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GOTHIC KABBALAH

Therion

Progressive Metal


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Therion Gothic Kabbalah album cover
3.58 | 98 ratings | 10 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1 (38:25)
1. Der Mitternachtslöwe (5:38)
2. The Gothic Kabbalah (4:34)
3. The Perrennial Sophia (4:54)
4. Wisdom and the Cage (5:02)
5. Son of the Staves of Time (4:48)
6. Tuna 1613 (4:23)
7. Trul (5:11)
8. Close up the Streams (3:55)

CD2 (45:12)
9. Wand Of Abaris (5:52)
10. Three Treasures (5:21)
11. The Path To Arcady (3:55)
12. TOF - The Trinity (6:18)
13. Chain Of Minerva (5:21)
14. The Falling Stone (4:46)
15. Adulruna Rediviva (13:37)

Total Time: 83:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Christofer Johnsson / guitar, keyboards, programming
- Kristian Niemann / lead & rhythm guitars, keyboards
- Johan Niemann / bass, acoustic guitar
- Petter Karlsson / drums, percussion, guitar, keyboards, vocals

With:
- Mats Levén / vocals, guitar
- Snowy Shaw / vocals
- Katarina Lilja / vocals
- Hannah Holgersson / vocals
- Karin Fjellander / soprano vocals
- Anna Nyhlin / soprano vocals (11,14)
- Jonas Samuelsson-Nerbe / tenor vocals
- Ken Hensley / Hammond organ
- Joakim Svalberg / Hammond organ
- Rolf Pilotti / flute solo (2,7)
- Stefan Glaumann / tambourine

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

CDx2 Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 1780-2 (2007, Germany)

LPx2 Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 1780-1 (2007, Germany)

Thanks to A. F. Doyle for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THERION Gothic Kabbalah ratings distribution


3.58
(98 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (24%)
24%
Collectors/fans only (15%)
15%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

THERION Gothic Kabbalah reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars So another double CD set by Swedish operatic gothic masters Therion. I've to say I've been already not very much fascinated by the previous Lemuria/Sirius B set, just too pompous and overblown for my taste. I would say that they've passed their pinnacle since many years already which has been with albums like Theli and Vovin. That kind of music has been really something new and unique but just now they're only another band doing some bombastic operatic epic power metal in the vein of bands like Rhapsody or Nightwish which leaves me quite cold I must say. This is some nice music in a harder vein pleasant to listen maybe for once or twice as a background sound but anything outstanding let alone a masterpiece! 3 stars for that one since I'm in a good mood!
Review by semismart
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I havn't listened to Gothic Kabbalah closely, but I have played it constantly for the last three days, while I work. This is what I have observed and determined.

Gothic Kabbalah is Therion's second consecutive double disc album. It has a total playing time of a little over eighty-three minutes, a good value for the money. Therion's musical style on this disc is different than all previous releases. Not better, not worse, just different. I hesitate to say it's evolving at this point, but the music as a whole seems to be leaner, more accessible, more mainstream. I don't mean it's headed for top-forty land. I mean, that top forty aficionados would find Gothic Karbbalah more palatable than say, Theli of Volvin.

The bombast of the music was reduced as was the choir and orchestral work, if indeed an orchestra was used. In this day and age it's hard to tell. There is a greater emphasis female lead singer(s). Much more so than previously, probably in response to the femme metal phenomenon that is sweeping Europe, with groups like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and Epica to name a few. Personally, I like that. As a matter of fact, I like the whole album, but I don't love it!

Of the fifteen tracks on Gothic Kabbalah, only four tracks, ever caught my attention, enough to make me wonder what track it was and what the name was. I would say that these four songs, which consistently garnered my attention are, without a doubt five star songs. Upon further scrutiny there may be more but I doubt it. The following five songs are the highlight of the album:

. 'The Falling Stone' is a variable tempo, but mostly medium fast rock number, with a driving beat and a lady lead singer. It features an interesting staggered lead in and some effective choir work in the end. . 'T of - The Trinity' starts really fast, with some wild guitar playing in the beginning ant throughout. Again it's a variable speed song, which both male and female solos stand out among heavy choir singing. This song is a grabber. Not only my favorite song on the album but one of Therion's best songs on any album. . 'Der Mitternachtslowe' Another song with a female lead, this time with male backing vocals. Der Mitternachtslowe' features a chugging medium tempo rhythm, with more backing vocals than lead. I particularly like the way the girl singer's vocal is doubled up for the chorus. . 'Trul' The strange thing about this song is I can't get Blind Guardian out of my head when I hear Trul. The melody, arrangement and style, even down to the flute, reminds me of Hansi Kersch and company.

