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 thenunknown 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, twoviolas, 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.
The Phantom Agony (2003–2004)
Their debut album, The Phantom Agony, was produced by Sascha Paeth (known for having produced bands such as Angra, Rhapsody of Fire and Kamelot) andreleased 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".
Consign to Oblivion / The Score (2005–2007)
Their second release, entitled Consign to Oblivion, was influenced by the culture of theMaya 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 Elfman cited as major inspirations. The album features guestsinging 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 – AnEpic 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, drummerJeroen 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 bandmember.
The Divine Conspiracy (2007–2009)
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 timewith 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...