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THERION

Progressive Metal • Sweden


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Therion biography
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1988 (known before as "Blitzkrieg") - Still active as of 2018

: : : From Death Metal to Progressive Gothic Symphonic Metal : : :

This is one of the best metal bands ever and also happen to originate from Sweden :). In 1987 Christofer Johnsson formed a band called BLITZKRIEG. The band later changed their name to MEGATHERION and finally THERION and managed to get a record deal with the German metal label Nuclear Blast. Over the years the band has released nine full-length albums and the members of the band has changed several times. The true genius behind it all and undoubtedly the most important member of the band is Christofer himself - he writes all the music, plays guitar, hammond organ and keyboards as well as used to do the vocals. There aren't many musicians with the skill of this man in the world today but hopefully there will be more bands like THERION to erupt from this planet in the future. The first four albums are musically in death metal style but the band still developed all the time, adding new elements to their music for each new release - clean male vocals, arabic folk music, classic music and industrial. Their fifth album called "Theli" was very different from their first ones - Christofer finally had the budget to do the kind of album he had been dreaming of doing for years but didn't have the possibility to record it until now.

THERION had now become an operatic and symphonic metal band - mixing melodic IRON MAIDEN influenced metal with classical music composed by Christofer himself and with clear male and female choirs doing much of the vocals together with Christofer Johnson. You can hear the beginning of this development already on the "Lepaca Kliffoth" album but the difference in quality if you compare this with "Theli" is unbelievable. Since then they have continued in the same direction of opera metal. On these later albums Christofer has hired world class session musicians to play all kinds of orchestral instruments - violin, fluite, cello and so on - as well as female and male choirs to do the opera-like vocals. In 1997 they released a 10-year aniversary album called "A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming", containing old non-released material, a few covers and a sound-track (pure classic music) Christofer did for an art-movie.

Among the female choir members you can find the great Sarah Jezebel Deva doing solo, duet, alto and soprano vocals. She has also helped out ...
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THERION discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THERION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.60 | 46 ratings
Of Darkness
1991
2.58 | 51 ratings
Beyond Sanctorum
1992
3.33 | 54 ratings
Symphony Masses - Ho Drakon Ho Megas
1993
3.26 | 66 ratings
Lepaca Kliffoth
1995
4.12 | 188 ratings
Theli
1996
3.17 | 43 ratings
A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming
1997
4.10 | 182 ratings
Vovin
1998
3.09 | 59 ratings
Crowning of Atlantis
1999
3.74 | 102 ratings
Deggial
2000
3.93 | 126 ratings
Secret of the Runes
2001
3.83 | 127 ratings
Sirius B
2004
3.87 | 137 ratings
Lemuria
2004
3.59 | 104 ratings
Gothic Kabbalah
2007
3.32 | 72 ratings
Sitra Ahra
2010
3.22 | 58 ratings
Les fleurs du mal
2012
2.73 | 38 ratings
Beloved Antichrist
2018
3.41 | 25 ratings
Leviathan
2021

THERION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 21 ratings
Live in Midgard
2002
3.67 | 3 ratings
Therion - Live in Mexico
2006
2.69 | 21 ratings
The Miskolc Experience
2009

THERION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.24 | 14 ratings
Celebrators of Becoming
2006
4.18 | 19 ratings
Live Gothic
2008
2.80 | 5 ratings
Adulruna Rediviva and Beyond
2014

THERION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.33 | 5 ratings
The Early Chapters of Revelation
2000
3.00 | 6 ratings
Atlantis Lucid Dreaming
2005

THERION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.95 | 3 ratings
Paroxysmal Holocaust (Demo)
1989
1.95 | 3 ratings
Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness (Demo)
1989
2.96 | 4 ratings
Time Shall Tell (EP)
1990
2.00 | 1 ratings
Rehearsal
1990
3.96 | 4 ratings
The Beauty in Black
1994
3.96 | 7 ratings
Siren of the Woods
1996
3.60 | 5 ratings
Eye of Shiva
1998
3.50 | 4 ratings
Bells of Doom
2001
2.13 | 5 ratings
Wand of Abaris
2006
2.86 | 7 ratings
Les Épaves
2016
4.00 | 2 ratings
Eye of Algol
2021

