You don't just casually listen to My Epic. Their albums demand attention and is best listened to front to back. Instead of creating singles for quick consumption, they force you to wrestle with their lyrics while enveloping you in dramatic indie rock/post-hardcore soundscapes that take you from tranquility to chaos. Despite its shorter length, their new EP, Viscera, is no different from their previous records in the sense it is a musical journey. It's an approach that requires patience from the listener, but those who allow themselves to be fully immersed in their music can experience something challenging and extraordinary. Viscera--which is Latin for the internal organs in the main cavities of the body--finds the band using the gut, lungs, brain, and heart as metaphors for each track to weave together a loose spiritual and emotional concept over this 26-minute EP.
In the opening seconds of "Ghost Story," a quiet intro with a soft guitar and distant vocals abruptly gives way to heavy guitar riffs, only to transition again to a steady tempo with beautiful electric guitar picking and a thick bass. In its catchy and thought-provoking chorus, lead singer Aaron Stone ponders, "If it costs me nothing, is it worth anything? / I hear You calling, but my God I am scared / Still if You lead me, I will follow You there," capturing a sense of fear for the true cost to follow Jesus, but still being willing to do it. My Epic has always presented their weighty lyrics and dynamic music without ever really screaming (though there is occasionally some yelling), but the band decided to break this rule to allow Shane Ochsner, from their label-mate Everything in Slow Motion, to deliver throat-piercing screams in the bridge. From Shane's broken whispers to his guttural shouting, it's a powerful moment on the EP, only elevating "Ghost Story" further as one of several highlights in My Epic's discography.
"Memoir" doesn't leave as strong of an impression as the opening track, mostly because the lyrics aren't quite as attention-grabbing, and the piano is a bit stale throughout, but it is otherwise a well-crafted tune with a commendable build and climax. The song expresses a deep sense of gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, "The righteousness He owned, free to us wicked ones / I fit it in my lungs but it leaves me breathless." "Cesura," which means a complete pause in a verse or musical composition in Latin, gives a brief reprieve from the solemnity with a minute and a half of ambient sounds and a gentle electric guitar, but "Wive's Tale" picks right back up with distorted guitars and a powerful drum beat, almost as if it started right in the middle of a song. The lyrics tell the story of an older lady with dementia from the perspective of her husband trying to support her. Closing the 5-track EP, "Open Letter" wrestles with doubts about how God can be both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. There are no answers provided, but the "Open Letter" does end on a worshipful note with a hidden song.
In the end, Viscera doesn't have quite the same lyrical mastery as Broken Voice, nor the musical epicness of Behold, but it is nonetheless a captivating and thought-provoking mini-album. The band's decision to release more EP's like this every year doesn't seem to hold them back much from creating a cohesive and thoughtful piece of art, and it's exciting to know we won't have to wait long between releases. No My Epic fan or fan of the genre will want to pass on Viscera.- Review date: 5/3/16, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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