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Therion Sitra Ahra album cover
3.32 | 75 ratings | 6 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sitra Ahra (5:24)
2. Kings of Edom (8:51)
3. Unguentum Sabbati (5:10)
4. Land of Canaan (10:32)
5. Hellequin (5:18)
6. 2012 (4:16)
7. Cu Chulain (4:16)
8. Kali Yoga III (3:41)
9. The Shells Are Open (3:44)
10. Din (2:37)
11. After the Inquisition: Children of the Stone (7:22)

Total Time 61:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Thomas Vikström / tenor vocals
- Lori Lewis / soprano vocals
- Christofer Johnsson / guitar, keyboards, programming, singing bowls, producer
- Christian Vidal / lead guitar
- Nalle Påhlsson / bass
- Johan Koleberg / drums

- Snowy Shaw / lead vocals
- Linnea Vikström / lead vocals (2,5)
- Mika Hakola / lead vocals (10)
- Marcus Jupither / baritone vocals (5)
- Waldemar Sorychta / harmony lead & rhythm guitars
- Staffan Astner / 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars
- Chris Laney / 12-string electric guitar (4,5)
- Peter Ljung / grand piano, Hammond
- Mattias Olsson / synth (8)
- Hans Gardemar / accordion (4)
- Mats Öberg / harmonica (4)
- Lennart Östlund / whipcrash (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

CD Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 2313-5 (2010, Germany)

LPx2 Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 2313-1 (2010, Germany)

Thanks to mamboboy for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THERION Sitra Ahra ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

THERION Sitra Ahra reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It was time when I really liked Therion albums. Unhappily, this time is gone some years ago. What doesn't mean their music is not good enough now. It just is different, and I am not sure these changes are for good.

New, just few days old Therion album is fantastic melodic epic. You will hardly find such melodic release nowadays! Operatic vocals are great to excellent as well. So - what is the problem?

Main problem for me is music itself. You will work hard trying to find even traces of progressive metal there on this album. Absolutely biggest part of this recording is straight forward melodic operatic metal, often - goth metal. Album is very accessible, catchy, with plenty of pop-metal elements.

In fact, strongest part of this album is melodies and vocals. All other is openly flirting with show business, and you will hear it very easy. So - good album for fans of melodic bombastic pop-metal with operatic vocals. Very average one (or even below) for any listener, searching for complex or just progressive musicianship.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Back to doing what he does best

For me, Therion's 2007 album "Gothic Kabbalah" saw Christofer Johnsson throwing the baby out with the bathwater by ditching the orchestra and everything which distinguished Therion from their peers. What was left was little more than just another Gothic metal album.

When it was announced in late 2009 that the next album would see those essential parts of the band's make up returning, the omens were good for a return to form. Released in late 2010, "Sitra Ahra" may not live up to those expectations in full, but it is certainly a major step back in the right direction. Following the release of "Gothic Kabbalah", the line up supporting Johnsson disbanded and a new group of musicians was brought in to support him. Perhaps most significant among these is vocalist Thomas Vikström (the son of a noted Swedish opera singer), the first time the band have had an official lead vocalist other than Johnsson himself (and even he has "retired" from singing).

The opening "Introduction: Sitra Ahra" is certainly full of promise. Operatic female vocals, trained male voices, massed choirs and a heavy guitar riff all blend seamlessly to offer a wonderfully reassuring burst of classic Therion. Thomas Vikström's fine voice is apparent throughout the album, his duet with Linnea Vikström (presumably a relation!) being an early highlight. The track also boasts a fine chorale and some tasteful lead guitar. The arrangement on this 9 minute track is one of the most progressive ever attempted by Johnsson, and one of the most successful. "Unguentum Sabbati" is the third part of the opening quartet which for me form the best part of the album. The track includes brief references to "Phantom of the opera", and harder vocals than have been the case up to now.

