of my favorite shows this year and I look forward to Epica coming back to Orlando. And Epica promised they would come back.