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5 stars This is one of the best albums in the history of metal. Or any kind of music, actually. It's majestic, grandiouse, and beautiful at the same time. It's mixture of Heavy Metal, Classical music, and Opera is amazingly good. Every genre of music in this CD fits with one another. This CD is a must have, for any fan of any type of music.
Report this review (#31013)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to assume that you are curious or at least mildly interested in Therion, or you wouldn't have pulled this review up. Therefore, I'd like to say some things before I get started. First I want you to have an open mind, not because Therion's music is weird but because it isn't weird. If you've got some preconceived idea that their music consists of brutal screaming, growling Death/Black metal, that couldn't be farther from the truth. What is this music? It is thoughtful, lush, exciting, melodious, unique, bombastic, grandiose and classical. If you like your music simple, move on, you won't like this. Therion's music is complex, almost as complex as all of the symphonies or operas you've most likely heard.

If you like or at least appreciate the classics, there's a good chance you'll like Theli. If you like your heavy metal with an edge and more progressive like Dream Theater or Yes, then you also might like Theli. If you like the classics and metal you can't miss, you'll love Theli. Theli and subsequent Therion releases combine Heavy Metal on one hand and Classic/Opera on the other perfectly by amalgamating these polar opposites into an amazing symbiosis.

Theli "Preludium", 1:43, A short overture featuring organ, synth and a plunky guitar.

"To Mega Therion", 6:34, Although the music is heavenly, some of the lyrics are kind of scary, dealing with mythology and ancient gods, a sample - "Powers of Thagirion, Watch the great beast to be, For to Mega Therion, The draconian melody, The dragon open the eye, And reveal both truth and lie". The lyrics are mostly sung by the choir and are difficult to understand. This song contains a medium tempo and features the choir almost from beginning to end. Keyboards are also featured prominently.

"Cults of the Shadow", 5.14, The metal elements of Therion show themselves in the beginning, before the choir and orchestra kick in through this medium paced song.

"In the Desert of Set", 5:29, A little slower more purposeful beat wit the male and female choir members singing separate parts. there is also solo singing on this and the preceding song. The song has a stronger metal feeling as well.

"Interludium", 1:47, A continuation of the opening overture.

"Nightside of Eden", 7:32, A darker deliberate sound, medium slow tempo, with a variety of singing and instrumentation.

"Opus Eclipse", 3.39, an instrumental with a heavy bass guitar feeling responding to the choir and the violins.

"Invocation of Naamah", 5:31, Very heavy metal piece but the choirs make it feel like an opera.

"The Siren of the Woods", 9:55, Being almost almost ten minutes long this song starts out slowly with a pretty, ethereal melody played by guitars and keyboards and vocalized by a restrained choir and male and female solos. At about the 5 minutes mark it changes it's texture and takes on a delicious bombastic attitude which includes a lovely piano lead while still keeping the medium slow pace.

"Grande Finale / Postludium", 4:04, could not have a more appropriate name, an instrumental, with its soaring violins countering dark ominous bass sounds. This is probably my favorite.

Report this review (#31017)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is where I first made my entry into metal *belch*, and it may be unwise to say this to a community of self-indulgent fish friers but this album seemed to me then as if it was sent from some angel claw, who in turn received it from a muddy space blob, in turn who received it from...who knows? How far back can you go? This is beyond thought, if there was such a thing termed as "cool ethereal", this would be it. As young as I was, I had never commuted with such unheard of sounds, and I thought it then more likely to comprehend the birth of these sounds from something other than the flesh, something other than the law of instrumentation.

I see in the above reviews, the songs have been covered, but I'd like to add in saying that this album as whole can't really be desrcibed on numbered song terms, as everything musically adds and compliments each other to such a point of extent that it's hard to make way of the the quality of the songs. This to me is their most brilliant of works, you'll find richness in their later albums too as far as quality goes (where they take a more choirish symphonical route), but this album contains just so much more. The lyrics are interesting, as normally i'd hate unclear ethereal prose (as is in style to do), but on this occasion it would be blasphemous to act on such economic style movements as the lyrics here- not only contributes, but also takes shape. You'll need the lyrics as the choirs can often sound unclear (as is with most quires). The lyrics of "The Siren of The Woods" is not published, and can only be found in rare collector's fan clubs, and I want to take this time to contradict my earlier self in saying that this has proved to be without a doubt one of the the most important, most pleasing and most fascinating songs that I have ever come across.

