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JFH Music Review


My Epic, 'Loriella'
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My Epic
Loriella



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock / Alternative / Ambient Rock
Album length: 10 tracks: 46 minutes, 27 seconds
Street Date: June 28, 2024


READER RATING:   


It's now been nearly 20 years since Alt/Ambient Rock band My Epic first appeared on the scene, offering listeners a shockingly deep take on the genre, both melodically and lyrically. Their auditory palette has ranged from contemplative acoustic fingerstyling all the way to screams and thrashing guitars, often with a healthy dose of shoegaze-like interludes spread in between. Such a versatile degree of tracks has enabled the band to seize the attention of elderly parents, angst-ridden teenage girls, gym bros, and theologians alike.

My Epic's last LP, Behold, was released all the way back in 2013. It was critically-lauded and featured a rich atmosphere of meditative and heavy theological topics. In a way, it felt more like a message set to music than a collection of songs. Since then, the band released three EPs, plus a "secret" acoustic one. The two most recent EPs, Ultraviolet and Violence, formed a two-pronged set, releasing in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Much of the content on these EPs explored the idea of spiritual doubt and feelings of emptiness, anger, and despair as lead singer Aaron Stone attempted to reconcile these emotions and experiences with his faith.

Unbeknownst to fans, My Epic departed Facedown Records in 2020 (a label they had been with since the beginning) and signed to Tooth & Nail Records, which was only formally announced alongside the recent reveal of their upcoming LP, Loriella.

Thematically, Loriella picks up where Violence left off, but longtime listeners will quickly realize that this iteration of My Epic is markedly different from the band that released Yet and Behold. Faith, hope and love are still lyrically present, but with a few proverbial question marks tossed into the mix. The sonic shift heard on Loriella is less prominent than that of the lyrical shift, but is still felt nonetheless. Throughout the album, there is often a continuous air of chaos taking place. The melodies are strong, yet they compete with the complex soundscapes to create something of a story outside of the lyrics.

Loriella opens with "Late Bloomer," a song which sets the stage with a sense of urgency and reflection. It also adequately "previews" the remainder of the record by holding both the calm and agitated sides of the band's sound in tension. The lyrics, "Holy Spirit? Phantom limb? / I don't know what it is, but it's moving again," and "when I felt the light I had nothing left to lose / when you're buried, it's the perfect time to bloom," encapsulate the themes of uncertainty, struggle, and renewal. This dichotomy of despair and hope is interwoven throughout the whole of Loriella, and listeners would do well to take note of the lines and imagery, as many will repeatedly surface again in the record.

"Wildflowers" continues these lyrical themes ("your hand in mine - you feel it? / sometimes things die conceiving / old skin, new wine") and is more reminiscent of some of My Epic's earlier releases, while "Old Magic" bears more of an edgy "Radiohead" vibe. One of the best tracks on the album is "Northstar," which many readers will have already heard when it released as the pilot single from Loriella back in April. Its anaphoric lyrical structure ranks among some of the best writing we've seen from Stone, but this should hardly come as a surprise, given the amount of time he invested into perfecting this track. Masterful lines like "last call come like a thousand trumpets / last rites prayed as a last resort / last gasp I finally found the courage / last laugh when it was yours" underscore the weighty chorus: "We don't fear the light, we face it / we don't tell the truth, we taste it / we don't share the blame, we place it / we don't keep the peace." The last line uttered before an extended instrumental breakdown is equally poignant: "Northstar, Sacred Heart, know Me by My scars." All in all, this is one of the best tracks that the band has ever delivered, and that's saying something.

"In the Air" continues the exploration of the uncertainty of faith ("every head was bowed / every eye was closed / I took a look around / I needed to see how the Spirit moves /… it's hard to get perspective when you grow up in an empty tomb") and "Phantom Limb" is a calmer offering, oddly sprinkled with a (stylistic) touch of muted psychedelic rock, not entirely dissimilar from Copeland, or even Oasis. "High Color" is one of the best tracks on the album. Its melodies are simultaneously complex and catchy, and the lyrics are intense and thought-provoking: "Infrared and evergreen / indigo and every shade between / I'm catching you in high color / and I'm captured by the light of it / everything is luminous in Loriella." Stone's ability to bend words to flow and rhyme truly stands out on this track.

"Red Hands" is a more enigmatic track on the album, and also the longest and most chaotic by far, harkening back to the band's earliest days of six-minute tracks. (Note: For more insight into the song and its meaning, check out the JFH Podcast interview with Aaron Stone, episode 211.) "Make Believe" is slated to be the third single from the album, which is an interesting and bold choice. The song uses a heavy and flat vocode effect, similar to the one seen on Violence's "Spit and Blood." While many of the prior conversations about faith and doubt have been more subtle, the lyrics here are more straightforward: "So what's left? / For really knowing anything? / To sort the meaning from the means? / The voice of G-d from dopamine? / I know you're scared it's make believe / … and no one knows, but some believe."

The final track and second single, "Heavy Heart," is also an album highlight, and one which really sees the band embrace more of a traditional rock vibe. Bearing strong melodies and original instrumentation, it delivers a hopeful and bright message, concluding Loriella with a much desired touch of joy and optimism: "Don't be scared to show your hand / mine to G-d, when it's all done, it's all you have / and when they're blown away and shaken / I bet you barely even notice it / … take our love and make your own way / I bet they never see it coming / small as you are, you got a really heavy heart."

Insofar as general quality is considered, there are only a few minor dips on the album, and the production quality is phenomenal. It is kept tight and succinct, as seen in the comparatively short runtime, at least compared to the band's first three LPs. It's worth emphasizing that the overall songwriting is exceptional, showcasing profound thematic depth and lyrical artistry. Stone's growth as a songwriter and poet is evident, and the amount of discreet interconnectivity, double (or triple) meanings, and veiled references will provide more than enough meat for even the most analyzing listeners to unpack. That being said, the soft departure (lyrically) from the more theological side of their discography is mildly disappointing, primarily because there are no other artists comparable to the My Epic of 2005-2016.

Ultimately, Loriella stands as a remarkable addition to My Epic's already-impressive body of work. The album fluidly balances deep, reflective lyrics with their signature ambient rock sound. While there are minor lulls, the overall quality of songwriting and production shines brightly. Aaron Stone's evolution as a lyricist is evident, cleanly weaving themes of faith, doubt, and introspection throughout the tracks. With its strong melodies, intricate lyrics, and thoughtful composition, Loriella will be a rewarding journey for both longtime fans and newcomers, reaffirming My Epic's place as a standout band in their (wide) genres.

- Review date: 6/18/24, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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. Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
. Album length: 10 tracks: 46 minutes, 27 seconds
. Street Date: June 28, 2024
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Late Bloomer (4:05)
  2. Wildflowers (4:11)
  3. Old Magic (4:26)
  4. Northstar (4:54)
  5. In the Air (4:24)
  6. Phantom Limb (4:22)
  7. High Color (5:10)
  8. Red Hands (6:56)
  9. Make Believe (4:02)
  10. Heavy Heart (4:01)
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Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
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Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics



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