THERION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Secret of the Runes by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.93 | 126 ratings

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Secret of the Runes
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars Just one year after releasing a solid but somewhat lacklustre album like Deggial, Therion are back with what many consider the high point of their whole discography: Secret of the Runes. A concept album centred around the nine worlds of Norse mythology, Runes is a massive step-up relative to the band's previous releases, which improves and expands their blend of symphonic metal in multiple directions. There are a number of reasons for this advancement.

First, Therion are now a proper band rather than a solo project by Christofer Johnsson. Brothers Johan and Kristian Niemann (bass and guitar, respectively) and drummer Sami Karppinen had joined Johnsson already for the recording of Deggial in 2000. Although on Runes Johnsson retains control of most of the songwriting and arrangements, there are contributions from the other band members too (Kristian Niemann is credited as co-writer of the opening track "Ginnungagap") and, more generally, one gets the feeling that the ensemble now sounds more like a band, with more nuanced and personalized arrangements for the rock instruments and more freedom in terms of performances (more guitar solos, more drum fills). In short, there is more depth to the band's performance than on the preceding couple of albums (Vovin, Deggial), which were instead largely a Christofer Johnsson solo affair.

Second, the sound production has also improved on this album. This may sound strange since, for the recording of Runes, Therion actually transitioned from the famous Woodhouse Studios, where they had worked with renowned engineer and producer Siggi Bemm, to their very own, newly built Modern Art Studios, where they instead relied on in-house engineering (Karppinen, K. Niemann, Johnsson) and production. Mixing and mastering duties were instead assigned to Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila (Amorphis, Childreon of Bodom, Nightwish, among many others). The album sounds much better than Vovin or Deggial, which were both recorded and produced at Woodhouse Studios. One difference between these albums is that on Runes the drum sound is lighter and drier and the drums are placed further back in the mix, so that they are less "in-your-face". This is great because Therion's songs often rely on simple grooves, which can make the music feel sluggish and undynamic when the drums dominate the mix. The arrangements are also airier and more spacious, which contributes to make Runes an easier and more immediately likeable album than the dark and oppressive Deggial or the occasionally rigid Vovin.

Ultimately, though, the superiority of Runes comes down to better, more inspired songwriting. The songs are varied and dynamic, moving between different sections and moods. This is a major improvement over previous albums, where often the same riffs were repeated over and over, making the songs feel monolithic and static. The vocal arrangements are also more varied. In some songs, Johnsson wrote counterpoint and multipart vocals melodies ("Jotunheim"; "Nifelheim"), and in general I get the feeling that more attention has been paid to the alternation between male and female vocals that in many occasions engage in playful duets ("Asgard"). Most importantly, the signers are finally given vocal melodies that are catchy and memorable. This is a huge difference relative to many of the songs that were recorded for Deggial, where the vocal parts were particularly lacklustre. Songs like "Ginnugagap", "Midgard" and "Asgard" feature some of the best melodies that Johnsson has written up to this point in his career. Some may miss the fact that on Runes Johnsson ended the tradition of writing songs with metal vocals mixed with the opera singing (the whole of Theli was built this way, as well as "The Wild Hunt" and "Flesh of the Gods" on Vovin and Deggial). Personally, I do not find this to be a problem, especially when the operatic vocals are given such quality melodies to sing.