Before you go out to purchase it, I'd like to say the following requirements that you'll be needing in the liberation of this album (and if you don't meet them, go out and pruchase it anyway): 1. You have to be openminded (as most prog fans are), but here you'll need to adapt to "growls" which shows itself on a minimal basis, they aren't harsh. If you dsilike growl, who cares? This adds to the agressiveness, the impurity (followed by some negative words) which is needed in SOME of the parts to make this the special album that it ought to be. 2. To a certain sense this is almost avantgarde in its uniquenes of sound, so if you're not in the perfect rested state that every human being was meant to be, you'll have to give it a few listens to find the setting. 3. You have to appreciate beauty when it's in your face, forget about your fad moral ground basis for beauty and make love to this album!!!!!!!

Report this review (#31018)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent Gothic Heavy-progressive Metal Opera, great symphonic elements, nice piano interludes, with great and varied gutiar work throughout. The speed, mood and progression of the music is varied and never bogs down in similar sounding racket. Though not overly technical, the music seems quite well played and well written. The vocals are "Opera" style for the most part with solos, and choral parts as well. There is an occasional ruff- growling metal solo male vocal here and there as well. If you like the genre I would imagine you will be pleased with this album.
Report this review (#31019)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is surely one of the best Therion's albums... together with Vovin of course. A must have for all Therion fans! An amazing fusion of metal with classical music instruments and epic choirs. You can feel the power and majesty of Therion's sound flowing through your speakers. It's impossible do describe, you only have to listen to it! Don't miss it!
Report this review (#48046)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a "MUST' for anyone who on the one hand loves "Opera" and on the other hand progressive rock. There has never been a better synthesis of both! As a huge fan of Yes and also of opera (Verdi, Puccini) I can say that I'm totally into this music. Commenting on every individual "song" or "track" is not my style. So I'll just give you an impression of what I hear when I listen to this record. From the beginning "Preludium" right thru the end "Postludium" it's a feast. Highpoints are "To Mega Therion" and "Siren of the Woods" allthough there is NOT ONE weak track on this disk. Highly reccomended if you are into classical music and progressive rock! This type of progressive rock is highly underrated at this site!
Report this review (#59672)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is really the album that introduced Therion to a much larger audience. The band had the opportunity to record songs they wrote many years before (for the most part) but never went able to (mainly because of budget problems). The music mixes classic heavy metal with opera singing, and "Theli" is probably the album that started the symphonic metal genre. Highly recommended.

"Preludium", "Interludium", "Opus Eclipse" and "Grand Finale / Postludium" are the instrumental songs on this album - great melodic pieces. "To Mega Therion" starts with the choir and then Christofer Johnsson's hardcore voice - the music is operatic with a lot of keyboards. "Cults Of The Shadow" features vocal performances by Piotr Wawrzeniuk (who plays drums - but what a voice!) and guest Dan Swano (a great idea by the way to ask the man to do some vocals here - his clean voice perfectly fits) - very operatic song again, catchy melody, almost joyful. "In The Desert Of Set" and "Nightside Of Eden" continue in the same style, but the melody is much darker. "Invocation Of Naamah" is the raw track on the album - very heavy power/speed metal. About "The Siren Of The Woods", I don't know what to say... except that it's one in my top 10 favorites of all time. The melody is beautiful, the vocals are very emotional - makes me think that this song would perfectly fit the Beren & Luthien story if that part from the Silmarillion had to be translated into music.

Rating: 91/100

Report this review (#66704)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is extraorninary with a lot of opera elements meets prog metal. Not an every day music i might say, Therion combines so well opera with metal elements that made this album to be a masterpiece of music in general. Great voice from Edge of Sanity master Dan Swano, he add a new mood to the pieces where is singing like Nightside of Eden. Absolute stunning album, better than previous one, and at the same level with Vovin. Best tracks:all but Nightside of Eden is minblowing. 5 stars without hesitation, a must for metal fans.
Report this review (#146374)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My apologies to all Therion fans out there - I don't mean to be rude. But there are so many albums out there that are simply one or two magnitudes better than this. Still, you have to give them some credits for being the first band to combine classical music and metal ... theoretically Malmsteen was first by inventing neoclassical metal, but Therion go one step further and introduce operatic vocals, choirs and orchestral instrumentation (sparsely and simulated by keyboards/synthesizers, but it's there).