The final part of that quartet is the longest track on the album, "Land Of Canaan" running to some 10½ minutes. Once again, the piece features a complex arrangement, but this time there is much more in the way of purely instrumental passages than usual. When the vocals do come in, they have something of a seafaring/Romany atmosphere (for want of a better description).

For no apparent reason, things take a bit of a dip thereafter, the tracks becoming a lot shorter while also generally resorting to a much less sophisticated style. The operatics, chorales, etc., still drift in and out, but they seem less at ease with the rock/metal foundations on which they are laid. "2012" bucks the trend to some extent, "Kashmir" like sounds blending well with chorale vocals and some fine lead guitar. "Cu Chulain" contains the almost obligatory growling, but it is cocooned well in the overall mix.

The closing "After The Inquisition: Children Of The Stone" is rather different, mainly because it features a lighter melody and a children's choir. It may sound concerning, and I suspect many will find it not to their taste, but for me the track works well, offering a new dimension for the band while remaining within their natural boundaries. The ending is rather stage show like!

In all, a vastly superior album from Therion to their (or his) last. While not up to the standard of the classic Therion albums, those who enjoy this unique musical style will find much here to appreciate.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Sitra Ahra" is the 13th full-length studio album by Swedish symphonic metal act Therion. The album was released in September 2010 by Nuclear Blast Records.

The music on the album is vocal dominated symphonic metal. The backbone of the music is mid- to slow paced heavy metal but it´s the operatic and semi-operatic female and male vocals that completely dominate the music. The songs are epic and almost cinematic at times. Sometimes I´m reminded of a grand musical ( broadway) production. The images are the only thing missing. I´m well entertained throughout the playing time of the album as I´m treated to well thought out compositions, excellent musicianship and a professional production. As far as the "metal" part of the album goes, I miss a bit of bite and recognisable riffs, but the intriguing melody lines and vocal performances make up for some of that.

I haven´t listened to much Therion since "Theli (1996)", but I understand they´ve played this style of vocal dominated symphonic metal pretty much since then. With that in mind I can´t put "Sitra Ahra" into a context discography wise, but viewed upon on its own merits this is a really good album to my ears. A 3.5 star rating is fully deserved.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Therion don't quite sell out with this album, but it is undeniable that Sitra Ahra is vastly more approachable and accessible than the dense double album of Gothic Kabbalah, and they seem less averse to throwing in some entertainingly catchy hooks into their compositions than usual. It's certainly a far cry from the ugly occult symphonic death metal they started out with, but the purists parted way with Therion a good long time ago, and this release focuses on their symphonic strengths whilst simultaneously coming up with enough novel twists to keep things feeling fresh and vibrant and to convince me that maybe Therion still have a bit of gas left in the tank, even if they aren't going on a trip I want to ride on.
Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars With "Gothic Kabbalah," THERION reinvented its sound once again by adding not only elements of Gothic metal but added some extra servings of progressive rock which made the album stand out amongst its rich canon of opera infused metal madness. The party kids set out for one more tour but then everybody in the band parted and no more THERION as we know it. Instead of calling it quits founder and creative leader Christofer Johnsson opted to start from scratch and create a whole new version of THERION. Gone were the massive choirs, mega symphonies and tributes to fat ladies with horned helmets and instead was a more refined sound of what i would deem a THERION smorgasbord of past ideas however a few tricks up Johnsson's sleeves remained and this album shows a few new developments.

Amongst the new peeps on board, Snowy Shaw of Mercyful Fate and Dream Evil fame was back as one of the many vocalists along with ex-Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vikström and a few newbies like Christian Vidal on guitar and Lori Lewis as the only female vocalist. In fact there are only eleven musicians and vocalists on the band's 14th album SITRA AHRA which makes it the most trimmed down of any. Perhaps the logistics of all those massive live shows were the primary impetus for this newer version of THERION to emerge. Whatever the case the title refers to a perceived realm that is the opposite to holiness and is a concept from the Jewish Kabbalah which Johnsson mined for many of his lyrical escapades. In that regard SITRA AHRA is business as usual but this album does sound a lot different than any THERION album that preceded despite lots of ideas being mined from the past.

