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Therion continues to evolve on Vovin as mastermind Christofer Johnsson gathers a new guitarist and drummer around him and invited a total of twenty guest musicians and singers including big names like guitarist Waldemar Sorychta of Grip Inc. and Voodoocult, Ralf Scheeper of Primal Fear and Gamma Ray fame and Sarah Jezebel Deva who had been invloved in bands such as Cradle Of Filth and her own group Angtoria in the past. While the previous genre milestone Theli contained maybe seventy percent of bleak heavy and gothic metal music and thirty percent of orchestral arrangements, Vovin is even more balanced and comes around with a mixture close to fifty percent of occult and yet melodic metal and fifty percent of majestic orchestrations and even more impressive male and female choirs of the highest kind. While the songs on Theli covered completely new ground and managed to touch me emotionally, Vovin is a more elegant, intellectual and sophisticated output. One really gets the impression to witness elaborated classical symphonies of the grandest kind but the songs are also a little bit more distant from an emotional point of view. While I slightly prefer Theli over Vovin, it is great to see that Therion moved on and tried out new things again on this excellent release.
There is not one single bad song on this release. "The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah" is a perfect opener. It feels like you were listening to a Beethoven symphony as the song starts in a really dramatic and cinematic fashion. You can really see the downfall of the two famous cities in front of your eyes while listening to this sacral metal masterpiece. The male and female choirs are spot on and create an elegant yet apocalyptic atmosphere. There is no doubt that this song is one of the best in Therion's stunning career. "Birth Of Venus Illegitima" is a little bit more elegic and convinces with a dark yet harmoniously chilling atmosphere. This is not just music, this is a very fine piece of art. The epic yet accessible "Clavicula Nox" and the more emotional and guitar driven "Eye Of Shiva" also share a more elegic feeling as they are rather slow and appeasing songs that convince with enchantic angelic female vocals that make me think of several impressive new-age artists like Enigma or Vangelis for example.
"Wine Of Aluquah" differs from the more elegeic and elegant tracks as it has a slightly Middle Eastern folk infused feeling, truly catchy female choir passages and it is overall a little bit faster and heavier than most of the other tracks on the album. The fastest track and only song that clearly harkens back to Therion's earlier outputs is probably "The Wild Hunt". It's a fast and almost power and thrash metal orientated song with dramatic choirs, vivid melodic guitar solos and a hectical yet catchy chorus performed by Ralf Scheepers. This is one of the few songs that clearly has more metal than classical symphonic elements and should definitely please to the power metal community.
Every single song on this release is worth mentioning and "The Draconian Trilogy" even resumes all the stunning qualities of Therion again but I simply suggest you to purchase Theli and Vovin and discover these artistic masterpieces of classical music and metal on your own. You really miss out on something if you don't get in closer contact with the most imaginative metal band of the nineties along with Amorphis and Moonspell.
If "Theli" is not my favorite Therion album, then who are the lucky ones? Well, "Vovin" is one of them. Just that title… I love that Therion uses so many weird but fun-sounding words that I obviously can't understand and am not sure what language they're from.
After the fun and mindless "Aarab Zaraq the Lucid Dreaming", "Vovin" is Therion's new venture into the symphonic metal territory. It's also the one where they became more female-fronted… but considering there's Sarah Jezabel Deva and Martina Hornbacher on this album, it's something I would never complain about. While undeniably metal, it's probably the most symphonic album of all symphonic metal. More generally, it has a distinctive recurring sound, that I'm not sure how to describe, but is what makes it so awesome.
How to describe the Vovin sound? I'll try with a few words: dark? Piano and violin-dominated? Twisted? Middle-Eastern? Psychedelic? Or is it just Therion being Therion better than ever? As for what constitutes the Vovin sound, there's notably the Vovin piano and the Vovin lead vocals. You're not quite sure if it's Sarah or Martina because they have rather similar voices on this CD, but, from what I've heard, Martina (if that's her), also has a particular sound, easily identifiable but hard to describe. And she sure fits perfectly the Vovin sound.
"Vovin'' is what I could call extremely symphonic. The main things you hear are the piano and violin playing like crazy, but the big guitars are definitely there to give a heavy background. This blend is done extremely well in "Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah", which constitutes one hell of an opening. No pun intended. And that's a great way to define the Vovin atmosphere: hellish, sinful. Hell doesn't always express itself with black or thrash. Take for example "Wine of Aluqah", which is about drinking the aforementioned mysterious substance and has a choir singing in arab (I guess), saying the names Shaytan and Iblis among other things. Guess who Shaytan might be… And by the way, WOA is probably another highlight of "Vovin" and one of Therion's best songs of all time. It's well-written, mysterious and semi-satanic, punchy and it manages to be catchy despite its diabolic theme and blend of musical genre that only Therion could think of. Too bad it's the kind of song that would get you weird looks if you sung it in public.