I'm giving this album 2.5 stars ... there are many Therion albums which I would recommend instead. If you want to explore the history of symphonic metal then you should definitely check out this one, otherwise I'd recommend you start with Gothic Kabbalah or Lemuria/Sirius B.

Report this review (#148113)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars This album is just splendid... If you like Symphonic Metal, you need this Therion little classic!

The fact I like most from this album, is that every track is interesting... There is no weak songs here, just great compositions, with smart arrangements, wich make-up the lack of a better production. The sound is not bad, but it's not so luxurious like later Therion productions.

But the really important fact is here: the stunning quality of the songs, and the fresh ideas this band showed to the metal community... Some metal bands had experimented with symphonic arrangements before Therion did, like Devil Doll and Symphony X, but with Theli (and also the previous Lepaca Kliffoth) the swedish band showed the path to make a really coherent and perfect mix between classical music, metal and some folk elements.

This open-minded approach to metal, allows Theli being a really variated album. The interest towards this collection of songs increase with every listening... The epic opener To Mega Therion, the 70's keyboard oriented Cults of the Shadow, the oriental influences in In the Desert of Set, the 80's gothic sounding Nightside of Eden, the symphonic and semi-pastoral Siren of the Woods ballad, the classic heavy metal influenced Invocation of Naamah... This album is really rich! If you think prog-metal is repetitive or it lacks from ideas, then you should try Theli, and your mind will change.

Best songs: Cults of the Shadow (the keyboards work is great, like the deep Dan Swanö's voice wich appears here... I also like the hard riffing in the instrumental interlude!), In the Desert of Set (great singing here... The oriental feeling remembers me a bit to the masters Orphaned Land!), Nightside of Eden (I think in Fields of the Nephilim or even The Cure hearing this bass lines!) and The Siren of the Woods (just a great succession of marvellous melodies!)

Conclusion: gothic influences, classical music with opera choirs and bel-canto singing, pure classical heavy metal, 70's keyboards, some extreme metal influences... If you like metal, and specially if you are an open-minded heavy lover, then you will surely enjoy Theli. This album has almost everything you can dream, but accomplished in a really coherent and original way. Listening this album, you can understand why the symphonic metal has developed itself in this way in the last decade... Because it's a milestone in this genre! Highly recommended.

My rating: ****1/2

Report this review (#174006)
Posted Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By all the usual rules of music this should be terrible. Late 80's/ early 90's metal, plus taking themselves too seriously, almost always equals an unlistenable abortion of an album. Not only that, but bands that base their lyrics around a questionable cosmology or ideology generally alienate themselves from listeners unless the music is really fascinating (right, Zeuhl fans?).

So why do I like Therion so much? It's not for the musicianship; while at least competent and occasionally impressive, none of the players are exactly grandmasters of their respective instruments. Song structure, and melodic and rhythmic devices, are generally predictable rather than innovative. If you've had any exposure to symphonic metal, you probably know most of the elements that Therion throw into the mix (power chords, classical embellishments, and the urge to salute or make a sacrifice). If you like the genre already, Therion is probably a foregone conclusion for you; if you don't like the genre, there's probably nothing I could tell you about Therion would be enough to convince you.

I share your (imagined) reluctance; however, Therion is indeed a Very Good Band, and Theli is what I consider to be one of their finest albums, or at the very least the first fine album that features their matured sound. In classic concept album form, it begins with an intro and ends with a conclusion and maintains a thematic and stylistic consistency throughout. There is no extended narrative that truly ties the songs together, but it still manages to take you on a wonderful mystic metallic journey.

Highlights? To Mega Therion is a powerful and energetic song, worthy of being the band's signature; each weapon in their arsenal is used with devastating precision. This includes both male and female vocals, solo and choral, and the trademark roar of Christofer (one of the last songs he actually sings on, for better or worse - in my opinion it's perfect for The world will burn!). In the Desert of Set is also a personal favorite, with faux-Eqyptian metal riffage (a beloved tool of metal bands from Maiden to Nile) and a downright catchy refrain. Invocation of Naamah is an excellent example of the band's style and strengths, alternately pounding and symphonic. And without a doubt, the slight re-working of Siren of the Woods only improves an already haunting and anthemic gem of a song.

