Theocracy began as a one-man project in 2003 with the release of their self-titled debut. Since then, after going through more bassists than Spinal Tap, changing record labels, recording the epic Mirror of Souls, and gaining 4 additional members, they've released As the World Bleeds.
While Theocracy served as a half-praise/half-anthem album, lyrically, and Mirror of Souls had a consistent theme of redemption, this record is much darker. "Nailed" speaks of corruption in the church and of how works cannot grant you salvation. "Light of the World asks" the necessary question, "Are we the light of the world or are we failing to answer the call?" "Hide in the Fairytale" is about original sin and "30 Pieces of Silver" speaks of selling out for temporary recognition instead of eternal life. The title track is about how we blame God, asking "if there is a God, how could He let all this bad stuff happen" and it reminds us that, in the Bible, it speaks of the consequences of sin, arguing that "Now we're only sleeping in the bed we've made."
Still, the are more uplifting songs. The epic "I Am" is spoken as if by God, and there's a power there that is sorely missing in most worship songs. "The Master Storyteller" is about seeing God's hand in everything, and how any good act done by men is actually done by God acting through men. "Drown" is about keeping the faith through the dark times. In the chorus, vocalist Matt Smith and sings with layered vocals, "The devil and the deep blue sea/With open arms awaiting me/But I won't go down tonight/If I keep my eyes on You I'll be alright." "The Gift of Music" is a slightly autobiographical praise song. It speaks of how music is a language given to us by God to speak to our hearts when nothing else can, and how all of Creation serves as music of praise to the Creator. "Altar to the Unknown God" tells the story found in Acts about Paul's trip to Athens.
Musically, this album is unashamedly metal. For those familiar, the influences include Avantasia ("I Am"), Blind Guardian ("The Master Storyteller"), Iced Earth ("Nailed," "30 Pieces of Silver"), Iron Maiden ("Hide in the Fairytale"), Savatage ("The Gift of Music"), Dream Theater ("Drown"), Hammerfall ("Altar to the Unknown God"), Sonata Arctica ("Light of the World") and Fates Warning ("As the World Bleeds"). The orchestration is epic, the guitars are heavy and crunchy, but also fast and technical. The drums and bass are devastating. Smith's vocal range is incredible - he can hit the highest and lowest of notes with seeming ease.
If there is a downside to this album, it lies in the genre. Progressive Metal is very obviously not for everybody. It takes a specific kind of taste to appreciate the intricacies, or else the listener risks boredom on all but a few tracks. However, Theocracy handles this tactfully, having epic songs ("I Am," "The Gift of Music," "As the World Bleeds"), fast songs ("The Master Storyteller," "30 Pieces of Silver"), heavy songs ("Nailed," "Altar to the Unknown God"), and more listener-friendly rock songs ("Hide in the Fairytale," "Light of the World").
Fans of metal definitely want to check this out. The lyrics are dead-on, theologically, and the music is of superb quality.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 6/1/12, written by Kevin Lemley for Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Ulterium Records
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