Epica is a symphonic metal band from The Netherlands, founded in 2003 by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen after his departure from After Forever. The band currently consists of Simone Simons (vocals), Mark Jansen (guitars, vocals), Isaac Delahaye (guitar), Rob van der Loo (bass), Coen Janssen (keyboards, synthesiser), and Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums). They perform symphonic metal, with influences from death, progressive and power metal.
In early 2002, Jansen left After Forever and began looking for musicians to start a new musical project, initially named Sahara Dust. In late 2002, the band recruited Helena Iren Michaelsen (former singer with Trail of Tears and singer with Imperia) as its frontwoman, but shortly afterwards she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, 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. Their name was changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot’s album, Epica.
Epica then assembled a choir (made up of two men and six women) and a string orchestra (three violins, two violas, two cellos, and a double bass) to play with them. Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was released in late 2003.