Review by Rob Broom for MPM
Essential, pounding full on metal from the USA based 5 piece.
Mosaic is Theocracy’s fifth album. I hadn’t heard of them before and what a titanic surprise. Theocracy is an interesting name for a band.
The dictionary definition is that of ‘a country ruled by religious leaders’ or ‘government by divine guidance’.
In Theocracy’s case it’s more of the latter and that would be a mix of Christian and Spiritual beliefs. That background flows into the lyrics across the album, enabling intelligent, thoughtful heavy metal dealing with loss, legacy and life, but make no mistake, in places this album is simply epically heavy, as in slam dunk thunderously heavy!
The album opens with ‘Flicker’. Instantly you are captured by Matt Smiths vocals (of which more later) and the attacking style of the music. There are riffs aplenty as the song deals with a sense of belonging and struts along with authority. Great start!
Second track ‘Anonymous’ is a heavy pounding assault. Drummer Ernie Topran is clearly laying down a drumming mission statement as he furiously hammers away! How he can keep that pace up throughout a live gig must be a feat to behold!
‘Mosaic’ starts gently and then gallops off on an Iron Maidenlike set of riffs and drums before taking on its own identity with some head shaking guitar riffs.
The souring vocals really stand out here and across the album they often remind me of a cross between Europe and Styx. Powerfully delivered by Matt Smith the vocals are able to convey emotion yet still handle all the traditionally expected rock vocal stereotypes. Superb stirring stuff!
The next 4 songs – ‘Sinsidious (Dogs Of War)’, ‘Return To Dust’, ‘The Sixth Great Extinction’ and ‘Deified’ – all follow a similar format of bombastic guitar riffs and solos from both Jonathan Hinds and Taylor Washington, pounding drums, Jared Oldhams rock solid bass and more terrific vocals from Matt Smith.
They do do not all sound the same though, far from it. They each have their own identity varying from mid range crushers to full on, frantic, near thrashing metal. There is even the occasional moment which made me think of Rush on steroids!! Indeed, the only ‘problem’ is actually picking out a favourite as all of them are very, very good!
On the eighth track the pace slows down dramatically with ‘The Greatest Hope’. Now while steering into rock ballad territory musically, lyrically the song is far much more. Dealing with loss, I am sure some will find great solace in what is not only a magnificent, well crafted piece of music, but is also the first of three really triumphant songs.
The Greatest Hope’ is the lull before the storm, drawing you in before the real thunder breaks. Yes, you read that right, what is already a heavy booming album is just warming up and after this brief emotional respite we now get hit with the final two songs.
First of these, ‘Liar, Fool, Or Messiah’ broadly sounds like Iron Maiden meets Metallica, but as lyrically it asks mature questions the song also – like the earlier ‘Mosaic’ – seizes upon its own identity and absolutely does not let up. Arguably, it is my personal favourite on the album, on lesser albums this would make a great album closer, but then there is still one song to go on ‘Mosaic’ and it is an absolute monster.
Album closer ‘Red Sea’ is a titanic, sprawling, 19 minute epic. Never dull, this holds your attention with a crushing opening section setting the scene, the lyrics straight out of the Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden or Manowar playbook.
You are right there as the Red Sea parts and then closes. The Iron Maiden comparison remains as segments certainly sound Maidenlike, but faster and more frantic. It is a truly stirring, cinematic climax to an excellent album.
With this album Theocracy have certainly delivered the heavy metal goods. In what is already a crowded 2023 of excellent albums, this is yet another one to add to the list. If, like me, metal is your thing then you should do your collection a favour and add ‘Mosaic’ to it today.
Mosaic – Track Listing:
04. Sinsidious (The Dogs Of War)
05. Return To Dust
06. The Sixth Great Extinction
08. The Greatest Hope
09. Liar, Fool, Or Messiah
10. Red Sea
Matt Smith | lead & backing vocals
Jonathan Hinds | guitars, backing vocals
Taylor Washington | guitars, backing vocals
Jared Oldham | bass, backing vocals
Ernie Topran | drums