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Therion - Gothic Kabbalah CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.56 | 95 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great album, a change in style.

Therion has always been a band I have respected and one of those groups the music from which I always expect to dazzle me, and they have delivered most every time I purchased their releases. THELI was a masterpiece of mixing death-metal and power-metal with choirs, operatic singers and bombastic orchestral sounds; DEGGIAL, for me their best album, took that same musical idea to the next level, loosing the power-metal connections a little bit while adding even more orchestral sounds and practically eliminating from the sound experience the presence of regular vocalists and relying almost completely on choirs; LEMURIA showcased a band trying hard to "metallize" back their music but not quite accomplishing that; SIRIUS B, the album I like the least from those I've heard and own, was a return to metal of sorts, but lacking the melody, the impossing atmospheres and the equilibrium of DEGIIAL or even of its companion piece. Now there's a new kid in town, GOTHIC KABBALAH. How does it fare?

For me, it's almost a total success. The album constitutes a departure from the style Therion got us used to in favor of a simpler, but also more direct one. The album, this time contained in two discs, represents the most abrupt change in Therion's history since THELI broke away from death metal into true prog-metal glory. The most noticeable changes are:

1) First, there's an emphasis in rock-styled singers and vocalists, and we have almost no choirs to speak about. There are still some passages where choral melodies are the dominant key, but those are few and far between, as opposed to an album like DEGGIAL where the same could be said but about rock-singers.

2) The band now has a female vocalist that sings all throughout the record and gives it unity and a sense of balance. Her voice is very likeable and much in the vein of Ayreon's various female-singers.

3) Probably the most important change, Johnson is no longer the main composer of the music, but now he shares credentials with Johann Niemann, Peter Karlsson and others. That's a refreshing change for, as experienced in SIRIUS B, the terrific swede-master was running out of ideas, and he was in desperate need of an influx of musical adrenaline.

4) The instrumentation itself: the orchestral passages we used to have in earlier releases are used to a lesser extent in here, but we still have the pleasure of listening to some classical instruments here and there, mostly the flute (The keyboards take the place of a large orchestra in some parts, with their powerful sound).

5) The music: instead of pure speed and violence, now we get some calmer moments, now we get more regular-styled songs, now we hear more of a mix of power-metal with death- metal and prog-metal. Yes, this is a true prog-metal album by Therion, and their music now tends more towards the metal side of things than to the bombastic side. The band's new approach has a lot in common with Ayreon. In fact, one can say that this album sound like a heavier, darker, less-conceptual but more direct version of Lucassen's band. The diverse number of singers and female vocalists and the various moods the music take us over are a clear proof of that.

6) The lyrics: now they deal with everyday's problems and they even talk about lighter feelings like love, passion .... No, that's not true. The lyrics haven't changed a bit. Thomas Karlsson's "Encyclopedia of Paganism and obscure cults" is still the main (only) focus of the songs, and I'm sure we can expect for this to never ever change, for it's part of Therion's deepest essence.

My favorite songs from this double album are" Der Mitternachtsl÷we", "Son of the Staves of Time" with the incredibly unsual light mood of its chorus, "Trul", but most of all, the title track, "Gothic Kabbalah", the closest Therion will ever come to a commercial-sounding track, with its catchy chorus and its Ayreon-esque flavor. My only complaint against this album: while the first disc is absolutely fantastic and worthy of 5 stars, the second one leaves a little bit to be desired for it gets tiresome quickly when the band seemst to try to get back to the SIRIUS B formula of direction-less heavy-metal, but here with no bombastic elements to confuse us into believeing we're hearing something better than what we actually are.

4 stars. Could've been 5. For me, better than LEMURIA and SIRIUS, very close to THELI but still inferior to masterpiece DEGGIAL.

Recommended for: Fans of prog-metal a la Ayreon but heavier; fans of prog-metal in general; fans of dark music with female singers; fans of good music.

Not recommended for: Most of all, people who can't stand metal, of course. But also people who reject any idea of paganism and dark cults and religions....

... this is truly NO christian metal.

But it's good.

The T | 4/5 |


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