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Theocracy - 2016 Ghost Ship

ARTIST: Theocracy
ALBUM: Ghost Ship
LABEL: Ulterium
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Matt Smith - vocals, additional guitars, keyboards, orchestration * Val Allen Wood - lead guitar * Jonathan Hinds - guitar, backing vocals * Jared Oldham - bass, backing vocals

Additional Musician: Shawn Benson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Paper Tiger * 02 Ghost Ship * 03 The Wonder Of It All * 04 Wishing Well * 05 Around The World And Back * 06 Stir The Embers * 07 A Call To Arms * 08 Currency In A Bankrupt World * 09 Castaway * 10 Easter



The album title sounds like the name of an old horror movie right? Well you'd be correct on that front, because it was. However, I doubt very much whether Athens, Georgia-based prog metallers Theocracy are that interested in what went before. Instead they are steering this particular vessel towards the status of being one of the best records of this musical style during 2016. They are not a new band, if anybody was thinking that. They go back as far as 2003, and was the brainchild of vocalist Matt Smith. Theocracy have very definite Christian leanings too, though you probably wouldn't have been aware of that looking at the album cover and reading the song-titles. I hadn't heard any of their albums before this one (there are three), and only picked up on it thanks to their video clip on YouTube.

The Songs
'Ghost Ship' is a tremendous melodic power metal outing, and as can be expected with a band that's been around a little while, they sound very polished and accomplished. On the opener 'Paper Tiger', this sounds very British/European in the vein of Iron Maiden, combining the power voice of Matt Smith alongside the razor sharp riffs of Val Allen Wood. Wow, that was a bit of a kicker! The title track 'Ghost Ship' was selected as the video off the album, and you see for yourselves what these guys are all about. It's all hands on deck with the fast and furious 'The Wonder Of It All', nearing thrash metal speed but still keeping things very melodic. 'Wishing Well' is an intense ride, mixing up the tempo, where verses are tempered, but things go crazy on the choruses, bridge and solo sections. 'Around The World And Back' sounds like a Stryper track, the vocal choruses quite strong, which probably made the comparison a bit easier.

Heading into the back-end of the album, Theocracy fly out of the blocks for 'Stir The Embers', it's a bit of a headbanger and will please those who like to let loose with their hair.. or what's left of it.. lol. 'Call To Arms' might sound like a throwaway Saxon line, but that's where the comparison ends, as Smith soars to vertically challenging heights. There's obviously a message to 'Currency In A Bankrupt World', which applies to today's society where you don't necessarily find happiness in success. That is: you can still be miserable even if you have tons of money. 'Castaway' is another track headed for the mosh-pit, such is the speed. You'll need to be the Energizer Bunny to keep up. The finale 'Easter' is the longest track here, at nearly 10 minutes. I've read elsewhere that it's more in keeping with Theocracy's earlier progressive works. The track is broken down into three distinct parts, but it still sounds cohesive and bombastic too!

In Summary
For a first go at this band, I'm quite impressed, and will in future keep tabs on Matt and his Merry Men. Drummer Shawn Benson who was a member of Theocracy going back several years left the band, but still managed to play on the album. His place has since been taken by Ernie Topran. Ulterium Records have got a decent band on their books, and I think metallers will enjoy Theocracy with or without the Christian background. Get into it!

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#1 | gdazegod on February 20 2017 07:07:33
Theocracy - 2016 Ghost Ship
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