When Vis Mystica set out to create Power Metal, no one in the metal-verse ever expected that their inspiration and influence would come from the Star Wars Universe. Coming into the mind of Pennsylvania’s Connor McCray from his love of the franchise, the band Vis Mystica would come to be – as if it was once promised in a galaxy far far away. Pulling many of his lyrical inspiration from the Dark Horse comic series Dawn of the Jedi, the first set of songs is finally ready to hit light speed on the debut EP titled Celestial Wisdom.
Initially formed by McCray in late 2015 as a creative outlet for him to express his passion for symphonic power metal while fulfilling his duties as a member of a Black Death Metal band, Vis Mystica was more of a project than a reality. Taking near half a decade to finally emerge, the concept of Vis Mystica was truly unearthed after McCray discussed it with friend and bandmate Devin Dewyer. Once the two established there was a great chemistry between them, they quickly got to work producing the now released EP.
Connor McCray of Vis Mystica says “Celestial Wisdom is an EP that I want people to listen to when they want to escape the craziness and mundane nature of everyday life. Sitting in an office for a 9 to 5 job doesn’t offer one much time for adventure or fantastical experiences and Vis Mystica wants to convey that through its music. You can be sitting at home, driving to work, anything and have the opportunity to turn on this album and be transported to a wonderful land outside of the boundaries of our reality.“
With vocal appearances by Ty Christian (Lords of the Trident), David Michael Moote (Operus), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland), this EP not only offers up a tantalizing selection of nerdy fantasy for long-time fans of the franchise that inspired it all; but, those eager to see what these vocal power-houses get up to in the sprawling galaxy before them. It was produced by Chad Anderson (guitarist for Helion Prime), and released December 2nd, via Dark Star Records and promotional assistance from Asher Media.
The introductory track “Whispering Winds of Fate” features none other than legendary vocalist Jonas Heidgert from Dragonland. The harsh vocals on an enigmatic track like this really help it to ascend to the stars. This track may be the shortest on the entire EP but, it doesn’t take away from the visual creation of our new world – Tython. A telepathic calling, expressing knowledge and wisdom that this planet wishes to share with beings sprawled across the galaxy, is remarked in not only the lyrics of this track but the curious, and expressive musical layers that come in speed-heavy drums, and brief moments of symphonic glory. “Calling to me as an astral siren, song of the wind, divining the light and the dark of this world,” are only a sample of the lyrical expression in this captivating track that truly paints a vivid image of Tython, and what awaits our travels should they heed the Siren’s song.
The second track, “Legacy of the Builders” features both Ty Christian and David Michael Moote which builds up to a brilliant battle of vocal prowess throughout. Another rapid-paced track, with a heaviness that comes in both on the double-kicks and vocal ferocity. It’s no surprise that this track introduces the villains – the Rakatan Empire to the audience. Not only does this race seek to dominate and become immortal but, their arrogance in going about it all. David’s opera-like vocals, against Ty’s power-driven screams create the tension, only fusing to build an atmospheric haze of what is to come should this Empire cast its iron-clad fist upon the world. With a mixture of vocal power, and bludgeoning solos throughout, this song is a heavy-hitter both in composition, and content, quickly ranking it up for a few more listens on my part.
“The Plains of Silence” really grabs the Power Metal feel with its wicked riff work at the very beginning, and the hastened drums that gallop in like an army on horseback. This track goes hard with some jaw-dropping rift work, and outstanding passion that really shines through from both Connor and Devin. The first track written for this EP it takes us back to Tython and the Silent Desert where students can focus and meditate with the power of the world. “Silent sands won’t hide you. Reaching out I’ll find you. Hatred clouds and blinds you. Darkness will swallow you” not only goes hard on the vocal front but, really touches on some of the Star Wars homage familiar with even passing fans. To have your judgment clouded and be blinded by rage and hatred are things that you cannot let take control. With a barrage of wild solos, and charismatic instrumentals throughout, this easily became my favourite track on the WHOLE EP with ease. Tack on those wicked, shredding shrill cries, and hands down I’ve listened to this more times than I can count.
“Lux Et Veritas” once again features David Michael Moote on a track that takes a lighter-side to the Power Metal genre but, still holding the dedicated speed and heaviness required to paint the visuals of this track. Daegen Lok prophesized a battle between the Rakatan Empire and Tython, and for this, he has been exiled. “The balance is gone, only darkness remains, igniting the fires of the blade,” comes in after a blistering solo cry, really hammering in the intensity of this track. It holds purpose, ferocity, and righteousness that holds a candle to the shadows, keeping faith and hope alive.
“Beyond The Gates of Fury” is the final track of the EP and fittingly the most fearsome of them all. This track depicts the final battle between the Rakatan Empire and the Tythonians that shows the climax of the prophecy first mentioned in the previous track “Lux Et Veritas“. Vis Mystica brings every bit of energy to this track, from vocal range to thundering power. The instrumentals, from chaotic drum beats to shreds paints the images of battle all too easily, with vocals coming in low, before tackling spectacular highs to really solidify the seriousness of what’s happening. Well-timed solos, and growing tension create fury and fire on a story that has escalated quickly and beyond control. It is the closure to this chapter but, leads to the blinding light upon a new horizon that is waiting to be explored.
While our Jedi Warriors take rest, I’m left to recount the tales laid out before me. Sat around the fire, I reflect upon the legacy, for which I pull my greatest admiration from “The Plains of Silence” and the sheer passion you can truly feel that’s expressed in this track. Celestial Wisdom is an EP about exploration, discovery, and fantasy with the classic ‘good vs. evil’ speckled in alongside some mystical powers and killer inspiration. While the vocal features are a draw, I found more admiration for the tracks that showed off Vis Mystica in all their power-metal embracing glory all their own. It’s an immersive album, with a love-infused concept that’s not only well-created but well-expressed track after track both lyrically and musically. I’m a sucker for Power Metal, this is no news but, to find some Power Metal that’s got a Sci-Fi Fantasy influence is few and far between, and Vis Mystica creates a world of beauty and ferocity with musical splendor. Fans of Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian, Twilight Force, and Iron Maiden will appreciate the heaviness, while those keen on fantasy takes like that of LoTR, and yes, Star Wars, will absolutely be drawn to this EP and its creative galaxy expansion.
You can snag your own copy of Celestial Wisdom via Vis Mystica‘s Bandcamp, and you can follow their journey through the galaxy via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.