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Epica - Retrospect - 10th Anniversary
Written by Ton Dekkers   
Sunday, 24 November 2013

Epica - CD Review
Retrospect - 10th  Anniversary



CD Info
DVD/Blu Ray - 2 Video Discs - 3 CD's
Nuclear Blast Records
English Lyrics
Concert: 26 Tracks (track listing below)


As soon as Epica announced the Retrospect 10th Anniversary Show , on FaceBook the discussion started on the recording of that show. Now it’s reality, the full epic show is released on DVD and Blu Ray.  The best advice now:  if you don’t have it already, stop reading and go and get it. It’s the best buy you can do this year.

I know I’m a little bit biased and very lucky that Epica has a good relation with Eindhoven (Netherlands , my hometown). Not only the Retrospect show was there but also the Dutch premiere in one of the local cinemas. Early in the Anniversary Show Simone Simons said: “ Ten years ago we were all babies dreaming of the life of a rock star and now ten years later we travel around the world, several times, still countries that need to be Epicafied." With this release available this will not be that difficult. 



More than ten years ago (December 2002) I was at one of their first shows (de Effenaar - Eindhoven again). I was initially interested because it was the new band Mark Jansen (guitar, grunts, screams) after he left After Forever that played the week before. I immediately got attracted/addicted to this band. Many gigs followed over the years. And with this Anniversary Show the difference between a starting band and a matured band is clearly visible. They are not "babies" any more.

 It’s much too complicated to do a review of each song on this live release. Almost all songs are already discussed in various album reviews. So I will focus on some highlights and my observations at the Dutch premiere and the Blu Ray version.

The presentation of this Anniversary Show in itself is already a highlight. The release is in a very good looking hard cover booklet with folders for the 2 BR discs and 3 audio CD’s . At the premiere you could get a signed copy as a package with your ticket, I'm again lucky. In there is also a little booklet with set list, photos, credits and some fun facts & figures (like 5.3 km of gaffer tape was needed to keep everything in place). The band photos in the beautiful booklet are from Tim Tronckoe and Jeroen Aarts. On the back is a setlist of each video disc. The artwork makes it also great to have.



The visual recording is excellent. Of course Simone gets as front lady the most attention. The band members, orchestra, choir, guests, stage overviews and audience are for sure not forgotten. With that the production is in perfect  balance all over. The spectacular lightshow and pyro works are also recorded in a way that represented the experiences at the Anniversary Show.  When writing this review, I’m watching the show (again) on my TV wanting it to have a bigger screen. The images are impressive but never artificial, it's a clean and clear registration reflecting the atmosphere of an epic show.  The 10 HD cameras recorded every detail from different angles.  One of the most impressive scenes is the one that you couldn't see when at the show is the solo of Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums) in “Cry for the Moon”. When watching it on the big screen in the cinema, this moment created the most reactions in the room: In the recording you could not only hear how great that was but also see it.  That brings me to the quality of the sound. The audio is excellent as well, it's not over edited,  it has kept all the elements that are related to a live recording. An excellent job.

When people say Metal is just a lot of noise, this release has more than sufficient evidence to prove how wrong that is. The orchestration gives the music a level that goes beyond excellent. It becomes amazing and shows the quality of the composers and the performers (band, orchestra and choir). The “Orchestral Medley” with excerpts from “Feint”, “Fools of Damnation”, “Mother of Light”, “Kingdom of Heaven”, “Run for a Fall” and “Deep Water Horizon” illustrates clearly that good Metal is not far from classical music. The reverse is also close. The combination of classical and Metal is illustrated in “Presto (Vivaldi)” where the solo violin (Tamás Kriston) interacts with the guitar (Isaac Delahaye). This gives this classical piece an additional dimension.  The same applies for the “Battle of the Heroes & Imperial March (J. Williams)”. Goose bumps you will get from “Stabat Mater (Pergolesi)” where Simone and guest vocalist Floor Jansen show their talents.



How Epica has grown over the years becomes clearly visible in “The Phantom Agony”.  Not only the performance is more mature and epic than in the early gigs. Simone’s voice has improved and she’s not that shy anymore. Also embedding the “Party Beat” shows that they are confident enough to do this kind of thing. The audience in the cinema was reacting just like the crowd at the show, positive on that beat although they stayed in their chairs.

No Anniversary without inviting old band members. In “Quietus” Ad Sluijter (guitar), Yves Huts (bass) and Jeroen Simons (drums) took their positions and joined Coen Janssen (keyboards), Mark and Simone. Talking about guests in this kind of shows; on FB you can find often discussions on who should sing a duet with who.  In “Sancta Terra” Floor and Simone show that that is more than workable. Their voices not only match in a classical piece ("Stabat Mater") but also in a Metal song.

The show (and recording) ends with “Consign to Oblivion”.  After a three hour Show, Epica is still as motivated and enthusiastic as well as orchestra, choir and audience. All is captured in this last song. The first thing you want to do is to start again, “you want some more!!!!”.  The same reaction was in the cinema. It didn't work there but at home you can!



In the break (they had to change discs) and afterwards in the lobby of the cinema I had the opportunity to talk to some band members. They were all present except Simone; she has a good excuse. In addition Ives was present too.  Ariën still enjoys seeing himself on screen and his girlfriend liked it also very much (she was sitting next to me). Mark was a little less enthusiastic. He admitted; he now knows all the songs! He saw the recording over 25 times during the editing process. At end of the day, all present found it special to see the show (again) on a big screen. Of course they have seen themselves in YouTube footage, but a professional  registration of this unique epic show is different.

The premiere event was sold out. However, because the premiere coincided with a soccer match in Eindhoven and due to the security code (Red because of the “supporters” of the visiting club) and bad weather, not all appeared. They really missed something . Those that were present had a very enjoyable evening. Most of them found it a little bit weird sitting in a comfortable chair watching a concert on screen. After a while there was applause after each song but no response (not interactive viewing) kept it a little modest. Anyway most agreed it was good and fun to do this presentation for a wider audience in a cinema. It also created some exposure for Metal, although just in the local newspaper that was present and published the day after.

I don’t restart writing this review but I will restart the show (many times). The only thing I can say again: go and get it, you will not regret it. For me: the release of the year.

Track Listing:

1. Introspect
2. Monopoly on Truth
3. Sensorium
4. Unleashed
5. Martyr of the Free Word
6. Chasing the Dragon
7. Presto
8. Never Enough
9. Stabat Mater Dolorosa
10. Twin Flames
11. Serenade of Self-Destruction
12. Orchestral Medley
13. The Divine Conspiracy - Anniversary Edition
14. Delirium
15. Blank Infinity
16. The Obsessive Devotion
17. Retrospect
18. Battle of the Heroes & Imperial March
19. Quietus
20. The Phantom Agony
21. Cry for the Moon
22. Sancta Terra
23. Design Your Universe
24. Storm the Sorrow
25. Consign to Oblivion
26. Outrospect 
Extras: exclusive interviews with all band members and behind-the-scenes footage from the show.

10 / 10

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