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Therion Secret of the Runes  album cover
3.81 | 112 ratings | 7 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ginnungagap (The Black Hole) (Prologue) (6:09)
2. (Old) Midgård (5:04)
3. Asgård (The Bifrost Bridge) (4:08)
4. (Call of) Jotunheim (3:43)
5. Schwarzalbenheim (Svartalfheim) (Gold der Unterwelt) (5:18)
6. Ljusalfheim (The Shining Ones) (3:54)
7. Muspelheim (Gudaskymning) (2:15)
8. Nifelheim (Dimmornas Värld) (4:36)
9. Vanaheim (Seed of Ing) (4:04)
10. Helheim (Den Dimhöljda) (3:18)
11. Secret of the Runes (Epilogue) (5:30)
12. Crying Days (remixed) (bonus track) (4:32)
13. Summernight City (remixed) (bonus track) (4:55)

Total Time: 57:26
Exist an Limited Edition CD... contains 2 extra tracks ("The Wings Of The Hydra (Live)", and "Black Sun (Live)")

Line-up / Musicians

- Christofer Johnsson / rhythm guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Sami Karpinnen / drums, percussion
- Johan Niemann / bass
- Kristian Niemann / lead & rhythm guitars

+ Asa Akeberg / cello solo
- Erika Andersson / solo alto voice
- Thomas Karlsson / whisper (6)
- Carl Rahmqvist / solo teno baritone voice
- Anna Rodell / solo violin
- Marika schonberg / solo soprano voice

- Choir / Anna Artursson, Joakim Berg, Patrik Forsman, Kristina Hansson, Henrik Holmberg, Anna-Maria Krawe, Carl Rahmqvist, Marika Schonberg.
- String Ensemble / Asa Akeberg (cello), Jesef Cabrales-Alin (1st violin), Monika Jonsson (cello), Johan Moren (2nd violin), Anna Rodell (1st violin), Malin Samuelsson (2nd violin), Niklas Sjunesson (viola), Linda Svedrup (viola).
- Woodwinds Ensemble / Henrik Blixt(bassoon / contrabassoon), Fareidah Hildebrand (flute / altoflute / piccolo), Erik Rodell (oboe / English horn).
- Brass Ensemble / Ayman Al Fakir (French horn / Wagnertuba), Rune Bodin (trombone), Kristina Borg (French horn), Mikael Sorensen (trumpet / flugel horn).

Releases information

CD Nuclear Blast 625 (2001) / CD Nuclear Blast America 6625 (2001)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Buy THERION Secret of the Runes Music

Secret of the RunesSecret of the Runes
Nuclear Blast Americ 2001
$9.19 (used)

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THERION Secret of the Runes ratings distribution

(112 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THERION Secret of the Runes reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars At the very beginning of XXI century Therion became an important name in European metal society. Their fantastic combination of melodic scandinavian metal with operatic vocal and often orchestrated arrangements is one of a few great new things invented on the border of metal and progressive music. So, generally I like Therion albums ( I am speaking about their later,operatic metal period).

But there are many differences between separate albums for sure. So, Secret of the Runes is good,but not their best. If operatic voices are great as usual, musical background is very simplistic there. From the very first notes of the album you feel that "viking metal" is all around, but same formula of very repetetivous song construction,and most important - very simple ,let say - primitive - drumming just killing all the Nordic beauty of the compositions.

Situation with guitar sound is almost similar: you wouldn't find complex guitar technigue or interesting sound there. In fact, absolutely great idea of mixing great operatic voice with melodic metal sound works perfectly, but in many moments this metal music sounds more as background for the voice.

As often with Therion, I am absolutely attracted by the formula, but almost any moment you wish to hear more complex and interesting musical sound. It doesn't mean, that the album is bad, no way! Album is really very good, but I just feel at any second of it what should be done just to make this album excellent!

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Nordic legends by Swedish legends

In 2001, in an admirable effort to further their prog credentials, Therion released their first bona-fide concept album. As the title suggests, "Secret of the runes" takes its theme from ancient Nordic legends. The "Runes" are ancient symbols containing secrets (see "Led Zeppelin 4" for Similar Icelandic Runes). One of these secrets relates to a world tree called Yggrasil which is made up of a number of "worlds", each of which is afforded a track.

