Coming in at No. 6 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, My Epic’s newest EP has already surpassed their 2013 full-length Behold, which peaked one position below at No. 7. Viscera is a new concept piece that couples life experience with the corresponding physiological component affected. It is unique and thought-provoking; it’s also an exercise in challenging contentious subjects like mortality, apologetics and self-doubt.
Opening the short-but-mighty collection is “Ghost Story,” an acknowledgment of the barter’s market that is life — everything gained comes with a price to pay. Aaron Stone’s vocals are especially on point, akin to Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez, reaching the atypically higher range and style uncommon to the genre. He maintains it with ease, somehow steering clear of entering falsetto. It’s a well-balanced track of progressive rock and metal elements that is as much a humbled thanksgiving to his Savior and a gut check to remember the cost of His grace.
The band takes to a softer direction after “Ghost Story,” touching on failure and undeserved rescue. Tanner Morita’s gentle piano chords thread texture into the body of building this track, “Memoir.” Jesse Stone and Jeremiah Austin are not far behind, joining their counterparts at the conclusion of the first chorus, adding fullness to the song. Very much from a grateful heart, “Memoir” zeroes in on the awe of being forgiven for unforgivable decisions. Stone leads the song into community worship that is somehow pure and untainted, despite being accompanied by the duel shredding of Stone and Morita.
Tying together the EP is “Cesura,” which is strictly instrumental. Fluid and free-formed in a way that contrasts with the rest of Viscera, it’s a reminder that an absence of words, at times, is a valuable asset. This is especially highlighted in the ordering of tracks on the EP, as it’s placed between the subject matter of paramount significance. The following track, “Wive’s Tale,” is one spun of tragedy and pain in the face of impending loss. It speaks of a deteriorating mind and the complications of witnessing it firsthand. As a band, My Epic capture the mental anguish of facing the mortality of a loved one — and of oneself, holding strong to the only Immortal One. It focuses on the struggle of desperately wanting to hold on when knowing that letting go is the loving choice to make. The most freeing moment in the song is when Stone vocalizes he is “trusting the One who can go where you are. He’ll take your hand and lead you from the dark.”
The bookend of Viscera is perhaps the most powerful subject material the EP contains, despite the gravity of “Wive’s Tale.” It closes out with “Open Letter,” a brutally honest plea for explanation and guidance from Stone, whose well of answers and spiritual knowledge has run dry. He describes the bombardment of internal questions he feels ill equipped to answer — questions about God, injustice and the imbalance of the two — something many Christians can relate to. The progressive transition from a scaled back guitar riff to an upstep in percussion and eventual full band presence adds narration to the mounting distress of the doubt and turmoil Stone describes. Just when it sounds as if he has thrown in the towel for lack of solution, all goes silent…. and he returns once more to ask for God’s presence and guidance. It’s an act of steadfastness and trust which has a great emotional impact and is paralleled impeccably in the songwriting.
To delve so deeply into the psyche, spirit and core of a listener is an immense challenge for an artist to take on in a single album, let alone the short span of an EP. Yet My Epic does so fearlessly and with grace. In the realms of musical performance and listenability, Viscera ranks high. Add in the uniquely identifiable vocals and high-grade lyrical fiber and it becomes a quick favorite.
They nailed this collection by being honest, open and simply genuine about the areas of life that are more comfortable to stay mum about or ignore altogether. It seems only appropriate that this EP is named after the suppliers of vitality and life, as it is a direct connection to the deepest parts of anyone who has ears to listen. The worst part of Viscera is simply that there wasn’t more of it.