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So it's three years and Swedish metal giants Therion are on the road again with their album Sitra Ahra. The sound of this album takes the band further away from their death metal roots and the and develops on the sound they achieved on the twin masterpieces of Lemuria\ Sirius B. This album as usual draws influences from traditional heavy metal, power metal, prog metal, symphonic metal but on this album we see a tremendous rise in the influence of opera music over these other forms. The album sounds too light, fluffy, or sometimes even a bit poppish when compared to the band's earlier outputs. OK let's for a minute forget that we are listening to Therion and that the music is atleast supposed to be heavy if not brutal as in the days of 'Of Darkness', still the album isn't enjoyable. Even if we treat this album to be a pure opera experiment, still the songwriting and the arrangements of songs are too poor to take anything seriously.
Among the individual performances the vocals suck big time. As in a usual Therion album there are many types of vocalists used, but on this album none of the vocalist manages to bring out a dark, occultic feel as was the case with their earlier vocalists. The guitar work is not quite inspiring either and much simpler than their earlier outputs. The lead work is good if not great. The drum is again OK and suffers mostly because of the "I have heard better" syndrome. The orchestra used here is pretty weak. The orchestral melodies are not even a shadow of the band's past and many times the orchestra actually makes the music poppy rather than creating a dark, mystic atmosphere. The production is pretty weak too. The guitars drowned down in the album in favor of the orchestra. The music looses whatever heaviness it would have had due to this.
As already discussed, the music is further away from Of Darkness and is more opera inspired. It seems many a times that Christofer Johnsson after a night of heavy opera overdose wrote a complete opera album. But the after writing the whole stuff he remembered that Therion is actually a metal band, so in come guitar riffs, solos, drum work of such poor quality which will make your latest 'troo' metalcore band swell with pride at their output. The earlier Terion albums used to have a magical, occultic atmosphere about them thanks to excellent arrangement of orchestra, superb lyrics and strong vocal performances. Here the all the above elements fail to do their respective jobs. Among the highlights (if I can call them highlights) Kings Of Edon is the best song in the album. It is the only song in which the orchestra works well and is the only song which can fit in a Secret Of The Runes or Theli, as bonus track of course. 2012 is a fairly enjoyable track and so is the opener. The rest of them are utter abominations. Low quality, orchestra with feather light rhythm guitars churning out basic level, mediocre riffs topped with vocals. Even the vocals get on the nerves after sometime. Then above all they try to make the music proggy. So in comes couple of epic numbers in the form of Land of Canaan and the utterly laughable closer, which actually are not at all epic but just barely manage to plod along by the numbers. Some heavy tracks are attempts like Kali Yuga III and Din but the fact that the rhythm guitars are as heavy as in a Bon Jovi album does not help them. 'Kali Yuga III', again a clean evidence of lack of ideas. There is actually nothing original going on here. Pretty much everything is recycled and whatever is recycled is pure crap. The rest are more of the same all twisted together in my memory.
Sometimes I seriously doubted while listening to the album whether I had accidentally put in the wrong album. I mean how could the band that released Of Darkness, Secret Of The Runes, Lepaca Kliffoth, Theli, Lemuria/Sirius B.... ever begin to compose so hideous music. Agreed that I was never a big fan of the consistency of a Therion album, but then the music would be so craftily arranged that I would be glued to it. If you want a true taste of this band's imagination and composing capabilities, listen to Secret Of The Runes. Not the album, but the bonus track called Summernight City, and just listen how they converted a sappy, pop anthem into a dark, mystical, occultic song. While on this album we find that the songs which are actually written to sound mysterious and occultic actually sound comical and poppy. Innovation, there is nothing of any kind on this album. The songs do not transport me to wherever and whatever their lyrics spoke off, as was the case with their earlier efforts. Instead I am sitting on my chair, yawning, scratching my head out of sleep, boredom frustration and what not other things wondering why and what am I listening to. So concluding, please do not buy this album because this the very epicenter of boredom and frustration.