THERION Mastermind CHRISTOFER JOHNSSON Talks Making Of Leviathan Album - "We Had Enough Material For Three Albums; Leviathan II Is Mostly Recorded"

February 3, 2021, 9 months ago

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THERION Mastermind CHRISTOFER JOHNSSON Talks Making Of Leviathan Album - "We Had Enough Material For Three Albums; Leviathan II Is Mostly Recorded"

Zisis Petkanas at Rock Overdose caught up with Therion mastermind Christofer Johnsson to discuss the band's new album, Leviathan, and the two follow-up albums currently in the works
 
Rock Overdose: One would expect that after the Beloved Antichrist project two years ago there would be a pause before a new album. However, Therion are back with their 17th album, Leviathan. How was the making process of the album?

Christofer Johnsson: "I felt very empty after the Beloved Antichrist because it was my last big vision, the last dream I had that must be fulfilled. So, I was thinking that Therion was doing what we wanted to do and never listened to the company or the fans. It’s not easy to give fans what they want, it’s not easy to just take a guitar and write a hit. So, we thought it’s a challenge to finally give the fans what they want. Let’s try to write a classic sound of Therion and see if we can do it. Of course, that’s for the fans to judge, but we did our best. We got a lot of inspiration, in the very beginning it was actually quite slow but then it exploded and we wrote over 40 songs, and they are good songs and realized we had enough material for three albums! So we decided to make a trilogy and the idea is to release them one each year. As I told you before my ears were fresh, and I can tell Leviathan II is mostly recorded."
 
Rock Overdose: As regards Leviathan II and III, the concept of the songs and music will be the same?
 
Christofer Johnsson: "Yes, quite the same style. Leviathan II will be more dark and melancholic. Leviathan III will have the songs that were left; it has a variety, some more experimental songs, some more progressive. It can actually be compared with the situation we have. If you have to make a link to another record, a comparison Lemuria is actually like Leviathan III, it has songs that didn’t fit on any of the other two. And Leviathan II I think could make a comparison with Vovin, which is also very dark and melancholic but it doesn’t mean it will sound like Vovin."
 
Check out the complete interview here.

January 22nd saw the release of Therion's 17th studio album, Leviathan. They have released an official video for the song, "Tuonela", which can be viewed below. As a guest, former Nightwish singer and bassist Marko Hietala lends his voice to the song.

Therion mastermind Christofer Johnsson comments: "Like everyone else I'm very sad and was also surprised to read that Marko is leaving Nightwish. But I understand the meaning of his reasons and there are many that are frustrated about the same things. But Marko has been active as a professional recording artist with various quality bands since the mid 80s, so I am absolutely sure we will see his return to the scene in time. He is simply too good to not be involved with music. But right now I hope he will take a good amount of time to just find himself and get the full energy and inspiration back on track."

Therion have always been a band that have challenged themselves to explore new paths, while remaining true to their musical core values. For their 17th studio album, Leviathan, mastermind Christofer Johnsson and his collaborator Thomas Vikström have created something that has been previously unthinkable to the guitarist and the singer. "We have done the only thing that was left of all the different angles to explore", explains Christofer. "We have decided to give the people what they kept asking for. Leviathan is the first album that we have deliberately packed with Therion hit songs."

When Therion came into being in 1988 by changing name from the already existing band Blitzkrieg, which was founded a year earlier, Christofer had rather taken inspiration from Slayer's Reign In Blood among other classic metal albums. At the beginning, the Swedes were firmly rooted in death metal, a genre which they helped to define, as witnessed by their debut album Of Darkness.... (1991). Yet even back then, there were hints of "something else" lurking beneath the rough surface.

The use of female vocals is another core ingredient of Therion today, which developed gradually. Celtic Frost had basically introduced the female element to extreme metal on To Mega Therion in 1985. Therion began with both a female and male vocalist emulating a church like choir already in their sophomore full-length, Beyond Sanctorum (1992). With Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993) and Lepaca Kliffoth (1995), Christofer continued to developed his trademark sound by gradually drifting towards cleaner vocals and more keyboards. With Theli, the Swedes had firmly established a reputation of pushing the boundaries of metal in the 90s – among such acts as their compatriots Tiamat, The Gathering, and Moonspell that were often referred to as "gothic metal" at the time.

Therion continued to break new ground leaving inspiration for others to follow in their wake: On A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming (1997), Christofer further explored the use of Near Eastern music in metal which he had already begun in 1992, while Secret Of The Runes (2001) dared to have Swedish lyrics in some songs. While critics were left confused and fans challenged, Therion were often ahead of their times and vindicated in hindsight. Even the band's 25th anniversary excursion Les Fleurs Du Mal has by now overcome the initial shock the album caused and is only beaten in terms of streaming by the classic Vovin (1998).

When Christofer faced the question of where to go next after the dramatic Beloved Antichrist (2018) had finally fulfilled his musical mission, his answer is Leviathan, named after a giant sea monster from Judeo-Christian myth that has roots in Babylonic lore: Therion have created a giant hit album – and for the first time in the history of the Swedes, their fans are not asked to explore something new, but simply to lean back and enjoy the best from their band!

Tracklisting:

"The Leaf On The Oak Of Far"
"Tuonela"
"Leviathan"
"Die Wellen Der Zeit"
"Ai Dahaka"
"Eye Of Algol"
"Nocturnal Light"
"Great Marquis Of Hell"
"Psalm Of Retribution"
"El Primer Sol"
"Ten Courts Of Diyu"
"Eye Of Algol" (Alternative Vocals Version)
"Tuonela" (Full Marco Vocals Version)
"Tuonela" (Alternative Vocals Version)
"Tuonela" (Instrumental Version)
"Tuonela" (Orchestral Version)

“Leviathan” lyric Video:



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