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Theocracy started life as a one-man project created by Matt Smith, who played and sang everything on the self-titled debut album released at the end of 2003 on MetalAges Records. The album received fantastic reviews and worldwide acclaim within the Metal genre.

The music Epic, melodic Power Metal with occasional progressive flourishes. Long songs, longer songs, short songs, fast songs, slow songs, midtempo songs, ballads...epic choirs, soaring vocals, pounding drums, crunchtastic guitars, and most importantly, melodies that get stuck in your head.

After the album's release, drummer Shawn Benson and guitarist Jon Hinds joined, and Theocracy started playing shows locally and working on new material. The band's sophomore album, Mirror of Souls, is out now on Ulterium Records, and it meets the same high songwriting standard set on the debut disc. The production and the performances have all been taken up a level on Mirror of Souls though, and the 23-minute
Thanks to progshine, kev rowland, DippoMagoo for the updates

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THEOCRACY Discography

THEOCRACY albums / top albums

THEOCRACY Theocracy album cover 3.61 | 5 ratings
Power Metal 2003
THEOCRACY Mirror Of Souls album cover 4.31 | 11 ratings
Mirror Of Souls
Power Metal 2008
THEOCRACY As the World Bleeds album cover 4.02 | 9 ratings
As the World Bleeds
Power Metal 2011
THEOCRACY Ghost Ship album cover 4.22 | 5 ratings
Ghost Ship
Power Metal 2016

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THEOCRACY Mirror of Souls album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirror of Souls
Power Metal 2009

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.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
All I Want for Christmas
Power Metal 2010
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Wages of Sin
Power Metal 2011
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30 Pieces of Silver
Power Metal 2011
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wynter Fever
Power Metal 2012

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Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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Metal bands are known for dealing with dark lyrical content a lot of the time, with death and black metal bands especially being known for dealing with anti-religious themes, even Satanism sometimes, while even within a lighter genre like power metal it’s not too uncommon to hear bands sing anti-religious lyrics. On the opposite side of things, Christian power metal does exist, and in fact, 2016 has been a pretty big year for this, as one of the most popular bands in the field, Swedish band Narnia, made their return this year. For me, though, one of the most anticipated albums of the year was Ghost Ship, the fourth full-length album from American power metal band Theocracy, and despite its name, it is not a horror themed album: It’s actually a collection of hopeful, uplifting anthems, with obvious biblical themes throughout. More importantly, though, it’s yet another great album from one of the most consistent bands in the genre.

I was first introduced to Theocracy with their 2008 release, “Mirror of Souls“, a fantastic album where every song hit me hard, though it was clearly building up to the outstanding 22 minute title track, while their 2011 release “As the World Bleeds” was more diverse and more song oriented, and while it didn’t impress me quite as much as its predecessor, it was still amazing. Five years later, the band is back with their latest, and unsurprisingly Ghost Ship follows more in the footsteps of the latter. In fact, if anything this is an even more straightforward song-driven album, with all but two songs being under six minutes, and nothing going past the ten-minute mark.

Stylistically, the music feels like a continuation of the band’s previous works, as singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Matt Smith hasn’t strayed too far from what he’s done before. Basically, listeners can expect varied tempos throughout, with most songs speeding up for at least a little bit, some very melodic guitar work at times, as well as some huge, distinct vocal melodies and also some surprisingly heavy riffs on a few tracks, as well as some nice sounding keyboards and the occasional use of orchestral elements, most notably on the closing track “Easter”. As always, Matt has a very clear voice that fits well for power metal, and while he may not be the most powerful or most unique sounding vocalist ever, he does a very good job throughout, with some very emotive vocals. Instrumentally, everything is excellent, as expected, especially some of the guitar riffs and solos, though keyboards are used effectively as well, and the orchestral elements are quite nice and well done. For the most part, this is a very melodic album as one would expect, though the band certainly isn’t afraid to get heavy at times.