The guitar also has a particular Vovin sound. It's almost like a violin or a piano sometimes! But it's really a part of the music. It gets its big shining moment in "The Witch Hunt", the heaviest and fastest track, which sounds like a Vovinized power metal song. As a result, songs with less guitar work like "Black Sun" are less interesting. Thankfully, the last song, "Raven of Dispersion", improves things with its flying riffs. Pun somewhat intended here. In fact, being elegant birds associated with darkness, ravens really are vovinesque too…
So what are you waiting for to get into the Vovin sound? You won't be disappointed. It's a very well-written album, original and fascinating album. Listen to it especially for "Wine of Aluqah". It's the kind of song that tells your kid to worship Shaytan, drink wine, do drugs and then reply that nothing is true and everything is permitted!
"Vovin" is one of my favourite Therion releases. It continues on the same vein as "Theli", with one difference. This time the symphonic elements are more "in your face", so to speak. The combination here is string instruments and metal, and Therion does it brilliantly. The case here is not the addition of symphonic elements to metal - it is classical and metal combined together. In fact, "Vovin" is probably the Therion album which is furthest from the metal genre (it's still clearly there, though).
From the first few seconds of the album, it is quite clear that "Vovin" is packed with strings throughout. Unlike "Deggial", strings tend to dominate this album, and not the guitars. These aren't pushed back in the mix, but the symphony is a bit more dominant here more than any other album. When it comes to vocals, it's mostly choirs throughout. Exceptions to this would include "Clavicula Nox" and "Eye of Shiva, which feature plenty of female vocals, and "The Wild Hunt".
It's quite impossible to point out the highlights of this album, as it is pretty much a highlight in Therion's discography itself. If I had to pick a favourite track, it has to be "Wine of Aluqah", which, in my opinion, is perfection from beginning to end, and really does the whole classical/metal combination really well. It is also more or less impossible to get the choirs out of your head.
This album would have gotten a perfect rating if it wasn't for one track: "The Wild Hunt". In my opinion, it "ruins" the whole feel of the album. It is an excellent track, no arguments there, and would have been great on "Crowning of Atlantis", yet it sounded very out of place here, as it is was too "metal" when compared to the other tracks, so it sounds like the black sheep of the album.
I would recommend "Vovin" to anyone who appreciates good music in general. If you tend to dislike strings, however, then this is probably not your cup of tea. Nevertheless, anyone who listens to it with an open mind would definitely enjoy it.
I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone if I affirm Vovin is, alongside Theli and Secret of the Runes, one of Therion’s best-known and best-loved works. The fact is, it had everything to be so... If I turn to the layman and say something in the lines of y’know, Mr Everyone, Therion is a band mixing metal with opera and classical music, chances are Vovin is pretty much the kind of thing he’ll imagine. For a more personal touch I may also add it used to be my dad’s favourite album from my metal collection, knowing my dad isn’t fundamentally a metalhead everything points to the same direction.
Violins, violins all the way: what Christofer Johnsson likes to jokingly refer to as “his solo album” (as recorded with essentially session musicians) is perhaps Therion’s most orchestral, and consequently less (though still undoubtedly) metal piece of work. Nowhere else in the band’s abundant discography you’ll find parts like the intro of The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah or The Draconian Trilogy; and even if those are the most extreme examples they reflect the overall mood well. Johnsson sometimes gives the impression of parodying himself, probably unconsciously as I can’t imagine the little ego-driven occultist endowed with any humour of this kind. We thought we were shooting ourselves with Theli, but instead you praised it to the skies. So, let’s get more! More violins! More opera! More pomp! More, more, more!
All the more there’s, above all, the strange case of The Wild Hunt. In the middle of this majestic orchestral album, following the gloomy epic Clavicula Nox, it comes like a slap on the wrist. Figure it out: it’s one of the two upbeat tracks here (with Wine of Aluqah) as well as probably the most metal, it’s indeed the only one featuring a vicious, high-pitched metal voice (courtesy of Ralf Scheepers) in addition of the opera singers, and what is it about? Some unhappy occultist mercilessly chased by the demons he himself summoned, led by... the Horned God? All the familiar ancient demons Johnsson and his faithful lyricist T. Karlsson are so fond of are gone, all that remains being this trivial, somehow buffoonish Satan. The presence of such a track can’t be anecdotal, but what does it exactly mean?
