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Theocracy: As the World Bleeds

Neal Morse fans, listen up: If Morse played power metal, it would sound like this.

Vocalist Matt Smith and his band are back with Theocracy's most transparently Christian album. But that doesn't mean As the World Bleeds — the third release from the Georgia-based group that began as Smith's one-man band — doesn't deserve your attention. In fact, no one else in Christendom occupies the realm of what this quintet is doing with its message-based music. Longtime SoT readers will know I've been a Theocracy follower since the self-titled debut was released in 2003, awarding that album a rare five stars. Five years later came Mirror of Souls, which expanded Theocracy to a trio and damn-near improved upon that first album.

Now, As the World Bleeds gushes forth with huge multi-layered choruses, epic arrangements and melodies, stunning a cappella lines, aggressive contrapuntal and gang vocals, crisp production and intricate (sometimes dark) progressive elements, Theocracy has more in common with its European prog-metal brethren than, say, other American Christian metal bands. These over-the-top songs are built for giant stages: The massive, lyrics-heavy opener "I Am" proudly proclaims Theocracy's mission, "Altar to the Unknown God" addresses questions of faith among both believing and non-believing headbangers, the title track (also the finale) dishes out some Iron Maiden-style runs, and "Hide in the Fairytale" gives a knowing nod to Blind Guardian. All 10 songs are expertly executed, with mixing by Mika Jussila (Nightwish, Stratovarius, Children of Bodom). Smith's voice, meanwhile, has evolved to become more flexible than ever — hitting a broader range of notes.

That said, generic, faster-than-thou fare such as "The Master Storyteller" and "Nailed" suggest that Smith might be running low on creative ideas. Here's praying he's not; this band is too good to settle for just average.


Track Listing:
1) I Am
2) The Master Storyteller
3) Nailed
4) Hide in the Fairytale
5) The Gift of Music
6) 30 Pieces of Silver
7) Drown
8) Altar to the Unknown God
9) Light of the World
10) As the World Bleeds

Added: January 19th 2012
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Theocracy Web Site
Hits: 2960
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Theocracy: As the World Bleeds
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-02-05 12:17:25
My Score:

2008's "Mirror of Souls" was my first introduction to the band Theocracy. The epic nature of that album, with its over 22 minute title and closing track helped pull me away from the Dream Theater fan camp. I believe this band has more powerful lyrics and is making more challenging music than the current membership of DT.





"As the World Bleeds" is a great step in the direction of becoming one of the genre's best metal/prog bands on the globe. The fact the band creatively tried to write single tracks that would stand on their own merit is a tribute to the power of this album. The only negative comment I can make is that they should have waited until January 2012 to release the album, instead of during the busy holiday season of 2011. However, it seems the album has not had a problem finding more fans around the world, as evidenced by the many positive reviews so far.





This band has found the key and are using it well to spread an excellent message, while creating some devastatingly powerful guitar and drum jams.





I will be enjoying this album for quite some time. I look forward to the next album, and hope their creative energy continues forever!



Track by track review:





I AM is simply a masterpiece of lyrical composition! The music is creative and amazing, as are the awesome guitar and keyboard solos. But it's the lyrics which dominate this 11 minute epic. In answer to their Facebook fan question, "Which lyrics are your favorite on the track?" it's easy: "I am the alpha and omega, first and last, eternally". After all, that sums up everything. But every single, well – thought out and researched line of this song speaks to the power of the subject and spiritual leader themed in their music. Excellent strategy…put the epic and most powerful track up front! Grab 'em and never let 'em go!





The Master Storyteller has a tough time, squeezed in between the best and second best track on the album. But the lyrics again are mesmerizing. Especially, "Turn the page, the story is alive". Well said. With all of the talk surrounding this epic year, this line really grabs you and hopefully other fans and listeners will hear the message that the words in the famous book are alive with learning for every age. The music on this track is not as powerful as I AM or Nailed, but the hooks and rhythms still capture your attention.





