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Of Darkness

Therion - Of Darkness ©1991 Deaf Records
1. The Return
2. Asphyxiate With Fear
3. Morbid Reality
4. Megalomaniac
5. A Suburb To Hell
6. Genocidal Raid
7. Time Shall Tell
8. Dark Eternity

Primitive death metal, but thoughtfully composed and with a considerably heavy sound. The Therion of then were very different from the avante-gardists of today, so what we get is a mixture between say Sepultura and Celtic Frost (don't you think this band's name keeps popping up a lot? doesn't that mean you should perhaps check them out?) with some elements of dirty grind. Thrash riffs are neatly packed into average sized boxes of death metal with a blast-beat/grindcore wrapping - this is like a compilation of the spirit of non-black extreme metal. These riffs, though, are really quite good: Christofer Johnsson has always had a great sense of arrangement and all of his compositions flow very well...regardless of the sub-genre they are presented in. I also believe he is one of the most under-rated vocalists in death metal. The vocals on this and on the two subsequent releases are very well done. Rather generic at first, but the emphasis on rhythmic accompaniment (rather than the "look at me i'm scawee" routine) and a knack for singing at just the right time during a riff really integrate them well into the work. The sound is rather muddy but also clear, so not much of a problem there. The lyrics are rather immature, with short, opinionated and declarative phrases about destruction of the environment/christianity/etc that aren't imaginative by any standards.

I must say that although this is not even remotely their best release or one of the landmarks in the genre, I really do like it for what it is: straightforward death metal with damn good songwriting. Though it contains neither the melodic mega-riffage like on Symphony Masses nor the full-blown million-things-to-hear layering on Theli/Vovin, it definitely is satisfactory in itself. Somewhat difficult to find, though, but the re-release should correct that. I just think that it has been unfairly treated by Therion fans who keep using the same gauges as those that they use for judging releases Lepaca Kliffoth onwards. It's a shame that an entire chunk of Therion's history has been ignored by newbies to the band...a chunk that is, incidentally, even more worthwhile than their later years.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 03/1999

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Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas

Therion - Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas ©1993 Pavement
1. Baal Reginon
2. Dark Princess Naamah
3. A Black Rose
4. Symphoni Drakonis Inferni
5. Dawn Of Perishness
6. The Eye Of Eclipse
7. The Ritual Dance Of Yezidis
8. Powerdance
9. Procreation Of Eternity
10. Ho Dracon Ho Megas

By 1993, it was very apparent that Therion leader Christofer Johnsson wasn't exactly going to settle for bland, commonplace death metal any longer. Taking the basic thrash/death kettle and madly throwing in skewed elements, Symphony Masses became a monstrous piece of work that had to have stood one thousand miles apart from anything else around it at the time. Moreover, the riffs and guitar lines simply screamed, "Hey, I'm both simple and effective...why don't you listen to me again?" In other words, Therion took the experimentation of Celtic Frost to a new plateau both in execution and in spirit. I'm on my fifth or sixth listen of this album and I'm still only beginning to assimilate what it's all about. While I have a greater affection toward's 1997's Theli, which simply went over the top with the operatics and choirs and whatnot, Symphony Masses is required listening for anyone wishing to explore Therion in full.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1999

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Lepaca Kliffoth

Therion - Lepaca Kliffoth ©1995 Nuclear Blast
1. The Wings Of The Hydra
2. Melez
3. Arrival Of The Darkest Queen
4. The Beauty In Black
5. Riders Of Theli
6. Black
7. Darkness Eve
8. Sorrows Of The Moon
9. Let The New Day Begin
10. Lepaca Kliffoth
11. Evocation Of Vovin

As the 90's answer to Celtic Frost, Therion evolved from a bland death metal band to an exciting hybrid of symphonic metal with tinges and eventually entire washes of classical music and then right back to bland, only this time as a bland power metal band. However, right smack dab in the middle is the heart of the band's best work, including 1995's Lepaca Kliffoth.

