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2-in-1 - 85%

Corimngul, March 5th, 2006

Combining the best moments from A’arab Zarag Lucid Dreaming and Crowning of Atlantis is an excellent idea. It was meant as a way for new fans to acquire the Therion back catalogue for a lesser price – for us completists it’s turned out to be the opposite. It’s a little sad that they didn’t include any of the single B-sides, but perhaps they sounded too much death metal to be included. Still, the idea is good. I can’t think of many non-hardcore fans that’d like Christoffer Johnsson’s soundtrack to the Golden Embrace. Neither the originals nor the “Therionized” versions were what you’d call instant favourites.

Now, Atlantis Lucid Dreaming consists of two slow Theli outtakes that never deserved an album place in the first place, 43% covers, two remixes, which are really positive experiences, three excellent songs that were written for the Crowning of Atlantis EP and one live track. In deed some cleaning has been done – the Children of the Damned cover is removed, as well as the entire soundtrack and two live tracks from the EP. The A’arab Zarag… tracks have been digitally remastered, and they do in truth sound more now.

The result? Well, except for the remastering, it’s pretty much like last time really. The A’arab Zarag… part starts with three rather boring tracks, which are followed quite abruptly with Under Jolly Roger which sounds heavier than Running Wild’s original, mainly because of the production, which was partly done by Peter Tägtgren who also delivered some guitars. With the remastering it’s also heavier than the previous Therion version.

Symphony of the Dead sounds more like Therion (it is after all a song written by Therion), and just as on A’arab Zarag… it doesn’t sound much like the death metal original on Beyond Sanctorum. Here Comes The Tears is still a weak song, although not quite as weak it was on the Brits third album (where the title lacked a s, and was thus grammatically correct). The remasters really lift this first part of the compilation from the mediocricity that showed through on the A’arab Zarag Lucid Dreaming, but still the Crowning of Atlantis part is better.

It starts out with its old title-track, which owns, as always, after which Mark of Cain slows it down a little, only keeping and somehow overusing it’s main rhythm. Clavicula Nox is a remix from Vovin, a little heavier though, but the strings are still playing. Crazy Nights is perhaps the most immediate song here. I could never stand Loudness original, so it’s nice to have a version with a vocalist who knows his pronunciations. From the Dionysian Days is heavily marked by the use of operatic choirs, and not so much from the instruments played. All in all, it’s a decent Therion song, but crammed between the energy packages of Crazy Nights and Thor (The Powerhead), which has the guitars higher in the mix than Manowar’s original (a good move by the way), it doesn’t work so very well.

Seawinds was first performed by Accept, but I prefer Therion’s version. They’ve managed to find a nicer, more organic guitar tone. Also Sarah Jezebel Deva’s voice works better than Mr. Dirkschneider’s did on his band’s debut. Black Sun, a typical Therion song, first found on Vovin works very well live. There’s more focus on female vocals this time – and it helps. The recording quality is excellent.

All in all, this compilation might be a little too varied, and any person new to Therion’s works should try out the full-lengths first. Then however, is this little sweetie much better a buy than Crowning of Atlantis, and especially A’arab Zarag Lucid Dreaming. It holds all the best songs from both releases, and with the remastered versions of A’arab Zarag… it’s a winner.