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Therion - Theli

by David Hough at 09 October 2022, 11:53 PM

Theli,” THERION’s fifth album, has been reissued by Hammerheart Records. This one was originally released in 1996, and it is one of the progenitors of the operatic, symphonic metal sound. It is slanted towards the operatic end of the spectrum with male and female choral parts and orchestral instruments. No matter your opinion of this album, there’s no denying its impact on and contribution to the metal world at large.

One of THERION’s most lauded tracks is “To Mega Therion,” this album’s second track. It is also a perfect example of epic metal. There is operatic singing from a session vocalist mixed with gothic, low-sounding male vocals. This track also features one of my favorite metal tropes, galloping triplets. With this song, the energy never stops, and this is the legendary THERION at their best.

In The Desert Of Set, the album’s fourth track, has a Middle Eastern vibe that isn’t too on the nose. Christofer Johnsson’s vocals are spot on and the backbone of this song. There are as many soaring high notes as there are brooding low ones. It’s a well-balanced song overall. Also, the keyboard solo that plays the song out is not to be missed.

One of my favorite tracks is “Nightside Of Eden.” The bass guitar tone is excellent. The vocals consist of a chorus of high notes juxtaposed with Wawrzeniuk’s deep vocal timbre. The main breakdown starts out frantic, then is brought to heel by a remarkable lead solo that ushers in the song’s big finish.

Invocation Of Naamah” starts with a fast guitar riff. Wawrzeniuk handles the male vocals in this track as well, and I really enjoyed the urgency in their delivery. The female vocals are equally as ethereal, making for some excellent synergy. There aren’t many lyrics, and the instrumentation never gets old. It’s another high point of this album.

Following that track is “The Siren Of The Woods.” It starts with a long keyboard introduction preceding a chorus of male vocals. Then, after some fanfare, the female vocals get off to a slow start. Then the two different vocal styles work together in a duet fashion. This song is also mostly instrumental, with very little in the way of traditional metal. There are some nice leads and a guitar solo, but this song is rooted firmly in the symphonic, orchestral tradition.

Grand Finale/Postludium” is a fitting end to the album. The galloping triplets are back, and the metal is more aggressive. Overall, this is a fast finale that exemplifies every area where THERION excels. The Postludium part of the song is mostly orchestral, with string instruments leading up to a synth passage and ten returning to close out the song.

With “Theli,” THERION showed the world that metal could be operatic and symphonic. Their impact is undeniable. I found a couple of tracks a bit slow for my tastes, and I wished the metal elements were less subdued overall. I feel like other artists have taken THERION’s formula and improved on it. I can understand where they are coming from; I wish the album had more ferocity and less fanfare.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Preludium
2. To Mega Therion
3. Cults of the Shadow
4. In the Desert of Set
5. Interludium
6. Nightside of Eden
7. Opus Eclipse
8. Invocation of Naamah
9. The Siren of the Woods
10. Grand Finale / Postludium
Christofer Johnsson - Vocals (tracks 2, 4, 8), Guitars, Keyboards, Songwriting (tracks 1-4, 6-8, 10), Lyrics (tracks 3, 4, 8, 9)
Lars Rosenberg - Bass
Jonas Mellberg - Guitars, Guitars (acoustic) (track 9), Keyboards, Songwriting (tracks 5, 9)
Piotr Wawrzeniuk - Drums, Vocals (tracks 2-4, 6, 8)
Record Label: Hammerheart Records


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