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Therion - Symphony Masses - Ho Drakon Ho Megas CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.33 | 50 ratings

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5 stars Symphony Masses is one of my absolute favourite Therion albums. Admittedly, it's no Theli, but it's excellent in its own right. The original artwork looks great, and the music sounds just as great. Christofer Johnsson has later stated that he "As the old members had left the band I tried all the weird ideas I had in my mind that the earlier members never would have accepted. Perhaps the most experimental album Therion ever did." Keep that in mind. It truly is an experimental album, and just as every other such experiment you either love it or you hate it.

It was an experiment in so many ways, and in a way an in-between album. The death metal-isms from Of Darkness and Beyond Sanctorum are still here, but the keyboard parts have been expanded, and elements have been collected from symphonic rock and heavy metal. All this makes Ho Drakon Ho Megas a very odd listen at first; sounding somewhat like experimental symphonic doom would do now, fifteen years later.

All the uncomercialisms and oddities made Symphony Masses flop, and led Therion to plan a split-up after Lepaca Kliffoth. People just didn't understand this piece of art. Perhaps bass solos aren't common enough to sell, I don't know. In truth, the bass on this album is special. Andreas Wahl gives us some solos, uncommon lines and is much higher in the mix than what's usual. It certainly adds to the character of this album.

More on, Therion became rather unfaithful to the death metal scene they used to dominate. There are signs of the things to come - Dark Princess Naamah is the first, but not the only song incorporating some very Therion-esque keyboard tones - especially in the intro. Still the death metal influences are apparent with grunted vocals, distortion and blastbeats.

The following description is bound to sound contradictive, but hey, if The Ritualdance of the Yezidis provides enough psychedelic oddities for an entire album, then you can barely imagine the full picture. Deep down (in some songs at least, A Black Rose for example) there's a tone of classical metal underneath a more modern, brutal exterior which is once again flavoured with exquisite keyboard tones. Basically they were changing inside out, and this resulted in quite a dynamic album where the classic Theli keyboards first surfaced - listen to Ho Drakon Ho Megas and tell me I'm wrong!

I might be one of the few persons liking every part of this album, from the bass solo which starts the slow, bass-marked Baal Reginon, to the mother of the pulsating keyboards to be heard in Therion's best song ever, Cults of the Shadow, Ho Drakon Ho Megas. If you only liked Therion for their pure, true death metal material, then this is probably not your cup of tea. If you're a fan of Deggial and have little taste in extreme metal at all, well then you shouldn't even touch the biscuit. If you appreciate Lepaca Kliffoth though, then you wouldn't want to miss this one.

Absolutely *****

Mogorva | 5/5 |


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