Before we can explore the worlds however, they have to be created from a black hole, thus we have the opening track or prologue, "Ginnungagap". We are even advised that the land comes from a slain giant's body, and the seas from his blood. The track itself is surprisingly heavy and rock based, with only passing references to the orchestral and chorale side of Therion.

The track dedicated to the first world "(Old) Midgård" opens with a male choir, who provide a sort of narration throughout. The general feel is even more symphonic now than on previous albums, with operatic singing virtually taking over. The song is majestic, played out at a regal pace, but featuring some fine lead guitar towards the end. The following "Asgård (The Bifrost Bridge)" is along very similar lines, with melancholy vocals and instrumentation being the order of the day.

"(Call of) Jotunheim" explores darker themes, including pagan like chanting with fanfare accompaniment. "Schwarzalbenheim" opens with further fanfares before bursting forth into a pounding up tempo number. Here the lyrics appear to be in German, a language which suits the harder nature of the song. The acoustic basis for "Ljusalfheim (The Shining Ones)" sits well with the choir voices. The song tells the tale of pixies and elves (as does much of the album), Ljusalfheim being King of elves. The brief "Muspelheim" continues lyrically in a "Lord of the rings" way while compressing what might have been a 6 minute song into just over 2 minutes. "Nifelheim" takes the choral vocals even further, with chanting and melodic orchestration competing for the middle ground. "Vanaheim" reverts more towards the metal side of the band, while "Helheim" has some quite delightful male vocals. Here the lyrics are Scandinavian, presumably Norwegian.

The album closes with an "Epilogue" which also bears the album's title. This piece is similar to the "Prologue", lead guitar driving a spirited vocal theme forward.

Two "bonus" tracks appear on pretty much all the releases of this album. The first of these, "Crying days" is a cover of a Scorpions song with Piotr Wawrzeniuk returning to provide lead vocal. While the song is a distraction from the overall concept of the album, it does at least feel like a Therion number. The following cover of Abba's "Summer night city", which also has vocals by Piotr Wawrzeniuk, on the hand is a distraction too far. It is certainly an inventive and enjoyable affair, it just does not belong here. (You do have to hear it though!)

In all, a brave attempt by Therion to venture into new fields. The results largely work well, the greater emphasis on the symphonic placing further demands on the quality of the writing. By and large those demands are met, although overall I would place this album just below the best that Therion have made.

This was the first album by Therion to feature an unchanged core line up, and while drummer Sami Karppinen would leave after its release, the rest of the trio remained intact for subsequent albums. Much of the recording of the album took place in Johnsson's newly built studio.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Runes are individual symbols which are held to have significant power by themselves, and greater power when arranged in a particular pattern. This suitably describes the mildly tweaked musical approach that Therion take on Secret of the Runes, in which (to my ears, at least) they give greater prominence to the musical prowess of individual instrumentalists. The work of guitarist Kristian Niemann had tided me over on Vovin and Deggial, and it feels like it's given more a spotlight this time around - indeed, all the core band members seem to solo a bit more - and this proves somewhat refreshing to their symphonic metal sound, though it's all still a little limp and generic for my tastes.

Latest members reviews

4 stars For those that don't know Therion is actually a band, with no real lead vocalists, but a revolving door of amazing metal vocalists and operatic singers. This album I wasn't very fond of (I still loved it), because it focused too much on the operatic element rather than find the perfect balance ... (read more)

Report this review (#290154) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me this is an excellent album, with a perfect blend of metal, orchestra, and operatic vocals: lots of chorus and soprano singing; as a matter of fact straight rock singing is almost unused. And it's a concept album, about Viking Mythology, talking about the nine worlds, plus the initial ... (read more)

Report this review (#278136) | Posted by Dellinger | Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have owned Secret of the Runes for many years and I have known for quite a long time, but somehow I first discovered Therion on this site today (maybe because it really isn't a prog-band in my opinion). Anyway that doesn't make this album less good. If you have a knowle ... (read more)

Report this review (#83533) | Posted by Hardeknud | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is a concept album based on nordic tradition. It consists of a prologue, a description of the nine worlds of Yggrasil and an epilogue. Two covers complete the album. Here the classical parts are really emphasized and the metal parts put in the background - strong Richard Wagner infl ... (read more)

Report this review (#67162) | Posted by zaxx | Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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