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Epica: Life as source of inspiration

Hardly any other Symphonic Metal band manages to combine their classic bombastic epics with elements of Goth Metal in such a majestic way. Besides opulent choirs, big orchestra and epic opuses it is especially the mezzo soprano of the charismatic singer Simone Simons that put Epica quickly on the international top of this genre. A great achievement within only five years of the band´s existence.

Now the Dutch act with mastermind and founder Mark Jansen (guitar, grunts), Ad Sluijter (guitar), Yves Huts (bass), Coen Janssen (keyboards) and the enchanting Simone (vocals) present their fourth album.

“The Divine Conspiracy is a concept album. It deals with the negative aspects of human s¨psyche, religion and nature. The CD is heavier and more powerful than it´s predecessors, with more complex and longer song structures and contains more grunts, choirs and fierce guitars”, says Simone and adds: “Basically this CD feels like a new beginning. Our drummer left the band, our record company went bankrupt. It was time to find a new way. Therefore we really enjoyed to experiment, to add more variety to the songs and to push them to another level. The recordings took much time, but we worked on it as long as we needed to be satisfied.”

Therefore also “Menace Of Vanity” also ended up on the album, a track that Mark wrote basically for his solo project, “but everybody liked it so much that we decided to use t for Epica, although it is super heavy.” The 22-year-old smiles. “We did not want to restrict ourselves in any way.”

In terms of content a story like can be detected, explains the attractive Dutch: “Although the lyrics seem to deal with different issues and have different things to say, they fit into the bigger pattern. The Divine Conspiracy is like a test that every human being has to undergo. God created different religions and spread them among people. They should realize the true nature of belief, because there is indeed the same message in all religions. If we could just realize there would be no need for wars in the name of god any more and we could live in peace.”

The cover artwork deals with religious implications, too. You can see the naked Simone, with marks on her body and holding an apple: “We want to symbolize mankind here. We all are innocent when we are born. But during life we have to make a lot of decisions, good ones and bad ones. We change inside and outside, therefore the marks on my body. Basically I represent Eve, she was seduced to eat the forbidden fruit and became mortal.”

Another connection with the religious part of the album: “We are only human and make mistakes, but we also have a lot of energy, power and reason. We should learn from our mistakes and not give up to make it better.”

The inspiration for the band is every day life, their own experiences and fates of friends and associates: “Life itself is a pure source of inspiration”, says Simone, “but still I can just write in a certain mood, Mark is much more consequent than I am. I need this emotion, it doesn´t matter if happy or sad – I need to be in this mood, then the words just come up.”

Do their own expectations meet the result? “I am just happy with the new record”, the red haired beauty admits, and she confesses with a wink: “Everything else will just work out. We just signed with Nuclear Blast and I am very curious how “The Divine Conspiracy” will be received by our fans. We have been working so hard on the development of the band, therefore it is now so nice to hold the result of this struggle in your hands. And to grow as a musician – and as a human being – is very important to me, and I think that I am a big step further, personally and musically..”

Author: Jasmin Froghy, transl. K. Weber, photos: Epica
Date: 2007-09-24

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