Conclusion

Add a couple other near five star songs like the fourteen minute Adulruna Rediviva and Son of the Stabes of Time, throw in a eight other three and four star songs and you have a nice but not great Therion album.

Review by 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 Mitternachtslöwe", "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.

Review by LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I have many times been told that this was a bad Therion album to start with. That doesn't change anything. It's not very good.

I'm all for bombastic metal projects with choirs and symphonies and all that. However, Therion seems to be missing something very important in this release. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is, but I'm guessing it has something to do with creativity or inspiration or memorability. Because when it comes down to it, most of this album is completely forgettable. While some of the vocals are quite impressive, and while the band does some neat sort of metal motions, we as the listeners here have ended up with a uniquely bland and unremarkable collection of the most standard progressive metal to be found. Not only that, but it runs far too long for the minimal interest it creates. If the band had chopped the total length down to maybe half the time and kept only the best parts, this album might be average.

There are some good songs here, though, enough to interest any fan of the band. Wisdom and the Cage, Tuna 1613, and The Falling Stone are all fairly neat. The only song that stands out, though, is the odd track Trul. The chorus features a rather long-winded vocal harmony between some female voices, and boy does it sound really good. This song and this song alone is the reason I do believe some people when they say that Therion is one of the best symphonic metal acts to come out of Sweden and possibly all of Europe. The rest of the songs, however, all blend together in varying levels of complete homogeny.

If you really like Therion, I imagine you'll enjoy this release, too. If you are into bands like Ayreon or Orphaned Land and think you've found a similar band, check twice or check elsewhere in their discography. While the levels of cheese may be on par with Ayreon's lyrics, I do not think you'll find the melodies or the use of multiple voices nearly as entertaining. Not a good place to start with this band, I have learned the fifteen-bucks-in-the-hole way.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One more great album of Therion. I can compare this Scandinavian invasion of early XX! century with similar action, just many years ago. It was Italian progressive from early 70-th. Hundreds of bans, very technical and melodical, in some sense the history's repeating now. OK, Scandinavian wave is more heavy, often less virtuosso. But in both cases great music is coming for marginal ( for progressive rock) regions of the world.

Therion is one of the leader of Scandinavian wave, ant their music ( in it's best moments) is just quintessence of the stream.

Gothic Kabbalah, Therion's most fresh album for a moment, is great 2 CD work. But isn't their best, sorry.

In comparance with Lemuria/Sirius B ( that are Therion best works, I think) , music became softer, more pop-oriented. Yes, same perfect melodies and opera female voces, in fact , all goodies they had before, but softer,more rounded and often lighter sound brings this album ( at least for me) somewhere to category of more pop-oriented members of the same wave ( as Nightwish, for example). Less symphonic,again.

All in all, good album, but not the best.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The amazing(?) story of a Swedish librarian

Quite why this is a double CD is not obvious, the total running time being around 85 minutes. It is certainly very nicely presented in a lavish slipcase, so presumably the splitting of the songs over 2 CDs is mainly a marketing ploy.

"Gothic Kabbalah" was released in 2007, and represents Therions' most recent album at time of writing. A new album does seem to be in the pipeline, with Christofer Johnsson once again radically changing the make up of the band but we are jumping ahead there, and here the line up remains unusually stable for Therion. Johnnson and the Neimann brothers are once again present, joined by the returning Petter Karlsson on drums, vocals etc. Wisely, Johnsson chooses not to sing at all on the album (he is reputed to have "retired" from singing), principal vocal duties being shared among 5 vocalists including the also returning Mats Levén. A fine collection of guest musicians are gathered together once again, but interestingly this time the numbers are pared back considerably. There are no massed choirs or orchestras, the focus being on operatic soloists and rock singers or musicians. From a personal point of view, it is great to see Ken Hensley plays Hammond organ on the album.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is only the second genuine concept album (After "Secret of the Runes") released by Therion. The concept here is based on the life of an obscure Swedish scholar of runes and librarian to the king called Johannes Bureus (I kid you not!).

