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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)

2.48 | 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 | 65 ratings
Lepaca Kliffoth
1995
4.12 | 185 ratings
Theli
1996
3.16 | 42 ratings
A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming
1997
4.10 | 179 ratings
Vovin
1998
3.09 | 59 ratings
Crowning Of Atlantis
1999
3.74 | 101 ratings
Deggial
2000
3.92 | 123 ratings
Secret Of The Runes
2001
3.83 | 126 ratings
Sirius B
2004
3.87 | 136 ratings
Lemuria
2004
3.60 | 103 ratings
Gothic Kabbalah
2007
3.33 | 71 ratings
Sitra Ahra
2010
3.22 | 58 ratings
Les Fleurs Du Mal
2012
2.73 | 38 ratings
Beloved Antichrist
2018
3.16 | 20 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
1.05 | 3 ratings
Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness (Demo)
1989
2.09 | 4 ratings
Time Shall Tell (EP)
1990
3.96 | 4 ratings
The Beauty in Black
1994
3.96 | 7 ratings
Siren of the Woods
1996
3.50 | 4 ratings
Eye of Shiva
1998
3.50 | 4 ratings
Bells of Doom
2001
2.04 | 4 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
 Leviathan by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.16 | 20 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
3.16 | 20 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
3.16 | 20 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 | 185 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
3.33 | 71 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

 Gothic Kabbalah by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.60 | 103 ratings

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Gothic Kabbalah
Therion Progressive Metal

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.

 Sirius B by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.83 | 126 ratings

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Sirius B
Therion Progressive Metal

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

4 stars The period around the "Secret Of The Runes" album was one of the most prolific for Christofer Johnsson and his symphonic metal project THERION who not only had released a string of successful albums with "Vovin" being the largest seller of the lot but also engaged in a massive tour that would yield a live album called "Live in Midgård." During this period Johnsson along with the Niemann brothers (Kristian on guitars and Johan on bass) amassed an amazing amount of material to work with. With 55 unreleased songs in the coffers, THERION picked out the strongest which resulted in 21 of them being released at the same time. Instead of simply cranking out a double album per se, it was decided to release two individual albums instead. Both "Lemuria" and its counterpart SIRUS B were released on 24 May 2004 both as single albums as well as a twin-pack with two titles.

Since these two albums were released simultaneously the obvious question of which one comes first in the discography. No chicken and egg scenario here as they were released exactly at the same time so it seems that through the sophisticated occult practices of contacting demons or a scryer or whatever sort of supernatural forces intervened, it was decided that the alphabetical method was the determining factor and therefore "Lemuria" is officially THERION's 11th studio album and SIRIUS B is officially the 12th album even though they appear as a double album twin-pack as well. SIRIUS B is the longest of the two which squeaks past the 57 minute mark while "Lemuria" is a bit shorter by just floating by the 42 minute mark. Both albums are characterized by their own subtle differences but roughly speaking are in the same camp.

To call these two works ambitious is an understatement. On these two recordings there were a total of 171 musicians involved in one form or another which included the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a 32-member choir. These two albums found a new lead male vocalist with Mats Levén who had worked with many artists before most notably with Yngwie Malmsteen and a continuing guest appearance of vocalist Piotr Wawrzeniuk. LEMURIA follows in the footsteps of "Secrets Of The Runes" with the heavy metal aspects of the band's sound in the forefront. But then again any given THERION album from "Theli" on incorporates a massive sound spectrum of classical symphonic elements, choirs. While "Lemuria" refers to a mythological sunken continent, SIRIUS B goes all cosmic on ya and flirts with the notion that the star Sirius actually has a twin called SIRIUS B. Like "Lemuria," SIRIUS B's concepts span a wider range of occult themes and mythology.

Musically SIRIUS B is one of the most integrated examples of cross-pollinating the heavy metal bombast and operatic classical symphony with choral grandiosity. In that regard it's much more like "Secret Of The Runes" but not quite as bombastic for its entirety with an in again out again approach to the metal guitar heft which leaves it much more like "Deggial." Instrumentally SIRIUS B differs a bit from "Lemuria" with the addition of a church organ and mandolin but does incorporate some of the psychedelic prog rock sounds of a Hammond organ. While SIRIUS B is the typical THERION album with lots of metal guitar, bass and drums it's the mix of the different elements that takes it on a slightly different journey than the previous albums. Firstly there are bizarre intros to many of the songs along with other electronic processed vocals and guitar riffs which are often in the form of Pantera-esque groove metal busyness

This is also perhaps the release with the fewest number of vocalists but the album comes off more like an Ayreon style of rock opera with the vocalists involved trading off more often rather than amassing a huge polyphonic vocal attack. In addition to the groove metal bombast there is always a lingering atmospheric backdrop of the keyboards and like every THERION album delivers irresistibly catchy melodies that are augmented by the sheer immensity of the massive number of participants. THERION albums are like musical formats of occult and mythological text books and SIRIUS B covers a wide range of topics such as Kingu in "The Blood Of Kingu", the Sumerian monster, the Pharaoh Akhenaten in "Son Of The Sun," the controversial Russian sect of Christiany called Khlysti in "The Khlysti Evangelist" as well as topics from Greek mythology, Hinduism, east African folklore, Semitic gods, Armenian mystics and mythology from a group called the yazidis. Whew!

