In 2018, My Epic released Ultraviolet, the first of a two-part EP project that explores faith from honest-but-unpopular angles. Whereas Ultraviolet takes a delicate tone and contemplative perspective, its new and contrasting partner, Violence, is a fed-up examination of the shadows cast by faith. As much as the heart of the music is two sides of the same unsettled coin, the album art expertly augments the approach; the artwork and title of Ultraviolet are visible beneath the artwork of Violence. It’s a subtle reminder that two polar approaches exist simultaneously, as much part of one another as they are independent.
By design, Violence has a more abrasive sound than is typical for My Epic. It embraces a common thread of implication that the effect created when words exist without action, a void is created rather than lasting impact. The first track, “Bloody Angles,” is a prime example, full of clever writing (“What good is this white flag if it’s dripping with red?”) backed by straightforward, punchy riffs. In a similar way, “White Noises,” the first single off the EP, gets an extra punch from Norma Jean vocalist Cory Brandon, adding his intense screams of harsh honesty, like, “The wars you fight are the same ones you incite,” and, “You have nothing to say to me so I have nothing to say to you.” Along with Aaron Stone’s melodic vocal manifestation of the social disappointment of who we have become – specifically, as a culture of faith – this song perfectly sums up the habit of speaking just to hear your voice.
While the first couple of songs diverge from My Epic’s signature softer sound, the third track, “Spit and Blood,” is a unique listening experience with its loud brushing in the intro and the echoing autotuned vocals. In its strangeness, the song creates a dreamscape that devolves into a confused nightmare. Stone’s voice works well on the track with a little more intensity behind his lyricism than his trademark ethereal croon.
The selection and arrangement of effects are as important to this song as the intentionally blurred lyrical delivery; this and all of the deliberate but understated details on Violence are a modest display of brilliance. As with the beauty in the lyrical fiber of Ultraviolet, the abrasive performance of Violence is a solid sample of the musical mastery of this band.
Stone’s guitar performance is top notch, and he shines as much in this way as he does with his vocals. One of the more memorable songs, “Blacklight,” lyrically dissects the painful question of how suffering exists in a world with God’s oversight. The song is a representative of the general notion My Epic is conveying with Violence, which is that you’re not the only one without all the answers.
As with each track involved in the Ultraviolet/Violence project, it’s another reminder that no matter how they choose to deliver, My Epic will always handle questions about their faith with nothing short of brutal honesty.
Arguably the most effective moment on Violence is the opening drum solo for “Spit it Out.” With a confidence that is equally bold, the song’s premise speaks to violently shedding the lies we’ve accepted about God and ourselves. As this seven-song EP begins to close out, it continues to deliver as one of My Epic’s most unique and unexpected material. “Tsuneni” doubles down on the experimental side of the band’s music, leaning more into the electronic darkwave register, a fresh ingredient to Violence. Stone’s higher register makes for a surprisingly smooth autotune. In its final exhale, “Bad Accent” brings Violence to a close with one of My Epic’s more traditional rock performances.
As with each track involved in the Ultraviolet/Violence project, it’s another reminder that no matter how they choose to deliver, My Epic will always handle questions about their faith with nothing short of brutal honesty. Coupled with the evolution of their sound – and not a complete change – My Epic have found the perfect way to evolve and deliver creative music.