Having built on the framework of Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas and continued the spirit of Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium, Therion furthered the investigation of melding classical influence with a thrashy and classy brand of metal. Matched with some pretty nifty songwriting, the result is a very fine piece of work, ranking among the best Therion would ever release. For the album's recording, Therion brought in two classically trained singers to act as a balancing zone for Christofer Johnsson's hoarse shouting and throughout, their contributions are nothing but exceptional. The symphonic aspect is still somewhat diminished in comparison to later efforts from Therion, but the flashes throughout are very smartly employed. The core music is more certainly solid metal and expertly played by the band, especially with drummer Piotr Wawrzeniuk's fluid and deft touches. The band also nods a hearty head to Celtic Frost by covering "Sorrows of the Moon", which finds Johnsson offering a very snappy Tom G. Warrior impression.

On a whole, Lepaca Kliffoth is one of the band's most consistent and cohesive releases. Still not overblown and grandiose, the album has one foot firmly planted in the band's heavier death metal roots but with one foot stepping right into their future. Given the brilliance of this album and Theli, it is a darned shame the band would turn into the musical equivalent of strained vegetables by the year 2000.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Therion - Theli ©1997 Nuclear Blast
1. Preludium
2. To Mega Therion
3. Cults Of The Shadow
4. In The Desert Of Set
5. Interludium
6. Nightside Of Eden
7. Opus Eclipse
8. Invocation Of Naamah
9. The Siren Of The Woods
10. Grand Finale/Postludium

Having never heard Therion beyond name recognition, I wasn't sure what to expect from this disc. And to my surprise, this is possibly the most ambitious album I've heard in quite some time. Mixing classical music with traditional metal, Therion has come across as an innovative and quite interesting outfit.

First, the gripes. The problem with lofty goals such as Therion has set for themselves is tendency to overdo everything. A lot of the orchestrated parts are just a bit too indulgent and there is more instrumental wanking than necessary. Someone could have easily snuck into the studio, snipped out five or ten minutes of the master tapes (namely cut out that awful chant of "Interludium", which sounds like a choir going "Blah blah blah blah" out of tune), and we would have never noticed the difference.

But that's a minor quibble. Overall, there is an excellence to Theli unparalled by most of today's pioneering bands fail to meet. Therion uses both a choir, shouted metal vocals, and gothic singing (courtesy of Dan Swano, the Renaisance man of metal) to weave powerful melodies. In fact, I've always wondered how a choir would sound in heavy metal and finally someone has tried. The songwriting is based on tradition metal ala` Iron Maiden (in the galloping guitar lines) with classical inspiration fleshing out the edges. "Invocation of Naamah" utilizes all the above elements, including speed metal tempos, to create a winning track. In fact, the music here will stick in your memory well after listening to it. I keep replaying the CD to pick up on nuances that I missed before. And that is the mark of a fine album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1997

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A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming

Therion - A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming ©1997 Nuclear Blast
1. In Remembrance
2. Black Fairy
3. Fly To The Rainbow
4. Children Of The Damned
5. Under Jolly Roger
6. Symphony Of The Dead
7. Here Comes The Tears
8. Enter Transcendental Sleep
9. The Quiet Desert
10. Down The Qliphotic Tunnel
11. Up To Netzach/Floating Back
12. The Fall Into Eclipse
13. Enter Transcendental Sleep
14. The Gates To A'arab Zaraq Are Open
15. The Quiet Desert
16. Down The Qliphothic Tunnel
17. Up To Netzach
18. Floating Back

One of the most impressive bands to rear its head in the 90's is Therion. From a mediocre death metal band to a Celtic Frost protoge` to a symphonic musical maelstrom, Therion has evolved way beyond any expectations. This latest release is not officially a new Therion record, but a collection of covers, unreleased tracks from the Theli sessions, and a suite of compositions written for a Swedish art film. It's very much a celebration of ten years of musical evolution that rewards the fans who've discovered the beauty of Therion.

