Want to wish you a blasting beginning of week with the company of L&D! As always here's the Featured bands! just don't forget your requests is what makes this possible so go ahead and keep requesting!
Epica (NL)- In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever over creative differences. He then began looking for musicians who would work towards a more classical/symphonic type of music project; this was initially named "Sahara Dust". In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen (from Trail of Tears) as its frontwoman, but shortly after she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, who was Jansen's girlfriend at the time. The band's line-up was completed by guitarist Ad Sluijter, drummer Jeroen Simons, bassist Yves Huts, and keyboard player Coen Janssen. The name was later changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot's eponymous album. Epica then assembled a choir (made up of two men and four women) and a string orchestra (three violins, two violas, two cellos and an upright bass) to play along with them. Still under the name Sahara Dust, they produced a two-song demo entitled Cry for the Moon in 2002. As a result, they were signed to Transmission Records. Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was produced by Sascha Paeth (known for having produced bands such as Angra, Rhapsody of Fire and Kamelot) and released in late 2003. The song "Façade of Reality" on the album was written about the September 11 attacks and includes fragments from speeches by Tony Blair. The album was followed by three singles: "The Phantom Agony", "Feint" and "Cry for the Moon". Their second release, entitled Consign to Oblivion, was influenced by the culture of the Maya civilization, which can be noticed on songs in the "A New Age Dawns" series. "A New Age Dawns" refers to the time system of the Mayan people, which extends up to the year of 2012, and makes no reference of what may happen past said year. Consign to Oblivion was composed with film scores as a basis, with Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfmancited as major inspirations. The album features guest singing by Roy Khan (from Kamelot) on the song "Trois Vierges". Epica also joined Kamelot as a support band on parts of their tour for promotion of the The Black Halo album, to which Simons had contributed her vocals on the track "The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)". Two singles were released from the album, "Solitary Ground" and "Quietus (Silent Reverie)". Epica's non-metal album The Score – An Epic Journey was released in September 2005 and is the soundtrack for a Dutch movie called Joyride, though it could also be considered to be their third album. Mark Jansen describes the album as typical Epica, "only without the singing, without the guitars, no bass and no drums". In 2005 and 2006 Epica went on their first tour throughout North America with Kamelot. After the tour, drummer Jeroen Simons left the band because of his wish to pursue other musical interests. In Fall 2006, Simone once again contributed vocals to an album of Kamelot, this time on the tracks "Blücher" and "Season's End" on the album Ghost Opera. In December, Ariën van Weesenbeek from God Dethroned was announced via Epica's official website as the guest drummer for their new album, but not as a permanent band member. In September 2007, Epica headlined their first tour through North America and released their third album, The Divine Conspiracy, this time on a new label, Nuclear Blast. That December, Ariën van Weesenbeek was announced to be Epica's permanent new drummer. The band toured North America again in April 2008 with Into Eternity and Symphony X, this time with Amanda Somerville because Simone had contracted a staph infection (MRSA). The first single of the album was released on August 10, 2007 entitled "Never Enough". The second single, "Chasing the Dragon," was released in 2008 without an accompanying video. On December 16, 2008, Ad Sluijter left the band. He left a message on his Myspace page with his reasoning for leaving the band, which included frustration over being unable to enjoy composing music because of deadlines. Ad's successor on guitar was announced in January 2009 to be Isaac Delahaye, who is formerly of God Dethroned fame. In May of that year, Epica recorded The Classical Conspiracy, their first live album. The live show took place in Miskolc, Hungary on June 14, 2008, in the framework of the Miskolc Opera Festival (where Therion did a similar show a year before). It included a 40-piece orchestra and a 30-piece choir, and the setlist contained not only the band's songs, but also covers of classical pieces of Antonio Vivaldi, Antonín Dvořák, Giuseppe Verdi, Edvard Grieg, and of soundtracks of the movies Star Wars, Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was released on May 8, 2009 through Nuclear Blast Records. On March 4, 2009, Epica announced their return to the studio where they would begin the recording process for a new album. In April 2009, it was revealed that the new album's title would be "Design Your Universe". It continued the A New Age Dawns saga which started on Consign to Oblivion. The album was released on October 16, 2009. To promote this release, they performed in Amsterdam at Paradiso on October 10, 2009. This is the first Epica album to feature Isaac Delahaye. The record also contains a guest appearance from Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony Kakko on the song "White