THERION - Beloved Antichrist
February 2, 2018, a year ago
Therion mastermind/guitarist Christofer Johnsson has never done anything the easy way: abandoning death metal roots, infusing female vocalists into his music a decade before it was fashionable (almost a quarter of a century ago, with “Beauty In Black”), just when getting popular, shifted from pure metal to orchestral dabbling then experimental, multi-voiced extravaganzas, onstage and in the studio (plenty of dual disc packages in the Swede's back catalog). Still, nothing has prepared us for the latest trio of CDs, inspired by (but not a direct adaptation of) A Short Tale Of The Antichrist, by 19th century Russian philosopher Vladímir Soloviov. If the title of this 46 track (3 ½ hour) outing isn't controversial enough, while being promoted as a rock opera the music is decidedly symphonic, at times purely operatic (no accompaniment whatsoever). Tommy or Operation Mindcrime this is not! Seriously, closer to Pavarotti, or at least Andrea Bocelli. Therion fans are used to left-of-field maneuvers, but the story requires 30 distinct voices! In the promo literature, its creator says, “It would not be Therion, if we didn’t do what we want to do. Those fans who are as crazy as I am will always follow us on the journey. Some will pop in and out along the path. And some will continue to say we’ve lost it and haven’t done a good album in 20 years. That’s how it goes...”
Johnsson's goal is to tour opera houses, with a full orchestra, and perform this piece live, ala Jesus Christ Superstar. This isn't something you simply listen to indiscriminately, for fun. While nearly four dozen titled sub-divisions, they're not real songs, rather bits of a three-act play: some a cappella, others solely symphonic accompanied. Throughout the grand opus, neophytes might draw similarities to John William's original Star War score. After operatic male aria, “Anthem” is one of the few that could be considered metal music, on its own, complete with electric guitar, ie typical Therion, of late. Apart from the crooning, “Night Reborn” will also strike a chord with most metalheads. While not traditional metal, in any sense of the word, “Jewels From Afar” is a lovely female sung lullaby. There's a heavier bottom end (accompanied by brass fanfares) on “The Arrival Of Apollonius”. Some guitar histrionics in dual-sex, multiple voiced choir of “Temple Of New Jerusalem”. As might be expected, from the title, “Shot Them Down!” is a bouncy rocker, start to finish. “Rise To War” is another guitar driven number.
Gargantuan, cutting-edge and exclusive. Certainly NOT the place to start one's investigation of Therion, but guardedly recommended (in album sized digestions) to the open-minded and those already familiar with the Swedes' most recent output.