Songwriting is very good all around, and quite varied, with a wide mix of sounds throughout. Opening track “Paper Tiger” is the kind of straight-forward, up-tempo opener power metal fans should love, and right from its great melodic leading guitars at the beginning, it grabs you from the start and never let’s go. The title track starts off a bit slower, with some heavy riffs, and it stays this way throughout the first verse before picking and speed and becoming much lighter during its catchy chorus, which is an early album highlight. There’s a pretty cool orchestral section leading towards the guitar solo in the second half, which is also great.

Fans of speedier tracks have quite a bit to look forward to, as outside of the opener and the speedy parts of the title track, there’s also two heavier fast paced tracks in “The Wonder of It All” and “Stir the Embers”, with the former especially being one of my favorites on the album, with its surprisingly thrashy riffs out of the gate and during the instrumental portion in the second half, though it still has tons of melody as well, and it has a particularly inspired vocal section in the middle that’s one of the most memorable moments on the album. On the lighter side of things, “Castaway” is probably the fastest song overall, and it has a really speedy chorus, with some excellent vocal lines throughout, as well as a pretty awesome guitar solo.

Fans of more subdued, relaxing tracks also have a lot to look forward to, starting with “Wishing Well”. This track starts off with a nice orchestral opening before the guitars take over and it turns into a power ballad, with slow but steadily moving verses that work effectively, and help set up the chorus, which is perhaps the best chorus on the album, making effective use of build ups before getting really epic towards the end. Later on the track is a really awesome fast paced part that ends things in style, and on the whole, the track is definitely one of my favorites. Right after that track is “Around the World and Back”, another lighter, more keyboard driven track that moves at a decent pace throughout, though it never speeds up or gets particularly heavy, instead relying on some excellent vocals from Matt, most notably on the chorus and a huge vocal section that comes in the second half. A bit heavier but still more subdued than some of the other songs is “A Call to Arms”, a mostly mid-tempo track that uses some heavy but not overly aggressive riffs during the verses, and while these parts aren’t my favorite they do a good enough job of building towards the chorus, where it speeds up and turns into an epic fight song. Last, but unfortunately least, we have “Currency in a Bankrupt World”, a track which has a very nice and uplifting chorus, but sadly the verses are slow, boring and rather dreary. I can get what the band was going for here, where the verses are supposed to be sad and the chorus is supposed to cheer you up, but I don’t find it particularly enjoyable to sit through those verses every time, so the track ends up being my least favorite on the album, though it does still have some good parts.

Lastly, we have “Easter”, the near ten-minute epic that closes the album. Lyrically it does, in fact, talk about the story behind the holiday (hint: no bunnies are involved), and musically it feels like a mix of most of the sounds found throughout the album, starting out slow and calm, mostly relying on the vocals and some light guitar work, before the midway point where the orchestra shows up in a big way and we get one of the heaviest and best riffs on the album. Aside from that part the song is more relaxed than the band’s previous epics, though it’s still an excellent track in its own way, with its upbeat, catchy chorus being one of its highlights, and obviously Christians will enjoy the lyrics a whole lot.

Overall, Ghost Ship is an excellent power metal album with some progressive and symphonic leanings, and it features a nice mix of heavier, faster tracks, light, and super melodic tracks, as well as some surprisingly subdued sections, with everything coming together to make a very memorable album. Theocracy has always been my favorite Christian metal band, and once again they have delivered. Longtime fans of the band should find a lot to enjoy here, and I’d also recommend the release to any fan of power metal or melodic metal in general, looking for some uplifting lyrics to go along with their heavy riffs and huge choruses.

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Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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The US progressive power metallers Theocracy are a band that I've been aware of for quite a while now, since around the time that they only had two albums to their name, but never actually listened to. For some reason I skipped over giving them a go upon the release of their previous effort As the World Bleeds (2011) despite seeing a fair bit of hype for it at the time and as they've had a large break between albums since then nothing has reminded me to change that. That is at least until fourth album Ghost Ship (2016) sailed into port.