"In Rememberance" opens up the festivities as one of the strongest Therion songs to date. Featuring Dan Swano on vocals (one of his better performances...he really should collaborate more often), the tracks is sweeping and epic while never falling into pretention. On a second thought, it IS pretensious, but who cares. They also cover Iron Maiden's "Children of the Damned", Running Wild's "Under Jolly Roger" (quite faithfully, I might add), and a really old Judas Priest song.

The best part of the album is the instrumental/soundtrack part. Since vocals have never quite been a settled issue in the Therion camp (just as long as guitarist/composer Christofer Johnsson sticks to playing and not singing), their symphonic compositions are probably the most enjoyable thing they do. The soundtrack sweeps by fleetingly, and hauntingly, reminding me a bit of In the Nursery. The choir adds a beautiful dimension.

My closing advice to all fans who appreciate grand, epic music: Demand Therion, even if you have to resort to blackmailing the owner of your local record store into ordering this disc.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/1997

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Therion - Vovin ©1998 Nuclear Blast
1. The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah
2. Birth Of Venus Illegitima
3. Wine Of Aluoah
4. Clavicula Nox
5. The Wild Hunt
6. Eye Of Shiva
7. Black Sun
8. The Opening
9. Morning Star
10. Black Diamonds
11. Raven Of Dispersion

As much as I hate to think it, Therion veers uncomfortably close to Heavy Metal Muzak on Vovin. Lead composer/guitarist Christofer Johnsson has taken the basic ideas of Theli and has gone more into the classical arrangement with full blown choirs and orchestration. Wisely he has given up singing (or hollering, as the case is) and just concentrates on guitar playing and songwriting. However, the downside of that decision is that the music seems to have lost its edge. Don't get me wrong, this is well thought out and the playing is just lacks the compelling nature of previous works. In other words, put this on and it becomes background music rather than anything you really pay close attention to. It's still a better listen than most CDs out on the market, but with what Johnsson was approaching I was hoping for something no less than phenomenal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1998

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The Crowning Of Atlantis EP

Therion - The Crowning Of Atlantis EP ©1999 Nuclear Blast
1. The Crowning Of Atlantis
2. Mark Of Cain
3. Clavicula Nox
4. Crazy Nights
5. From The Dionysian Days
6. Thor
7. Seawinds
8. To Mega Therion (live)
9. The Wings Of The Hydra (live)
10. Black Sun (live)

Just when I thought Therion couldn't surprise me any further, Christofer Johnsson pulls an album more boring than Vovin out of his little black top hat. Yes, The Crowning of Atlantis is nothing more than a stop-gap "mini" CD released in the same spirit as A'arab zaraq lucid dreaming. Unfortunately, even that knowledge doesn't save it from becoming a round, shiny musical sedative. Never has Therion sounded so undeniably unenthusiastic or placid. Nothing even dares suggest that somewhere, deep down, someone had any sort of energy while writing or recording this. I'm sure if one had the master tapes, there would be many excluded hours of musicians yawning and producers snoring while attempting to stay awake during the process. Even live songs at the end are prone to this lethargic state. Everything here is done with so little flair or fire. Whereas Theli and the followup A'arab zaraq lucid dreaming had Dan Swanö contributing his excellent guest vocals, Vovin and The Crowning of Atlantis gets Ralf Scheepers. That's akin to removing John Elway from your football team and putting in any starter for the New Orleans Saints. Except for people with serious cases of insomnia I cannot find any reason whatsoever in recommending this to anyone.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

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Therion - Deggial ©2000 Nuclear Blast
1. Seven Secrets Of The Sphinx
2. Eternal Return
3. Enter Vril-ya
4. Ship Of Luna
5. The Invincible
6. Deggial
7. Emerald Crown
8. The Flight Of The Lord Of Flies
9. Flesh Of The Gods
10. Via Nocturna Part I,II
11. O Fortuna

Latest from Johnsson and the ad hoc crew he managed to assemble this time. Of course, this is very much in the same vein as Vovin and The Crowning of Atlantis: neither of which were particularly interesting records (mostly by Therion's standards). Though Deggial is better than either of those two, it is nowhere near the class of Therion's earliest stuff and pales in comparison to Theli's bombastic speed-opera.

