Therion - Lemuria / Sirius B

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: ASIN: B00023PB04
Format: CD
Total Time: 99:12:00

Sirius BAs reviewers we face a problem: We hear music, we write about it, then we move on to the next CD and it is sadly rare that we have time to re-visit pieces that we've already written up. Well, not this time! These two CDs will be staying in my player long after this review is complete!

Like so many of the more successful Nordic post-death metal acts, Therion's history begins in Sweden around 1990 when they started as an avant-garde death metal band. They went through countless lineup changes, with founder Christofer Johnsson being the only original member. Johnsson wrote most of the material, and was the visionary who brought in a real orchestra with Vovin. Until now Therion's biggest musical successes were Theli and best-selling Vovin which date back to the late '90s; but their sound has matured but not really progressed much since then. These two CDs have broken that drought and they've broken a 3-year studio silence, and I'm sure Lemuria and Sirius B will be recognized as the band's finest project ever. Lemuria and Sirius B are two independent albums released at the same time. Depending on where and when you acquire them you may be lucky enough to get them in one package ? or you may have to purchase them separately. Which is why I'm calling them "twin records" rather than a "double-CD."

Therion's sound revolves around the blending of rather simple heavy metal enhanced by big choirs, orchestras and operatic vocals. You'll hear sections of 1970s progressive rock, elements of folk music, doom and goth metal, and elements of Symphony X, Rhapsody, Rammstein and Iron Maiden ? and you'll hear that these discs are heavier than the band's last two releases in both the operatic and the metal sense of the word. They have subtler melodies, a darker tone, and far more intensity. This was a a giant project producing a huge sound that must have cost a fortune, involving over 170 musicians and singers and a full 9-month gestation period. So all of the anticipated adjectives apply: pretentious, pompous, self-indulgent, bombastic, overblown, overwrought, over produced, and over the top ? and I love every note on these CDs. If Rhapsody is called Hollywood metal, then this must be called orchestral metal, or perhaps theatric metal because you can almost visualize this music on Broadway.

The melodies are beautiful, the choirs are simply gorgeous, the orchestras are wonderfully integrated with the metal music, and the variety of instruments and electronica and singing styles is bewildering ? yet it all hangs together as a totally cohesive body of work. And through it all, the band's 1980s heavy metal inspired roots are never forgotten. There are even a few touches of death metal grunting for the first time in a few Therion albums ? but it's kept to a tasteful minimum. The sound you'll remember most are rich operatic vocals, sometimes sung solo and often by choirs, over simple, crunchy power-chord rhythms. The arrangements are complex, progressive, deeplyt textured, constantly shifting, and this music owes as much to classical music as it does to classic metal.

The first album, Lemuria, is simpler and more pompous than the second ? with bigger orchestral sections over basic metal. Sirius B is slightly more straight-ahead metal, but that metal is somewhat more imaginative and has a darker more occult influenced ambience. But if you play the two albums back to back they merge perfectly to form a single 100-minute theme piece that explores the ancient history of the world, with an emphasis on the various schools of mythology that supposedly described that era.

All in all, a simply wonderful piece of music. And if you notice that I'm posting fewer reviews in the future ? blame Therion. My time will be taken up with multiple replays of this music, and all those other CDs will just have to wait!

Lemuria: Typhon / Uthark Runa / Three Ships Of Berik, Part 1: Calling To Arms And Fighting The Battle / Three Ships Of Berik, Part 2: Victory! / Lemuria / Quetzalcoatl / The Dreams Of Swedenborg / An Arrow From The Sun /Abraxas / Feuer Overt?re/Prometheus Entfesselt

Sirius B: Blood Of Kingu / Son Of The Sun / The Khlysti Evangelist / Dark Venus Persephone / Kali Yuga Part 1 / Kali Yuga Part 2 / The Wonderous World Of Punt / Melek Taus / Call Of Dagon / Sirius B / The Voyage Of Gurdjieff

Christofer Johnsson - guitar
Kristian Niemann - guitar
Johan Niemann - bass
Petter Karlsson - drums

Time Shall Tell (1990)
Of Darkness (1991)
Beyond Sanctorum (1992)
Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993)
Lepaca Kliffoth (1995)
A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming (1997)
Theli (1997)
Vovin (1998)
Crowning Of Atlantis (1999)
Deggial (2000)
Secret Of The Runes (2001)
Live in Midg?rd (2003)
Lemuria / Sirius B (2004)

Genre: Death-Black Metal

Origin NO

Added: June 23rd 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1038
Language: english


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