"Deggial" (Nuclear Blast; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Before Metallica ever even thought of playing alongside an orchestra, there were bands that were fully incorporating symphonic elements into their sound. For instance: Deep Purple, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and Kansas have all played with orchestras in the past. However, Therion are the first to make heavy metal with an orchestra as an original recording and part of their on-going style. What's cool about "Deggial" is that Therion is more elegant (almost delicate) than the symphony that accompanied Metallica during their symphonic foray and also much heavier than recent Metallica, too. Quite the combination.

The guitars are crisply recorded and range from galloping rhythms to outright metal stomps. One gets the sense that an extraordinary amount of time was spent making sure that everything on "Deggial" was recorded properly and to the band's complete satisfaction.

Operatic vocals, choirs, acoustic guitars, and heavy metal rhythms all combine to form a potent blend of music. The vocals (both singular lines and choir chants) are very prominent in the mix. Of course, the choir that chants the operatic vocals is what separates Therion from other bands that ply their trade in gothic-tinged metal. Tracks like "Enter Vril-Ya" and "Emerald Crown" prove the band can mix it up with the European gothic metal heavyweights.

"Flesh Of The Gods," featuring Blind Guardian's Hansi Kursch on lead vocals, recalls the power of Judas Priest within the supple, speed-laden power of Kursch's Blind Guardian. Perhaps Therion's foray into traditional power metal was inspired by their cover of Loudness's "Crazy Nights" on their previous CD, "Crowning Of Atlantis."

"Deggial" is certainly a daring manner in which to interpret metal for the general populace, but I'd have to say that Therion are onto something here. Personally, I have to be in a very specific mood to listen to Therion. Therion, these days anyway, lack a pure 'head banging' quality when I really want to rock out, but their sophistication make them a natural fit in my metal listening patterns when I find myself listening to more of the avant garde metal offerings.

Therion have come a long way from their death metal days.

"Deggial" was produced by Seggi Bemm (Grip, Inc., Moonspell, Sentenced) at the world famous Woodhouse Studio. Mixing was completed by Dan Diamond. The production, mixing, and engineering is quite spectacular as there are a quite a lot of harmonic elements to cover in Therion's music - clarity is necessary for music like this and Bemm delivers.

Therion: Christofer Johnsson on guitars and keyboard, Kristian Niemann on lead guitar, Johan Niemann on bass, and Sami Karppinen on drums. Therion are joined by The Different World Orchestra and Choir.

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"Crowning of Atlantis" (Nuclear Blast; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Therion, sensing that the anticipation for their new material was building to a super-charged high, decided to release "Crowning Of Atlantis" which is a hodge-podge of outtakes, assorted live songs, covers, and a few new tracks. While Therion have made a mark for themselves by treading the difficult waters of mixing metal and classical music, this effort comes across as being a bit more traditional that their other more recent efforts. Clearly, "Crowning Of Atlantis" was intended to tide the band's fans over until the next full-length CD came out (which ended up being the far superior "Deggial").

Some of the tracks on "Crowning Of Atlantis" bear an uncanny resemblance to cosmic metal gods "Nexus Polaris"-era Covenant which is especially true on the title track; this can be considered a good thing, yet it isn't anything truly Earth-shatteringly new either. "Mark Of Cain" does little for me (it sounds too 'normal'), yet the beauty of "Clavicula Nox" and "From The Dionysian Days" shine through with emphasis on the vocals and a bright spotlight on solo piano (a strong hint from Tiamat's stellar "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber," perhaps?).

The cover songs are a neat set of tracks and are worthy of lengthy discussion. Therion get serious with a cover of true metal pioneers Manowar's "Thor" while a rendition of Accept's "Seawinds" quiets things down a bit. A rousing version of Loudness' 1985 hit "Crazy Nights" features guest vocals by Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers.

Three other songs recorded live round out this odds-n-ends collection which proves that the band can pull off this unique style in the live setting, but not much else.

Here's my advice: if you find the co-mingling of metal and classical music even the least bit intriguing, then buy Therion's "Deggial" first. If you like "Deggial" then "Crowning Of Atlantis" will be worthy to add to your collection.

"Crowning Of Atlantis" was produced by Siggi Bemm.

Therion: Christofer Johnsson on guitars and keyboards, Tommy Eriksson on lead guitar, Jan Kazda on acoustic guitar and bass, Wolf Simon on drums. Other contributions by Sami Karppinen (drums) and Waldemar Sorychta (assorted guitar work). A host (too many to mention) of vocalists contributed to Therion's all-encompassing vocal style while the Indigo Orchestra provided the talent of the orchestral sections.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 18 Sep 2023 21:51:19 -0400.