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Therion - Leviathan

Therion
Leviathan
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 15 February 2021, 12:07 PM

THERION's "Leviathan" has been a hard album to review.  As a fan, I am happy with the outcome and find it highly enjoyable.  But as a critic, I can see it does have problems that must be addressed. I've been a fan since “Lemuria/Sirius B” days. As such,  I was extremely disappointed in "Beloved Antichrist." That was a bloated, over wrought, pretentious album that was heavy on play length but light on interesting content. To this day it is the only THERION album I don't like.

In an obvious response (and a bit too obvious at that), THERION have greatly shortened this album's size, both in terms of song lengths and scope. The album is a conservative eleven tracks and forty five minutes in length. So why doesn’t it work as well as it should? The problem with the album is also its strength: variety.  With the previous album full of songs that all sounded the same, having every song on "Leviathan" bring something different is a welcome change.

However, that variety also makes the album sound very disjointed and more like a collection of random songs rather than a true focused musical project. But none of this means I think it is a bad album. On the contrary, it is a good album and a brave step forward in the right direction. But, even still, it falls just short of greatness and what my expectations are. If I was rating in just personal enjoyment, I'd give it a higher rating for sure but I must be objective in my reviews. Albeit, my expectations should be taken with a grain of salt. I'm not a musician nor is THERION obviously my band. I hate talking about bands not doing what I want but as a reviewer, I, again, must remain objective.

I do appreciate the guitars have returned—this album has plenty of well written riffs. The production is smooth but the mix is questionable. During the more operatic parts, the guitars tend to get buried in the background. There are a ton of bands (EPICA comes to mind here) that lather their metal in opera but still manage to make all the elements spark equally. It can be done and it boggles my mind that THERION couldn't pull it off for this album. Still the guitars are well done and, of course, the opera parts are exceptional. They have managed to meld their metal with their opera much more smoothly this time around.

"The Leaf On The Oak of Far," opens the album with an explosive riff, laden with an 90s flair. The female vocals and chorus are a pleasure and flow with the metal elements. Thomas’ vocals are kind of out there on this track but they work and add to the atmosphere. "Tuonela," is the best track on here and one of the best the band has done in years. The main reason for that is Marco (who just announced his departure from NIGHTWISH and the music industry), whose performance is powerful and theatrical. If he ever returns to the scene, I'd love for him to do a whole album with THERION. That would be magical!

Musically, the song is super solid with chunky and chugging metal riffs that give Marco plenty to worth with. Taida's vocals are amazing as well—she and Marco work so well together. The title track is a beast (see what I did there?) because the chorus is grand and nails down an epic mood.  The guitar solo in the song's mid section is a nice touch and comes in and out of the chorus naturally. One of my favorite songs on the album is "Nocturnal Light" as it perfectly melds opera and metal together in a way the band hasn't achieved in some time. The bombastic drums and equally energetic vocals elevate the song to great heights. The brass instruments and melodic bass towards the end cap it off in a big way.

The Great Marquis of Hell," is a burner of a track, short and sweet with a classic/power metal feel to it. THOMAS nails this track, his best performance on the album. The final track "Ten Courts of Dyiu," is a strong album closer with, in places, slight oriental vibes. Taida's and Noa's vocals are on point and make the song such a grandiose experience.

THERION's 17th full length album “Leviathan” is a solid return to what makes them interesting and a worthy addition to their lager discography, even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of their older work. But they are back on the path and I await their future with hope.

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

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Leaf on the Oak of Far
2. Tuonela
3. Leviathan
4. Die Wellen der Zeit
5. Azi Dahaka
6. Eye of Algol
7. Nocturnal Light
8. Great Marquis of Hell
9. Psalm of Retribution
10. El Primer Sol
11. Ten Courts of Diyu
Lineup:
Christofer Johnsson – Rhythm Guitars, Keys, Programming, Songwriting
Nalle Pahlsson - Bass
Thomas Vikstrom – Vocals (Tenor), Songwriting
Christian Vidal – Lead Guitars
Lori Lewis – Vocals (Soprano)
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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