Lowlights? Well, Nightside of Eden has its ups and downs. The slightly spoken, growling vocals come as a blow to anyone desperately trying to forget the legion of Marylin Manson soundalikes that cropped up in the 90's, but the song itself is not bad...but nothing really special. The musical bookends are decent, though also nothing special...Interludium is pretty rockin'. And the black magic/ gnostic saturation of the lyrics are not for everyone's taste (and even pagan goths may struggle to love the veritable bucket of advice? Listen with at least something like Wikipedia handy).

All in all, I like Theli very much...but can I recommend it? Hard to say. If Symphonic Metal is your thing, there are few bands who are better at it. I'm not usually a fan of the genre, but if all the bands were this good I might re-think my stance. Even if you usually run from metal-plus bands, give Theli (or Lemura/ Sirius B) a listen, and maybe a few more listens to see if it grows on you. I'm personally very glad that I let Therion overcome my many objections. Four stars for metalheads, three for the average progger.

Report this review (#206744)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Opening night at the opera

Those familiar with Anathema's transition from a niche market death metal band to a marketable outfit making high quality, tasteful albums will understand what I mean when I say this is the album where Therion did the same thing.

Right from the opening "Preludium" we are presented with something far more palatable and easily digested than anything the band have recorded up to now. Choirs, orchestrations and keyboards abound throughout, while operatic vocals and symphonic sounds become the order of the day. In retrospect, band leader Christofer Johnsson says that he had dreamed of making this album for several years, and had kept songs back from previous albums until he had the budget to do them justice.

The music is, as it always has been and always will be, rooted in metal and heavy rock, but from now on that would be the base for the music rather than its raison d'etre. "To mega Therion" (the title referring to the band's previous name), swims in galloping operatic choirs, while Christofer Johnsson throws in his more orthodox semi-shouted vocals. Lead guitar and layered keyboards drift in and out in a wonderful cacophony which sums up the album in 6½ minutes. "Cults of the shadows" moves even further into the operatic metal sounds which Therion would exploit on all later albums, with the following "In the desert of set" maintaining the momentum.

The album is neatly divided into two by the brief "Interludium", where the Mike Sammes singers appear to meet "Abadon's bolero". The later half of "Theli" finds the confidence of the band increasing rapidly. Both the 7½ minute "Nightside of Eden" and the 10 minute "The Siren of the Woods" are statements made by a band who have finally found a unique identity, and one with which they can be comfortable. (We should of course bear in mind that Therion is very much the brainchild of Christofer Johnsson, who remains the prime architect of the development of Therion even today). "Nightside of Eden" manages to combine what would reasonably be considered complete opposites of vocal styles, with Johnsson's developing but raw singing combining perfectly with choral female voices.

The aforementioned "The siren of the woods" is a truly majestic composition. Beginning as a wonderful acoustic passage, as the sound builds, we are led to expect the usual intrusion of heavy riffs. Instead, we are treated to a quite delightful female/male vocal passage full of tastefulness and beauty. Triumphant fanfares join in as Gothic chants take over and the guitar riffs finally appear. It is all quite overwhelming and magnificent. My only complaint: the track fades rather than reaching an appropriate climax.

The album closes with "Grand Finale / Postludium", a swirling, thundering romp to the end. If there is a weaker track on the album, it is "Opus eclipse", which largely reverts to the style of the previous album. Even here though, the difference in terms of arrangement and performance is palpable.

In summary, this really is where to start with Therion. "Theli" is a magical statement of intent from a band who would go on to make many fine albums. Those who find bands such as Rhapsody too cheesy, or the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation too mainstream, should try this album as an alternative. It may be just what you are looking for.

Report this review (#251411)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Before they got into the business of cloning themselves, Therion made quite an interesting appearance on the extensive 90's metal scene. With Theli, Therion reached the end of their progression from a Celtic Frost replica into a highly influential blend of Celtic Frost's pioneering theatrical tendencies with an equal amount of Metallica thrash metal and Sisters of Mercy gothic rock.

Therion will probably not charm you much if you expect great musicianship, both the riffing and the song writing is fairly straightforward. But it is applied to maximum effect: they don't repeat too much here, change tempo and melodies frequently enough and had plenty of ideas to keep your attention to the proceedings. Both the inspiration and the passion for what they were doing ran high in those days. The element that could make them appealing to progressive rock audiences is the addition of Beethoven-era classical influences and symphonic choruses. Celtic Frost pioneered this in metal but Therion apply it very effectively.