Given the absence of the orchestra, the natural assumption would be that this is a more rock orientated album than its immediate predecessors, and this proves to be the case. The superb classically trained vocals we are used to still appear throughout the album, but they are balanced to a much greater extent by a variety of rock voices. On the title track for example, Katarina Lilja's vocals are much less Nightwish, much more Mostly Autumn. As such, this album actually has more in common with albums by Ayreon and the likes than it does with previous Therion albums.

Tracks such as "Son of the Staves of Time", written by Mats Levén feature a fine vocal arrangement, but the underlying song is disappointingly basic and lacking imagination. "Tuna 1613", written by Petter Karlsson and Snowy Shaw emphasises this aspect even more, being straightforward rock song with some standard speed metal lead guitar.

On disc 2, "Wand of Abaris" makes for a fine ballad, I would swear that is Ken Hensley playing slide guitar on it too (but I am no doubt wrong!). Here, the vocals are actually the weak point, Snowy Shaw drifting too close to growling for comfort. The closing track, "Adulruna Rediviva" runs to some 13½ minutes, and as such is one of Therion's longest tracks ever. The song does to some extent delve back into the operatic pomp we love so much, the complex arrangement giving the track a more symphonic feel.

For me, the appeal of the best Therion albums has always been the pomposity and over the top presumptuous nature of the projects. Without those elements, while we by no means revert to the anonymous death metal band from whence they came, we are left with a good but no longer extraordinary product. It seems that the Neimann brothers, who were much more involved with the song-writing this time around, did not share the ambitious visions of band founder Johnsson (hence their subsequent departure).

The lavish packaging of this album serves to disguise the often prosaic nature of the contents. Hopefully Johnsson will rediscover his sense of adventure and future product will amaze and astonish us in the same way as Therion's recordings of the late 1990's did. Do not misunderstand me, this is an enjoyable album, I simply feel that it fails to live up to the high expectations previous albums have encouraged.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A double symphonic metal concept album about how divine wisdom percolates down to humanity with a gothic aesthetic and flirtations with more progressive music styles? Ah, it must be a Therion project - and on Gothic Kabbalah, late-period Therion turns in perhaps its most complete album. Does it merit being a double album? Well, no. There's plenty of fat here and there that could be trimmed, and whilst it feels more varied than much of the band's post-Theli output, at the same time it feels like the band trying out a wide range of experiments without quite getting deep enough into any of them to really polish them fully. It isn't quite Therion going prog, but it's perhaps the closest they'll come to it, and whilst it's an interesting listen I can't help but think that if they'd condensed it down to one disc and really polished everything up it'd be a great listen.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars With the 2004 double album releases "Lemuria" and "Sirius B" immediately followed by a two year tour that found THERIOIN putting on 106 shows around the world including the ProgPower Festival in the UK on March 21, 2006, it would seem that THERION would not have the time to craft more material for another album but band founder and leader Christofer Johnsson was insanely prolific and a song writing machine along with the Nieman brothers and not only crafted enough material for the next album but enough to make it a double one. After several albums since "Theli" which launched THERION into the big leagues with its new brand of symphonic metal that added massive symphonies and choirs, the time was ripe for a change and that's exactly what the fans got with the 13th album GOTHIC KABBALAH.

As the name of the album implies, GOTHIC KABBALAH takes THERION's symphonic metal sound more into the world of Gothic metal as if Type O Negative joined the crew and this was the result. In 2006 Christofer Johnsson announced that he was retiring from singing duties therefore Mats Levén of Yngwie Malmsteen fame who performed on the "Lemuria / Sirius B" albums took the role of ghoul in chief with his dracula inspired vocal style at the forefront. A second singer was recruited with Snowy Shaw of Mercyful Fate and Dream Evil along with three female singers, Katarina Lilja, Anna Nyhlin and Hannah Holgersson. GOTHIC KABBALAH also found the number of musicians involved trimmed down considerably although in addition to the four main members of THERION there are still eleven guests involved.

