THERION - SITRA AHRA (CD Review)
02.Kings Of Edom
04.Land Of Canaan
08.Kali Yoga III
09.The Shells Are Open
11.After The Inquisition/Children Of The Stone
Christofer Johnsson (Guitars/Keyboards)
Christian Vidal (Guitar)
Nalle "Grizzly" Påhlsson (Bass)
Johan Koleberg (Drums)
Thomas Vikström (vocals)
Snowy Shaw (vocals)
Lori Lewis (Vocals)
Legendary Swedish heavy metal band founded by Christofer Johnsson in 1987.Despite the religious connotations their name is actually a homage to the Celtic Frost album To Mega Therion.
Beginning as a death metal band, they later turned to combining orchestral elements with their metal music, employing heavy use of choirs and classical musicians, not only as additions to but also as integral parts of the composition.
There are a number of slightly exagerrated claims such as "Therion is the first metal band with fully live orchestra", something that Deep Purple first did back in 1969 and "It is also the band which originated, popularised and influenced the symphonic metal genre", i would suggest the Italian band Devil Doll have more of a right in the "originated" and that it was Nightwish who "Popularised" the genre.
However Therion are almost certainly the best exponents of the genre that at times is more operatic than mere symphonic metal.
Musically taking its themes from different mythologies and is based on concepts ranging from occultism, magic and ancient traditions and writings. The majority of their lyrics were written by Thomas Karlsson, head and founder of the magical order Dragon Rouge, of which Johnsson is a member.
The band has seen many changes in line-up and style throughout its history, perhaps the most shocking was the departure of Karlsson in 2008, however in November 2009 a new line up was put together along with the announcemnet of the recording of this album.
Generic symphonic pomp is a perfect way to start this album and 'Sitra Ahra' ticks every box, with high female vocal and dark male vocal, full chorus, driving drums and powerchord structures and a blazing solo.
'Kings Of Edom' has an operatic start but quickly switches to folk/ballad influences.
Half way through the epic vocal chorus brings to mind Turisas, whilst dare i say that towards the end it has all the qualities of a Moody Blues song before heading into speed metal territory.
A serious nod towards doom metal heralds 'Unguentum Sabbati' a straightforward blast with awesome vocals and lurking in there some keyboard riffs from Phantom Of The Opera.
'Land Of Canaan' oh fuck!!!
Seriously how do i even begin to review this song???
Its a 10 minute mini opera that throws everything at you, okay so it has that spookycore start a la KoRn, then we enter classic euro prog metal, then harmonica and acoustic guitars that would make Ennio Morricone proud, which then morphs into battle metal territory with some great flute playing thrown in.
Then here comes that epic male choir, then damn we get some accordian and soprano female vocal to slow things down a bit.
Yet another tempo change with harpsicord leading to traditional eastern european folk with a vocal that could be Marilyn Manson duetting with Topol from fiddler on the roof!!!
A melancholy breakdown then blends into a mid tempo drum rhythm with violins and cello's and another male chorus, then a happy upbeat almost pop bit with some humming and a Kate Bush (ish) vocal blended with more opera.
This is just the most stunning song i have heard in a very long time!
Just how many vocal styles can they keep coming up with??? 'Hellequin' seems to be able to put in black metal vocals and Male tenor that could be Christopher Lee.
Some great 60's style organ playing add's to the ecletic mix to create yet another outstanding piece of music.
'2012' continues this pure aural delight that has a great pumping bassline, Iommi' style guitarwork, high male vocals, superb choral backing, and breakdowns with violins.
The anthemic 'Cu Chulain' with its echo of a traditional welsh male choir on the chorus mixing well with its hard rock verses and overall structure, definatley a touch of Thin Lizzy lurking in the background.
Funnily enough its not unlike a heavy metal take on pet shop boys go west!
Gothic and anthemic and heavy as hell, 'Kali Yoga III' and taking on the Krishna mythology way better than George Harrison ever did!
The song continues from parts one and two from their Sirius B album from 2003.
That wonderfull tenor vocal returns for 'The Shells Are Open' its an almost bouncy ska like backing, a typically operatic song.
Whoa!!! suddenly satyricon make an appearence (well not actually them) but could be with this full on black metal assault with the aptly titled 'Din'.
Furious double peddling and blast beats with full choral vocals create a stunning headbanger.
'After The Inquisition/Children Of The Stone' brings us to a gentle and calm finale.
Beautiful acoustic guitars lead into a pink Floyd/Moody Blues chill out.
The choir sounds almost childlike bringing to mind that song from the Lost Boys movie.
In terms of musicianship, structure, production and emotion this is quite possibly the best album you will hear this year.
STU (Valued contributions from Chelle).
For fans of: Nightwish, Epica, Tristania, Devil Doll, Cradle Of Filth, Turisas, Dimmu Borgir