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LIVE REVIEW: Epica + Powerwolf @ 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

Both EPICA and POWERWOLF are rising forces in power metal with EPICA recently coming off the back of the triumphant release of latest album The Holographic Principle. We were lucky enough to have writers at the band’s one-off UK show at the Shepherds Bush Empire to see if they can replicate their solid studio sound in a impressive live environment.

Beyond The Black live @ 02 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography
Beyond The Black live @ 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography

BEYOND THE BLACK are a disappointing start to proceedings tonight. Displaying all the tropes of symphonic metal there’s certainly a basic understanding but sadly very little for what passes as actual songs. There’s a few lazy “horns in the air” crowd participation calls which exposes, rather than covers up the obvious cracks in the live show. There are neither the mammoth hooks of DELAIN or WITHIN TEMPTATION nor the full-blown silliness of a band like NIGHTWISH. Not a good start.

Rating: 5/10

Powerwolf live @ 02 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography
Powerwolf live @ 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography

Thank god for POWERWOLF then who hit the stage running. POWERWOLF are excellent at pulling off their particular brand of silly power metal: and they do it by playing it as poe faced as possible. There’s no self referential sniggers as they introduce Resurrection by Erection nor does vocalist Attila Dorn (who sounds more like he should be a Warhammer character) snigger when introducing the gloriously overblown Sanctified By Dynamite. That POWERWOLF know what they do is somewhat ridiculous is absolutely undeniable, but they acknowledge it by playing up to and immersing themselves in the joke as much as possible not doing so with a nudge and a wink at the audience every ridiculous lyric.

Rating: 8/10

Epica live @ 02 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography
Epica live @ 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Photo Credit: Black Lotus Photography

EPICA perform a set that matches all the qualities of their recorded output delivering a full-blooded rock show. For one, there’s no seizing of the spotlight by singer Simone Simmons; indeed, she barely speaks a word until the three quarter mark instead letting both guitarists do what little sections of between song patter there are, and, talking of Simmons her vocals are utterly flawless tonight hitting every night while her stage presence just bleeds natural charisma. Despite her silence between songs. With a lighting show that enhances all the subtle nuance of EPICA‘s music, and a tiered stage show that both compliments the grandiosities of EPICA‘s compositions and allows the band’s presence to fill all the cavernous height of Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight is a triumph for EPICA. It’s enough to make you wonder why a band of this quality aren’t playing venues of this size a lot more over in the UK.

Rating: 8/10

Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in London from Rachael Griffiths here:

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