THEOCRACY – Remastered and Remixed (2007)

theocracyThe self-titled release by the Atlanta-based band, Theocracy first appeared in 2007 but has been out of circulation since that time.  For several months, fans have long-awaited for the release of Theocracy’s original album – an album that has been remastered and remixed.  On November 19, fans around the were thrilled to listen in to Matt Smith and the boys hammer out their unique style of Stryper meets Dream Theater heavy metal music.

Track by Track:

After a 80’s-like keyboard intro the album begins with a double-base drum anthem that celebrates victory in Christ.  Here’s a few lines from Ichthrus.

Forced into the catacombs
unite to praise the King of kings
they fear a revolution
and the power that He brings
heaven’s sons stand as one, as believers
in the blood of Christ
even in death we have true life

CENTURIES FLY
BUT THE FLAME IS STILL ALIVE
THE MAY HIDE IT, BUT IT WILL NEVER DIE
CARVED IN OUR SOULS,
SEE THE TWO HALVES OF THE SIGN
THROUGH THE AGES HIS GLORY WILL ARISE
FOR ALL TIME

The Serpent’s Kiss begins as a ballad and speaks candidly about the curse of sin that has been inflicted on the cosmos.

Born into the darkness
thrown into the viper’s den
the serpent in the cradle
takes the child into its nest of sin
slowly suffocating
the souls of victims it has found
into the vicious cycle
on the path that only leads us down

Rat-race-fueled machinery
this system of corruption
have we become so cold and numb
we’re blind to its destruction?
We’re forging in the fires made of greed
Our idols made of gold
then bowing down before them
with corrupt, adulterous souls
opened eyes,
realize…

WHAT WE HAVE DONE
WHAT WE HAVE SEEN
WHAT HAS BECOME OF OUR LIVES
CORRUPTED OUR DREAMS
WHAT WE HAVE LOST
AND WHAT REMAINS
PARALYZED BY THE VENOM THAT RUNS THROUGH OUR VEINS
THERE’S GOT TO BE MUCH MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS
THE WORLD’S CARESS IS JUST THE SERPENT’S KISS

But the venom that has plagued mankind has been defeated by the power of the cross.  So the song continues …

I stand before you as a child
by this world I’ve been defiled
stained and poisoned, burned and beaten
bruised and wounded, sick and vile
with hands reaching out to you, I run
realizing what I’ve done
you take me in your arms, a reunited father and son…

The song is not only a powerful reminder of the gospel but also leaves listeners with a permanent and painful warning:

And all illusion ceases to exist
the world’s caress is just a serpent’s kiss

Mountain paints a vivid portrait of the journey that every Christ-follower faces.

Step by step the climb gets harder
my being weakens as I struggle farther and farther
flesh is weakness, darkness, sickness
my dreams are shattered, my ambitions crumbled
my will defeated, my spirit humbled once more
I am hopeless, helpless without you

The tune resembles John Bunyan’s classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress and leaves listeners with hope as they plod their way through the Christian life:

Take me to the places I can’t go
Transcending
I’m sick of living in the status quo
New Beginning
And when it seems I’ve given up
On eagle’ wings you life me up again
and this time I know, in the end
…You carried me

The title track, Theocracy is a metal dream that challenges every listener with the direct claims of Christ’s lordship:

At the center of my heart there sits a throne
That the rightful occupant’s not always
free to call His own
For how can I give the King
His place of worth above all else
When I spend my time striving
to place the crown upon myself?

The chorus hammers the lordship theme with a holy vengeance:

I TAKE MY CROWN AND CAST IT DOWN
CASTLES BURNING
CASTLES BURNING
LEARN TO GROW, GROW TO BE
A FLESH AND BLOOD THEOCRACY
TO TAKE THE LOSS AND BEAR THE CROSS
RAISE THE KINGDOM
RAISE THE KINGDOM
BURN AWAY ALL IVE BEEN
TO RESURRECT THEOCRACY WITHIN

2 Corinthians 10:5 is employed to remind Christians to submit every thought to the lordship of Christ:

and the would-be rulers of my heart
that I place upon the throne
each lead the kingdom of my life to ruin
to bring every though into submission
to tear the idols down
is to break the chains, to rearrange,
to give the king his crown

The Healing Hand is a powerful five-part masterpiece that begins with the prophecy of the Messiah – the hope of nations.  The tune leads listeners from the cradle to the Cross of Christ where the “healing hand becomes the bleeding hand.”

His kingdom forever, the Lion of Judah in strength
everlasting redemption, atonement complete
resurrected in power, as King now he stands
FOR THE BLEEDING HAND HAS BECOME THE RULING HAND

Faith-born forever, a part of His kingdom become
Or reject him, stand back
and watch his kingdom come
Alpha and omega almighty is he
Christ reigns victorious for eternity
Eternity

Several more songs grace this stunning album.  There is simply too much to share in a short review in this format.  But suffice it to say, this piece of work by Theocracy is about as good as it gets.  The music is tight, the production is crisp, and the vocals are spot on.  Again, as I have noted elsewhere, Matt Smith is one of the premier songwriters of this day.  For whatever reason, he has gone largely unnoticed – a tragedy in its own right.  This young man should be commended for his God-given gifts.  But as every God-fearing man recognizes, all the glory goes back to the Giver of every good gift.

Thanks to Matt Smith and the band for writing such God-honoring music; heavy metal music that truly honors the Lord Jesus Christ and magnifies his gospel!

5 stars

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