I think it's fair to say that the album wasn't quite what I expected to hear, but that's probably my own fault for having any expectations of an artist I hadn't listened to before. Being usually described as a progressive power metal band though, I was expecting something a lot more adventurous and well, progressive, out of Theocracy than what I'm hearing on Ghost Ship. Aside from a few parts that add flavour, this album is fairly standard melodic power metal fare, sometimes with a slightly harder edge to the riffs but without ever going over into speed/thrash or even USPM territory. The songs The Wonder of it All and Castaway are good examples of this. The band make use of some symphonic metal elements but they're often in the background, though are more notable on tracks such as Paper Tiger and Easter. As a power metal band Theocracy display all the correct chops and singer Matt Smith has a good voice. The production is polished and as such is well suited to this kind of music. In short for this kind of record they tick all the boxes. The only thing that remains to consider is whether the songs themselves are any good.

Well, yes they generally are. When the band really get going and rock, they rock hard, even if they aren't reinventing the wheel with their style. Key tracks to my ears are Paper Tiger, Ghost Ship and Castaway and the album in general delivers solid power metal, though Around the World and Back and Currency in a Bankrupt World do come over as being slightly weaker than the standard while A Call To Arms is a pretty damn catchy track but there's something about it's chorus that gives me the impression that it should be on some airplay bothering pop-punk band's album instead.

The closing track Easter immediately stands out as the most inventive piece due to crossing the ten minute barrier. Instrumentally I'd say its definitely the most impression composition that Theocracy have cooked up, but my regard for the song takes a hit because it has one of those extra cheesy power metal choruses that I find difficult to stomach, so I can imagine listeners who aren't into power metal so much having even more trouble with it. Of course Theocracy do have a few others that lean towards this sort of thing across the record, but this one feels much more pronounced. I think the Christian lyrics may even play a role in that. I of course knew going into Ghost Ship that Theocracy were a Christian band and that's not a thing that typically bothers me in music (I'd count Neal Morse as one of my favourite progressive rock artists for example), but the effect here makes it seem like Matt Smith and co would rather be singing songs of praise in church or something, rather than playing power metal.

A few missteps aside, Ghost Ship proves to be a decent power metal offering from Theocracy. It serves well as a first experience for the group. I admit I do have a bit of nagging doubt about it though given their usual description as progressive power metal which makes me wonder if this isn't somehow watered down compared to the likes of As the World Bleeds or Mirror of Souls (2008), but I can't answer that until I get around to exploring those albums, which Ghost Ship has at the very least convinced me to do. So my rating is based solely on Ghost Ship's own merits.


Album · 2003 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
Originally Theocracy was a one-man project of Matt Smith, and this the debut album was released in 2003. Now, while Matt is a multi-instrumentalist he wasn’t a proficient drummer so instead used a dreaded drum machine to fulfil that part for him. The album gained acclaim, so for future releases he brought in Shawn Benson to undertake that role. Now, after being unavailable for some time, he has decided to revisit the album and Shawn has recorded new drum tracks. Musically that is the only change to the original, but he has taken the opportunity to re-mix it and then brought in Mika Jussila (Nightwish, Stratovarius, Children of Bodom) to remaster it. In addition, he has provided new liner notes and track comments.

This album was originally released back in 2003 through Metal Ages, and I didn’t hear it at the time, but am really glad to have the opportunity now as this really doesn’t sound like a project but like a full on band. Given my personal hatred of drum machines I am sure that using Shawn to go over the previous tracks has had a huge impact as he is a large part of the overall sound. Also, Matt has a very powerful voice while also being a very good guitarist, which definitely adds to the band feel. Keyboards are used sparingly and are not really a key part to the overall sound, and this comes over much more as a melodic metal/power metal outfit than a prog metal one.

Influenced by bands as diverse as Edguy, Iced Earth and Savatage, this is an incredibly solid debut and certainly doesn’t sound 10 years old. Well worth investigating.

THEOCRACY As the World Bleeds

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
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A friend asked me to try this album because he said that it's one of his top notch power metal albums of 2011. He claims this one is like a cross of EDGUY and HELLOWEEN, and I'll agree to that even though I'm not quite sure whether it's really a superb album as I spotted a few of fillers down there.

