De Bosuil - Weert - The Netherlands
1 June 2003

EPICA is the new gothic metal band of guitarplayer Mark Jansen (ex- After Forever). This evening they had the cd-presentation of their debutalbum called: "Phantom Agony". The band was named Sahara Dust in the first place and ex-Trail Of Tears singer Iren Michaelsen was supposed to be the leading lady of the band. But Iren got homesick and so they decided to ask Simone Simons as their leadsinger; so far so good... This evening, as the temperature keeps rising and rising, Epica show what they are made of. Thank God they are not the next rip-off of Within Temptation, The Gathering, Nightwish or Lacuna Coil; no, they definitely have their own musical style. However it is not to be overheard that Mark had a very important role in his former band After Forever. Simone's classically schooled voice only needs a bit more volume and then her vocals are nearly perfect, as she shows us in "Run For A Fall". Musically speaking I miss, nag nag, guitarsolos, but maybe on their next album there will be some serious guitarpicking (wishful thinking). Highlight of the set for me was "Cry For The Moon"; keep an eye on Epica, they could turn out to become very famous.

Just after nine o clock it was At Vance time; they have just released their fifth album called "The Evil In You" and with the new lead singer Mats Leven this could perhaps give them their final breakthrough. The music was too f.... loud (thank God for earplugs) but it rocked like hell. Olaf and Rainald (the two guitarplayers) played their ass off and treated us to some lovely twinguitarsolos. Mats was definitely in good shape; his throat sounded like he has only just begun singing stuff like this. Especially in the metalhymn "The Evil In You", a song with a superb chorus, he sang like a young metalgod. Again when I hear him singing like that I always wonder why Malmsteen decided to fire Mats. A stupid mistake, but very fortunate for At Vance, as Mats showed and proved in powermetal songs like "Broken Vow" or "The Curtain Will Fall".

The curtain of this show fell already after 45 minutes, but At Vance decided to do an encore; first Franco Zuccaroli bore us to death with a drumsolo, but then I was really surprised to hear the guitarriff of the Black Sabbath classic "Children Of The Grave". Great ending guys and keep up this good work.

Gig report: Martien Koolen
Photos by: Sy "Wooks" Seldon,

(c) 2003 RockUnited.Com