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As most Mexican metalheads, I just can’t deny having special feelings and admiration towards Christofer Johnsson and Therion. They were one of the first European metal bands to cross the pond and seriously tour my home country. They didn’t just played at Mexico City like most bands do, but even went to middle sized cities in a time most metal bands just ignored the whole country. I know it mostly has to do with promoters and the band’s administration and budgets, but hell, Therion fuckin’ did it, and it’s not that they had the resources of Iron Maiden or the likes. And I must add that they were really lucky to not being tricked by those vulture-like scam promoters out there. Thus, we, the Mexican metalheads, got really lucky as well and I remember going to Therion’s first gig ever in my home city, Guadalajara, at the legendary Roxy, a venue that also held other noteworthy concerts, somewhat middle-ground between underground and alternative, such as Oceanborn-era Nightwish, pre-Sons of Northern Darkness Immortal and even a pre-famous Radiohead. But all those bands would take ages to return, while Therion has kept on visiting us regularly.
So, years have passed and Therion still professes and shares the same affection we have for them. In fact, this double album entitled Live in Mexico is an “exclusive” release meant for us, though it is also part of their Celebrators of Becoming DVD pack available everywhere else. Yeah, it’s always better to share, though its also pretty cool to be taken into account. Perhaps they though that with our third-world salaries it would be easier for us to get this than the DVD pack? Anyway, even though it is the good intention what counts, this is not the best Therion live album. It has to do with both the performance and the setlist. I don’t know why, but the versions of “Invocation of Naamah”, “Ginnungagap” and “Wine of Aluqah”, to name the most notorious, certainly aren’t as good here as on the previous live record. Also, because Christofer isn’t singing much on this one, and instead we have a misplaced Mats Levén. As I’ve said before, though a great singer, Levén really belongs in a power metal band, not Therion. You can hear the atrocious results while listening to “Typhon”. On the other hand, his Lemmy impersonation on closer “Iron Fist” is remarkably ass-kicking.
As for the setlist, it’s just not as good as the one on Live in Midgård, which was more versatile and balanced, exposing different stages of Therion’s career and evolution. On Live in Mexico the focus is primarily placed on their 2004 stellar releases, Lemuria and Sirius B, though a couple of worth mentioning excellent tracks from their past repertoire appear here, like the “Draconian Trilogy” played in its entirety, the extremely uncommon A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming representative “In Remembrance”, which is given a great treatment live, and a personal favorite both here and on its album version, “Melez”. Those rarities are, in my humble opinion, the real goodies of this double live album. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “Uthark Runa”, “Quetzalcoatl” or the other newer tracks, but their versions here are not as good as their studio forms. Moreover, you will notice the crowd really go wild with the classics; “Seven Secrets of the Sphinx”, “Flesh of the Gods” or “Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah”.
Reviewing a live album is somehow tricky, since the emotion one gets from the band’s performance or the tour/date of its recording are also important factors in enjoying and recommending it. I didn’t attended these Therion gigs at Mexico City’s Circo Volador (also affectionately dubbed “Circo Violador” for its infamous good friendly violent fun) at which Live in Mexico was recorded, but I surely saw them during the same tour in my home city, and I honestly can’t say it was their best. My first live experience with this band was around their Secret of the Runes epoch, so my predilection is for Live in Midgård. Both albums have excellent production, but the setlist and the emotional value favor the 2002 release over this one. I haven’t listened to Live Gothic or The Miskolc Experience yet, but judging by their setlists and their existing reviews, I don’t think I’ll change my mind. Also, honestly if you prefer to get the whole Celebrators of Becoming DVD pack, this would be totally unnecessary. I’m not that into concert DVDs so I don’t regret getting this. But then again, I also own Live in Midgård.