Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theocracy: As the World Bleeds (2011)


There is an entire parallel universe of Christian popular culture out there. They have Christian music, books, and movies in every genre (save pornography, I think). It was a pretty big deal at my alma mater, a place where the weekly "Praise" sing-along was the central social event, or so I gathered, having never gone myself. Most of the time this kind of thing is wholly insulated from the rest of pop culture, although the occasional crossover does become successful (Amy Grant, Left Behind, etc.). The problem with most of it is that it's message first, art second. It's also generally intended to offend as little as possible (even though offense is sure to be made if Christian doctrine is to be strictly interpreted), and be uplifting, and those attitudes bleed further into the art itself. In the case of metal, that often strips away the danger of the music, a necessary element.

But Theocracy aren't overly concerned about causing offense. They address Luther's 95 Theses, a topic sure to offend Catholics. They also address the doctrine of Original Sin, surely offending the many Christians who don't accept the doctrine (the popular Left Behind books assume it's incorrect). So Theocracy successfully jumped a major hurdle in the path of a Christian metal band.

But there's another major pitfall that stands in the path of As the World Bleeds. Progressive metal bands in the Dream Theater vein often make music that's designed to appeal to music students more than metalheads. Technical proficiency and sounding epic take precedence over writing good songs. Sadly, Theocracy jumped the hurdle only to fall into the pit along the progressive metal path.

So, it's kind of like Dream Theater when they're not at their best. The lyrics are OK--the title track makes a good point about how it makes no sense to blame God for the consequences of our own free will--but without the music to back it up, then what's the point? If you wanted to learn that, I'd point you to a secondhand copy of The Problem of Pain, not As the World Bleeds.

The Verdict: I recall liking Theocracy's previous album, but I haven't listened to it in quite some time. The musicianship here is stunning, but that's not enough. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.


  1. Christian pornography would be interesting...

  2. According to the review I link to Burial Earth has 'Christian influences' (whatever that means). The music is pretty solid, so check it out.

  3. I'm kind of disappointed in this review. You hardly talk about the music at all. You do realize that this is progressive POWER metal right? Only very, VERY occasionally does it sound remotely like Dream Theater, and even that at something of a stretch. Despite the subject matter, this is much more comparable to stuff like Edguy, Dragonland, etc.

    I notice you don't review much power metal, so this may well be a product of that.

  4. "Technical proficiency and sounding epic take precedence over writing good songs."

    I thought that was sufficient discussion of the music. You're right, I don't review a lot of power metal, because most of it sucks. That has hampered me when I do choose to review it, I will admit.