It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since My Epic released the first half of their two-part 'epic' project, Ultraviolet. Now, in May 2019, they are (presumably) bringing this endeavor to a close with the release of Violence. While Ultraviolet represented the softer side of the band, Violence is one of their hardest projects to date. The EP is a hefty enough offering, boasting seven tracks and clocking in just under half-an-hour. While My Epic doesn't shy away from their crashing guitars and raw, energetic force, there is considerably less screaming than many fans expected. (You may now breathe either a sigh of relief or disappointment.) The concept of this project explores the questions (and on Violence, the anger) raised when our faith falls short of what we thought it would be.
The album opens with "Bloody Angles," a gritty and driving rock piece with sharp lyrics: "When the wounds started showing what we keep to ourselves / we turned on each other and it all went to Hell / I can't read your signals / are we turning cheeks or tables / will our hands find one another / will we wash them of each other? Friend or foe?" The second track, "White Noises," features a guest appearance by Cory Brandan (of metalcore band Norma Jean). The aggressive song (and music video) descriptively depicts a lack of empathy and the conflicts which stem from this type of failure. The lyrics are filled with hurt, anger, and vitriol and represent some of My Epic's best penmanship: "The wars you fight are the same ones you incite / you always draw the lines with a small scope and a broad stroke / may G-d judge swiftly for the damage you've done / there's a special place in Hell for the thing you've become."
The next track is something of an odd duck. One of the album's shortest pieces, "Spit & Blood," opens with a background sound effect comparable to a low-fi hybrid of wings flapping and the grinding crunch of a late-night potato chip binge. The poetic lyrics seem to be describing man's formation and pursuit of sanctification, but the ambiguity leaves much to the imagination.
"Black Light" reflects a viciously human undertone, and flawlessly serves as the centerpiece on an album enmeshed in brokenness. Easily the album's magnum opus, the rising, falling, and flowing nature of the five-minute song effectively lassoes the listener into a story of despair and hurt: "It's been a long night, honey / I need to cry but I'm fighting it off / and you're still shaking from the blood loss / no good God would cause a thing so ugly / it leaves you cursing while you're trying to pray / this time I think they're one and the same / I hope you hate it." During last year's interview with frontman Aaron Stone, I asked about some of the thought processes that he and the band were pouring into the album. He shared several personal thoughts and stories, using much of the same language and terminology contained in the lyrics which now appear on Violence, and the story behind this song was addressed there, as well.
Following up is "Spit It Out," a fast-paced song with thoughtful lyrics ("I swore it was my war to fight / now I'm scared that we're both gonna bear the marks / too late now, there's no way to choke it down / I've got to spit it out"). The driving conclusion sees a welcome return of the band utilizing gang vocals. "Tsuneni" (yes, it is spelled that way) is another curious track. Featuring washed out and muted vocals/instrumentation, its lyrics are challenging to discern, at least in a specific sense: "React, regret, despair, forget / it gets heavier each time /revise, collect, refine, begin, / it gets lighter every time."
Violence closes with "Bad Accent," a brilliantly penned song about the misunderstandings between Christian theologies, dogmas, and relationships: "The substance and the superstition, it's hard sometimes to tell the difference / we try to say Your name; it's never quite the same." In traditional My Epic-fashion, Stone concludes the song and album with the lines, "I think I've got it down, but it shifts a little and I always have to sound it out / it's really hard to learn we're never gonna figure You out / when You sing, I cannot play the tune / but I guess someone here should leave their seat and dance with You."
My Epic deserves an immense amount of credit for tackling this project head-on. The concepts of vitriolic frustration, anger, and dismay in relation to our faith are seldom examined within the Christian music industry, especially to this degree. The band also deserves a kudos for refusing to dive into using profanity as a cheap tool to communicate these feelings. Ultimately, Violence is a phenomenal project, though it perhaps falls ever-so-slightly short of the nuance heard on Ultraviolet. The album's mixing renders the vocal track(s) difficult to understand, which I suspect is an intentional form of commentary. Nonetheless, you'll likely want your lyric booklet nearby. This EP is rife with highlights and songs which are already competing for year-end lists. If you're a current fan of My Epic, or enjoy heavy/rock music in general, this project is almost certainly for you. If you haven't already given the band an opportunity to impress, Violence is as good of a starting point as most of the band's other albums, so don't miss out on this experience.- Review date: 5/1/19, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Facedown Records
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