There are many other aspects of the music and concept that contribute to make Runes a special album. The Norse mythology that inspired the concept of the album also influenced the songwriting, which features subtle but decisive folk influences on several tracks. The whole album has almost a Viking metal feel to it, with its icy atmospheres and at time raw choirs ("Nifelheim"). The use of different languages, including Johnsson's native Swedish, also contributes to the Nordic folk atmosphere of the album. Somewhat incongruently with the album's theme, Runes also contain two covers as bonus tracks, "Crying Days" by Scorpions and "Summernight City" by Abba. These tracks were recorded in 1999 with former Therion's drummer and singer Piotr Wawrzeniuk on vocals alongside the opera singers. Some people are disturbed by the fact that the inclusion of the two covers disrupts the concept of the album. I can see where they are coming from, but the two songs are objectively so good that I cannot help but be grateful for their inclusion on the album.

Despite all the great things one can hear on Runes, the album is not perfect. Its middle part tends to plod a little, with songs like "Schwarzalbenheim" and "Ljusalfheim" coming across as a tad too repetitive and uninventive. Part of the problem is that most songs on the album remain firmly in mid-tempo territory, which amplifies the sluggish feeling one has as soon as the quality drops a little. Sometimes I wish Johnsson would make more use of different tempos on his albums, to inject some dynamics and a sense of moving forward to the music which is sometimes lacking on Therion's records. However, despite the somewhat weaker mid-section, the album is quick to recover, with tracks like "Muspelheim", "Nifelheim" and "Helheim" providing stunning highlights, together with the opening trio of songs ("Ginnugagap", "Midgard" and "Asgard").

In conclusion, Secret of the Runes is one of the best albums in Therion's catalogue. If you are new to this band, this could be a great place to start (together with the breakthrough album Theli, of course). By the time this album was released, Christofer Johnsson had time to refine and perfect his skills at arranging songs that combine metal, classical music and operatic singing, and this clearly shows on the album. The vocal parts are catchy and memorable. The orchestral arrangements are merged seamlessly with the metal parts. The metal parts themselves are more dynamic than on previous albums, with richer and more accomplished performances by guitar, drums and keyboards. Add a touch of Nordic folk, and you have a nearly perfect album indeed!

 Rehearsal by THERION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Rehearsal
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars "Rehearsal" is the 3rd demo by Swedish death metal act Therion. The demo was independently released on cassette tape in 1990. It´s the successor to the "Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness" demo from November 1989. It is an official release by Therion, although it was not as such sold to fans, but rather used to promote the band to labels, and it paid off as Therion would soon after be signed by House of Kicks Records for the release of the 1990 "Time Shall Tell" EP.

Like the title of the demo suggests, this is a recording of a rehearsal in the band´s practice fascilities, and the souns quality is exaxtly how you´d expect them to be under such circumstances. Lo-fi, raw, and completely without any form of polish. This is as live and authentic as they get. So it´s actually a bit amazing how much the band has gotten out of this recording. First of all it´s audible that they have honed their playing skills since the two rather amaturish 1989 demos. There is a wild and savage energy to the playing, but it´s pretty tight. As something new both tracks on the 2 track, 10:02 rehearsal demo feature blast beats (although only a few short bursts), and both are generally much faster paced than any of the material on the two preceding demo tapes.

To my ears this is actually a more listenable release than the two studio demos which preceded it, and it´s great to hear how well playing the band are in rehearsal mode. The two new tracks are also slightly more interesting than the material on the two 1989 demos, but still more interesting than actually great. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.41 | 25 ratings

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Leviathan
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I know I am not the only person who felt that Therion's previous album, 'Beloved Antichrist', was just too clever for its own good. A triple CD opera with a running time of more than 3 hours it was certainly ambitious, and a million miles away from what the band were doing when they started out as a metal act inspired by Slayer and Celtic Frost. In the last thirty years they have moved more dramatically from their roots than even Opeth, but the last album was just a step too far. So, when the new album arrived, I was both excited and intrigued, but also somewhat wary. Then I noticed there was something rather strange even before putting it on the player, as here we had just 11 songs and a running time of 45 minutes. What was going on?