Waters". The album debuted in #8 in the Dutch charts. On December 31, 2009, it was announced through their website that a new single will be released. The song is called "This Is the Time" and all profit will go to World Wide Fund for Nature. In September 2010, Simone once again contributed vocals to an album of Kamelot, this time on the tracks "House on a Hill", "Poetry for the Poisoned, Pt. II: So Long" and "Poetry for the Poisoned, Pt. III: All Is Over" on the album Poetry for the Poisoned. In an interview in November 2010, Simone stated that the band is going to start writing music around February 2011 after their Latin American tour is over. She also stated that they are hoping for a release in the first quarter of 2012. As of May 2011, 14 tracks have been written without lyrics. The band plans to enter the studio after the Summer. Sascha Paeth will once again be the producer. Epica performs a blend of progressive metal, gothic metal and symphonic metal. Another component of Epica's style is power metal; their former guitarist Ad Sluijter having described the band as "a bridge between power metal and gothic metal." Vocalist Simone Simons has expressed a preference for the group to be described as symphonic metal though the founder of the group Mark Jansen notes that they do not mind being called gothic metal. The music of Epica is aggressive, bombastic and excessive with some songs being "epic, grand and majestic" and others "more subdued and introspective." The band is also known to have progressive tendencies while a gothic atmosphere and sentimentality is also present in their music. Epica uses a "trademark of many symphonic and gothic metal bands" in contrasting "two extremes, death grunts and brutality on one side, airy female melodiousness on the other." Eduardo Rivadavia of Allmusic notes that the band's "attraction ultimately hinges on exploring the sonic contrasts of light and dark; the punishing intensity of those elephantine guitar riffs and hyperactive drumming cast against the soaring, layered sweetness of the orchestrated strings and keyboards." Simone Simons delivers operatic vocals in a mezzo-soprano range though she has also been known to sometimes sing "with a clear alto voice that has a flawless tone and a lot of emotion." Mark Jansen delivers death grunts "that are secondary to Simons' singing, but very important in terms of balance and variety." The group is also known to employ human choirs and orchestras with additional embellishments such as spoken word recitals and lyrics in Latin and Arabic.
Aesma Daeva (US) - Aesma Daeva formed out of the early collaboration of Nick Copernicus (production) and John Prassas (guitars, composition) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, circa 1998. They worked together on a remix of an original work, "Darkness", for COP International compilation disc Diva-X-Machina II. As their project began taking shape, a second new track "Stay," caught the eye of Adrian Hates (Diary Of Dreams) at Accession records Germany, who published their first full length album: "Here Lies One Whose Name Is Written In Water”. At this point, Aesma Daeva, the operatic, symphonic, metal band, took official shape. Rebecca Cords performed the operatic vocals, John Prassas composed and performed all guitar parts, and N Copernicus helped with production and sampling. After the release of their first album, Rebecca Cords departed from the band and Melissa Ferlaak (along with two other female vocalists) began recording with Aesma Daeva for their second album, The Eros of Frigid Beauty, which was released in 2002 on Root of All Evil records. After the release of this album, demand for live music soon compelled John Prassas to find musicians capable of portraying the complex music on-stage. In January 2002, John Prassas asked Earl Root to play guitar, Craig Ohren to offer drum assistance and Melissa Ferlaak to sing for live performances. Aesma Daeva played Metalfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which established them as an original voice in the world of metal. Such popular metal magazines as Unrestrained!, Terrorizer, and Metal Maniacs deemed Aesma Daeva, "One of the Highlights of Metalfest 2002." Later, in August 2002, Aesma Daeva journeyed to Mexico for Festival Obscuro IV (presented by Dilemma Entertainment) to play along such acts as Tristania, Maldorar, and HIM. In 2003, John decided it was time for the band to move to a new level. Writing began for a new album to be produced by Grammy award-winning producer Neil Kernon (Nevermore, Hall and Oates, Queensreich). Many setbacks and line up changes happened during this period. In October, 2005, Melissa Ferlaak announced she was leaving to join the Austrian band Visions of Atlantis. Her final show with Aesma Daeva was in December 2005 at the Star Central club in Minnesota. The concert was filmed for the internet DVD Last Rites. After the Departure of Melissa Ferlaak, the search for a new vocalist began. Within a few months, Lori Lewis proved to be the best compliment to the band. With her knowledge of many different styles of music and her ability to sing different genres, Aesma Daeva has risen to a new level of professionalism and ability. Aesma Daeva's new album, Dawn of the New Athens, was released in March 2007 followed in the fall by a full U.S. and Candian tour with Therion. This album marks a new era for Aesma Daeva in their quest for high quality, original material.
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