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Theocracy - Theocracy (Reissue) Award winner

Theocracy (Reissue)
by Daniel Fox at 04 November 2013, 3:49 PM

Power and Prog is simply one of those perfect pairings; speed and melody with technicality and intelligent composition. Theocracy is a progressive power metal band from Georgia, US and are releasing a reissue of their stellar debut, self-titled, which features a complete remixing (and re-recording of drum tracks), bringing it up to date with current sound quality. The album is full of towering tracks of musical brilliance, and is not short of classically long, progressive pieces.

An introductory prelude fires up the album, with a powerful and soaring symphonic mix, transition smoothly into the hyper-speed "Ichthus" which takes a traditional power metal approach and is rife with soaring guitar melodies, speed metal riffage and exceptionally powerful vocals from the band's sole compositional mastermind, Matt Smith. One thing to note immediately; the man's vocal range is ridiculous, and does not quiver during high notes; a problem that plagues many Power Metal singers. "The Serpent's Kiss" strikes immediately as an album highlight; nearly 12 minutes of powerful, progressive excellence, where the fusion of genre allows for a great number of interweaving, diverse passages, from fast, melodious runs to proggy passages with trippy rhythms. Evident on this track is the virtuoso lead guitar harmonizing to rival that of IRON MAIDEN and the Power and Melodic Death Metal kings of Scandinavia. The title track, "Theocracy" is possibly my favorite track on the album, for a number of important reasons. One of the few things I enjoy about pop music, are catchy vocal hooks, and these are ever-present on this song; when combined with Smith's infinite vocal range and perfect rhythmic grasp, the possibilities are endless; I am even hearing some old (young?) Roy Khan al’a CONCEPTION and early KAMELOT sound creeping in. Secondly, is the mastery with which riffs are composed and performed; the resulting music is engaging, intelligent and inescapably Metal.

"Sinner" is a special track on this album because of the range of instrument sounds found. Primarily an acoustic track, it also features wistful and meaningful electric guitar presence, and begins with, and contains in the underlying timbre, a droning string instrument presence, that adds a truly organic feel to the soundscape. "New Jerusalem" is easily the fastest track on the record, with blistering riffage reminiscent of old ANGRA; their opus "Carry On" is immediately recognizable, and the sheer accuracy of the double-kick drum performed by Shawn Benson is truly impressive. Ultimately, the album ends with "Twist of Fate", another length (11 minute) endeavor, with some refreshingly foreboding changes in sound, due to slight nuances in chord progressions, much like KAMELOT's "The Zodiac", and soaring vocal-atmospheric amalgamations reminiscent of CIRCUS MAXIMUS' "Isolate"

Amidst the truly great qualities that this album has, I can find but one complaint; the bass is not quite loud enough for my liking; this is an issue I find with many modern album recordings, and is often prevalent in music where lead guitar is at the forefront. Fair enough if one wishes to create music based around guitar melody; I just would have liked a little more low-end in the mix. Is it enough to detract from "Theocracy"'s excellence, however? Hardly; the album is damn near-perfect.

4 Star Rating

1. Prelude
2. Icthus
3. The Serpent's Kiss
4. Mountain
5. Theocracy
6. The Healing Hand
7. Sinner
8. New Jerusalem
9. The Victory Dance
10. Twist of Fate
Matt Smith – Vocals
Jon Hinds – Guitar, Vocals
Val Allen Wood – Lead Guitar
Shawn Benson – Drums
Jared Oldham - Bass
Record Label: Ulterium Records


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