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Therion: Leviathan

Having arguably reached a peak in terms of their unique, symphonic-progressive metal sound on 2004’s double album Lemuria/ Sirius B, Therion’s main man Christofer Johnsson can hardly be accused of trading water since; among other experimental releases have been an album of covers of French pop songs (Les Fleurs Du Mal) and, most recently, 2018’s Beloved Antichrist, an ambitious three hour rock opera. It is perhaps the generally negative reaction to the latter from the band’s fanbase that has influenced Johnsson’s decision to go back to the ‘trademark’ Therion sound of the late 90’s/ early ‘00’s; in his words ‘we have decided to give people what they kept asking for. Leviathan is the first album we have deliberately packed with Therion hit songs.’

For me, this statement rings alarm bells; attempts to go back to basics and ‘give people what they want’, particularly when you know the creative artists themselves don’t really have their hearts in it, is usually a recipe for disaster. First signs on initial listens to this album weren’t good, either; the sound is unusually thin and fails to pack a sonic punch, whilst the songs appear almost like pale facsimiles of the band’s earlier triumphs. However, repeated listens have certainly led me to warm to a number of these songs, with the relatively short running time (45 minutes or so) and straightforward approach also working in the album’s favour.

After a so-so opener in “The Leaf On The Oak of Far”, “Tuonela” is an early highlight, driven by a strong riff and featuring Marcus Hietela’s distinctive vocals and a pleasingly over-the-top chorus. “Eye of Algol” has plenty of pomp and ceremony, and a strong female vocal, “Nocturnal Light” is quite anthemic with its massed choral vocals, and “Great Marquis of Hell” is a short but dramatic number featuring powerful lead vocals from main male singer Tomas Vikstrom.

There are also, however, a handful of lesser tracks that drift in one ear and out of the other and, together with the underpowered sound, serve to render this album as ‘good in patches’ rather than a triumphant return to form. Hopefully the “Leviathan Parts 2 and 3” that Johnsson has since promised have more sonic ‘oomph’ and are a bit more consistent in song-writing terms.

1.The Leaf on the Oak of Far
4.Die Wellen der Zeit
5.Azi Dahaka
6.Eye of Algol
7.Nocturnal Light
8.Great Marquis of Hell
9.Psalm of Retribution
10.El Primer Sol
11.Ten Courts of Diyu

Added: May 30th 2021
Reviewer: Tom De Val
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 646
Language: english

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