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Therion - Beloved Antichrist

Therion
Beloved Antichrist
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 04 February 2018, 9:24 AM

THERION’s newest album, and their 16th studio release, “The Beloved Antichrist,” is by far the most difficult album I have ever reviewed.  The word ‘epic’ gets thrown around so much these days that it has almost lost its meaning.  I mention this because when I say this album is such, I want you to understand my full meaning.  I want you, dear intrepid reader, to take any definition and sound you may associate with that word, and throw it out the window.  This album is the new way to define what it means for music to be, indeed, epic.

But what exactly does this mean? What does it mean for the listener?  I will do my best to try and tell you.  I’ll tell you up front that, as far as this album goes, there can be too much of a good thing. Before we begin, I will give you a very brief overview of the band.  First, it’s not really a band, per say.  THERION is actually the brainchild of Christofer Johnsson, at least musically.  Lyrically, most of the lyrics are done by the founder of the magical order Dragon Rouge Thomas, who began this duty in 1996.   The band was formed in 1988 and began as a death metal band.  Over the years, they have turned into a symphonic metal band with gothic and opera influences.  Their members have been too numerous to list but Johnsson always surrounds himself with talented musicians and vocalists.

Talent.  What a funny word.  It means everything and yet it can also mean nothing.  Johnsson is obviously very talented.  I have been listening to THERION for a long time now and have always respected his amazing ability to piece together whatever his vision happens to be.  However, talent doesn’t always been the person possessing it will use it correctly. The album’s biggest problem is the length.  It is three hours long, across 46 songs, and if you have the cd version, its three discs.  It probably goes without saying but that is a bit too much.  Even the most dedicated fan of this style (symphonic metal) would be hard pressed to listen to this one all the way through.  How important is that though? Depends on the listener.  Personally, I do a lot of driving, so a ton of my listening experience is done in my car.  As far as car music goes, this album is the wrong choice.  I’d have to make several trips back and forth to work before the album would ever finish. That might not be important to some, but it is to me.  I also enjoying jamming music through my computer speakers or thru a wireless Bluetooth speaker.  Putting this album on that way, it quickly turns into nothing more than background noise.  As stated, its just too much.  This album is definitely sonic excess in its purest form (kudos to you if you get that reference).

When I absorb an album, it takes time.  Even if I immediately like an album, I always spend days, sometimes even weeks, listening to a select three or four tracks before I move onto the rest.  I couldn’t find three or four tracks on this album that stands out.   They all blend together—how could they not?  It tells a story across three acts so obviously they all work better together but still—it would had been nice if there were songs that were good enough to take alone, without sounding like the ones before and after.  Which brings us to the next problem with the album: variety, or lack therefore of.  I guess you could argue that there are a ton of bands, metal or otherwise, that don’t have variety.  But there aren’t tons of rock bands, metal or otherwise, that have a three hour long 46 track album.  For example, let’s talk about vocals.

All the vocals on this album are opera or operatic in nature.  I’m sure they are famous and renowned in their genre. I’m also confident in saying they all do an amazing job.  Hell, I even enjoy opera singing. In small doses. Death metal “singers” sounds the same for a 45 minute record.  It’s a different situation altogether when you hear the same type of vocals (in this case, operatic) for three hours.  They get old, real, real quick. What about the core band?  The metal/rock aspects?  Competent of course, but nothing memorable.  I’m not saying metal should be catchy.  Actually, I think it shouldn’t, at least as a whole. However, I do want to hear something that pulls me in or grabs my attention.  I’m just not hearing it here.  Yes, there is drumming, metal riffs, hammering bass, and the like.  However, it sounds like the core band was just an afterthought to the opera.  Instead of it being a band that is supplemented by the grandiose parts of the opera, it comes off as just filler for the overall sound; the whole band sounds like they are treading water and going thru the motions.

Even the few bright spots end up being somewhat disappointing.  “Never Again,” features great use of the choir and has decent riffs.  Its length is under three minutes so it never feels like it goes anywhere; it actually sounds incomplete.  For an album with so much content too many of the songs have this structure, this feel. “Hail Caesar!” has an excellent opening with its sharp usage of keys.  Those keys and the choir trade off pretty smoothly but the metal part of the song is bland as hell.  It’s problem is that its too long—by the time the five minutes are up, you have fallen asleep. The album is just too uneven in that respect—some tracks sound like they need to be longer and others you just want to end.

How do I rate this album? On one hand, I want to give it at least an 8.  To his credit, Johnsson is one hell of a song writer and for him to come up with something like this, it really speaks to his abilities to following thru on his grand plans.  On the other hand, for musical value to the listener, this one is a hard one to recommend, even for THERION fans.  In the end this seems like a project that became so big, became so much, that it got out of hand and now only those involved its creation can truly appreciate it. I find the best song to be “Shoot Them Down!” because it has all the elements of the album’s song but without none of the excess, nor is it too short or long.  If album was trimmed down (a lot) and put into 15 songs along the lines of this one, then things would be a lot different.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 9
Memorability: 2
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Act I

1. Turn From Heaven
2. Where Will You Go?
3. Through Dust, Through Rain
4. Signs Are Here
5. Never Again
6. Bring Her Home
7. The Solid Black Beyond
8. The Crowning Of Splendour
9. Morning Has Broken
10. Garden Of Peace
11. Our Destiny
12. Anthem
13. The Palace Ball
14. Jewels From Afar
15. Hail Caesar!
16. What Is Wrong?
17. Nothing But My Name

Act II

1. The Arrival Of Apollonius
2. Pledging Loyalty
3. Night Reborn
4. Dagger Of God
5. Temple Of New Jerusalem
6. The Lions Roar
7. Bringing The Gospel
8. Laudate Dominum
9. Remaining Silent
10. Behold Antichrist
11. Cursed By The Fallen
12. Resurrection
13. To Where I Weep
14. Astral Sophia
15. Thy Will Be Done!

Act III

1. Shoot Them Down!
2. Beneath The Starry Skies
3. Forgive Me
4. The Wasteland Of My Heart
5. Burning The Palace
6. Prelude To War
7. Day Of Wrath
8. Rise To War
9. Time Has Come/Final Battle
10. My Voyage Carries On
11. Striking Darkness
12. Seeds Of Time
13. To Shine Forever
14. Theme Of Antichrist
Lineup:
Christofer Johnsson – Guitars
Christian Vidal – Guitars
Nalle Phalsson – Bass
Thomas Vikstrom – Vocals
Johan Kolberg - Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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Edited 21 May 2018
 

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