The main way i see SITRA AHRA is that it's like a THERION rhapsody of its own past. While the number of musicians and vocalists are fewer, the operatic choir structure still functions as so and many of the heavy metal guitar riffs sound like they were borrowed from albums like "Theli." Just check out the fast tempos and guitar gallops and solos on "Kings Of Edom" and it's right off of that album. Once again Middle Eastern melodic touches decorate the song structures and although the keyboard aspects are tamed down the album still generates some atmospheric presence and the occasional psychedelic rock outburst. Piano runs are also presented at various moments to create a contrast effect but not super common. There is also more of an effort to change things up more often so the 11 tracks on SITRA AHRA are more varied than earlier albums.

This is a more progressive album than most with the longest track "Land Of Canaan" lasting over ten minutes and delivers some of the most varying sound on the album. Starting out with some sort of Tibetan bowl sounding instrument, the track breaks into mid-tempo metal but also has elements of groovy 60s surf rock before jumping into progressive metal with eerie wordless vocals from Lori Lewis who makes this album sound a lot like some of earlier Aryeon albums. The track jumps from metal to flute led folk that then jumps into Parisian cafe music which is totally new to THERION and would inspire them to follow up with the album "Fleurs Du Mal" which covers old French pop songs. This song is the perfect example of how weird this album is. It goes from metal to French cabaret and starts to remind me of a more metal version of Cirque du Soleil especially after you see the band photos all dressed up in their attire. Somewhat cool and somewhat cheesy, this track symbolizes both the pros and cons of SITRA AHRA.

The album starts off really strong with a bunch of extraordinarily catchy and well crafted tracks but starts to taper off on the second side. "2012" displays the darker tone with a party metal kinda vibe with all the singers joining in. The violin gives it a melancholic feel. There are many heavier tracks on this one like "Cu Chulain" which starts out menacing but then shifts to a feel good singalong session. Kinda goofy actually. "Din" is the most effective metal track with an incessantly sped up riff and one of the few moments where growly vocals are used on a newer THERION release. "The Shells Are Open" sounds like some sort of psycho-gypsy music but reveals more of the same French cabaret music with operatic singers in unison over a metal groove. The whole thing reminds me of a metal version of the can-can. The closing "After The Inquisition: Children Of The Stone" is somewhat of an underwhelming closer. Clocking in over 7 minutes it's mostly a sleepy space rock song with Pink Floyd styled guitar and bass in concert with the vocalists having a good sing-song affair. It makes me feel like everyone is going to break into singing "It's A Small World." Psychedelic organ is cool but it's kinda corny.

This album isn't bad by any means but it does feel like THERION is one step away from running out of ideas. There's just enough vim and vigor left to create an album's worth of material but much of it sounds recycled and although the French music themes and more liberal use of progressive rock are the saving points, it still comes across that THERION's best days have passed. Perhaps the band would need more time together to gel but despite the great performances some of the material that starts off really strong often devolves into campy goofiness. When all is said and done, this is certainly no throwaway album and worthy of any addition to your collection. The strongest tracks, mostly on the first part of the album are worth the price of admission alone but this is an example of an album that could've been trimmed down a bit to make it a more satisfying listen. Perhaps a 45 minute album instead of a 61 minute playing time would've been much more interesting. Nevertheless THERION still found a way to stay relevant for a little bit longer.

3.5 rounded down

Latest members reviews

5 stars I really like this album. After the brilliant "Lemuria/Sirius B" double album and the still solid "Gothic Kabbalah" which had its lengths and strengths, the band is now back and presents their best album since the innovating "Theli". But attention, dear metal heads: While "Theli" was an album bui ... (read more)

Report this review (#380765) | Posted by kluseba | Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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