Epica & Lacuna Coil Crush NYC 9-29-17 w/ Insomnium & Elantris

Epica & Lacuna Coil Crush NYC 9-29-17 w/ Insomnium & Elantris

For fans of European Metal, the prospect of a tour uniting Insomnium with Lacuna Coil and Epica is a dream come true. Well, pinch yourself because the wish was granted with The Ultimate Principle Tour. Launched at the end of August, and visiting cities coast to coast across North America, on Friday, September 29th, the tour reached its final destination at Playstation Theater in New York City. 

The co-billed lineup of Epica and Lacuna Coil, along with Insomnium and Elantris, marks significance in several ways for all involved. For one, it sees Epica return to North American shores less than a year after their previous tour, something no one expected. Additionally, it is a few short months prior to Lacuna Coil’s 20th anniversary to be held in London, England on January 19, 2018.  Why is this all important? Simple, these are bands that do not tour The States every six months, so any time they visit, it is a gift! 

So, all this said, could there have been any better way for Metal fans to spend a early fall, Friday night? Well, with an electric atmosphere all around, a packed crowd at Playstation Theater bet their money there was not as they lined up for the final night of this high energy tour.

Eager to get the celebration started, first up was the only domestic band on the bill, Ohio’s Elantris. Formerly known as Blackthorne, the young band has shared the stage with the likes of Sonata Arctica, Xandria, Delain, Epica and Eluveitie. Now signed on with a worldwide booking agency, they find themselves gracing The Ultimate Principle Tour. 

A great opportunity for more exposure, the band brought with them the work of their debut album, The Sacrifice, released in November of 2016. Comfortably fitting in the Symphonic Metal world, Elantris, fronted by Lindsay Victoria Ketchum and the harsh vocals of Thomas Ullom, made a grand entrance to the New York City audience. Showcasing a sound that was both heavy, striking, and yes, symphonic, they played original tunes including “Ellie” and “Strings of Silk.” Lively, the band also included the thick guitar tone of Garrett Chetock, delicate keys of Mark Liber, bass of John Dobosh, and drum battery of Erik Liber, showing they are a band that is headed for big things. Currently unsigned, look out for Elantris to make more noise in the coming years.

A slow moving thunder storm, the most straight-up Metal troop of the night, Insomnium were set to go next. A welcomed return to the US for the first time since their headlining trek back in 2015, Insomnium came armed with their epic 2016 album, Winter’s Gate. Named a top 10 Metal album of 2016 by several publications, including CrypticRock, Winter’s Gate is a masterfully crafted body of work presented like a play, broken into parts, not songs, over 40 plus minutes. This in mind, fans of the Melodic Death Metal heros could only hope to hear a few of these parts on this night. 

Wasting little time, they took the stage, opening with “The Primeval Dark” and forging into “While We Sleep.” With a slower, but much more sinister brand of Death Metal, Insomnium carried the audience through a realm of heavy riffs and slow melodies. Vocalist Niilo Sevänen delivered seering, growled vocals, blending nicely with the clean vocals of Guitarist Jani Liimatainen. In enough words, the vocal performances of Sevänen and Liimatainen gave the set a sense of good and evil as portrayed in their music.

Continuing on, the balance of their sound was especially notable as the band performed Winter’s Gate parts 1, 2, and 4. Sounding tight as a collective unit, amping up the mood, through the entire set, Sevänen was not hesitant to get the crowd going, screaming to the audience, egging everyone on to mosh during “Mortal Share.” If that was not enough, they played on with crowd favorite “Change of Heart” before finishing up with “Ephemeral.” Intense and driven, Insomnium certainly left the audience wowed while preparing them for what was coming next.

Then, at around 8:15 PM, as the main floor filled with more and more fans, the lights went down and a sense of unbridled fire seemed to brew among the crowd. Yes, it was time for Italy’s own Lacuna Coil. A band which has always distinguished themselves among others on the scene, thanks to their unique sound, every time they visit the US it is an event. Returning just a year after their run with Butcher Babies, no one was complaining for a chance to see them live again and be served a diet of classic tunes mixed with 2016’s Delirium.

