The songs of the melodic metal group Theocracy are just so good, take the 2008 release Mirror Of Souls for example and how could you possibly call yourself a metal fan and not relish songs like "Laying The Demon To Rest". I also couldn't get enough of their stellar last album As The World Bleeds from 2011. When I read that their self-titled debut originally released in 2003 was being re-issued I sure was pumped to hear what that release now sounds like. Founder Matt Smith has remixed the album and Mika Jussila (Children of Bodom, Edguy, Nightwish, Stratovarius) took care of the mastering. On the original recording one of those contraptions called a drum machine had been used, so thankfully this time around they have been in a position to rectify that move and Theocracy drummer Shawn Benson has re-recorded all the drums. So it's those drums and the overall sound of Theocracy that have been improved while the other original performances remain.
As Theocracy was originally a one man project now there are two with Shawn on drums and Matt Smith does everything else from the lead and choir vocals to rhythm, lead, acoustic and bass guitars and also keyboards and orchestration. I'm a big fan of Matt's vocals like on "I Am" from As The World Bleeds and when you have his vocals coupled with that glorious music the results are so stunning, and I still get goose bumps every time I hear it.
The orchestration of "Prelude" gives way to Theocracy's vibrant power metal on "Ichthus" drummer Shawn Benson's kicks are in full flight while Matt Smith's vocals reach higher for the chorus. The first of three longer tracks "The Serpent's Kiss" highlights what a capable musician Matt is
he certainly has a knack for writing these compelling melodic epics, and the multiple tempo shifts keep Shawn busy. Keyboards sure do have a place in this kind of melodic metal and they sound so good alongside Matt's guitar on the slower "Mountain", with songs like this one it's no wonder the original version of Theocracy rated so highly. Title track "Theocracy" comes with some clever vocal touches and spirited power metal and there is more of that on "New Jerusalem". "The Healing Hand" and "Twist of Fate" are the two other rousing epics with more engrossing Theocracy style performances with that power/progressive mix, while folk influences bring a different feel for the uplifting "The Victory Dance".
It was such a positive move to re-issue Theocracy and make this killer debut available once again, plus giving the material the treatment it deserves and not to mention allowing the newer fans the opportunity to hear the beginnings of one of the best metal groups.
3. The Serpent's Kiss
6. The Healing Hand
8. New Jerusalem
9. The Victory Dance
10. Twist of Fate