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Therion: Sitra Ahra

A new Therion album really is a must have for many; I suppose that has something do with the fact that Therion are one of if not the best symphonic metal band around. Sitra Ahra is the latest, and Christofer Johnsson is still of course the mastermind but there have been rather significant changes, with a new lead singer, drummer, guitarist and bass player. The previous line-up was really very good so I was quite surprised, and was also unsure what this new CD would be like in comparison, but there is no mistaking that Therion sound which is still present upon listening to the excellent symphonic title track "Sitra Ahra", filled with enchanting female and male vocals plus a super catchy chorus on this mid paced track. That Therion sound has evolved though and other cultural influences are found on Sitra Ahra.

The new line-up includes former Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vokstrom, who shows he has a wide range of required vocals for Therion's songs. He does bring a change in style from the always impressive Mats Leven, Therion's previous lead singer, like when Therion bring out the dark elements from their earlier times on the track "Din", a heavy and rapid song well suited to Thomas as he utilizes his more sinister vocals. Being classically trained also makes Thomas an ideal choice for such a band.

Listening to a new Therion release for the first time is an exciting experience, and multiple listens are usually required to fully appreciate how much has gone into creating such an album. Sitra Ahra is no exception a long list of contributors both singers and musicians having been assembled for this newest Therion CD. The sounds of multiple instruments and potent choirs are heard once more, metal meets opera, meets classical and lighter music. With the colorful and vibrant sounds of traditional instruments like on the impressive epic that takes many twists and turns "Land Of Canaan" including acoustic guitar, accordion, flute, organ and harmonica. "King Of Edom" is fantastic and a track full of surprises, "2012" is a song that refers to the Maya end of the world theory and has a more familiar Therion feel to it. I really like how the bass playing helps motivate this one.

It's interesting how different Lemuria/Sirius B, Gothic Kabbalah and now Sitra Ahra all are, as not all bands can pull this off successfully but Therion know how to be innovative and are up to the task, and in actuality some writing for Sitra Ahra actually started back when Lemuria/Sirius B were in the works. So this one has been planned for quite some time, so no wonder it's so good. Also, the previous two Therion releases were spread over two CDs, but this time is back to one gripping disc.

Sitra Ahr will delight those who like to be swept up and taken away by an enthralling musical creation, courtesy of a wonderful band called Therion. Sitra Ahra is truly one of the best CDs I have listened to in 2010, and receives a 5 out of 5 from this reviewer.


Track list:
1. Sitra Ahra
2. Kings Of Edom
3. Unguentum Sabbati
4. Land Of Canaan
5. Hellequin
6. 2012
7. Cu Chulain
8. Kali Yoga III
9. The Shells Are Open
10. Din
11. Children Of The Stone - After The Inquisition

Added: October 20th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2084
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Therion: Sitra Ahra
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-20 06:55:08
My Score:

So, Therion return to the fray, but who's in the band at the moment? How does Sitra Ahra measure up to the band's illustrious past and are they still as mad as a box of frogs?

Hmm, after the soap opera that was Snowy Shaw's defection to Dimmu Borgir and subsequent return the band consists of the following;


• Christofer Johnsson: Guitars
• Johan Koleberg: Drums
• Nalley Pählsson: Bass guitars
• Christian Vidal: Guitars
• Thomas Vikström : Vocals
• Waldemar Sorychta: Rythm guitars, additional harmony, lead guitar
• Lori Lewis: Solo soprano
• Snowy Shaw: Lead vocals


These people help out;
• Peter Ljung: Grand piano and hammond organ
• Hans Gardemar: Accordion on Land Of Canaan
• Mats Öberg: Harmonica on Land Of Canaan
• Staffan Astner: Accoustic 6 and 12-string guitars
• Chris Laney: Electric 12-string guitar on Land Of Canaan and Hellequin
• Mattias Olsson: Analog synthesizers on Kali Yuga III
• Marcus Jupither: Solo baritone on Hellequin
• Mika "Belfagor" Hakola: Lead vocals on Din
• Peter Karlsson: Lead vocals on 2012
• Linnea Vikström: Lead vocals on Kings Of Edom and Hellequin

I was going to list the other sixty or seventy musicians who appear but that would just be crass space filling on my part, however, they all make Sitra Ahra one of Therion's more consistent CDs as far as I'm concerned and also the band definitely continues to be seriously mad. The huge amount of extra players means that the kitchen sink approach that characterises Therion's work remains pleasingly in place despite the recession.

This album has something for everyone; it's doomy in parts, folky in others and it goes without saying that it's very, very bombastic. More than ever before (and I own all their records) Therion have written melodies that grab the inside of your brain, "Cu Chalain" being one glorious example. Some of it is almost indescribable and possibly unreviewable, "Land of Canaan" for instance defies any attempt at pigeonholing into any particular genre.

I'd wager that if you already like Therion you'll love Sitra Ahra and if you're not a fan you'll avoid it like the plague but as our readers are serious music lovers I would urge you all to give this fine album a chance as it is arguably as good as anything Therion have done in their long history although it's possible that some may complain that it's not as progressive as some of their earlier material but c'mon let's let them evolve, they've earned the right.



» Reader Comments:

Therion: Sitra Ahra
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2011-01-16 06:54:14
My Score:

Nowadays Im not a fan of any band.I preview their new stuff on Youtube and if I liked it, then I'll buy it.With that said, I must say that Therion is one of the few consistent bands in the metal landscape.Even though they are less and less "metal" with each passing album.I mean that not in a negative way, it's just a fact.The metal onslaught is barely there anymore and when there's riffing, it's of the most controlled type.The arrangements are more open than ever before, letting the instruments breath and giving the compositions a dynamic quality only heard in classical music.The epicness and drama is truly of the best possible caliber, on par with prog-rock operas like Jesus Christ Superstar.The melodies and choruses have an intensity, immediacy and infectiousness that save them forever in your brain's "hard drive".It was a wise move keeping the beautiful and extremely gifted soprano Lori Lewis as a "close collaborator", but Cristopher should give her more to do next time.I cannot recommend this enough.You'll be hard pressed to find a more buy-worthy album in the market.

Therion: Sitra Ahra
Posted by Ben Sommer on 2010-12-29 19:02:08
My Score:

Sorry - but what a headache of a website Therion's is! Can't find a link to listen to this anywhere! Not that I don't trust your word here and should probably just buy the CD - its just frustrating to have to hunt and hunt - can come up empty! Oh well... :0

Thanks for the ENTICING review!

Best,
~Ben
BenSommer.com




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