Apparently, band leader and guitarist Christofer Johnsson and his collaborator singer Thomas Vikström decided to produce an album which contained far catchier and shorter songs, as a direct shift away from the previous release. That is not to say that we don't have mass choirs which sound as if they are performing in a cathedral, or that there are not plenty of female vocals, but here it makes much more sense. It kicks off with "The Leaf on the Oak of Far" which in many ways is the perfect introduction to Therion, as it is metal, yet there are twin lead vocals for the most part, as well as massed male and female choirs taking it in a more operatic manner, yet never losing sight of the metal. "Tuonela" sees Marko Hietala (Nightwish) bringing in his unique style, as we see Therion moving slightly more into that band's territory, yet still being distinctly different.

There is no doubt that this is a huge step back in the right direction, with the driving "Azi Dahāka" being my favourite. Just over three minutes in length, this is a blast of fun throughout, bringing together the best parts of Therion in one place. This album is a delight, and one to which I keep finding myself returning, unlike 'Beloved Antichrist' which has not been played since I wrote the review. Welcome back guys.

 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.41 | 25 ratings

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Leviathan
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by 33948

4 stars A return to form for Therion. The songs are almost as good as the Vovin/Crowning/Deggial/Lemuria/Sirius B era. I'll put them at 99% close. Interestingly some of the best material on this album was written by Thomas Vikstrom (Nocturnal Light and Ten Courts of Diyu- although the one hit Tuonela was Christofer Johnson). Yet they primarily use prerecorded symphony clips, which again is maybe 95% close to using a real string quartet or real symphony but just doesn't quite sound as good. Then to top it off the guitars are mixed into the background so the symphony is more prominent but overall the sound is less heavy and weaker. All of it together the album can only come maybe 95% close to the glory days of Vovin, Secret of the Runes, Lemuria/Sirius b. But coming close is still a damn good album. An improvement compared to what they have done since the line up change (sitra ahra, Les fleurs du mal, Beloved anti-christ- which were good but not as good as the Nieman brothers era). Beloved anti-christ is my second favorite album after secret of the runes IF you have to cut out over half of the material and only listen to the hits (this is if you like more classical/opera side of therion) but I'll still place Leviathan as a solid performance above Beloved anti-christ because there are no bad songs on it. The sound mixing on Leviathan is closer to Beloved anti-christ than it is to the Niemann era- guitars and drums put into the background as just one instrument of many and the symphony really coming out clearly to the front. But the problem here is the symphony is mostly sound clips (with the exception of a real violin solo in psalm of retribution) they used and while it is quite good in places just doesn't compare to some of the amazing symphony or keyboards of previous albums. I believe the lack of real symphony and the weak mixing is keeping this album from greatness more than the song writing itself. As soon as Therion ditched the real symphony back on Gothic Kabbalah they started going downhill. But at least with Gothic Kabbalah they used a really great keyboard player. On this album we don't even have a real keyboard player. Just various symphony clips pieced together into the songs. Well, like I said, this is the strongest album they have made since Lemuria/Sirius b but still doesn't top the old stuff. I'll give it four stars instead of three just based on two excellent and unique songs (although all songs are good they aren't essential). Nocturnal Light and Ten Courts of Diyu. Tuonela is also a great Nightwish style song which is the main hit of the album.
 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.41 | 25 ratings

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Leviathan
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars It's hard to believe that THERION began as a somewhat generic sounding old school death metal band when it was founded by Christofer Johnsson all the way back in 1987 but after a sluggish beginning which step by step morphed into full-blown symphonic metal by the time the 1996 album "Theli" wooed the critics and hi brow metalheads into the cult, THERION had done the unthinkable and crafted a brilliant new metal sound that took metal music further into the world of Western classical and opera than ever attempted. The results were riveting and brilliant and catapulted the band to international fame.

THERION kept this momentum going all throughout the 2000s with one excellent album after another that slightly reinvented the overall recipe laid down on "Theli" however beginning with "Sitra Ahra," Johnsson was obviously getting bored with the band's signature sound and started experimenting and while the albums thought the 2010's were interesting, they lacked the focus and enthralling hybridization effect that album's like "Secret Of The Runes" and "Gothic Kabbalah" had so perfectly captured. This all led up to the band's most ambitious effort yet, 2018's triple album "Beloved Antichrist" which tamped down the symphonic metal a few notches and instead delivered a whopping 3-hour rock opera.

