By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Symphonic metal is one of the subgenres of metal that is closest to my heart. The rapid riffs, operatic voices, and orchestral overtones calms me and enhances my imagination of the unknown. One of the greatest symphonic metal acts to come across my way is Epica. The Dutch outfit is famous for its combined mezzo-soprano and growled vocals, thanks to frontwoman Simone Simons and founder/rhythm guitarist Mark Jansen, respectively. Jansen started the group after leaving After Forever, but Epica had a different name when it was formed, Sahara Dust. I asked why he settled for Epica when I got the opportunity to interview him over Skype. Our main topic was the upcoming 8th album, Omega. A big name in the world symphonic metal, and I got to chat with him.
Jansen is originally from the Netherlands but now lives in Southern Italy. When I asked how the pandemic is going in his part of the world, he told me that it is tough and somewhat unstable, but he said he hanging in there. He explained that they were not thrilled with the band name Sahara Dust, so when they were in the studio recording their first album, he came across Epica and liked the name. While a lot of symphonic metal bands base most of their songs around science fiction and fantasy, Epica goes more for the mythology and science approach. Jansen and I had an in-depth talk about that topic. As mentioned, Omega is their eighth studio album. According to the growling guitarist, the album centered around the Omega Point theory coined by the French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I will not go into too much detail about it, but Jansen gives a good explanation behind it. We discussed the involvement of Vicky Psarakis of The Agonist and Zaher Zorgati of Myrath, both of whom guessed on two songs. We would go on talking about some the tracks featured off Omega and his favorite ones to work on, “Seal of Solomon” and “Kingdom of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe.”
Jansen was a classy gentleman during our chat. He had very intelligent responses when came to the topics of science. My favorite part was when we went into spirituality and our belief in the afterlife. He knows what he wants out of Epica and so far, it has been very successful for him. There was times where the connection was a bit spotty, but we both made the best of it. I cannot wait to see Epica again once the pandemic is over and hear the songs off Omega live. To Mark Jansen, I salute you. Horns up!!!
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