Album Review: Vis Mystica – Celestial Wisdom
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
I like Star Wars. I’m old enough to have gone to the cinema in 1977 to see ‘Ep IV: A New Hope’. But I’m no nerd when it comes to the hybrid galaxy that has developed over the past four decades. Call me old school, but all the side stories are of limited interest. So, it was with trepidation that I embarked on the review of Vis Mystica’s debut EP, ‘Celestial Wisdom’. Trepidation as it is heavily rooted in ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ and its various lore. With lyrics that retell the Dawn of the Jedi comics. I’m already lost but I can appreciate good music regardless of the story.
Vis Mystica is the brainchild of Connor McCray, who plays guitar, bass and arranges the orchestration on ‘Celestial Wisdom’. He’s joined by Devin Dewyer, who has a voice suited to power metal and drummer Dillon Trollope, who delivers a quite astonishing performance.
It’s certainly for fans of Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Twilight Force, Symphony X, and Wintersun, for the music is astonishingly fast, intricate, and typically “Dragonforce” in pace. So, if you dislike everything played at 110mph, then walk on by for this is not for you.
The EP is thankfully a 23-minute five-track offering. I say thankfully, for despite my love of Blind Guardian and a few of their peers, power metal isn’t a genre I’m comfortable spending too long with. It’s too overblown and orchestrated. Throw in the concept story line and I’m already twitchy. But put my prejudices aside, this is a quite astoundingly crafted and produced release. The opening song ‘Whispering Winds of Fate’ features Jonas Heidgert of Dragonland and acts as the introduction to the EP, describing a sentient world calling telepathically to beings across the galaxy. There are elements of this that are irritating – the tympany that echoes through some of the tracks gives the album a bizarre Christmas feel, whilst the over-the-top manic style of the music is a little intense. Elsewhere, The Plains of Silence returns us to Tython, to the Silent Desert where sound is nullified, and students can meditate. It’s got some dreadful percussion which grates but it’s ferociously fast once more to the extent that even though you are only halfway through the EP, it’s becoming a little one dimensional, which is ironic given the themes!
It’s certainly escapism in its purist form but from a musical experience the relentless speed, high shrieking vocals and obscenely fast drumming make it a real challenge after a listen or two. The penultimate track ‘Lux Et Veritas’ has a jolly, vibrant feel to it with yet more infuriating percussion – a song based on the prisoner Daegen Lok, exiled for prophesying a coming war between the Rakatans and the people of Tython. It does at least contain a fabulous misheard lyric which I’ll leave you to discover.
Ultimately, this ‘Celestial Wisdom’ is either going to wow you or make you take the jump to light speed. I’m appreciative of the endeavour, enthusiasm, and effort. I’m just not sold on this frantic, often ridiculously overblown style of power metal. But if the force is strong, Vis Mystica should be one for you to check out.