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Mystic Force - A Step Beyond CD (album) cover

A STEP BEYOND

Mystic Force

 

Progressive Metal

2.98 | 3 ratings

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aapatsos
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars If only this was 10 years earlier...

''A Step Beyond'' was Mystic Force's last release in the 90's and the last with Bobby Hicks on vocals, who sadly passed away in March 2013 at the age of 52 after there had been a number of failed attempts to re-unite the original 90-95 line-up of the band. Mystic Force, even before his death, had achieved a cult status among the metal circles. Their style of epic/power/progressive metal with the added touch of quirkiness has made them one of the most sought after in the underground scene.

Possibly the reason for not achieving fame in the 90's was the unconventional path they chose to take in their sound - as everyone was evolving away from standard patterns, high-pitched 80's vocals and introducing keyboards, Mystic Force decided to go with the well-known recipe: traditional riff-fueled power/progressive metal. ''A Step Beyond'' sounds as if it's coming straight from the 80's, part of the American power metal movement late in that decade. They definitely though diverted away from the pack in the sense that, rather than going down the speed metal route, they decided to enrich their sound with odd-time signatures, majestic mid-tempo riffs with an epic feeling; imagine something between Fates Warning's ''Awaken the Guardian'' and Heir Apparent's debut. Acoustic guitars, high-pitched vocals, solid power metal and totally-guitar driven progressive songwriting; no keyboards here (albeit a small surprise in the end), just pure riff power.

The classic heavy metal elements are also strong and there might be (limited) passages in the album that will question their progressive character (e.g. the hard-rock driven Love Hates Loves Desire). The majority of the album sounds dated, as we are indeed in 1995 and not 1985 - we would be talking about a cornerstone of progressive metal otherwise. The compositions are mostly technical with a plethora of majestic power metal riffs but the band almost intentionally introduces a dose of obscurity that makes this album difficult to digest (not necessarily a bad thing for many). However, they had left the best for the end as Nothing is Forever, after a 3 minute beautiful proggy acoustic theme and a 2-minute silence, introduces an exciting 7-minute of so (hidden) out-of-this-world progressive metal sequence of which many bands of the 90's would be jealous; oh, and a glimpse of keyboards comes to provide the melodic finishing in the last couple of minutes.

By 1995 the world had progressed but Mystic Force had decided to produce a solid power/progressive metal album out of the 80's. For lovers of the early period of Fates Warning, this will be like bread-and-butter, for the rest I would suggest a sneak preview of the highlights, but would not recommend this to anyone who is cautious of entering the metal spheres...

Highlights: Among Infinity, Love Hates Loves Desire, Nothing is Forever

aapatsos | 3/5 |

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