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Therion Theli album cover
4.12 | 198 ratings | 18 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Preludium (1:43)
2. To Mega Therion (6:33)
3. Cults of the Shadow (5:13)
4. In the Desert of Set (5:27)
5. Interludium (1:47)
6. Nightside of Eden (7:29)
7. Opus Eclipse (3:40)
8. Invocation of Naamah (5:30)
9. The Siren of the Woods (9:53)
10. Grand Finale / Postludium (4:04)

Total Time 51:19

Bonus tracks on 2014 reissues:
11. In Remembrance (6:30)
12. Black Fairy (5:57)
13. Fly to the Rainbow 3.65 (8:13)

Bonus DVD from 2014 SE - Live in Budapest, 2007:
1. Preludium
2. To Mega Therion
3. Cults of the Shadow
4. In the Desert of Set
5. Interludium
6. Nightside of Eden
7. Opus Eclipse
8. Invocation of Naamah
9. The Siren of the Woods
10. Grand Finale / Postludium

Line-up / Musicians

- Christofer Johnsson / vocals (2,4,8), guitar, keyboards, producer
- Jonas Mellberg / electric (lead 8,9) & acoustic (9) guitars, keyboards
- Lars Rosenberg / bass
- Piotr Wawrzeniuk / drums, vocals (2-4,6,8)

- Dan Swanö / vocals (3,6)
- Anja Krenz / solo soprano (9)
- Axel Pätz / solo bass, baritone (9)
- Jan Peter Genkel / grand piano, keyboards, programming, mixing, co-producer
- Gottfried Koch / keyboards, programming, co-producer

North German Radio Choir (2-4,6,8):
- Raphaela Mayhaus / soprano
- Bettina Stumm / soprano
- Ursula Ritters / alto
- Ergin Onat / tenor
- Joachim Gebhardt / bass
- Klaus Bulow / bass

Siren Choir (5,7,9):
- Anja Krenz / soprano
- Constanze Arens / soprano
- Riekje Weber / alto
- Stephan Gade / tenor
- Axel Patz / bass baritone

- Barmbek Symphony Orchestra

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Grøn

CD Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 179-2 (1996, Germany)
CD + DVD Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 3302-1 (2014, Germany) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks plus DVD including full album Live (Budapest, 2007)

LP Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 179-2 (1996, Germany)
2LP Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 3302-1 (2014, Germany) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THERION Theli Music

THERION Theli ratings distribution

(198 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THERION Theli reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by semismart
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.

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by siLLy puPPy
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!

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Theli" starts out with a gorgeous instrumental, a great start to a brilliant album. Heavy, unique, lots of classical and some opera influences, a variety of vocals, and bombastic. The main vocals are a bit on the rougher side, contrasting nicely with the abundance of classical sounds. This is ... (read more)

Report this review (#2918367) | Posted by Idaho | Wednesday, April 19, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The turn into symphonic metal with operating vocals and range of other infliuence including progressive and doom metal was accomplished on Theli. This was quite a progressive album for its time with one of a kind sound. Mainly femaie but also good male vocal conjure up a wide palette of sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#2457567) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, October 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#403468) | Posted by The Block | Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 "The ... (read more)

Report this review (#66704) | Posted by zaxx | Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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" ... (read more)

Report this review (#59672) | Posted by Soul Dreamer | Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#48046) | Posted by | Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#31019) | Posted by | Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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...w ... (read more)

Report this review (#31018) | Posted by | Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#31013) | Posted by | Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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