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 THERION - Beloved Antichrist

Celkové hodnocení alba: 45%
Rok vydání: 2018
Žánr: symphony metal
Celkový čas: 182:50


European heavy metal comes in a vast array of genres that strongly grasp various cultures to elaborate and contribute to their concepts as a whole. In the case of Swedish Symphonic Metal band Therion, their  30 year journey from origin till now has been a very interesting one with many extreme changes along the way. Beloved Antichrist, which arrives on Friday February 9, 2018 thanks to Nuclear Blast, is no different!

As a start, back in 1988, Therion were influenced by Death and Thrash and were initially a Death Metal band that later adapted a more symphonic, orchestral sound. Adding and changing band-members turned into an entire orchestra performing with the band about ten years down the road. In turn, Therion helped pioneer the Symphonic Metal genre in a big way and should be appreciated as such.

Today they have branched out even further from their origins with a brand new, 3 disc, 46 song album in which band leader Christofer Johnsson chose to create an operatic story based on Vladimir Soloviev’s Short Tale Of The Antichrist. Johnsson incorporated his own plot, which differs from the one in the philosophical Russian novel, creating the basis for the brand new album, Beloved Antichrist. Fair warning: if fans of this band are not fond of opera, they will have a hard time upon first listen!

Therion has continued to strive to reach new levels of talent in their career, and Beloved Antichrist is a Rock Opera that has been in-the-works for a few years, finally spreading into the light of day. A very well-conceived operatic tale from start to finish, the collection proudly holds a lit candle with some of the greats out there.

A complex story, the main musicians include mastermind and original founder Christofer Johnsson on guitars, keyboards, programming, Hammond organ, orchestral arrangement and lead vocals; Thomas Vikström also on lead vocals; Nalle “Grizzly” Påhlsson on bass guitar; touring drummer Sami Karppinen; Christian Vidal on guitar; and Lori Lewis on studio vocals. While these are the main players of Therion in 2018, the album Beloved Antichrist features a surprising 27 vocalists, both male and female, and over 3 hours of progressively operatic tunes. It is quite an impressive feat organizing so many people and putting a cohesive story together while expanding from orchestra to full on Rock Opera and Johnsson has outdone himself in this regard.

The first disc starts with a somber and mellow tone that gains momentum and heavier elements as the story goes on. Interestingly, as not too many operas are primarily sung in English – especially when created in another culture and language – this opera happens to be just that, yet still contains the flowing language and vibe that would be found in a traditional opera house. Curiosity finds the listener imagining the visual tale of the tunes and this could be entertaining if done in its entirety live, if only people had the same attention spans they did back-in-the-day when opera was in its heyday. Religion definitely serves a dominating notion in this album, as is clear by the title as well as some song names such as “Dagger Of God” and “Temple Of New Jerusalem”; though the listener does not become plagued by any one viewpoint and is led into the next chapter with ease because the composition is strategically willful.

As a Therion fan one would approach this album as fulfilling a strict time and place by telling a story and not finding it useful for an everyday pastime. It is not a bad trait for a band to explore themselves in a new light, and they will often shine from using their utmost capabilities as seems to be the case in this exploratory concept album. There are some peaceful moments and some rocking flair as well, plus the ever-changing voices singing in operatic tongue keep the listener on their toes and prove to be the best part of the album on the whole.

As Therion, in its uniqueness, may be an acquired taste, there is enough variety out there in their style that any Heavy Metal fan could find something to enjoy from their discography. Although this album, Beloved Antichrist, seems never-ending with its track list of forty-six songs, it is a well-planned composition that deserves positive recognition if even on sheer effort alone. Furthermore, written words do not justify this epic masterpiece, no matter how much is said. Simply put, one needs to devote the time and listen to the work in full to truly appreciate it. Therefore, CrypticRock gives Therion’s long-awaited Rock Opera Beloved Antichrist 4 out of 5 in rating.

Author: Lisa Burke (rating 4 of 5)

When you try to picture the word “epic”, you think of something bigger than you can comprehend. Something grandiose and awe-inspiring. These are the feelings that this new Therion record evokes.

For those who are uninitiated, Therion is a Swedish symphonic metal band founded in 1988. They started out as a death metal band but started to incorporate orchestral elements such as choirs, string sections and classical singing. They’ve put out 15 full length records and ‘Beloved Antichrist’ is their latest offering.

There is one important thing to note about this record, which makes it a bit hard to review it. This is a metal opera. There are themes and motifs occurring and re-occurring throughout. Melodies are revisited in different configurations and much of the texture of the record is tightly woven with the story, which you will have to dig into yourself if you want to enjoy this record.

This is a 46 track behemoth that is separated into 3 acts and lasts over 3 and a half hours featuring 29 characters played by 29 singers. The story is loosely based on Vladímir Soloviov’s “A Short Tale Of The Antichrist”. Band mastermind Christofer Johnsson remarks “It is simply the main idea of the antichrist character that is very much based on the book.“ It’s not a record that you can casually play in the background. The scale and proportion of this record is beyond anything that I have ever witnessed or heard of.

The tracks are well structured with dramatic mezzo soprano vocal styles over a tight rhythm section and layered guitar work. There are huge choirs featured on “Signs Are Here” and “Never Again”. “The Crowning Of Splendour” and “Astral Sophia” have a sense of urgency and mystery that add some flavor and variation from the other tracks. You’ve got sounds ranging from 80s ballads to orchestration similar to the romantic era of western classical music. There is no real way to pick a favourite track only because it’s a story and each track has a part to play. The last track on the record does have a similar riff pattern to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. Imagine you’re watching a theater act or a musical when you’re listening to this album. The more you read into and let your imagination fly, the more you will get out of this record. It’s not a record you can listen to while you’re doing mundane activities.

I will confess that time constraints allowed me to listen to this album only twice, over a period, in multiple sittings. That’s not the suggested way to listen to this as you would not watch a musical in multiple sittings. This album did seem exhausting to digest in one sitting and that may be it’s only weakness – it’s just too long. I do hope they have a theatrical element to it when they take this music out on the road.

Only multiple listens will give you a sense of what Therion have set out to accomplish and the sheer ambition of their endeavor is a testament to their belief in their craft. As far as production is concerned – this is as good as production gets. Instruments are well balanced and don’t overshadow any other. This is especially important with heavy orchestration going on supporting and driving the melodies.

If you’re looking for an experience in the perfect marriage of classical symphonic music and metal, you must look no further than this record. Grab your favourite pair of headphones and strap in for this journey that you’re going to embark on.

Author: Shreyas Gune (rating 8,5 of 10)