While the project sounded like a good idea in writing, the results were very lackluster as the album lacked any sort of cohesive gratification despite exhibiting brilliant performances in bits and pieces. The album was a huge flop and fans were wondering if perhaps THERION should call it a day and go start a philharmonic orchestra somewhere in an undisclosed location in the Swedish countryside. The fiasco that was "Beloved Antichrist" pretty much kept fans wondering what THERION's next move was going to be and finally in 2021 we have a new album that makes it all so clear just what that next move is. In short THERION has proposed another ambitious project only this time it will disperse its grandiose visions in a three album set that will be released by the following LEVIATHAN sequels in 2022 and 2023.

This is basically what we call damage control as Johnsson is obviously not going to disband the profitable cash cow called THERION which has an international following and dedicated fanbase. LEVIATHAN (bad album title considering the mega-popular Mastodon album) pretty much backpedals to the band's style around the turn of the millennium and could easily fit anywhere in between "Vovin" and "Sirus B." What is presented here is a tried and true and very well performed collection of eleven tracks with an impressive lineup of various vocalists, both male and female sopranos delivering divine operatic performances accompanied by sizzling metal guitar, bass and drum backing. As always at this point in THERION's career, this is a big budget production with a great number of guest musicians and extra instrumentation that includes hammond organ, violin and lots of drumming diversity.

As far as a THERION album goes, LEVIATHAN is indeed a return to form and pretends that the whole "Beloved Antichrist" backlash was just a bad dream however at the same time these grounds have already been covered and no matter how well these tracks are performed (and they are perfectly executed), it just feels like THERION has gotten stuck in a certain moment in its career that it will never escape from due to the fact that the band is popular and therefore obligated to kowtow to the fanbase. Despite these apprehensions to continue down a more experimental path, as a true THERION fan myself, i'd prefer to have the band release experimental flops like "Beloved Antichrist" than to retread that which has already been accomplished two decades ago. THERION will always be a band i have a soft spot for so i can never rate an album this beautifully performed very low but it certainly doesn't get any extra love for creative growth. This is about as THERION by the books as it gets still though LEVIATHAN is quite an enjoyable album.

3.5 rounded down

 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.41 | 25 ratings

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Leviathan
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by ssmarcus

2 stars Therion, as a band, really know how to bring it all to the table on each and every release: bombastic compositions complete with choirs, orchestras, competent musicianship, and lyrics depicting epic and obscure mythological tales and ideas. The only thing Therion consistently forgets to bring with them is inspired song writing. This is an act that lives and, ostensibly, commercially thrives in that fine space between forgettable mediocrity and mild intrigue, never quite living up (or down) enough to the standard to be regarded as either.

Leviathan, the veterans' acts' 17th(!) release and the first of a planned trilogy, is no exception to this... uhum... "winning" formula. Of course, to be fair to Therion, Christofer Johnsson, Therion's primary songwriter and founder, explained that Leviathan was indeed not an attempt to try anything knew but provide some fan service by capturing and distilling the "it" factor of their previous hits into a collection of singles. And yet the idea of Therion creating an album where they are actively trying to sound like their previous work reveals a deep-seated lack of self-awareness by the band and, quite honestly, their fans. But I guess if it is what their fans expect from them, more power to the band for making it happen anyway.

After the group's 2018 release, the admittedly under appreciated three-hour operatic epic Beloved Antichrist, it would have been nice to see the group attempt a more intimate approach to song writing. Alas, the Leviathan project instead shows the band has no intention of ever really letting up, despite whatever Christofer has said to the contrary...

