Now Therion is another of those bands that spilt opinions and it seems that there are two camps with those that just do not get the band and the other which simply adores everything they produce. The background to the group is long and convoluted but is well known as is the band’s development into the ambitious and ever progressing symphonic rock outfit that they are today. In a simpler world, they could almost be described as Sweden’s answer to their Finnish neighbours Nightwish but that would be to sell both bands short as they may have some similarities but are actually poles apart.
In truth, it is a little staggering to think that Therion has been with us in one form or another since 1987 and in that time the band has gown and developed into the force of nature that we see today. Also amazing is the fact that Leviathan is now the band’s seventeenth album with each album bringing something new to the symphonic arena as they have honed their craft and talent to become the devastating act that they are today. Of course, we all wondered what the band would do to follow up 2018’s magnum opus that was the magnificent, huge and all-encompassing operatic Beloved Antichrist. Most bands would take time to recharge their batteries and return with something a little simpler and perhaps a little less complex bit this is Therion and that response was never going to be in the equation.
So, what we have now is Leviathan which is named for the sea-monster and is 46-minutes of gloriously over the top symphonic metal which again uses choirs and orchestra to make for another gargantuan offering that blows you away with its compelling and fulfilling story arc. But, there is more as this is but the first part of a planned trilogy with part 1 planned for 2022 and Part 3 for 2023.
As usual, the album features a huge cast and it is often difficult to keep abreast of the comings and goings of the musicians over the years but the line-up does seem rather settled at the moment with band founder and only original member Christofer Johnsson on guitars, Christian Vidal on guitars, Nalle Påhlsson on bass, Thomas Vikström on vocals and Johan Koleberg on drums. Now these are the only names on the accompanying publicity and it is rather curious that they do not mention anyone else as the incredible soprano voice of Lori Lewis features heavily and take her out of the equation and Therion would be greatly diminished so I fail to understand why she is not listed with the band especially as I understood that she had indeed become a fulltime member.. The album also features a vocal contribution from the ex-Nightwish bassists and singer Marko Hietala and he adds his own class to the proceedings alongside fellow guests Mats Levén, Taida Nazraić and Noa Gruman. They all combine perfectly and the mixture of vocals styles with choir is epic as the band again uses antiphonal singing to take their music to a new level. I know that there are plenty out there who do not like soprano vocals in rock or the extensive use of choirs and orchestra but each to his own; it is a style that Christofer Johnsson knows well and so obviously loves. It’s a long time since Therion were a death metal band and a return to those roots is hardly likely to happen and there are plenty of other bands out there so please do not slate a band for being different as the last thing we need is every group sounding the same. We almost have that in the UK now as every band seems to want to be Coldplay and we most certainly need diversity and not more of the same!
Those who found Beloved Antichrist heavy going and at 3 hours it is certainly an album that you have to seriously commit to and Christofer Johnsson must have been listening to comments hence the quite short (by Beloved Antichrist standards) running time of Leviathan which plays almost as a best of Therion with the band settling on songs of around the 4 to 5-minute mark and all have that anthemic, stadium rock sound with some great metal, marvellous orchestral score and truly amazing vocal interplay.
If you are not a fan then this new album will be unlikely to change your mind as you always know what you are going to get with Therion but the fans will adore this and the simple fact that there is an immediate commerciality about much of the material maybe could change a few opinions, give it a listen and make your own mind up.
Leviathan track list
- The Leaf On The Oak Of Far (3:38)
- Tuonela (4:37)
- Leviathan (4:01)
- Die Wellen der Zeit (3:46)
- Aži Dahāka (3:06)
- Eye Of Algol (4:03)
- Nocturnal Light (5:37)
- Great Marquis Of Hell (2:36)
- Psalm Of Retribution (5:03)
- El Primer Sol (3:37)
- El Primer Sol (3:37)