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Therion - Beyond Sanctorum CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

2.58 | 51 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars THERION released its collection of demos as a debut album called 'Of Darkness' in 1991 but realized the outdated material had no chance of breaking through the already crowded Swedish death metal market so immediately began work on the followup BEYOND SANCTORUM which came out the following year. While still rooted in the Stockholm death metal scene which stemmed from the hardcore punk scene more so than the American Tampa style, BEYOND SANCTORUM continues the rawness of the debut that employed a buzzsaw guitar tone, down-tuned guitar riff attacks along with the incessant tempos, blastbeats and tortured vocal guttural growls.

BEYOND SANCTORUM however expanded the band's generic qualities by adding some of the nascent elements that would continue to expand until it would become a major pioneer of the world of symphonic metal. First of all the composiitons on BEYOND SANCTORUM are much more diverse and offer both progressive rock and classical music perspective in how some of the tunes are laid out. Added to that the band added keyboards to create cold atmospheres as well as scant use of female vocals and some Persian folk music, both of which would become major staples of the band's sound once they reinvented themselves.

This was also the point where THERION evolved past the by then cliche themes of morbidity, horror and gore and zombie apocalypse type material and ventured into the occult with particular emphasis on H.P. Lovecraft writings although at this point the growls are still pretty much unintelligible so they could be singing about American housewives having Tupperware parties in the 1950s and no one would know the difference but nevertheless the focus on the more esoteric subject matter is what would transmogrify THERION from a run of the mill death metal band to the innovative orchestrated symphonic metal band that would launch them into the limelight as one of the true innovators of metal music.

'Of Darkenss' was really a one trick pony which resulted in well performed old school death metal however none of the tracks really stood out. Of course it really was a collection of demos from the 1987-89 timeline and found inspiration from the most nascent sounds of the scene. On BEYOND SANCTORUM that has been corrected as the song structures are much more varied and experimental. There are moments of slower doom metal, more time signature deviations as well as unexpected deviations from the norm. While not quite considered a tech death metal, THERION was well on their way to crafting truly complex music that would grow incrementally on the following albums. Likewise the guitar solos avoid the Morbid Angel squeals and innovate some truly out of the box displays of creativity.

The true leap of progressiveness is fully realized on the eleven minute 'The Way' which wends and winds through many different riff changes and chord progressions but firmly remains in the context of highly aggressive Swedish death metal. The addition of the keyboard sounds and other surprises makes this the most compelling track of the album. Guitar riff tradeoffs and some of the guitar gallops of later THERION fame also debut here. Overall BEYOND SANCTORUM is a great leap forward for THERION that engages in a much more diverse range of sounds. The early traces of female operatic vocals are briefly introduced on 'Paths' and the attention to detail makes this one a much more interesting death metal experience than the debut although it's basically rooted in the same old school death metal sounds.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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