Another three years has passed and so Atlanta's Theocracy returns with their third album As the World Bleeds. Considering the strength of its predecessor, Mirror of Souls, this album was born with certain expectations already in place. Fret not fans as you will not be disappointed.
Above, Theocracy, standing in the Light.
Actually, some may find As the World Bleeds to be heavier perhaps, in parts, more intense than the former album. The Master Storyteller, Nailed, and Hide in the Fairytale are pummeling pieces, smacking more of a hybrid of speed and thrash. Nailed stays the focus to the end. Hide in the Fairytale is tempered by melodic vocal arrangements in the refrain and harmonious guitar play in a bridge. You get some more of this within 30 Pieces of Silver, which also mimics traditional heavy metal when it slows down (ever so briefly). This song is also blessed with some powerful drumming from Shawn Benson.
However, blistering intensity isn't always the overarching motif. Drown, while in moments heavy, has the arena feel of a metal ballad. The Gift of Music offers some acoustic guitar to begin, develops on a lighter path (in comparison to what has preceded), and then builds with steady momentum into a metal anthem.
Additionally, As the World Bleeds, like previous material is not without its prog nuances. You can hear this throughout, yet clearly within Altar of the Unknown God, As the World Bleeds, and the opener I AM. As the World Bleeds demonstrates the skilled fret work of Val Allen Wood; yet, his talent is abundant throughout, making Theocracy even more formidable than in the past. He's quite good. Stylistically, the title cut, with the clever vocal arrangement, is likely the most provocative and entertaining song on the album.
Finally, as in past recordings, the lyrics speak to themes of Christian faith and theology, many alluding to the infallible scriptures, the Bible. Notable themes include the one true God Jehovah (I AM, The Gift of Music, Altar to the Unknown God) and faith in Christ Jesus (Drown). I'm sure many metal fans will be put off by this. (I've read one review already that had to mention the Christian angle almost as disclaimer at the start). Let the music do the talking and, then, maybe the words will speak to your heart, as Jesus Christ is man's only hope.
Theocracy's As the World Bleeds is equal to its predecessor, and different. Faster, heavier, but equally melodic, sometimes intricate, it's a return to their fine form. Perhaps they've even raised the bar for themselves. Quite recommended.
With As the World Bleeds, Theocracy has beefed up the heaviness and intensity and, likewise, their skill and performance for entertaining results. They've raised their own bar.
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