It takes a few spins to differentiate THERION albums as they all pretty much adopt the same basic characteristics but just like different recipes in the kitchen amount to a different mood that results from the changing around of things or the subtraction of this or the addition of that. SIRIUS B indeed sounds like a cosmic type of album that makes me think of what a new age metal opera would sound like if that terminology is even adequate. The album has a liturgical vibe imbued with the classical operatic choirs and the ethnic folk that bows down to the rampage of metal when it enters the scene and some electronica sounds that pop in. The main difference of both SIRIUS B and "Lemuria" sounds to me that the psychedelic organs give this more of an Age of Aquarius type feel that reminds me of the late 60s and early 70s so therefore there are more classic golden era prog sounds to these two releases with SIRIUS B having the edge over "Lemuria" just a smidge. Any way you shake it, this wham bam thank you m'am double release of 2004 is another set of faves in the THERION canon as there are not disappointing tracks although there is nothing here that dramatically stands out either. THERION is all about consistency and delivers again on the 2004 combo pack.

 Lemuria by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.87 | 136 ratings

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Lemuria
Therion Progressive Metal

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

4 stars The period around the "Secret Of The Runes" album was one of the most prolific for Christofer Johnsson and his symphonic metal project THERION who not only had released a string of successful albums with "Vovin" being the largest seller of the lot but also engaged in a massive tour that would yield a live album called "Live in Midgård." During this period Johnsson along with the Niemann brothers (Kristian on guitars and Johan on bass) amassed an amazing amount of material to work with. With 55 unreleased songs in the coffers, THERION picked out the strongest which resulted in 21 of them being released at the same time. Instead of simply cranking out a double album per se, it was decided to release two individual albums instead. Both LEMURIA and its counterpart "Sirius B" were released on 24 May 2004 both as single albums as well as a twin-pack with two titles.

Since these two albums were released simultaneously the obvious question of which one comes first in the discography. No chicken and egg scenario here as they were released exactly at the same time so it seems that through the sophisticated occult practices of contacting demons or a scryer or whatever sort of supernatural forces intervened, it was decided that the alphabetical method was the determining factor and therefore LEMURIA, which refers to the other sunken continent like Atlantis, is officially THERION's 11th studio album. It does get a little confusing since the two albums were released as a twofer as well as separately but they are indeed separate albums and each has its own personality despite being culled from the same repository. LEMURIA is the shortest of the two and only exceeds past the 42 minutes in contrast to "Sirius B" which just skirts past the 57 minute mark.

To call these works ambitious is an understatement. On these two recordings there were a total of 171 musicians involved in one form or another which included the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a 32-member choir. These two albums found a new lead male vocalist with Mats Levén who had worked with many artists before most notably with Yngwie Malmsteen and a continuing guest appearance of vocalist Piotr Wawrzeniuk. LEMURIA follows in the footsteps of "Secrets Of The Runes" with the heavy metal aspects of the band's sound in the forefront. But then again any given THERION album from "Theli" on incorporates a massive sound spectrum of classical symphonic elements, choirs and on this one even includes some ethnic instruments such as balalaikas, a domra and even a little proggy mellotron and Hammond organ. While the title suggests a concept album, LEMURIA is all over the mythological map covering Greek themes ("Typhon," "Abaris"), Germanic ("Futhark"), Aztec ("Quetzalcoatl"), Gnostic ("Abraxas") and even closer to home Swedish occultism with the track "The Dreams of Swedenborg" about 18-century occultist Emanuel Swedenborg.

While LEMURIA emphasizes the heavy metal thunder for much of its playing time, it's actually more like "Deggial" in that it has lots of softer parts like acoustic guitar arpeggio segments, classical non-metal moments but alternates with more bombastic bravo however the metal is often more brutal as on "Secret Of The Runes." Basically THERION takes established formulas and changed up the recipe ever so slightly. Every tune is crafted extremely well as you can expect instantly catchy classically inspired melodies rocking it out with classic 80s metal that showcase those classic Iron Maiden guitar gallops as well as other elements from hard rock, doom metal and even a faint reference to the band's death metal origins at times such as blastbeats, tremolo guitar picking or even a growl or two but mostly this is just another excellent display of symphonic operatic metal that spares no expense. There is even a Rammstein sounding track with the closing "Feurer Overtüre / Prometheus Entfesselt ! "

 Secret Of The Runes by THERION album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.92 | 123 ratings

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Secret Of The Runes
Therion Progressive Metal

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

5 stars The turn of the millennium was a productive time for THERION with several albums released since its international breakthrough with "Theli" in 1996 with each new studio album changing up the band's recipe of hybridizing heavy metal thunder with Wagnerian operatic pomp with symphonic splendor and charismatic choirs. On the band's tenth album led by the indefatigable frontman Christofer Johnsson, SECRET OF THE RUNES continues the swing of the pendulum back to the metal side of the band's equation with grittier guitar hooks that are more in the forefront than any album since the band's death metal days. This is a concept album based on Norse mythology where the songs describe the nine worlds that flank a central tree called the Yggdrasil.