The grandiose epic opener, 'I Am', that spanned over 11 minutes, actually has the potential to become the best track here, but honestly I think it's simply too long and i'm sure they can just cut it to 8 minutes top, and it's still a wonderful tune. The tempo is dynamic and wrapped with folkish Celtic element, probably the most progressive track here. Now 'The Master Storyteller' is really excellent. Melodic heavy metal, with power chuggy riffs, the intro and chorus are tremendous.

'Nailed' reminds me of later day HELLOWEEN, another groundbreaker with an ultimate high-pitch screamer, the chorus is also very melodic. 'Light of The World' is another winner on the second half, but like I said earlier, there are some dull moments. 'The Gift of Music' is a balladic attempt which evolved into uptempo track, not great but also not bad. 'Drown' is pretty bad, and together with 'As The World Bleeds', both are the worst tracks here.

The production is great though. The rest 3 tracks are between average to good, and I arrived at the final score of 75%, and perhaps not as high as my friend's score which is around 85%-90%. If you like EDGUY and HELLOWEEN, guaranteed that you're going to chew this easily. Good stuff!

THEOCRACY As the World Bleeds

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
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Conor Fynes
'As The World Bleeds' - Theocracy (8/10)

As a genre that is quite well-known for its vehemently anti-christian stance, it takes some balls to boldly stride into metal and preach the word of God. Matt Smith and his aptly titled Theocracy project seek to bring Christianity to the power metal masses, and I will open up my review by stating that this is a double-edged sword. While Smith's conviction to this belief system has resulted in a passionate performance and musically excellent album, there will be a great many metalheads who will turn up their noses upon learning that this band is rooting for the other team. That is really a shame, because Theocracy's 'As The World Bleeds' may very well be the best power metal album of the year.

This American power metal act's sound finds a tight resemblance to Edguy, and the sort of upbeat, technically virtuosic, neoclassical melodic speed metal that is so popular in Europe. Theocracy's debut featured only Matt Smith as the musician for every aspect of the band's sound, and 'As The World Bleeds' shows the project being upgraded into a full- blown band. This has certainly upped the quality of the musicianship. Theocracy delivers a killer performance, as intense as it is catchy and melodic. Smith's vocals in particular are spectacular, pulling off both operatic falsettos and intelligent harmonies. The songwriting is a step above much of the gimmicky power metal I have heard this year, as well. 'I Am' is an eleven minute epic of a song that builds up wonderfully, filled with memorable melodies and epic pay-offs.

The production polishes the work beautifully, and it is clear that 'As The World Bleeds' has been a work of labour. As power metal goes, it does not go quite as far as to reinvent the genre, but it packs quite a punch within the confines of the style. As great as Theocracy's work here is, there are a few issues. First and foremost- as many would have predicted- the lyrics will stand in the way of many listeners' full appreciation of what Theocracy are doing, including my own. While it may seem hypocritical to have no problem with themes of Satanism in metal and proceed to lambast Christian themes; it's largely the way the themes are dealt with that irks me. The contrast between the tender themes of Jesus' love and redemption that Smith sings about, and the dark sound of the guitars and 'badass' inflections he sometimes works into his vocal delivery won't do much but feed the detractors. Christian listeners of Theocracy's work will not have the same issue with this, I would imagine.

Another, smaller issue is the matter of flow and length. While the quality of musicianship and composition is top notch for power metal, there is a lack in variety that makes the hour length of 'As The World Bleeds' seem about ten minutes too long. The album's highlight is offered first, and from then on, it's more a case of following formula, as opposed to surprising the listener. Of course, power metal is not the hub of diversity in the metal world, but hearing a quirk here and there would have kept me as much on my feet as I was when the first intense moments of 'I Am' came flooding in. It will undoubtedly cause controversy among metal fans, but Theocracy is undeniably good at what they do; excellent, even. 'As The World Bleeds' has its weaknesses which keep it from being stellar, but it stands as being the most impressive thing I have heard from power metal this year.

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