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Mystic Force

Progressive Metal

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Mystic Force A Step Beyond album cover
3.00 | 3 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Conquest (6:01)
2. Closer To The Truth (4:36)
3. Second Chance (2:58)
4. A Step Beyond (6:15)
5. Feature Film (3:44)
6. Far Way (5:29)
7. Among Infinity (5:12)
8. Love Hates Love Desire (4:09)
9. The Innerchild (5:05)
10. Deadly Hunger (3:33)
11. Nothing Is Forever (12:49)

Total Time 59:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Bobby Hicks / Vocals
- Rich Davis / Guitars
- Keith Menser / Bass
- Chris Lembach / Drums

Releases information

Rising Sun Records, 1995

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MYSTIC FORCE A Step Beyond ratings distribution

(3 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (100%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MYSTIC FORCE A Step Beyond reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "A Step Beyond" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US power/progressive metal act Mystic Force. The album was released through Rising Sun Records in 1995. This is the first album by the band, not featuring recordings from previous releases. Both "Shipwrecked with the Wicked (1990)" and "The Eternal Quest (1993)" featured recordings from different sessions.

The music on "A Step Beyond" takes a slightly more progressive direction than was the case with "The Eternal Quest (1993)", which had already taken on a more progressive direction compared to "Shipwrecked with the Wicked (1990)". Still the music is heavily rooted in eighties US power metal and the progressive part of the bandīs sound is only occasionally dominant. Tracks like "The Conquest" and "The Innerchild" are examples of the progressive side of the bandīs sound. Quite a few of the tracks are more heavy/semi thrashy/harder edged and direct in nature though. "Far Away" is probably the odd song out on the album. Itīs a power ballad type track with a mainstream oriented chorus.

The musicianship is strong. Bobby Hicks is a skilled vocalist and the instrumental part of the music is also very well played. The sound production leaves a bit to be desired and the songwriting isnīt that memorable either though, so not everything on the album are top notch. I still think a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved but I do prefer Mystic Force when they played a more "straight" US power metal style.

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