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Theocracy - Mirror of souls 4/5

Reviewed: 11-7-08


1. A tower of ashes
2. On eagles' wings
3. Laying the demon to rest
4. Bethlehem
5. Absolution day
6. The writing in the sand
7. Martyr
8. Mirror of souls

Matt Smith quickly became popular earlier in the decade with his impressive one-man band and release of his full-length 's/t' debut in 2003. Although it's uncommon for one man to provide all aspects of a CD's recording (everything from vocals, to instruments, to drum programming), Matt did a great job and the CD was fairly successful in reaching fans of power metal and similar styles. Now he's back 5 years later with his 2nd CD 'Mirror of souls', but he's grabbed some additional musicians this time, that being another guitarist (Jon Hinds) and drummer Shawn Benson. Obviously, having a true drummer should make a big difference, and this is definitely the case, as 'Mirror of souls' has more of a polished, crisp and mature sound.

Luckily, the great songwriting that was present on the 's/t' debut is also present on 'Mirror of souls', but I think the songs are even better and more consistently catchy on this CD. Just like the debut, the CD's base style is melodic power metal, but there's a progressive side and as with most power metal bands, some epic and symphonic elements as well. The guitar work is especially catchy (quite crunchy at times) and there are some terrific guitar solos too, and combined with the many excellent choruses (which are complete with lots of backing vocals), make for a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable listen.

Just like with the debut, the lyrical theme of 'Mirror of souls' is based on Christianity, but nothing is over the top (a la HB) and for those who aren't into Christian bands, know that the lyrics shouldn't deter you from checking out this CD. My favorite song is the ultra-catchy track 7 "Martyr", but there isn't one song that comes close to being merely average. Almost surprisingly, I really like the closer "Mirror of souls" (title track), which is nearly 23 minutes long and is almost something you'd expect from a pure progressive metal band. It works though, and remains interesting throughout, as there are many changes in tempo and it's full of hooks.

So we end up with an excellent 2nd CD that was long-awaited, but fans of the debut have probably been patient and they can easily consider buying this blindly, as there really isn't anything different from the debut, it's just that every aspect of this CD is even better.




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