If I Am was the alert to what was going to come on this album, then Nailed is the proclamation! The lyrics embody research into the life of Martin Luther, and the 95 Theses of 1517, which were an important catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. The nailing of these documents, in Latin, to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, on the eve of All Saint's Day, is the subject that this track uncovers and reminds us of today. The act of faith is alive and well, and living within this band. The music and pounding hammer provides the realism, bringing the subject and track alive with inspiration. For me…the second best track on the album.





Hide in the Fairytale is another powerful onslaught of power guitar chords, heavy bass and drums. This is a great concert power – rocker meant to light up the stage. The best line; the refrain, "Day and night. Jekyll and Hyde in the fairytale. This is much more frightening".





The Gift of Music is one of the best songs outside of the powerful opening of the album. The line "So my child, I give this gift to you and all the nations. So you can give it back to me one day", is another one of the excellent truths brought forth from this album's perfect lyrics. The acoustic start and then progression to a rocker is excellent. They take it out for a Dream Theater – like drum/guitar extravaganza…excellent!





The drum assault continues with the opening of 30 Pieces of Silver. This was the first single offered early on iTunes, before the album was released. The lyrics detail the betrayal of Judas with 30 silver coins from the Bible. The band does an excellent job of focusing power and intensity on the lyrics, "All the treasure in the world so blinding. 30 pieces of silver shining. Tell me what's the price you seek, to place the kiss of death upon His cheek?" This is the third best track on the album. Very powerful lyrics, fast moving and heavy drums supported by bass, with grinding and powerful guitar chords. Then they break back into a slow grinding DT – like drum and guitar extravaganza. Amazing…just try to catch your breath.





Drown is a slower, vocals driven track full of emotion that builds throughout. The track tells the story of the leap, or in this case walk of faith we face daily. "Devotion deeper than the sea. The ocean's tide won't swallow me. A hand is reaching. I grab it and rise". The lyrics bring to life the story and choice which we continually face throughout our lives.





Altar to the Unknown God is a song written for all of the mistakes we make in worship, like the Greeks, before us. The echoing vocal effect at the opening is a cool. The guitar buzzing and pinging adds more cool effects to the sound. The band takes off on a rampage of stellar drums and guitar extravaganzas to highlight the power of the track.





Light of the World is a fast moving drum and guitar rhythm, again filled with smashing drums and roaring and grinding guitars. Great fast pumping music designed to light up the stage. More great lyrics: "Are we the light of the world? Or are we failing to answer the call? You are the light of the world," He said. But we've blown out our candles, and left men for dead".





As the World Bleeds is the closing theme of the album. "Why do we only call Your name when there's no one else to call? And we only really seek You when our mighty towers fall. Why do we call for free will, but reject all consequence? When we're only sleeping in the bed we made?" And the lyrics come as fast as the blistering guitar and drums on this track. Yet another, very good closer. A powerful live song…I'm sure.


» Reader Comments:

Theocracy: As the World Bleeds
Posted by Samuel R. Dana on 2012-01-21 12:46:48
My Score:

I discovered Theocracy about a year ago on YOUTUBE and loved Mirror of Souls. I had to have more so I got their first. I got As the World Bleeds as soon as it was released. I've never heard anybody play drums that good, it's like the driving force behind every song. I am 50, and would not call myself a metal head, but this group is awesome and hope to hear a lot more from them.

Theocracy: As the World Bleeds
Posted by Anonymous on 2012-01-21 12:07:41
My Score:

Master Storyteller is IMMENSE!!! Nailed is probably my least favorite track on the album but that is only because it's a '9' whre the the rest is a pure, full on TEN!!

Be good to see a festival like Bloodstock put these guys on here in the UK

Theocracy: As the World Bleeds
Posted by alexPR on 2012-01-21 10:46:59
My Score:

I agree with all except with the comment on "The Master Storyteller" and "Nailed" they are great songs i also think its the best album they done so far...




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