Theocracy - 'Mirror Of Souls'

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Theocracy - 'Mirror Of Souls'

Every home should have one, as the old slogan used to read.

Although they revel in producing what comes across as pure European power metal, the three-piece Theocracy surprisingly come from Atlanta, Georgia. ‘Mirror Of Souls’ is their second album; the band’s 2003 self-titled debut was recorded by vocalist/guitarist Matt Smith as a one-man band, although shortly afterwards he recruited guitarist Jonathon Hinds and drummer Shawn Benson, and it’s these three individuals who are responsible for this belated follow-up.

As a band Theocracy almost literally burn; power metal done badly can be painful to listen to, but in the hands of guys like this it can scorch the paint off a door at sixty paces. Check out opener ‘A Tower Of Ashes’ and if you don’t crack a smile and start tapping your foot as things quicken, check you’ve got a pulse! Everything is spot on: Benson’s drumming forces the pace, the guitars duck and dive and Smith’s vocal lines soar high above the songs.

‘Mirror Of Souls’ is dominated by the 22½ minute title track, album closer and veritable feast of riffs and time changes which twists and turns without ever giving your attention time to wander (no mean feat in itself). If pressed to choose a personal favourite though I’d go for ‘Laying The Demon To Rest’, where the guys reign things back a bit, take the foot off the gas and trade speed for out-and-out power, or ‘Martyr’ with its increasingly intricate vocal lines, unexpected Spanish guitar break, and twin guitar playout.

And incidentally, don’t be put off by the white metal tag around Theocracy: although the band’s song titles and even their name (“form of government by God“) clearly indicate a Christian persuasion, and the power ballad ‘Bethlehem’ in particular is a pretty overt statement of intent, this is first and foremost a true power metal album, and possibly the best one released this year. Every home should have one, as the old slogan used to read.

John Tucker

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