That’s why on this a bit too suspiciously bright, showy, ostentatious album, I’ve always tended to prefer the darker, more discrete, more intimate moments. I’m not pretending the bombastic Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah, the crazy Wine of Aluqah (strong rumours this one is about ritually drinking menstrual blood) or the whole Draconian Trilogy are weak songs, their status of untouchable Therion classics would prevent it anyway. However another classic like Birth of Venus Illegitima – just in case you haven’t noticed yet, two thirds of this album consist in classics – with its as simple as efficient intro and the emphasis put on beautiful lead guitars rather than on orchestrations will sound far more honest and powerful; probably my favourite track. Even if a monolith of darkness like Clavicula Nox – The Key of Night, perfectly fitting title – can’t be ignored as a summit of both majesty and despair, slowly building on the minimal gloomy intro to eventually reach its climax in an epic grand finale.
On this ultimately classic release the three tracks I haven’t mentioned yet might be lesser known. It’s with good reasons for Eye of Shiva, the undeniable low point, another slow song which doesn’t manage to reach the depth of its counterparts and instead just drags on. Black Sun on the other hand should be remembered if only for its agreeable grand piano intro; of course it’s another violins fest here. Eventually Raven of Dispersion, lonely closing track kind of lost after the opulent Draconian Trilogy, somehow appears like a black sheep: on an otherwise polished album it sounds truly bizarre, disgraceful, almost unpleasant. The put it clearly I used to hate it until I realized the solo soprano’s ethereal shrill voice, the weird effects I still have to identify the nature of, the overall gothic vibe weren’t weaknesses, but strengths of one of post-Theli Therion’s most original, disturbing songs. And the ending choir is simply superb.
Of course Vovin is a good Therion album, but it’s mostly because every Therion album is good to begin with. Now like all his fellow classics from every band on this fucked up planet its popularity is likely to have made him grown into something it probably isn’t. Theli was a stroke of absolute genius. Deggial is a masterpiece of melancholy. Lemuria/Sirius B will so far remain my personal reference in orchestral metal. This little gem of HDHM unjustifiably suffers from its status of pre-Theli material. An objective comparison with all those great works makes the present one appear a bit like, as I said, a caricature. What doesn’t prevent it from still sounding dark, touching and beautiful.
The Black Bird carries me on its wings
To a place beyond the flood of memory.
The Raven of Dispersion from
A'arab Zaraq flies in ecstasy...
Highlights: The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah, Birth of Venus Illegitima, Clavicula Nox, Raven of Dispersion
With the mighty Theli, Therion changed their style from death metal to symphonic operatic metal. It brought a large numbers of new fans and receives many positive comments. Theli soon be considered as one of their best albums to date. Two years later, Therion released another album: Vovin. Vovin sounds more symphonic and operatic than Theli. With Vovin, Therion completely forsake death metal, and become one of the greatest symphonic metal bands in the world.
Unlike Theli, Vovin is a pure symphonic metal album, there is no death metal element left in their music anymore. To compare with Theli, Vovin has less strength and power, but much beautiful and emotional. As usual, Therion use lots of classical arrangements and operatic vocals in this album. The most impressive performance is string quartet. I’ ve never thought that string quartet can fit with metal music, but Therion have done it well in Vovin. The beautiful voices of violin make each song sounds very smooth and peaceful. The operatic vocals are also fantastic, sometimes strong and powerful, sometimes soft and emotional. This album is just like performed by an orchestra. It shows the beauty of classical music. Classical lovers will enjoy this album pretty much.
Too much classical elements spelled disaster for lots of bands, because they are usually tend to lose their original metal sounds, but this proved not to be the case with Therion. Although surrounded by string instruments, operatic vocals and symphonic orchestra, Vovin is still a pure metal album. The guitars are loudly, drums are strong and fast in several songs, the bass are also clear enough to hear, and all of them fit with classical arrangements perfectly. What a magic! I’ ve never heard a band which can do the same work as good as Therion. Vovin contents the power of heavy metal. Do you want to know how to combine classical music and progressive style with thrash metal? Just listen to the songs “ Wine of Aluqah” and “ The Wild Hunt”. What about progressive metal with string quartet? “ The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah”, “ Clavicula Nox”, “ Eye of Shiva” and “ Raven of Dispersion” are good examples. You want to hear some good pure classical metal music? The draconian trilogy “ The Opening”, “ Morning star”, and “ Black Diamonds” can satisfy you. Don’t forget “ Birth of Venus Illegitima” and “ Black Sun”, songs full of beautiful melodies and emotions. Vovin is a wonderful example of the combination of classical beauty and metal power.