After Theli, Johnsson entirely abandoned the speed aspect of Therion's music and concentrated on making slow to medium-paced light opera. Deggial features production similar to its two predecessors, but the general level of songwriting has improved from Vovin's uninteresting NWOBHM riffage. There's significant variation as well, and though unbearably dry and slow in too many places, there are hints of the raging triplet attack that made Theli an attention grabber.

"Seven Secrets of the Sphinx" sounds too close to having a childishly jovial nursery-rhyme mood, and luckily it's followed by "Eternal Return", one of the album's best cuts. Very middle-eastern sounding (as is usually with the case with Therion), very simple in terms of complexity/technicality. It borrows from JS Bach in places and from Theli in others, and is therefore a sure winner regardless of execution. There's a lot of soothing acoustic guitar and heavy-but-slow catchy riffage from then on, but nothing particularly mind-blowing. The title track, though, is very reminiscent of their earlier days, mostly in the last two minutes. "Flight of the Lord of Flies" borrows most heavily from that romantic Baroque ambience, which this album succeeds in incorporating into its general theme. "Via Nocturna" is rather enjoyable - it comes across as a grand movie soundtrack with plodding drums and almost comical operatic vocals. Many people like that, though. Last comes a faithful rendition of "O Fortuna", again slightly marred by drumming that really attemps to redefine the tempo without actually adding anything to the song.

In fact, the entire album plods along like a likeable beast burdened with awkward percussion issues, not to mention songwriting inconsistencies and some amusing glitches in that all-important "seriousness" continuum. Random doses of Bach's legacy and a contrived "epic" feel do help support the base, but there's always that underlying ambivalence: it's music that will transport you to great lands in a distant time, or make you feel like you're stuck in a ventless elevator with obnoxious corporate tools, or, quite possibly, confound you with a choice between both. Though it is definitely enjoyable, can it be called essential? I don't know.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 03/2000

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Secrets Of The Runes

Therion - Secrets Of The Runes ©2001 Nuclear Blast
1. Ginnungagap (Prologue)
2. Asgard
3. Midgard
4. Schwarzalbenheim (Svartalfheim)
5. Jotunheim
6. Ljusalfheim
7. Vanaheim
8. Nifelheim
9. Muspelheim
10. Helheim
11. Secret Of The Runes (Epilogue)

So there I was listening to this new Therion album, noting how mastermind Christofer Johnsson has delved completely into the meld of classical and metal music. About three minutes into the album, I also noted that he has also delved completely into the realm of metal elevator music in creating one of the least stimulating and entirely unenthusiastic recordings I've heard in quite some time from a "name" band. Vovin was the beginning of the creative slide for Therion and subsequent releases from the band have only furthered my disinterest.

Secrets of the Runes is about as compelling as becoming an accountant for a small trucking company. Or the night watchman for any rural Wyoming wheat farm. Johnsson has raised the ante a bit on Secrets of the Runes by utilizing live classical instrumentation and a full-on chorus, but when the material and songwriting is excruciatingly bland, all the talented musicians in the world won't be able to save it. The album on a whole contains nothing but track after track of extremely efficiently played but entirely uninspiring music. The songs contain very little in the way of drive or vigor. Unlike classical music, which is rife with enormous climaxes, builds, fades and movements, Secrets of the Runes blithers along with utterly no impetus or sense of direction. As a result, this CD becomes something I cannot wait to eject so that I will never have to subject myself to it again. There are far too many bands out there that are more compelling and it is my mission to go find one to purge this from my system. This is one Secret Therion can keep to themselves.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2001

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