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Theocracy Proves Its Mettle


A RARE TREAT | A REVIEW OF THEOCRACY LIVE SHOW IN THE UNITED STATES [Houston, TX, 7/28/17]

I’ve had the joy and privilege of seeing just about everyone in concert. Besides the Beatles, maybe, and an official Led Zeppelin, I’ve seen all the great bands. I’ve seen some great, epic shows over the past three decades. So it’s no wonder that I’m a little picky when it comes to concerts I attend. Do I really need to see King’s X for the 42nd time? Well, that’s not really a good example, because yes I do need to see King’s X every chance I get. But you get the point. When you’ve seen it all, it’s easy to be jaded. It’s easier for the comforts of home to outweigh the cost of time, travel, effort and cash of a live concert. The love for live music is not gone, by any means. It’s just refined and perhaps managed more by quality than quantity.

I’ve mentioned all that to setup my reaction about six months ago when I read the news that the power metal band, Theocracy, was going to come to Texas for a couple shows. I marked it on my calendar back then. “I’ve got to see this show.”

Hailing from Athens, Georgia (an unlikely hometown for a progressive power metal band in the vein of Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Kamelot, Helloween), Theocracy rarely, if ever, plays stateside shows. The European musos know how special they are, but live audiences in the U.S. just don’t know what they’re missing. Houston and Dallas were in for a treat, and I wasn’t about to miss it.

I’m so glad I stuck to my resolute decision. I was rewarded with a fantastic experience.

A band called Echo Temple opened up. They fit the lineup pretty well — playing a progressive power metal style not too far from Queensryche. There was lots of really good guitar solos between the two guitarists, who stood at opposite ends of the good-sized stage. Echo Temple adroitly left lots of breathing space between the instruments, not over-doing the riffage, but showing restraint aplenty. This made for enjoyable songs, even though they were mostly of the 8-10 minute variety.

Their tune, “Angel of Darkness,” had a cool marching intro.

Millennial Reign, has a band name that lacks, shall we say, panache. This made them hard for me to take seriously, prior to hearing a single note. But wow, I was won over. The second song in the set was really solid, filling the room with big sounds. The guitar tones are big and tough. The vocals were top-notch as well. I like this band.

Theocracy closed the stage off with a giant red curtain, allowing them to strike and set up their stage in privacy. It gave an ounce of anticipation to their set, making us all wonder what we’d see when the curtain came down. Dry ice? Lightning? A giant backdrop with the band’s logo? I hadn’t found myself this excited to see a band in a good long while. I was giddy with excitement. It was so awesome having my bride at my side, sharing this moment with her.

The band came on with little to no fanfare once the curtain was removed, save for some cool dry ice, but they were hitting on all cylinders. They played tunes mostly from the last three albums — Mirror of Souls (like “Absolution Day”), As the World Bleeds and Ghost Ship.

While Theocracy plays a genre of metal that is well defined (probably mostly referred to as progressive power metal), they rise above the genre with great tunes and lots of lovely melody. You can sing along to their songs, yet the structures suffer no lack of talented noodling.

“The Master Storyteller” from As the World Bleeds was a nice, dynamic tune. “Around the World and Back” was epic as well. The ticking clock sounds were synced in well without sounding like a big track machine. Vocalist Matt Smith gave a fun shout-out to their invisible keyboard player. His dynamic vocal range was something to behold. The sound in the small club wasn’t perfect, but was great and complimentary to the band.

“The Wonder of it All” was another big moment. I was so looking forward to this moment and it delivered with a punch.

Then it was over and the audience showered them with a wave of applause. If you ever get the chance to see Theocracy live, be sure to get there!

For a full visual treatment, read my original review over at HMmagazine.com.

Photos and review by Doug Van Pelt

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