My Epic has returned with Violence, their promised follow up to 2018’s Ultraviolet (ep) which was an introspective look at faith and questions that are “beyond what we can see and know”. While Ultraviolet took a quieter approach, Violence shows the band taking a more abrasive tact.
North Carolina natives My Epic now call Fredericksburg, VA home and can trace their roots as a band back to 2005. The ep This is Rescue (2006), and the first album I Am Undone (2008) were released on Dreamt Music, an imprint of Facedown Records. The band’s follow up album, Yet (2010), ended up on the Heatseekers charts, as did the follow up Behold, in 2013.
As I wrote back in 2018 when reviewing Ultraviolet…
As projects go, My Epic has taken on dealing with things which are beyond what we can see and know, and things that we do see but can’t fit into our paradigm. Certainly big questions and from a larger perspective, Ultraviolet seems a perfect fit for one side of the story. Chiming guitars, layers and layers of sound and atmosphere that seems very far from the worlds of metal or punk. Vocals are smooth and calming and provide just the right atmosphere for the introspective, questioning lyrics. In many ways, this reminds me a bit of some of the ambient black metal projects I love so much, but in this case keyboards, electronic effects, and clean guitars provide the background.
Despite the calmer approach to the subject at hand, I noted later in the review that the tension seemed to be building through the course of the ep and I expected things to come to a head in Violence. I didn’t realize I’d have to wait over a year to hear it though and as often happens, band’s initial plans don’t always work as designed and releasing Violence in 2018 just didn’t happen.
From the opening chords of “Bloody Angles” it’s clear that things have indeed gone a bit heavier than on Ultraviolet. Gone are the chiming guitars and replacing them we have somewhat of a droning riff punctuated with near explosion bursts. Through it all, though Aaron Stone’s vocals and those of the band on the chorus remain eerily smooth. As Stone sings out repeatedly “ I won’t hate you, you are not my enemy…” it almost sounds as if he is trying to convince himself.
Given the guest appearance of Cory Brandan (Norma Jean) on “ White Noises”, one might expect it to be heavier and the song takes a while to get going, the guitars come in with a monster riff to the line “pummel my ears til they bleed…” The song itself again features smooth vocals and sound like something from mid-90s alternative radio, at least to me…something along the lines of Filter or the like.
Somewhat puzzling to me on the ep are two tracks that almost seem like interlude tracks, “Spit and Blood” with its electronic noises and autotuned vocals and “Tseuneni” with more electronica, ambient keyboards and somewhat unintelligible electronically altered vocals. While these do seem like interludes on the ep, they really don’t set anything apart and together they use up around 8 minutes of the total 29 or minutes and are as long or longer than other songs on the ep.
The band chose one of the strongest tracks, “Black Light” for the first video. The song itself deals with the idea of how God can permit evil and how we and others often respond to it, sometimes in unhelpful ways. Chiming guitars give way to heavy chords and feedback-soaked periods of silence and at the beginning of the second verse, one can literally feel the rage as the guitars are angrily strummed. What strikes me the most is the juxtaposition of Stone’s smooth vocals over the top of all of this. As things quiet down to only some clean guitar we hear…
No good G-d would cause a thing so ugly
It leaves you cursing while you’re trying to pray
This time I think they’re one in the same.
Near the end of the song is one of the first times we actually hear Stone’s vocals go ragged, almost as if he’s finally lost the control that characterized his performance on the rest of the album. “Spit it Out” goes much more melodic in structure and brighter in sound and complements the roughness of “Black Light” nicely, and while doing so showcases some great drum work by Jesse Stone.
My Epic has certainly given the listener a lot to think about on Ultraviolet and Violence and one can’t help but feel as if they are part of the journey as the band wrestles with these questions of faith. Best of all, the two albums are somewhat opposites of each other in approach and style but not so much so that they don’t form a cohesive picture.
Written by John Jackson
1. Bloody Angles
2. White Noises (feat. Cory Brandan)
3. Spit and Blood
4. Black Light
5. Spit it Out
7. Bad Accent
Aaron Stone – vocals, guitar
Jesse Stone – drums, vocals
Jeremiah Austin – bass
Tanner Morita – guitar, keyboard, vocals
Release Date: May 10th. 2019
Record Label: Facedown/Dreamt Records, 2019
Video for ‘Black Light’
Video for ‘Bloody Angles’
Video for ‘White Noises’