 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.41 | 25 ratings

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Leviathan
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars In my experience, when an artist advertises their new work with the words "We have decided to give the people what they kept asking for", that normally does not bode terribly well. However, if the man saying those words is Therion's mastermind Christofer Johnsson, whose latest two controversial and fan-challenging releases are an album of French pop covers and a 3-hour, 46-track, narcolepsy-inducing triple-album, well, then we better listen carefully. Therion's new album, Leviathan, does exactly what it says on the tin: deliver 45 minutes of "classic Therion" music, packed with memorable, instantly-likeable songs. A "commercial" sellout, you say? I disagree, I don't really feel I can blame a band that has been pushing boundaries for 34 years of career for wanting to take it easy for once. Regardless of how genuine you feel this new artistic endeavour might be, one thing is for certain: one has to try really hard not to like at least some of the eleven songs on Leviathan.

The album is packed with everything we have come to love about the exquisite blend of symphonic/operatic metal that has defined Therion's music since the mid-90s. Classic heavy metal riffs form the basis for epic and bombastic orchestral arrangements, striking a great balance between the sophistication of classical music and heavy metal grit. Tasteful folk influences seeps in on tracks like "Die Wellen der Zeit", the Middle Eastern influenced "A?i Dahāka" and "Eye of Algol", and "Ten Courts of Diyu" where we even find some Far Eastern music themes. Elsewhere, the album veers towards European power metal territories ("Great Marquis of Hell"; "El Primer Sol"), while gothic-tinged passages emerge as well throughout the record. Leviathan also literally brims with fantastic melodies and an impressive array of vocal styles, ranging from straight heavy metal belting, to melancholic female vocals, to majestic operatic singing.

The list of interpreters is no less exciting. Regular band members Thomas Vikström (tenor) and Lori Lewis (soprano) are joined by some great guest singers, including Marco Hietala (ex-Nightwish), Mats Levén (ex-Candlemass, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), Noa Gruman (Scardust), Taida Nazraić (The Loudest Silence), Chiara Malvestiti (Crysalys) and Rosalía Sairem. Meanwhile, Israel's Hellscore Choir directed by Noa Gruman provides lush and expansive backing vocals. The use of such a diverse and varied list of singers, who are often employed together in the same song, is one of the most remarkable features of the album that brings to mind the best work of rock-opera maestro Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon). On the instrumental side, Snowy Shaw and Björn Höglund share duties behind the drum kit, while the rest of the line-up is the same one that recorded the last few Therion albums (Christofer Johnsson on guitar/keyboards, Christian Vidal on lead guitar, and Nalle Påhlsson on bass).

If you are worried that Johnsson's deliberate attempt at writing "hit songs" may have compromised the earnestness of the songwriting, that's not the case: the music feels fresh, inspired, and fun. Sure, there's nothing really revolutionary or experimental here, the album treads similar waters to Therion's 90s/00s work (and after all that was the whole point of the record). But the eleven songs included on Leviathan are by no means just a rehashed, half-baked version of tracks one can find on Vovin or Secret of the Runes. These are songs that can hold up well to any previous output of the band, which, after 17 albums in a 34-year career, is no mean feat.

There isn't a single bad song on the album: Leviathan is one of those records that you can put on and smoothly enjoy from the first to the last note. Nevertheless, a few tracks stand out for me. "Tuonela" is one of those, partly for Marco Hietala's compelling vocal performance, partly for the beautifully constructed chorus that masterfully combines three melodic lines played by Hietala, the Hellscore chorus and two violins. "Die Wellen der Zeit" is a surprisingly simple ballad carried by the lush voice of Serbian singer Taida Nazraić, one of the most shining new talents enlisted on this record. "Nocturnal Light" is the other ballad and is another great track, more majestic and operatic, which gives me strong Vovin vibes. Meanwhile, the "Eye of Algol" is a multi-part Middle-Eastern-tinged beast that contains a really cool riff on the chorus, while "Ten Courts of Diyu" is a beautiful atmospheric piece that closes the album in style with a spine-tingling vocal performance by Noa Gruman and a nice guitar solo by Christian Vidal (if there's one thing that I perhaps miss on this album is more spots for instrumental solos).

