THEOCRACY – Climb Aboard The “Ghost Ship”
November 1, 2016, a year ago
Initially germinating as a one-man project, Georgia Christian power metal band Theocracy was built from the ground up by Matt Smith. On Theocracy’s 2003 debut self-titled album, Smith handled all the vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drum programming. He even produced, engineered and mixed the album. Rounding out the band is guitarists Val Allen Wood and Jonathan Hinds and bassist Jared Oldham.
“I always wanted it to be a five piece, even in the early days," Smith said. “Once we started playing live, I was singing and playing guitar at the same time, which wasn’t very much fun. I grew up in Athens, GA, which is a college town, but there wasn’t really a metal scene, especially not the kind of stuff we do. So it was a solo effort almost out of necessity. Just the fact that I didn’t know any musicians that played metal where I lived. It took a while to eventually get to the full five-piece lineup, but here we are and it feels right for sure.”
On its fourth full-length album, Ghost Ship (released October 28th via Ulterium Records), Theocracy has created a dazzling display of Euro-flavored Christian power metal.
“That’s one of the reasons I started the band is to have a Christian version of something that I liked to listen to,” Smith said. “The secular bands were a bigger influence on me, and that’s not to take anything away from the great Christian bands that came before and opened the doors for us.”
Honestly, most metal fans don’t like, or give, Christian metal a chance because they don’t want to be preached to. On Ghost Ship, it seems the band toned down the God-loving message compared to the band’s previous releases.
“I’ve never sat down and examined it,” he said. “The only thing I’ll say that was maybe conscious was As The World Bleeds at times I believe, was a little harsh in its message. Which I stand by because I think it was necessary. But this time I wanted to be a little more encouraging. It was really inspired by a lot of people we met on the road and hearing their stories. I think that’s the thread that runs through a lot of (the album).”
There’s a massive amount of quality in the ten tracks on Ghost Ship. Every track has something awesome to offer; whether it be the soaring vocal harmonies, Smith’s incredible vocals, hooky choruses or melodic guitar solos, Theocracy has all the bases covered.
“Originally when I was kicking around new ideas I was thinking about doing a concept album, but I ended up hitting a wall and wasn’t happy with it,” Smith stated. “So I shelved that idea and started working on other ideas. Every song has a root in something that happened to me or something that happened to a friend of mine. So there’s always an emotional thread to latch onto for me. And I think that translates. A good song is a good song, even if people don’t agree with our message.”
As on previous Theocracy releases, Smith handled the production, engineering and mixing of Ghost Ship. Smith prefers to wear all of these hats and sees it as a challenge. And once you here the robust production values of Ghost Ship, you’ll be convinced that Smith knows what he’s doing in that department as well.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the sound of records and exploring the mystery of the studio,” Smith said. “Out of necessity of doing it all my own on my cassette four-track, it all went hand-in-hand for me. I still love that part of it and it’s a big challenge for me every time to try and outdo what we did last time, sonically. I try to take what I’ve learned from the last Theocracy album and push the envelope a little bit further in making things sound great.”
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(Photo by: Clarissa Lueg)