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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Theocracy

As the World Bleeds

Review by Gary Hill

These guys are a metal band from Georgia who sound more like a European epic metal band. Add in the fact that they are also a Christian rock band, and the puzzle gets more unusual. These guys are amazing musicians and the weakest track from them is probably on an even keel with the best from a lot of bands. It’s just that after a while it starts to sound a lot alike. These guys tend to be all over the place and land pretty close to progressive rock a lot of the time. I’d also have to say that if you might be scared away by the “Christian” title, although the lyrical themes are obvious, they never really seem to try to pound you over the head with it. I would say that it doesn’t detract from the experience even for people who aren’t Christians or fans of a lot of preachy music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I AM

This rises up with a symphonic prog kind of sound. This introductory section is quite dramatic and powerful. Then it fires out into some killer technical metal for a time. They drop it back from there for an almost Celtic section. The vocals come over the top of that. This is a killer epic metal tune. It alternates between that mellower, more stripped back movement and some seriously powerful symphonic metal sounds. It works out like that into something really magical. This is theatrical and dramatic. It’s also awesome. There’s a Celtic jig gone heavy metal later in the track. As it works out from there the intensity and layers of sound are ramped up even more. If old school classical music had ever been done as heavy metal, this would be what it would sound like. I just have to say “wow.” They turn it out into a more standard metal sound for a time. Then it works out to something that’s almost like heavy metal turned fusion. I’d call that section progressive rock. Much of the earlier portions here fit that category, but this later segment as it continues to shift and turn and work through various changes is especially proggy.

The Master Storyteller
The easiest way to describe this, and it would be reasonably accurate, would be to imagine a cross between Helloween, Iron Maiden and Queensryche. Still, that wouldn’t capture just how great this is. These guys take a pretty straightforward and accessible vocal hook and combine it with a musical arrangement that is technical and powerful. It’s dynamic and just plain awesome.
Nailed
As this fires out with an intense riff, the vocals that scream over the top are equally incredible. This is another powerhouse tune that really rocks. Early on it’s more straight metal than the two openers, but it still has plenty of shifts and turns. Additionally, it does drop back to a mellower movement that even has hints of Spanish movement.
Hide in the Fairytale
This powerhouse anthemic song is another that makes me think of Helloween. There’s more of a symphonic metal meets progressive rock movement later, too. This thing just keeps changing as new sections enter and work through.
The Gift of Music
More symphonic metal sounds open this. It works out to one of the more purely progressive rock oriented sounds of the set. This thing still has a metallic edge, but overall it’s got a definite progressive rock edge and sound to it. There are definitely symphonic metal moments at play here, too. This is another amazing piece of music on a disc that has no shortage of amazing stuff.
30 Pieces of Silver
Frantic metal is heard on the opening here. That whole Iron Maiden meets Helloween concept is pretty accurate here. There are some killer shifts and changes as the cut works through its twists and turns. It turns towards more epic metal later.
Drown
The opening riff here really sounds like Iron Maiden. They turn it to a more rubbery riff from there. Then it drops to mellower sounds for the first vocals. It powers up to more metallic sounds after that section of vocals. There is a great melodic metal section later that’s quite catchy. The various sections get revisited as the song continues. There’s one of the coolest passages of the set later in a melodic guitar solo driven movement.
Altar to the Unknown God
A vocal only introduction gives way to some screaming metal. Both Helloween and Maiden are valid references at various points here. This is another really screaming metal tune. It’s one of the most aggressive and powerful. Yet, the melody and hooks never suffer for it.
Light of the World
Anthemic power metal is the order of business here. As usual, Helloween is a valid reference point. This isn’t the most amazing tune here. That said, this is great stuff. It’s just that the competition on this album is so stiff that this piece feels a little less than the rest. On many albums this would be the highlight. Here’s it’s one of the less special numbers.
As the World Bleeds
In a big change the opening section here (including the first vocals) is based on a piano ballad approach. It fires out from there into some screaming metal as the carry forward. The piece works through quite a few changes. At times it leans towards progressive rock. At other times we get real thrash. Then there are Iron Maiden like sections. This thing just plain rocks like crazy. It’s hard to imagine a better way for this to end, but that’s not the end.

 

 

 
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