Review: Therion “Leviathan” [Nuclear Blast]

Review: Therion “Leviathan” [Nuclear Blast]

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Three years ago, in January 2018 Therion released their ambitious three-hour long Metal opera Beloved Antichrist. When the following world tour came to its end, Christopher Johnsson, according to his words, had no idea what to do next: seems like everything he wanted was done and there is no direction where should he move further. However, in a talk with Thomas Viksröm an idea to record a “hit album” was born. That’s how the band’s 17th longplay named Leviathan showed up.

If we’re talking about hits, I’d better quote Christopher himself: “As people often tend to misunderstand information on internet, I should maybe clarify that what I’m talking about is NOT to try to write a “new Vovin” or a “Rise of Sodom part 2” or something like that. It’s rather to try to figure out what it is people like about the most popular songs and then write new songs that carry a similar essence (and “essence” is not the same thing like trying to copy the same chords or melodies).” And that’s true: the songs in this album are not copying previous hits from the band, but can refer to them, continue some topics in lyrics or just remind the atmosphere of some album. Anyway, Leviathan bears little resemblance to the previous two releases – Beloved Antichrist and Les Fleur Du Mal but tends more to Therion‘s 2000s albums.

Except the band’s main vocalists – Lori Lewis, Chiara Malvestiti, Rosalía Sairem and Thomas Viksröm, there are some guest vocalists on Leviathan too: Mats Levén (who was Therion‘s live vocalist for a quite long period), Taida Nazraić from The Loudest Silence, Noa Gruman from Scardust and already former Nightwish bassist Marko Hietala. The drums were recorded by another former Therion member, Snowy Shaw (while some of them were re-recorded by Björn Höglund from Easy Action). And the choir, of course: this time Christopher chose Israeli Hellscore choir, conducted by Noa.

The album opens with dynamic “The Leaf on the Oak of Far” with 80s riffs, which sounds nothing like Therion but when the choir joins in chorus, everything falls into place and in the end some orchestra also added. On the other hand, when you’ll hear the first notes of “Tuonela”, you will recognize Therion immediately in this song: Thomas’ male vocals sounds great with Taida female one and Marko’s raspy vocal brightens the catchy chorus. “Aži Dahāka” is also a dynamic song but here the orchestra used much wider and the guitar riff interferes with orchestration greatly. In some moment an Oriental melody also can be heard.

Main “Leviathan” reduces the tempo and creates a darker atmosphere: a lot of choirs, memorable melody and Lori Lewis vocal over it all. “Die Welleb der Zeit” (“The Waves Of Time”) in its turn is a sublime and epic canvas with magnificent orchestra and a little bit melancholic mood. The same can be said about “Nocturnal Light”: here we also have a great orchestration, epic choir, lots of symphonic element and impressive drumming.

“Great Marquis of Hell” quickly turns into Symphonic Power Metal with some quite “generic” melodies and patterns. Some reviewers already noticed that the chorus here is pretty close to Hammerfall‘s “Glory To The Brave”, but if you ask me, it’s not a plagiarism or borrowing, just a standard harmony sequence. Nevertheless, played live it will be a good, fast headbanger. The same thing happens with “El Primer Sol” (which lyrically related to the song “Quetzalcoatl” from the album Lemuria), but the chorus here is much more catchy. And “Psalm Of Retribution” didn’t impress me at all, despite all Therion things and quite long violin solo – everything is too smooth here (again, for me personally).

The album ends with impressive “Ten Courts Of Diyu”, which has some interspersing of – suddenly – Chinese motives. However, overall it’s another “typical” (in a good meaning) Therion song: symphonic, epic, with great vocals from Thomas, Taida and Noa, and good, interesting guitar solo from Christian Vidal.

But have Therion managed to create a “hit album”? Well, mostly yes: here we have a plenty hit songs with memorable melodies and catchy hooks and choruses. Besides, for years of existence the band raised the bar really high and, I think, it’s a very hard task to replicate the success without going to self-plagiarism or repeating. Moreover, according to the latest information, the second part of the album, more dark and melancholic, will be released next year and there must be the even the third one, more “experimental” in longer term. And I personally will wait for them.

Leviathan will be released on January, 22 via Nuclear Blast.


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