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Theocracy - s/t

Metal Ages Records

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Well, you just gotta love Theocracy.  First off, this album is completely composed by one man...Matt Smith.  He does used programmed drums, but other than that, he plays every instrument (rhythm and lead guitars, acoustic and bass guitars, keys and orchestration, lead and choir vocals, etc).  However, I do hear that he has found a real drummer here recently. 
 
All that aside, this is a terrific debut album from Theocracy.  If you are into the power/prog metal scene and enjoy bands like Edguy, Avantasia, Stratovarius, and maybe even stretching it to bands like Sonata Arctica and Rhapsody, you should really dig this album.
 
Matt Smith has crafted some very interesting and exciting songs here that will be stuck in your head for days after just one listen through.  The metal is raging with thunderous, dramatic songs filled with lightening fast riffs and crazy guitar solos.  And the songs are chock full of huge hooks that will wrap their claws around your ears and hold on for dear life.  And vocally...Smith does a very solid job of delivering the goods.  Occasionally, he sounds a little average, but for the most part his vocals soar and he keeps you right in his hip pocket.
 
There is not really a bad quality song on this disc.  The opener, "Ichthus", is a great way to start the disc with a great headbanging song with a huge chorus.  He even does some cool dueling vocals on a couple verses.  The next song "The Serpent's Kiss" is an epic song that laments mankind's falling for Satan's lies.  The verses and choruses are heavy but slower paced, but the two instrumental sections on this 12 minute song are just plain blazing.  Speaking of the long length of that song.  Theocracy is not about a catchy chorus and a quick hit.  With three songs over 11 minutes and many other 5 and 6 minute songs, Theocracy is about making the song the best it can be and not letting length determine its potential.  The next two songs, "Mountain" and "Theocracy" are also fantastic songs that while full-fledged metal are very worshipful.  And then the song "Sinner", while slowing the pace is very passionate as the lyrics speak of a person yearning and begging for forgiveness.
 
As I've alluded to a little bit, the lyrics on this disc are very well-written.  Some lines that really stood out to me are in "The Serpent's Kiss", Smith states that "We're the ones who betray You/Yet we're the ones whom You adore."  Now that's a slap in the face when you're having a rebellious day!  In the song "Mountain", he says in disgust that he's "sick of living in the status quo."  And "when it seems I've given up/On eagle's wings You lift me up again."  
 
The title track is probably my favorite lyrical track.  The song opens, "At the center of my heart there sits a throne/That the rightful occupant's not always free to call His own/For how can I give the King/His place of worth above all else/When I spend my time striving/to place the crown upon myself?"  OUCH!!!  Later on in the song he states, "And the would-be rulers of my heart/that I place upon the throne/Each lead the kingdom of my life to ruin/To bring every thought into submission/to tear the idols down/Is to break the chains, to rearrange/to give the King His crown."
 
I usually don't focus so heavily on lyrics, and I'm sure I'm not doing them complete justice by chopping up the songs and only giving you small pieces.  But I'm just really impressed by the lyrical content of this album...not to mention the great tunes!  And if that wasn't enough, the production is of really good quality and the packaging is very elaborate.
 
One thing is for certain...if you enjoy the bands I listed above, you will definitely be an instant fan of Theocracy.  You can check out sounds samples at http://www.theocracymusic.com or http://www.metalages.com  (Review by Matt)  

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