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Therion: Beloved Antichrist

I first became interested in this album because of its literary origins. I like Therion generally, but I was even more interested in understanding how Christofer Johnsson would transform Vladimir Soloviov's " A Short Tale of the Antichrist" into a rock opera. The result is less a direct adaptation than a loosely inspired tale of a man who rises to power who has a dark secret. The result, a three-hour rock opera, is as ambitious as it is dramatic. It will surely interest fans of rock opera, but some listeners may find it tedious or forgettable.

I want to stress that I enjoyed this album, mostly because I was fascinated by the sheer effort involved in putting it on. As I listened, I also discovered that the talent here is impressive across the board. There are 27 different character roles in this opera and each performance is strong and engaging. I like operatic singing in general and each of the voices here sound terrific. There are times when the band fades a little into the background but if you like opera with a beat then you won't be disappointed.

I know there are plans to stage Beloved Antichrist and I hope they are successful. I doubt it will have the draw of something like Hamilton, but Johnsson has plenty of talent and it would be a shame if audiences missed seeing what we are all hearing. Opera appeals to multiple senses and listening to it without seeing the full spectacle is only half the story.

I know that some listeners will say that Therion has come a long way from their death metal origins, but does anyone really expect death metal from them anymore? They've been wandering through various styles for years and most fans know them as pioneers of symphonic metal, not of death metal. If anything, Beloved Antichrist is a lifelong dream for Johnsson, not some rough detour.

Having said all that, this album will likely divide fans, even those who like Therion. Beloved Antichrist is strong and ambitious but not always as engaging as it could have been. Some reviewers are suggesting the album is good but not terribly memorable. I think that's a fair criticism, but I also think there's more to like here than people might think after a first listen. It would be good if the band eventually releases a staged production on Blu-ray so we can experience it as a staged performance and not just as a music file. Ultimately, I feel torn. This is strong stuff, but it will certainly prove tedious for some listeners.

Track Listing:
1. Turn From Heaven
2. Where Will You Go
3. Through Dust, Through Rain
4. Signs Are Here
5. Never Again
6. Bring Her Home
7. The Solid Black Beyond
8. The Crowning of Splendour
9. Morning Has Broken
10. Garden Of Peace
11. Our Destiny
12. Anthem
13. The Palace Ball
14. Jewels From Afar
15. Hail Caesar!
16. What Is Wrong
17. Nothing But My Name
18. The Arrival of Apollonius
19. Pledging Loyalty
20. Night Reborn
21. Dagger Of God
22. Temple Of New Jerusalem
23. The Lions Roar
24. Bringing The Gospel
25. Laudate Dominum
26. Remaining Silent
27. Behold Antichrist
28. Cursed Be The Fallen
29. Resurrection
30. To Where I Weep
31. Astral Sophia
32. Thy Will Be Done!
33. Shoot Them Down!
34. Beneath The Starry Skies
35. Forgive Me
36. The Wasteland Of My Heart
37. Burning The Palace
38. Prelude To War
39. Day Of Wrath
40. Rise To War
41. Time Has Come Final Battle
42. My Voyage Carries On
43. Striking Darkness
44. Seeds Of Time
45. To Shine Forever
46. Theme Of Antichrist

Added: February 18th 2018
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
Related Link: Band Webpage
Hits: 381
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Therion: Beloved Antichrist
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-02-18 05:03:05
My Score:

It's difficult to know what to say about the latest Therion album, Beloved Antichrist. Not because I don't have any thoughts about this deep, dense and dedicated double album but because my esteemed colleague Carl Sederholm has pretty much nailed it with his review above.

This is indeed a three hour double disc epic, it is indeed a loose reinterpretation of Vladimir Soloviov's A Short Tale Of The Antichrist presented as a rock opera and it is indeed an immense work that is to be commended for the sheer scope of what's been intended. Unfortunately it is also, though the performances are beyond reproach, all rather dull and forgettable. Unlike Carl I've no real affinity with opera, but as bands like Therion and many others have incorporated more and more of that style into their own approach, so I've enjoyed the amalgam. However, for me I still need a base in rock, prog or metal for things to maintain the interest levels and here, much though Christofer Jonsson has created a thing of serious magnitude, many of the passages have little to do with the worlds of rock, or even guitar music. That doesn't stop them being beautifully crafted and sympathetically arranged but it does, for this reviewer, create a clear cut off point where I'm beginning to wonder where the opera ends and the rock opera begins and then a chunky guitar riff edges into view to pull me back from the brink.

It is worth mentioning that the band's previous album, 2012's Les Fluers Du Mals did step quite far from the expected opera themes in a different, almost folky manner, so if anything Beloved Antichrist is a sharp swing back in the other direction. However, where earlier rock operas like Sirius B, Lemuria or Gothic Kabbalah used to ebulliently and proudly extol their riffing roots, so much of the non-opera work here seems to almost have to try and push its way to the front of pieces like "Signs Are Here" or "The Crowns Of Splendour". Again I have to stress that the arranging prowess is jaw dropping, while the choral and lead voices, the orchestra and also the band themselves all display an amazing skill set. But bring it all together and Beloved Antichrist doesn't quite have the impact intended, or reveal the engaging journey that you feel should be in there somewhere.

Somehow it feels churlish to cast aspersions at such a grand, epic, bold and impressive undertaking and yet, no matter how much I want to love this I've been following Therion's every move for well over a decade now I find it a genuine struggle to get to the end of this album in one single sitting. If you have a serious love of opera and enjoy some pounding drums and occasional guitar forays, then Beloved Antichrist might actually be the perfect album for you. However, even for someone who has happily followed Therion down this path before, I find this album at least a half step too far from their roots. But then their roots are actually much more 'extreme' than the music that attracted me to Therion in the first place, so who am I to tell them they shouldn't evolve further?



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