No. 38

November 01, 2016

Mystic-Force is a progressive power metal band from Baltimore, Maryland formed in 1983. Its hard to believe its been over thirty years since this band was playing local parties, took the crown of a battle of the bands, and eventually made their way to the infamous Hammerjacks venue sharing the stage with bands such as Pantera, Fates Warning, Savatage, W.A.S.P., Overkill, and more. The band had several lineup changes finally coming together in 1986 with Keith Menser - bass, Rich Davis - guitars, Mark Rouchard - guitars, Chris Lembach - drums, and Bobby Hicks - vocals. In 1988 Mark Rouchard left the band and was briefly replaced by Steve Shaffer, but ultimately they remained a single guitar outfit with Rich Davis. Mystic-Force signed to British CMFT for 1989's Take Command EP, but with the companies later bankruptcy, the band moved on to Siegen Records for the 1990 album Shipwrecked With The Wicked. With the success of that album the band the band was offered a deal with Germany's Rising Sun Records, then releasing 1991's Eternal Quest and 1995's A Step Beyond. Following the latter release, vocalist Bobby Hicks left the band. They went into a hiatus until re-emerging with new vocalist William Wren in 2000 with a 7-track EP (including 3 covers) entitled Steps to a New Machine, which was released by the Greek magazine Metal Invader in 2000. This was followed up by the full-length album Man vs. Machine in 2001. Mystic-Force began appearing on several compilations including "Curse Of The Pharaohs" on the Mercyful Fate tribute The Unholy Sounds of the Demon Bells (Still Dead Productions, 1999), "Child Of Fire" on Warning: Minds Of Raging Empires... A Tribute To Queensr˙che (2000), and "Master of Puppets" on Phantom Lords : A Tribute to Metallica (2002).

When one thinks of Mystic-Force, one can only think of its founding member, bassist Keith Menser, who has been a force in the metal scene not only directing Mystic-Force but sharing his talents as part of projects with bands such as Twilight Kingdom, Iced Earth, and Delusion. He was as well the founder and coordinator of the Powermad Festival which brought power metal, progressive metal, and a host of industry business to Baltimore, Maryland between 1997-2002. He as well runs his own independent record label which has released albums by bands such as Nightmare's End, Division, Twilight Kingdom, Pimp Daddy Longstockin', and more.

In an interview with Sacred Metal Keith Menser was asked about his musical background and where it all began. He stated " Well it has began when I got out of school, no! no! It all began when I was about 10 years old and I bought a copy of Black Sabbath "We sold our soul for....." and it totally grapped all of my interests. My mother also loved the now classic rock such as Zeppelin, Purple, Yes, Sabbath, Floyd, etc, etc, etc.... I was always around it and whem I got that "We sold Our souls..." is when I think I really wanted to jam as a musician. As the years when on I got into it all... Kiss was a big part for a few years, Rush was the center point by the crunch of Sabbath. I became very open minded and began to hear all kinds of great music. But I did not start to play Bass intil I was actually in my last year (12th) of school, and I bought a Bass & amp..".

Following his departure from Mystic-Force, Bobby Hicks continued his musical journey with another Baltimore-based band called Manifest and recorded material with this group, which was issued on CD in Europe. His final stand was working with a Virginia based band called Cryptameria, which also completed a demo with Bobby, thus marking Hicks' final recorded appearance. In 2013, Hicks passed away in Virginia on Tuesday March 5th. The reported cause of death was an internal infection due to liver failure. Bobby was diagnosed a few months prior and was told he had less than a year to live, however the progression of his illness took him much sooner then expected. Born on August 29, 1960, Hicks was 52 years old at the time of his passing. Keith Menser stated "Mystic-Force lost a great singer when we parted ways with Bobby. I personally lost a dear friend upon him moving away with no trails but always felt we would one day reconnect and once again create music together. Well, sadly enough, that dream has now vanished due to his passing, and though Bobby had so much more talent to give, without question he has left his mark in the hearts

of many as a great vocalist. The people who knew him as a friend knew he was a good person with a huge heart. I'll forever hold on to all the great memories we experienced together. Bobby's in heaven now singing with all the other 'vocal gods' who have fallen thru the years; he's hanging out with his true idols — Ronnie James Dio, Carl Albert and Johnny Cash, among them."

Mystic-Force was booked to perform at the 2012 edition of the Keep It True festival in Germany and a tour was slated to take place around the same time in support the reissued debut album, "Take Command". This, however, proved to be another failed attempt at an original lineup reunion, and Mystic-Force went ahead with the tour using replacement musicians. The bands current lineup consists of Keith Menser - bass, keyboards (1983-present), Allen Brunelle- drums (2012-present), Mike "Pic'Kil" Evans - guitars (2012-present), and Rick Mythiasin - vocals (2013-present). The band has been recording and releasing a large compilation of tribute songs from bands such as Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Dio, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, and more. The Force lives on !!!

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