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Therion - Deggial CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.76 | 106 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars After the guitar galloping mix of metal and symphonic classical opera on "Theli," THERION catapulted itself into the metal big leagues and quickly went on tour but after a couple albums of leftovers and the much mellower vibe on the true followup "Vovin," it seemed THERION was mellowing out and gravitating more towards the opera and neglecting its metal head banging duties. On the band's ninth album DEGGIAL there is a quickened beeline back to the metal aspects of the band that helped it evolve into its unique hybrid in the first place. DEGGIAL (or Dejjial) refers to an evil figure in Islamic eschatology which will purportedly come into being and pose as the true Messiah and so THERION once again addresses the metaphysical and occult themes as it has from the beginning.

At this point band leader Christofer Johnsson had become very aware of how stale this sort of metal opera thing could become and was taking the time to innovate interesting compositions that set the perfect balance between classic metal guitar riffs inspired by old school metal such as Iron Maiden, Did or Accept but was also careful not to repeat styles too often and therefore was finding grittier sounds mined from more progressive thinking metal bands like Celtic Frost or Voivod. While still completely steeped in the expected operatic classical sounds that defined their new style of symphonic metal, DEGGIAL consists not only of four band members at this point but includes four guest musicians, eight members of the choir and an orchestra that finds another eleven musicians adding their stamp to the ornate tapestry of sound that emerges from the eleven tracks presented.

What sets DEGGIAL apart form albums like "Theli" and "Vovin" is that it finds some sort of middle ground between the two extremes. "Theli" has always seemed like a metal album where the operatic elements are competing for domination and "Vovin" on the other hand feels like the operatic touches won the battle while they kept the metal heft on a leash. On DEGGIAL the two disparate styles have signed a truce and conspire to eke out the best of each other with no competitive bravado dampening the ceremonious harmonic possibilities. On the metal side of the equation, the guitar, bass and drumming are more diverse as they tackle elements of classic 80s metal, alternative metal as well as moments of thrash, speed metal and gothic rock. For the classical choirs, there is a lot more emphasis placed upon more integrate harmonies that usually involve a male and female counterpoint with the rest of the vocalists occasionally creating a more polyphonic approach.

There are also more wind instruments on this one with flute, oboe as well as heavier brass with a French horn, flugelhorn, trumpet and tuba. While many tracks in the recent past mostly were set on simmer with mellow folk or slow ratcheting divas singing over softly strummed guitars or the exact opposite with blistering metal with guitar solos, DEGGIAL offers many styles within individual tracks. "Seven Secrets Of The Sphinx" begins with a heavy guitar riff and male tenors but is then joined in by a rather progressive psychedelic keyboard run and woodwinds, a clear sign that the compositions have been crafted in a way that is much more inventive. Just in the first track alone there are many different movements with varying guitar riffs, vocal performances as well as uses for the other instruments. This only continues throughout the album as "Eternal Return" follows with a slow vocal choir performance accompanied only by a violin and double bass but then drifts into a folk sound and then again breaks out the Maiden inspired metal riffing.

The title track is one of the stranger ones as it adds some sort of sound effect that sounds like a Jew's harp along with the choirs. The track is slow and sensual but the towards the end cranks out some crushing metal heft with the divas and violins joining in the quickened pace. While both heavy and softer passages are readily available, DEGGIAL delivers the exact right juxtaposition of opposite polarities and paces things extremely well. "The Flight Of The Lord Of Flies" is THERION's answer to "Flight Of The Bumblebee" and is a feisty rocker that rocks the violin, soprano vocals and guitar shredding. It's short and sweet and makes a great introduction to the heavy metal thunder of "Flesh Of The Gods" which finds Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch on vocals along with the operatic divas minus the classical instrumentation. The lengthy "Via Nocturna (Part I and II)" at just shy of 10 minutes is the most progressive track as it sounds like an authentic metal opera that mixes metal segments with unadulterated opera, folk and progressive rock. The album close with a cover of Orff's "O Fortuna" from his famous cantata "Carmina Burana."

For my money, DEGGIAL is a step up from both "Theli" and "Vovin," both of which were excellent in their own right but on this one the creative juices were dialed up a few notches where every inspiration from both the metal universe and the annals of the world of classical and opera where also raided. The way that the music works in tandem is absolutely brilliant and there are only a few moments where i feel a few notes were misplaced and it derails the flow but those are few and far between. For the most part this one is smooth sailing and Johnsson proves that he had the mojo to take things to the next level instead of constantly retreading on the success of "Theli" and "Vovin." While DEGGIAL won't sound radically different from previous albums in many ways, to a trained ear that listens to the detailed elements and how they interact it is quite staggering. For the casual listener this will come across as a highly melodic mix of classic heavy metal with a symphonic orchestra and talented choir. Either way, this is a divine and dramatic recording that ranks high on my list of THERION favorites.

4.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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