This is the least symphonic of THERION's output since the pre-"Theli" years although there are still elements of the choirs and a few classical instrument sounds but overall GOTHIC KABBALAH is much more in the Gothic metal camp with the symphonic elements set to simmer. Thematically this album is dedicated to the Swedish mystic Johannes Bureus who invented a philosophy called GOTHIC KABBALAH which mixed the alchemy, astrology and magic of the 17th century with the ancient runes and Norse gods. The lyrics of the album narrate in great detail the themes of the texts written by Bureus. Another notable musician on this one is Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep who plays keyboards. The trimmed down symphonic, orchestral and vocal domination of previous albums ramped up with a more aggressive guitar sound and an overall darker atmospheric presence makes GOTHIC KABBALAH one of the most unique sounding albums in the THERION canon.

One of the most noticeable differences in this double album is that the tracks are some of the most progressive that THERION had done at this point. While each album was fairly unique in certain ways, each retained the basic characteristics of 80s styled heavy metal mixed with classical symphonies and operatic choirs along with the extra accoutrements of ethnic folk music and other minor elements. On GOTHIC KABBALAH the metal parts are much more progressive and for the first time the companions are more labyrinthine and graced with more time signature deviations. While gothic metal is clearly part of the mix it's not as much so as true goth bands and although dominant not ubiquitious. Often the vocalists are simply trading off parts more like an Ayreon styled rock opera album. Occasionally creeping through are touches of various folk melodies, both Western and Middle Eastern. The album is quite diverse with many different songs taking on different roles and therefore one of the most unusual of THERION's career.

True that this one could have been trimmed down a bit. I think that if this would've been released as a single disc it would've been a much stronger album but this one is a grower nonetheless. Personally i find the second disc to be the stronger of the two with the first one engaging in too many long-winded even whiny tracks such as "The Perennial Sophia." Unfortunately the weaker tracks are in the forefront which may drive off many from hearing the album out in its entirety but IMHO it all picks up big time with "The Wand Of Abaris" as the tracks become more cleverly crafted with interested dynamic shifts that find bombastic metal in interplay with the toned-down symphonic touches and more adrenalized vocalists. The folk melodies add a sense of timelessness and the eerie atmospheric touches give this one a mysterious vibe that fits perfectly into the world of the occult. The closing "Adulruna Rediva" is probably the most classical sounding and reminds you how much Johnsson was inspired by the sounds of Karl Orff especially works like "Carmina Burana" only with a sense of Wagnerian pomp.

Admittedly GOTHIC KABBALAH was a little put offing for me in the beginning but one that has grown on me and although i find this double disker to be a little lopsided with the cream of the crop appearing on the second half, it's overall a compelling listen that stands out in the THERION canon for its unique mix of styles and the more progressive touches. This would also pretty much be the end of the line for the classic THERION lineup. In 2008 after the massive touring schedule the band announced that its core group of musicians were going their separate ways. Johnsson continued the THERION brand name but none of the albums that followed would ever have the same magnificence that the run from "Theli" to GOTHIC KABBALAH captured. Some of THERION's best works on this one and although not all tracks are created equal none are horrible either but an editing process that culled a few would've made this an even better album as a single album. After all at 83:37, the track list simply could've been trimmed of a couple of the weaker tracks and made a single album. Still though, i love this one for the most part despite its flaws.

Latest members reviews

5 stars When it comes to double albums, I think the best method is making them short and sweet (basically longer than a normal album), and this is the perfect example. With near 90 minutes of music, this album is easily digestable and overall, one hell of an album. This is the album where everything ju ... (read more)

Report this review (#290314) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my first 2007 review, I choose the newest Therion effort. This is a marvelous concept album about mysterious and fascinating themes. First of all, the album comes in a great packaging: a glittering, embossed yellow cover art, a three-side solid digipack and two discs set for more than 80 ... (read more)

Report this review (#108884) | Posted by CrazyDiamond | Thursday, January 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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