As The World Bleeds

01. I AM
02. The Master Storyteller
03. Nailed
04. Hide in the Fairytale
05. The Gift of Music
06. 30 Pieces of Silver
07. Drown
08. Altar to the Unknown God
09. Light of the World
10. As the World Bleeds

Matt Smith (Vocals)
Val Allen Wood (Lead guitar)
Jonathan Hinds (Guitar)
Jared Oldham (Bass)
Shawn Benson (Drums)

Theocracy (2003)
Mirror of Souls (2008)


Mastered by: Mika Jussila at Finnvox
Artwork by: Felipe Machado Franco

Released 25/11-2011
Reviewed 27/11-2011


ulterium records

Had anyone asked me before this year started which genre would dominate the hard rock year of 2011, I'd either say AOR or power metal. Both of these genres were on the move and many of the giants had albums planned. I think AOR has lived up to my expectations enough, but power metal has been something of a disappointment to me. Taking a quick look on the top grades and we find only three albums reaching sixes or sevens (three sixes in Enbound, Iced Earth and Mystic Prophecy). Now, there has been a few fives - like Edguy, Coldspell and Hammerfall - but most of the power metal has just not been that good as at least I hoped for this year. Now, at the very end of the year, Theocracy comes riding on their white horse with a goal to change that… but I have mixed emotions about the result.

I don't know if people agree or disagree with me when I say I'm a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to power metal as I early on in my career as hard rock journalist choose to specialize in this genre. And after following this genre closely for almost 15 years I can honestly say, and I think it comes with such an authority that the band can feel rightly proud to hear this, that Theocracy has made some of the best power metal songs I've ever heard on 'As The World Bleeds'. However, when it comes to the total overall performance they can't keep it up. Because it doesn't matter if you have two or three real killers on this album if the rest isn't doing its job. And that's how Theocracy does their third album.

'As The World Bleeds' begins grandiose and pompous with an intro that could have been taken out of a Hollywood Robin Hood movie and turns in to the first song of the album, fundamentally called I AM. This is a song that lyrically feels almost like a poem composed by a free-time poet and otherwise quite much feels like a good but not fantastic song that go on the verge of striking gold every time they reach the chorus. It's like Kashmir by Led Zeppelin or Stairway to Heaven… by the same band, in the way that it increases in speed and grandiosity the longer in to the song it comes. I thinks it's a reasonable good choice for first song, though it's eleven minutes long. I like that song, but I don't like what follows after because then the band forgets the nice choirs and grandiosity in the choruses and you get all the boring verse sounds collected in to stereotype power metal melodies and songs in The Master Storyteller and Nailed. Sure they too have decent choruses, but otherwise it's very easy to know exactly where they are going as soon as the first tone begins and they just end up with identity crisis.

As we reach the fourth song the album reach its real climax, because Hide In The Fairytale is one of those songs I mentioned in the beginning as a song that could be quite high on a charts on the best power metal songs. The verses are great, the choruses are fantastic! And they get the choirs in just right everywhere, which is what does the choruses so great. I really like when bands "go the other way around" and lower the tempo in the chorus instead of the "normal" way of speeding it up, as in this song. And things doesn't get worse as we enter the fifth song, called The Gift Of Music. A really grand song, a bit slower than the previous but served with an orgy of great guitars and melodies that affects every delight muscle in your ear. The entire song feels like a single piece without seams and choruses falls in from verses with a natural flow almost unnoticeable, which is something I very rarely hear (in any genre) but love every time. I don't like when verse and chorus feels like two different songs. But these two songs are fantastic and something this band can be very proud of and carry on from.

But as flattering as I just was, I will be unflattering about the next three. 30 Pieces Of Silver (which is a song about Jesus and Judas), Drown (which is a song that really feels stuck and don't get anywhere) and Altar To The Unknown God (this song does however have a nice chorus). The songs are back to the same phenomenon as the second and third song - boring verses, decent choruses but all too typical for the genre to engage. Light Of The World, which follows Altar To The Unknown God, is one of the better songs on this album, though far from Hide In The Fairytale and The Gift Of Music. Still really good! In the end we reach something that begins as a piano ballad but then turns in to one of the most up-tempo songs on the album. It's not one of the best, but once again they've managed to succeed with a pretty good chorus.

As a whole I feel this album mixes good with bad like a bartender mixes drinks. The already mentioned pair of firecrackers, Hide In The Fairytale and The Gift Of Music, stands in a league of their own and therefore my advice to you is not to buy the entire album, but get these two songs only from one of the pages on the web that offer song-by-song sales in digital form (as no one has paid me to "advice" you to go there I let you chose for for yourself). If you like these songs you might also find an interest in the introductory I AM and the penultimate Light Of The World. And if you like these two as well you might also find an interest in 30 Pieces Of Silver and the title track. But after that the good songs has really run out. I think it's about 50% good material and 50% that sounds more or less like any other power metal band on this planet. 10 songs and about an hour of music is what the Athens (Ga) altar boys has putted together for us on their third album, and I think that they've continued to grow and develop since the beginning. And when this album is at its very best it really is good for real! But most of this album is still too much standard power metal without any form of character.

To summarize I think we've found two of the best songs of this year on 'As The World Bleed' and as I've said that's truely an achievement on its own. However, I think it's better to spend 2 dollars on getting these two songs. I'll bet you won't regret this, they'll probably stay with you for the rest of your life. Until it's time to meet your maker, whoever this might be.


Label: Ulterium Records/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: Freedom Call/Insania [Stockholm]/Zonata
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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