After the last couple of releases, Therion's fans might be wary to approach Leviathan, but there is really no need to. If you are a fan of the band's output between Theli and Gothic Kabbalah, this album will not disappoint you. Neither will it surprise you, but perhaps Therion's fans have had enough surprises already in the past decade. Leviathan may be the most linear and accessible album that Therion have released in the past ten years, but there's a catch: this is just the first installment of a trilogy of albums that Johnsson has already written up and is preparing to release in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The man seems incapable of writing less than 40 songs in one sitting! I don't know about you, but after having listened to Leviathan, I very much look forward to the rest of the trilogy!

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

 Theli by THERION album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.12 | 188 ratings

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Theli
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

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 sounds with classical emotions.

I praise instrumental moments, plenty of them, with more retro feelings such as the first intro that reminds of Wakeman moments. "To mega Therion" is a flagship song by Therion, played at every concert. Melodic, convincing. Progressive touchers are mirrored in instrumental piano parts with guitar and proficient drumming.

Having harpsichord and dark guitar chords are not mutually exclusive as evidenced on "Cults of the shadow". "In the desert of set" is a mis-behaving set with awful agressive male voice and female choirs saving the vocal duties. "Nightside of eden" has a perfect blend of progressive dark chords but also heavy metal outro. "The siren of woods" is out of place here but it's not a negative comment - the composition is very laid back, quite mellow and relaxing. Despite its length, it does not reveal much substance and seems to be more atmospheric with piano and strings. The last song is a true finale with strings well matched to rocking rhythm section. Well done!

HIghly recommended to fans of operatic metal and open-minded metal fans.

 Beloved Antichrist by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2018
2.73 | 38 ratings

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Beloved Antichrist
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars In short, THIS ALBUM IS BORING AF! Read on if you want to know why

THERION has been around forever at this point at least by metal standards having formed all the way back in 1987 and made a name for itself in the early years by climbing the ranks of the Swedish death metal scene by incrementally releasing one slightly more experimental album followed by another. Some say that founder and creative mastermind Christofer Johnsson was seriously smitten after hearing the choral sections on Ozzy Osbourne's classic 1981 track "Diary Of A Madman." Randy Rhoads of course was one of the pioneers of the neoclassical sounds and had he not perished prematurely could've possibly been the mastermind of a band like THERION but it was Johnsson who saw the higher potentials of mixing classical music with heavy metal and well, the rest is pretty much history with a never-ending supply of metal divas rocking to Orff inspired Wagnerian pomp fortified by Iron Maiden guitar gallops.

The classic years of THERION started with 1996's "Theli" where the band suddenly dropped all death metal pretenses and went full on symphonic classical mode and in the process took the world by storm by taking the neoclassical shtick to the next logical level by incorporated massive symphonies, choirs and mining the opera catacombs of their wealth to incorporate dramatic vocal grandeur in a heavy metal context. The results sorta made your hair stand up as it was bold, refreshing and utterly unthinkable! The formula remained fresh and vital all the way up to the band's 13th album "Gothic Kabbalah" which was released in 2007. But then it seems everything started going down the ole crapper. Not only did the entire musical cast part ways leaving Johnsson to reinvent the band once again but the main man himself was suffering from the physical battles scars of the demands of live performances. He suffered intense neck and shoulder pain as well as spine disc herniations. Not only did he temporarily lose his ability to perform but seems all that divine inspiration that made THERION such a fan-damn-tastic band to experience just sorta up and left!

Starting with 2010's "Sitra Ahra" THERION was a completely new beast but all the vitality of the past had somehow disappeared with the rest of the band and suddenly for the first time it sounded like THERION was just going through the motions with a by-the-numbers generic delivery of been-there-done-that material. Obviously the wells of inspiration had run dry so Johnsson decided to take a stab at recording an album of classic French pop songs adapted to metal on 2012's "Les Fleurs Du Mal" which was a slightly more interesting albeit divisive endeavor albeit a far cry from the classic THERION years. With inspiration clearly waning Johnsson decided to finally unleash his ultimate end game vision of what THERION could be. While this project has always been about the gleeful fusion party where operatic divas and headbangers unite under one flag, nobody really considered THERION to haver released a true bona fide metal opera with OPERA in all capital letters.

