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Therion - Lemuria CD (album) cover

LEMURIA

Therion

 

Progressive Metal

3.89 | 102 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Set in a lost land, population 170

After the release of the 2001 concept album "Secret of the Runes", Therion toured extensively to promote that album. A live set was released in 2002 containing material recorded on the tour, but it would be a further 2 years before the next studio release was ready. Band leader Christofer Johnsson and permanent members Johan and Kristian Niemann had however been busy writing material for the new album, reportedly finding they had 55 new songs by the time they arrived in the studio. As a result, not one, but two albums were recorded. While these were initially released as a twin package, they are generally regarded as separate albums, and are now marketed apart (in much the same way as Bruce Springsteen's "Lucky town" and "Human touch"). Do not be mistaken in thinking that these are two full CD length albums though, while "Sirius B" is a respectable hour or so, this album runs to a rather paltry 42 minutes.

In an admirable nod to all the excesses that make prog the unique genre it is, no less than 170 musicians were brought together to work on "Lemuria" and "Sirius B". Apart from the now obligatory choir and orchestra, probably the most interesting of these is the return of former drummer Piotr Wawrzeniuk (who also appeared on the bonus tracks on the previous album) to sing on several tracks. The album's title relates to a mysterious lost land which provides the loose concept for the album. As usual, the lyrics are written by Thomas Karlsson.

The excesses of the production are briefly forgotten as heavy guitar riffs introduce "Typhon". Soon though the operatic vocals are up and running. Surprisingly though we also find some growling by Christoffer Johnsson making a reappearance for the first time since the band's early albums. The track makes for a spirited opener, with good lead guitar accentuating the upbeat nature of the song. "Uthark Runa" has a slightly slower pace, the marching drums which introduce the track giving way to lead vocals by guest Mats Levén. These first two tracks, while featuring the now usual operatic vocals, are unusually straightforward compared to what we have come to expect from Therion.

The two part "Three Ships of Berik" only runs to 4 minutes in total, but it is the first real introduction to the orchestra. Once again, growling returns, but here it is set against a pulsating wall of sound with guitar, massed vocals and orchestration competing for centre stage.

The title track changes the mood completely. Here, acoustic guitar accompanies solo female operatic vocal, the song evolving into a delightful chorale. Piotr Wawrzeniuk adds a fine, slightly distorted voice to the proceedings. The oddly named "Quetzalcoatl" continues in a similar vein to "Three Ships of Berik", the vocals becoming increasingly theatrical. "The Dreams of Swedenborg" finds Wawrzeniuk making his second vocal contribution, the track being much more rock orientated than its peers. We still have the female vocals, but here they are in a strictly supporting role.

A ticking beat and soprano voice introduce "An Arrow From The Sun" before lead guitar introduces an orthodox Therion number. "Abraxas" pounds along to a highly infectious rhythm, the vocal arrangement here is the finest on the album. The album closes with "Feuer Overtüre / Prometheus Entfesselt", which features lyrics in German. Wawrzeniuk makes a final appearance, his distinctive voice sitting well with the rock orientation of the song.

Despite the massed line up "Lemuria", more than its twin "Sirius B", signals a pulling back from the theatrical orchestration and operatics which have been a feature of recent Therion albums. This trend would continue on the following studio album. For me, some of the tracks therefore have a feeling of being a underdeveloped, something also reflected in their brevity individually and collectively. There is still much to enjoy here, but I find overall "Lemuria" does not achieve the magnificent standards set by its immediate predecessors.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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