One for theatrics, suddenly, Bassist Marco Coti Zelati, Guitarist Diego Cavallotti, and Drummer Ryan Blake Folden appeared. Faces painted like skeletons, clothes spattered in theatrical blood, an image like something out of a Horror movie, they began the opening number, “Ultima Ratio.” Finally, to the crowd’s delight, emerging via the side of the stage, Vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. Now it was go time! To the roar of the crowd, Lacuna Coil brought their version of Gothic Metal featuring a lot of mid-tempo melodies mixed with the back and forth vocals of Scabbia and Ferro. Scabbia brought her beautifully clean harmonies while Ferro mixed in his dark and hardcore vocals as heard on “Spellbound,” as well as “Die & Rise,” before a surprise collaboration with Simone Simon of Epica for “Heaven’s a Lie.” 

So happy to be closing out the tour, gloriously as she put it, in NYC, Scabbia welcomed the audience to the Lacuna Coil Sanatorium. Their Sanatorium, as described by Scabbia, is a place where the listener can feel safe from any pain they feel inside. Relating to the audience, Scabbia continued, “We are all equal no matter where we come from, we are all made of blood and tears.” Leading into the next song, “Blood, Tears, Dust,” Scabbia finished by saying,”But in the end we are all gonna be dust.

Sadly, about three quarters in, the band ran into a technical difficulty rendering them unable to play. Thinking fast, Scabbia asked the audience if they have ever heard of a band called AC/DC before singing an a cappella version of the classic, “Highway To Hell.” With the audience clapping the beat, Scabbia kept the crowd entertained even when she asked an audience member named Mike to sing the guitar solo.

After about a ten minute interlude, and the kinks worked out, Lacuna Coil was back tearing the roof off the place with songs like “My Demons” and “Trip the Darkness.” Towards the end of the set, Scabbia announced the band will be releasing a book, entitled We Fear Nothing, as part of the celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary. Lastly, leading into the closing number, “The House of Shame,” Scabbia promised the audience they will always be welcome into Lacuna Coil’s house of shame. Putting on a soaring and impressive performance matched with an enjoyable stage show, Lacuna Coil really brought their A-game. 

Finally, the time had come for the main event of the evening, Epica. As stated, visiting the USA much quicker than expected, Epica has seemed to have a sense of urgency as of late. Not only did they release the acclaimed The Holographic Principle in 2016, they followed up with a new 6 track EP of recent, entitled The Solace System. Both pieces of a cohesive story, Epica were ready to tell new tales, while retelling older ones to their beloved fans. 

Doing just that, they floored the gas with the song “Eidola,”exploding into the Playstation Theater with a force likely similar to an asteroid hitting the earth. A combination of blistering melodic guitar, cosmic synthesizers, and the gorgeous operatic tones of Simone Simons, Epica gave a performance that was nothing short of stunning and mind-blowing. Hands down, Simons has to be the most talented and amazing female vocalist in Metal. She did not slow down as the band went into powerful tracks like “Edge of the Blade,” “Unleashed,” and “The Essence of Silence.”

Simons brilliance withstood, highlights of the stage show included a stage filled with colorful strobe lights and dynamo Keyboardist Coen Janssen, who was able to roll his keyboard from one end of the stage to the other. Sounds like that was the best feature Janssen had all night? Think again, because at one point Janssen had not just any keyboard strapped to himself, but an innovative keyboard, bent in an arch… now that was cool!

Additionally, Rhythm Guitarist Mark Jansen, Lead Guitarist Isaac Delahaye, Bassist Rob Van Der Loo, and Drummer Arien Van Weesenbeek provided a bombastic foundation which shook the room. Later, Simons dueted with Lacuna Coil’s own Scabbia on “Storm the Storm” before she had the audience form the biggest circle pit of the night for “Beyond the Matrix,” and lastly closed the show with “Consign to Oblivion,” sending everyone way high on life.

Song after song, for nearly two hours, Epica annihilated the audience. Not enough great things can be said about Epica because everything about their performance was spot on. Even when the entire band was headbanging together, they were all perfectly in-sync. Furthermore, Elantris, Insomnium, and Lacuna Coil were top notch. Though sad to see the night end, the audience was left satisfied, feeling as if they have seen one of the best tours out there, and they did! So, want to know what Epica is truly about? Go see them live because they truly are epic!

 
Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography 

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Vito Tanzi
vtanzi79@gmail.com

With '80s Metal and '90s Punk Rock flowing through his veins, Vito also enjoys many a variety of other genres. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Music Business, he loves going to as many live shows as possible and experiencing the music first hand.

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