Theocracy is certainly amongst the most underrated groups in the power metal world. Whether due to their lyrical themes (which are very religious; not a great topic for most metal fans) or because there were 5 years in between their most recent releases, this is a band that doesn’t seem to get as much hype as they deserve. “Ghost Ship” picks up where “As The World Bleeds” left off, and is filled with excellent melodic power metal tunes. Nowhere is this more evident than at the beginning of the record: “Paper Tiger”, “Ghost Ship”, and “The Wonder Of It All” were the three best songs to kick things off with because they’re the catchiest. “Paper Tiger” is also overflowing with speedy riffs.
The star of Theocracy is mainman and lead vocalist Matt Smith. As great as his singing is, Matt shines because of his brilliantly crafted vocal lines. At times they recall Savatage, who was another band that had an uncanny ability to create unique vocal melodies that are absurdly memorable. His singing itself is smooth, yet also spans a wide range. He has no problems reaching into the stratosphere to hit some of these notes, and it sounds completely effortless.
Though this album has tons of heavy riffing (which ends up being considerably more aggressive than a lot of other power metal), it occasionally falls apart in its softer moments. Matt Smith doesn’t always have a “metal” tone to his vocal delivery, and so some of these less aggressive moments sound out of place on this record. Though no song is a full-on ballad, tracks like “Around The World and Back” and “Currency In A Bankrupt World” lean too far away from metal for my tastes in parts. They do have their moments in the later sections of the songs, but Theocracy is at their best when the tempos are high and the guitars are distorted. As with many head-scratching moments by great bands, these tracks do end up becoming more appealing on each subsequent listen.
Nevertheless, this is a minor complaint on an otherwise impressive album. Theocracy excels because they do things just a little bit different from everyone else. There’s no band that sounds quite like them, and yet they don’t stretch the boundaries of power metal (or progressive metal, for that matter) too far outside what one might expect. As a result, they’re a safe choice for an upper-tier power metal band that you might not have heard yet. It certainly took me far too long to start listening to Theocracy, but better late than never, and “Ghost Ship” marks an excellent starting point!
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"The Wonder Of It All"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott