Holland's EPICA (formerly SAHARA DUST),the new group formed by ex-AFTER FOREVER guitarist Mark Jansen, ex-CASSIOPEIA guitarist Ad Sluijter and keyboardist Coen Janssen, have won the Dutch "Essent Award".
"This award is meant to give young promising bands some extra support in developing their talent," reads a post on the band's web site. "This means EPICA will be playing on the Noorderslag festival in January and will also be appearing on the '2 Meter Sessies' program by Jan Douwe Kroeske (not to mention the €5000 accompanied with all of this!). Of course we are very glad with this honor (this being our first award)and we want to thank all our fans for their support!!!"
EPICA's debut album, "The Phantom Agony", was recorded at Gate Studio in Wolfsburg, Germany under the expert guidance of the renowned producer and technician Sascha Paeth (RHAPSODY, KAMELOT, ANGRA) and was released in June through Transmission Records.
The group, which is completed by vocalist Simone Simons, ex-CASSIOPEIA drummer Jeroen Simons, and ex-AXAMENTA bassist Yves Huts, worked with Norwegian singer Helena Michaelsen (ex-TRAIL OF TEARS) during its embryonic stage before settling on Simons, a classically trained opera singer whose style is said to perfectly complement the complex, progressive nature of the band's material.