After "Fleurs Du Mal" Johnsson focused on a side project called The Luciferian Light Orchestra which basically created a less metal version of "Gothic Kabbalah" which set the stage for the next project by THERION. Having had the idea to finally take THERION to its logical conclusion with a fully developed metal opera, Johnsson began working on what was meant to be his most ambitious project yet and in 2018 it finally came to light as the triple album set BELOVED ANTICHRIST which consisted of a whopping 46 songs based on "A Short Tale Of The Antichrist" by Vladimir Solviov. Somehow he forgot the "short" part of the tale and expanded the story to include 27 characters played by 15 vocalists and while this may sound a lot like what Arjen Anthony Lucassen has crafted in his project Ayreon, let's just say that this one doesn't quite live up to the hype.

The opera is described as a theatrical presentation in which a dramatic performance is set to music and originated at the end of the 16th century in Italy with many historians claiming Jacopo Peri's "Dafne" being the first example of 1598. That means there have been over 500 years of opera in existence. Some of the most popular examples are Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo," Purcell's "Dido And Aeneas," Handel's "Julius Caesar" and Gluck's "Orfeo Ed Euridice." Having dropped most of the metal characteristics of yore like an impotent headbanger who lost his viagra, this can only be considered a metal OPERA by the most fertile of imaginations but if you're looking for some juicy guitar riffs or anything resembling the band's past glory, your expectations will fall flatter than silicon boob job gone horribly wrong. This is an opera album through and through and not a very good one at that. Never have i heard 46 consecutive songs sound so mind numbingly bland in all my life. To be fair there is metal to be heard but it's so dreadfully dull and mostly absent with only a few tracks thrown here and there.

Needless to say THERION does nothing to add to the opera legacy not even by the tiniest despite limp noodle metal music being inserted into its format. This is basically a traditional opera in every conceivable way with only some rock and metal music being snuck in for the sake of calling this a metal opera. In reality this 3 album set is a chore to sit through but as a THERION fan i felt it was my duty to listen to the entire thing all the way through although with an initial sense of trepidation having a keen sense of what to expect. There are no metal vocal styles, only the traditional clean sung opera variations. The three albums are woefully paced with no rhyme or reason or any sense of dramatically buildups to some climax. Badly paced and woefully lacking any sort of interesting musical hooks, all THERION can do is retread past glories by piling on extra layers of fluff to create a false sense of achievement. Flatulent guitar riffs, incessant Pavarotti worship tenors and divas sounding like they need bowel movements endlessly persist for a staggering ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THREE MINUTES :o

What we have here is an impressive piece of work but on paper only. Everything about this is impressive. Hell, just the fact that it exists is one for the history books but when all is said and done BELOVED ANTICHRIST is a three hour blackhole that sucks three hours out of your life never to be retrieved. If that isn't the ultimate act of evil, i don't know what is! In summary, the only thing that comes to mind when i struggled through this one is that the once mighty THERION has finally gone off the deep end. I could think of a million ways to make this boring dross more entertaining but it is literally the epitome of an opera set on autoplay with no end in sight. Despite all the talent and efforts that went into this one, it is utterly devoid of soul and the whole thing feels forced for the sake of its mere existence. I've never been a huge opera fan but at least when i do occasionally experience some of the classics i can feel the passion behind the creative process that went into them. In this case i only feel a band that has lost its way and gotten a distorted sense of grandeur that is attempted but woefully lost. Please, Christofer! Let it go! THERION needs to rest now. Hint hint. No! Mommy! Make it stop! AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Did i mention that THIS ALBUM IS BORING AF?

 Sitra Ahra by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.32 | 72 ratings

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Sitra Ahra
Therion Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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