EPICA guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen has confirmed to FaceCulture that the recording process for the band's new album has been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic that is racing around the world and stalling economies.
"Simone [Simons, EPICA singer] and I, we would normally be now in the studio recording this album, vocal-wise, and that's not gonna happen because I simply cannot even go to the studio, and for Simone, it's also too risky to make such a travel," he explained (see video below). "So we decided that I record at home. And luckily, I have a home studio and a recording booth, which is actually a walk-in closet that works as a vocal booth. And also, luckily enough, I got new equipment three months ago, so yeah, I'm in a fortunate situation that I can do recordings at home. But it's not an ideal situation, of course, because I like working with the producer [Joost Van Den Broek] one-on-one, and he always gives some great advice. But we found a way that I record everything, I send the stuff over and then he gives his comments and I do a second run. So like this, it works pretty much the same as being in the studio. And the advantage is I can record whenever I feel good, so whenever the voice is the best, and usually that's in the evening, so I record all the stuff in the evening hours."
Asked if the coronavirus crisis will likely result in the new EPICA album being delayed, Mark said: "It could. We still have to see what's gonna happen. I have the feeling that Nuclear Blast is anyway putting a lot of releases already later, so there's a big chance it will affect the release date of the album, unfortunately, yes… I leave that up to our manager to talk to Nuclear Blast and see what the possibilities are. I have no idea. I hope that if there's a delay, the delay will be as small as possible. But it depends also on how long this corona situation is gonna take. If this goes on for months and months, then it will not make sense to release an album in September if by then it's still not solved. Of course, health is the most important thing in life. So, we will see how it will develop, and then we will make a decision also based on that."
According to Mark, the new EPICA album has been completely written and it "almost pretty much recorded already. Only me and Simone are missing — my vocals and Simone's vocals," he said. "That's all. We have recorded guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, orchestra, choir — so, everything, basically, has been recorded. It's just these last two things. But, yeah, the vocals are not the least important thing on an album [laughs], so an album without Simone would not be an option."
On the topic of the musical direction of the new EPICA material, Mark said: "Some fans asked me the same question, so I had already some time to think about it. And if I would have to say in what direction, I would say it's like in between 'Design Your Universe'  and 'The Quantum Enigma'  — that kind of direction. Of course, we always try also to integrate some new stuff, and we try to aim for some really catchy choruses. When you have 'Beyond The Matrix' and 'Cry For The Moon', people really love to hear these songs on festivals, for example, so we tried to write a bit in that direction but also without losing the heaviness."
Asked to reveal one of the "new elements" that fans can expect to hear on the next EPICA album, Mark said: "We have a very nice guest vocalist. I cannot announce the name yet, but he has some Arabic influences."
Most of the recording sessions for EPICA's new album took place at Sandlane Recording Facilities in Rijen, Netherlands.
In support of the new album, EPICA is scheduled to hit the road in Europe during the "Epic Apocalypse" co-headline tour with APOCALYPTICA.
Last fall, EPICA celebrated the 10th anniversary of its milestone album "Design Your Universe". To mark this special occasion, EPICA re-released this fan-favorite LP as a "gold edition" in October through Nuclear Blast. This edition contains the album remixed and remastered by Joost Van Den Broek with updated artwork and a second disc containing newly recorded acoustic versions of "Design Your Universe" songs.
November 2019 saw the release of "The Essence Of Epica", a lavishly designed and fully illustrated, high-quality hardback which tells the story of EPICA in bandmembers' own words. The book is available in two distinct editions: the Classic is a 208-page, hardback with foil detailing, filled with over 200 images; the Signature hardback is signed by the band and comes in a deluxe clamshell box with three exclusive, original art prints created by Stefan Heilemann.