It is no secret that creativity, depth, and sincerity have long eluded not only the CCM community, but the larger music industry as a whole. Every so often, a band or performer will rise to the occasion in attempt to remedy this deficit, but those acts are usually short-lived or far too niche (or just plain weird) for average listeners. The unfortunate reality is that people seldom want music to question their attitudes, practices, or even theology. Thankfully, bands such as My Epic are willing to consistently challenge the status quo, offering insight and conviction through their artistry.
Billed as the first part of a two-EP set, the five-track Ultraviolet sees My Epic take a notably different approach to their signature sound. Releasing later this year will be Violence, a second EP which the band has promised will contain their heaviest content yet. Both of these projects are concept albums where the band chiefly explores themes surrounding spiritual doubt. The whole of Ultraviolet features considerably less guitar and percussion work than fans have become accustomed to, but the band makes up for this with a surprisingly intricate degree of electronic elements. If we’re mincing genres, My Epic has moved somewhere into the realm of experimental ambient art rock, where the closest band comparisons would be strewn somewhere between Verona and Falling Up.
The opening track, “Of Wilderness,” also serves as Ultraviolet's first single, and simply put, is a highlight of contemporary rock music. The song’s mellow beginning draws an emphasis towards the vocals and lyrical content: “All of your bricks didn’t build it / none of your doubts ever break it / so you can talk talk all you want / I think we’re all lost till we’ve walked in the wilderness.” By the time the final chorus is reached, the steady buildup of the guitar work becomes noticeable, as do the piercing lyrics: “you can bow down all you want / if no one speaks back are you sure Someone’s listening? / If you got quiet for a moment / and finally put your faith where your mouth is / what are you afraid you will hear?” The song carries just a touch of that indie psychedelic rock sound, holding “Of Wilderness” in an odd sort of tension. My Epic makes this pairing work excruciatingly well; something few other bands could effectively pull off.
The somber and haunting track “Voices” settles in with the album’s darkly reflective lyrical content with lines such as “A Holy Ghost or just my own? / All the thoughts that haunt us most / are nothing or a Holy Ghost / but there’s nowhere to hide.” While still an excellent offering, “Voices” is probably the weakest song on the album. Located at the EP’s halfway point lies “So Be It,” a tasteful track with a smooth flow. At this point, Ultraviolet truly finds its groove and flows seamlessly into itself. This song’s lyrics continue the album’s theme (“I can’t tell the difference between my curses and my prayers / all of the stars still hang in sequences / but I don’t know this sky”), but it is the outro which most poignantly expresses the feelings of desperation: “When the tides you thought would lead you home / leave you in a world you don’t know / hope can be a heavy thing to hold / but I know I still feel it / so be it.”
The fourth track, “In Absentia,” bears some of My Epic’s weightiest lyrics and melodies, exploring the agony felt when experiencing God’s silence: “Ever since the pain set in and dusk spilled over everything / of all I’ve lost the cruelest thing is that I can’t hear You.” This is also the first point on the album where a message of hope begins to shine through: “Your hand finds mine here in the dark / when I’ve no form left to hold You close / Your voice itself becomes my home.” The song steadily grows in chaos until the very end when the instrumentation drops out and vocalist Aaron Stone somberly and desperately pleads “light the darkness, light the darkness.” The final track, “Two Nights,” is a complex beast. Featuring some heavier electronic elements, it attempts to join together the many sounds the band has experimented with over the years to a magnificent degree of success. From the beginning of the EP, the thematical explorations have grown more desperate, pointed, and harsh. Here, however, some resolution begins to come to light: “I searched for all my life, it stayed just out of sight / with nothing left to try, I stared straight at the light / it burned out both my eyes / I was caught between two nights: death and waiting blind / but I finally saw in ultraviolet.” From this point forward, the song kicks the volume up a notch where fans should feel right at home with the crashing guitars. The final lyrics cement the concept of finding light amongst the darkness, and also potentially set up the next part of the dual EP project: “There’s a voice hid in the silence / there’s a vision in the violence / there’s a first kiss when the light hits / on a shattered lens a bit shines through in ultraviolet.”
Ultraviolet is a magnificent EP in almost every way. Even the title of the project is extraordinarily clever: As the band explores the concept of doubt, vision comes into play, namely the existence those things which we cannot see. Ultraviolet light reveals the reality of what lies just beyond our sight, something rooted within the struggles of these songs. Compounding this astuteness is how past traces of blood can be seen under ultraviolet light, at least with the usage of luminol. Coupled together, this realization serves to perfectly complement the band’s lyrics, offering more answers than are seen at the surface level, or should I say, first glance. Ultraviolet is most decidedly a contender for the best EP —if not album— of 2018; it is with eager anticipation that we’ll wait to see if Violence holds a torch to the first half of My Epic’s project. For now, any fans of My Epic, Christian rock, or just good music in general should pick up this album and avoid missing out.- Review date: 3/21/18, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Facedown Records
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