As happened with every remarkable heavy metal album from the 90's, also this one sprouted a multitude of look-alikes that would ape the style and clutter the metal scene for years to come. Nightwish, Within Temptation, After Forever and Therion themselves would turn this exciting approach into a commercially successful but artistically deficient self-parody. Before it got so far, Therion made this essential piece of music. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#251946)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars To Mega Therion

I picked this one up at my local record store for $0.99 because I thought I recognized the name of the band. And, for $0.99 how could I go wrong? At first I was a little disappointed wit hit because I wasn't big into symphonic metal. But after a few listens I grew to enjoy the album very much.

One of the best parts of this album are the vocalists. I like how Therion included the choirs since it adds a real nice tough to the tracks. The harmonies that the choirs offer are really cool, too. I prefer the choirs, actually, more than the voice of the main vocalist, Christofer Johnsson. Especially on the track "To Mega Therion" where Christofer Johnsson just fells like he's straining to get the vocals out of his throat. But, on the other hand, the choirs always seem to fir in well with the band. Christofer Johnsson's style also reminds me a little of modern Mastodon's. Another thing that I didn't know about when I bought this album was that Dan Swanö was featured on "Cults of the Shadow" and "Nightside of Eden". Liking Swanö as much as I do, those two songs mad me enjoy this album even more.

"Cults of the Shadow" might just be my favorite song on the album. It starts off with a cool bas and keyboard rhythm which carries over into the wicked vocals of Dan Swanö. Throughout the track the guitars and drums are very solid. Near the end of the song, The North German Radio Choir takes up the same bass and keyboard riff that started the song, except they sing it, not play it.

Overall this is a very solid album by Therion. The instrumental sections are great, along with great guest vocalists; Dan Swanö, The North German Radio Choir, and The Siren. The only thing I can find wrong with this album is that the guest singers are better than those that the band has to offer. One other thing is that most of the songs sound similar. This may be because the choirs all sound the same, but nonetheless this is an album well worth picking up. Therion gets 3.5 stars for one of their first symphonic prog metal albums.

Report this review (#403468)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Therion's Theli is a competent and compelling occult symphonic metal album which shows a more nuanced and subtle touch than more brash and direct groups in the subgenre. Therion had been experimenting a while at this point with integratin symphonic elements into their sound, but this is generally considered to be where they hit the turning point from being a progressively-minded death metal group with symphonic touches to a primarily symphonic metal group with a death metal aesthetic, and it deserves its reputation as a gem of their discography with its capable handling of the orchestra to an extent which many symphonic metal groups still struggle to match.
Report this review (#1153446)
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Having recently purchased the 2014 remastered and expanded edition, I have fallen under the spell of the mighty THERION with their landmark album THELI. This album has become one of the greatest representations of just how well a death metal band can retain the pummeling ferocity of their roots while totally integrating the symphonic tenderness of classical music and the pompousness of classical opera, thus in effect totally reinventing itself without losing what came before. After all, their very name THERION is a Greek word for "beast," and on this album THELI, which is the name of the great dragon in the ancient Jewish scripts of the Sefer Yetzirah, the band developed a totally new sound and although it can be a recipe that more often fails than triumphs, in THELI's case I would have to say it is an outstanding victory.

I think the reason why this whole thing works so well is because the band members didn't have the audacity to perform and create every new aspect of this music themselves. They incorporated a whole host of different players including not one but two choirs.... the North German Radio Choir and the Siren Choir. In addition to this we also get Dan Swano of Edge Of Santiy lending some guest vocals and many, many keyboardists covering a whole spectrum of sounds ranging from grand piano to symphonic progressive runs. Another wise decision was to incorporate the lyrical contributions of Thomas Karlsson as the sole writer of lyrics to provide the album with the esoteric feel that were derived from his mystical order called the Dragon Rouge. He would continue to be the lyricist from this point on.

On the remastered version we also get three bonus tracks, none of which are essential but pleasant as well as a DVD with the entirety of the album performed live in Budapest in 2007. A grand testimony to the efforts and ingenuity that went into the creation of this musical behemoth that hasn't aged badly at all and album that I love to listen to on regular basis. Mmmmmagnificent!

Report this review (#1206692)
Posted Monday, July 7, 2014 | Review Permalink

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