With each album getting ever more ambitious, SECRET OF THE RUNES continues where "Deggial" left off and not only amplifies the guitars a lot more but includes new subgroups of musicians. In addition to the four core members that provide the metal heft, this one has a choir of eight members along with six guests who provide vocals, cello and violin. If that wasn't enough there is a string ensemble of eight musicians, a woodwind ensemble of three and a brass ensemble four. Despite violins, violas, tubas, trumpets, French horns, flutes, bassoon and many many more instruments adding to the immensity of it all, SECRET OF THE RUNES remains a cool cucumber throughout its entire running time by keeping everything in place and only put in use for moments when it is most effective to do so.

The overall feel of SECRET OF THE RUNES is a more bombastic metal album that implements folky musical scales to create a rather ethnic vibe unlike previous albums with the classical and choir effects adding a more epic contrast to the folk metal underpinnings. Each track is divinely crafted to stand out from the pack and the tracks range from high tempo ("Ginnungagap," "Muspelheim") to dreamy vocal choir led rockers that implement the metal guitars as a caustic backrdrop ("Midgård," "Ljusalfheim") and everywhere in between. Generally speaking metal provides the main rhythm section while the classical elements provide divine atmospheres and mood builders that rise from the heavy amplification but every song is really distinct and despite these commonalities all emerge as separate but equal.

By this point THERION had crafted more polyphonic stylistic shifts with complex vocal counterpoints playing out in tandem with metal guitar heft and folky flutes. The recipe seems so simple when experienced but the mind boggling process of how these disparate sounds could play so well together is quite impressive. Any of these tracks would sound right at home as purely metal, completely classical or just simple folk. THERION succeeds on SECRET OF THE RUNES in the layering effect where each element plays off the other while maintaining a basic melodic flow. The uncanny mix of growly death vocals occasionally make a return while lush flutes slowly flutter around. Much of the album seems to rely on a busy percussive groove that's only noticeable when the drums are allowed to shine without the suffocating effects of the plethora of tones, timbres and melodic scales.

Once again in the metal department it seems that classic metal like Iron Maiden and Scorpions type riffing are the most preferred with tracks like "Vanheim" reminding me of Maiden's classic tune "To Tame A Land" in its bouncy metal stomp. However despite the similar riffing style takes on a completely different persona with a massive choir directing the melodic flow in differing directions. This track also has one of the most energetic guitar solos as Kristian Niemann shows off his best shredding skills. "Helheim" is perhaps the scariest as it starts with a hypnotic bass vocal chant with frenetic female operatic divas answering in terror.

SECRET OF THE RUNES is the most successful example of THERION finally blurring the lines between metal and classical opera. While one side or the other seemed to dominate on previous albums except for "Deggial" where the two worked together in tandem but yet favored one or the other in alternation, this album shows the two styles in perfect harmony along with the extra magic of the ethnic folk that one would associate with the classic sounds that would date back to the days when such Norse mythology was being created. The ending title track describes the moment when you learn the SECRET OF THE RUNES and your consciousness becomes a god. This grand finale cranks out the galloping guitar riffs, mix of male and female vocals and lots of celebratory bringing the exciting musical journey to a dramatic and satisfying close. If you're lucky you have the two extra bonus tracks which includes the Scorpions cover of "Crying Days" and Abba's "Summer Night City," the latter of which is performed amazingly well.

THERION are in no doubt the masters of mixing heavy metal music with classical symphonic elements in the absolute perfect way and the fact that Johnsson finds new ways to breathe life into each and every new album is uncanny. SECRET OF THE RUNES is one of the heavier albums in the THERION canon although not always heavy with fast tempos but rather heavy in the rawness and power of the guitar stomps, doom metal sustain or the riffs themselves but there are many uptempo segments that are amongst THERION's heaviest. The ability of the folk and classical instruments to adapt to the domain of the metal is also impressive. While "Theli" was a classic in its own right and the following albums were of high quality as well, personally i find SECRET OF THE RUNES to be the absolute pinnacle of the THERION sound with one well composed track after another. Everything just seems to work on this one as the recipe has reached its apex moment. It goes without saying that for those who do not fancy opera and classical elements in their metal, this album won't change your perspective but if you've already fallen for this unique musical Frankenstein then i can't think of a better example then this particular album.

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

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