For the last two decades few bands have become as integral to current landscape of symphonic metal as Dutch legends, Epica. With a catalog spanning some eight full length albums, the most recent being 2021's Omega, the band's signature fusion of grandiose instrumental compositions, combined with vocalist Simone Simons' mezzo soprano delivery have helped to diversify heavy music with an element of the classical.
To better examine the kind of impact Epica have had as creative luminaries in the space, cultural commentator and veteran journalist Ryan J. Downey sat with Simons to delve deep into archives of Epica for a comprehensive exploration of their discography spanning 20 years.
Going back to the very beginning, Simons recalled what it like to hear her voice in a studio environment for the very first time while making the band's debut album, The Phantom Agony. She confided a sense of shock when she heard herself, explaining that it didn't align with how she thought she sounded. Getting more comfortable with the process, Simons shared that the initial shock wore off and she got into the rhythm of going from a singer to a recording artist.
Simons shared that at first, she had very little creative input being the "baby of the band". She explained that Mark Jansen's expertise in coming from After Forever meant that the foundation of the band was already established - Jansen was steering the ship from a sound architect standpoint.
Simons recalls rehearsing for Epica in Jansen's grandmother's basement. She remembered the egg cartons mounted to the wall for makeshift soundproofing. She remembered recording their rehearsals and her vocal lines on standard cassette tapes. She even confided keeping her post with Epica a secret from her parents until she couldn't anymore, revealing that on the same day as Epica's first gig, she had a performance with a choir she was in and opted to follow through with Epica.
Thank goodness for that.
The complete DISC DIVE with Ryan J. Downey and Simone Simons of EPICA can be streamed - HERE . Stream the preview below.