HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Theocracy- Theocracy
(Metal Ages)

Theocracy is the one man band domain of a certain Matt Smith, and as usual, I'm always amazed one guy can have so much talent, although that talent falls short in the drum department, Matt going for passable programming instead. What Matt gets up to is very melodic, keyboard-glossed power metal of an almost Italian nature, o'er which he places a Bible-based concept story (Matt's definitely full-on Christian). Bits of this sound like perfumigated Maiden (and Rainbow, and Riot) melody-wise, with key qualities being the arrangements (not much shred), the bombast, and Matt's perfect for power metal vocals, the guy emoting fully, creating drama for these ebbing and flowing tracks. Huge and picturesque, somewhere in the old Labyrinth, Rhapsody, Blind Guardian end of things. Solid, impressive for one guy, but loses a bit on the drum issue and the subsequent lack of bottom end. Plus hey, I'm just not a huge fan of pomp this plush.
Rating 7

Foghat - Decades Live

Folks my vintage include Foghat (along with Thin Lizzy, Kiss, Judas Priest, Pat Travers and UFO) when gittin' porch-sittin' and talkin' about the best live albums from the '70s. Decades Live is your inkling that we were right, the hard-ass boogie and blues metal UK/US transplant getting down to business, anchor of the two CD set being an 11 track concert in Bakersfield, 1996, before the death of leader Lonesome Dave Peverett from cancer in February 2000. I don't appreciate the blues jam stretches here, but man, Stone Blue, Drivin' Wheel, Fool For The City and the immortal Slow Ride sound blistering (don't forget: this is all classic line-up material, save for the '99 track). Elsewhere, it's odds 'n' sods for a yawner of an I Ain't Got You cover from a special blues show in '77, four more tracks from '80 (highlight: Eight Days On The Road), Angel Of Mercy from '99 and very nice soul ballad It's Too Late from '99. All told, it's a bit of a disappointing song selection, but the sound grabs you by the throat, and hey... this is where you really get to see the love of the blues inherent in the band, especially with Dave, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the form.
Rating 7

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