Vovin shows another incredible ability of Therion: the outstanding musical creativity. When I listen to their music, I’ ve already had a standard in my mind and think: “ I want to hear some beautiful and impressive things”. Therion never disappoint me. And much impressively, their music is usually better than what I expect. They’ ve already shown this kind of genius on Theli. And now they present another great work in Vovin. Especially in last parts of “ Clavicula Nox” and “ Eye of Shiva”, the wonderful guitar melodies and great harmonies are very stunning, just above my expectation. “ Wine of Aluqah” perhaps is the best thrash style symphonic metal song I’ ve ever heard, the last minute of the song is made up of progressive melody with speed metal drumming, and ends with string arrangements, it totally blows me away. “ Raven of Dispersion” is godly. It’ s not only a great ending, but also fits with lyrics well. The draconian trilogy is actually consists of three separated songs: “ The Opening”, “ Morning star”, and “ Black Diamonds”. These songs have the most beautiful melodies in the album. The majestic opener “ The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah” and darker “ Birth of Venus Illegitima” are also my favorites.
Needless to say, the production is awesome. Therion never let me down, not because they always make fascinating songs, but because they always product their album very well. There is no shortcoming in this album I can really point out. With high quality music, creative songwriting abilities, great musical arrangements, and wonderful musicianship, Vovin is another perfect masterpiece. It’ s another highlight in Therion’s career. With this album, Therion take another great step toward true greatness. It’ s a golden standard of symphonic metal, the definitive album of the combination of heavy metal with fantastic operatic vocals and beautiful string line. Vovin is also destined to be remembered as a classic. It’ s a very unique and unforgettable experience of listening, a must have.
After the grand masterpiece of Theli, Therion continued with the great new sound but with ever so slightly less strength. There are highlights of course, Eye of Shiva being worthly of Theli, but the rest is less memorable.
The sound is actually a bit of an improvement in some ways. The production is cleaner, the orchestra is flawless, the vocals are more epic and powerfull, and those oddities that make Theli sound so strange have been replaced with more conservative notes riffs and symphonic conventions. This makes high quality music, but the oddity is what made Theli so great. Vovin and the following Deggial would mark a stagnation that took over Therion's middle years.
The lyrics are still occult fantasy and poetic accomplishments, every song is still a truly good song. What eccentricity can add may be missing but what made metal great for 20 years and music great for 200 is present full force. There is no flaw, no moment wasted, no note out of place and the effect of it all is most impressive. The variety between Wild Hunt and Clavicula Nox is admirable, and the Kanon und Gigue reference in Eye of Shiva made for the album's most passionate moment, where the force behind the music becomes emotionally resonant and works so powerfully from such a melodic riff that the years of Lepaca Kliffoth seem to let go of Therion completely, the Doom era that Theli held on to with Siren of the Woods is gone, and the result sounds akin to some of Apocalyptica's hader instrumentals.
It is Therion at it's finest, but it is not the finest Therion have to offer, nor the most original. But it is good, it is still strange enough to boast a unique place in the musical realm, and with Deggial makes Therion's center era notable among symphonic metal works.
I'll tell you the truth – I hate opera. I can't get myself to go to an opera night, just sitting in a chair and watching singers sing this kind of stuff. You know what? Scrap that. Let's say I hate opera, most of the time. Opera, just like death-metal vocals, can be very impressive if done tastefully. Thankfully, Therion does just that. Their music, taking its influences from classic heavy metal and classical composers such as Richard Wagner, is dramatic, melodic and mysterious. There's a hidden charm to Therion's creation, one whose reasons are very hard to point out. Yes, Therion did use to do death metal, but, honestly, they couldn't have made a better choice moving away from this genre and into the realms of symphonic metal.
Theli was a very impressive record, and it caught many fans and other metalheads off guard. The dramatic, orchestrated sound was sensational, and it mixed the orchestral, the metallic and the operatic together for a very atmospheric record. The band-reinventing effort's follower, Vovin, takes this to a whole other level. Vovin is a spectacular record, rich with atmosphere, darkness and beauty, and what's even better is how each of its songs is distinguishable enough to warrant attention. None of the songs can be considered in any way filler content, and that's very respectable. Now, let's move onto the songs themselves.
Opener "The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah" starts the album on a very dramatic note thanks to very rhythmic, intimidating, violins. I never thought violins could be heavy. Then, a power chord ensues, and in comes the song's Arabian theme. The riffs are simple and very catchy, and they give the songs their metal-ness, but the fact is they're there to compliment the totally mind-blowing orchestration. The strings on this song are simply stunning. The operatic singing compliments the song and prepares the listener to almost an hour of pure class. Yes, many metal bands use classic instruments today, but none actually reach the actual class that Therion has, and this song is a perfect example of that.
The Birth of Venus Illegitima. Well, wow. This song doesn't have speed, it's just a lot of truly impressive, sometimes downright moving melodies. This song is actually more guitar-oriented than Sodom and Gomorrah, with some great dual harmonies and passages, yet the opera remains. The combination is immaculate. Once again, the song creates a very impressive blend of classic (and classy) music and heavy metal, and the solid nature of the song establishes Vovin as an exceptional album right from the get-go. The last minute of the songs is simply breathtaking thanks to wonderful violins and ends the song perfectly.
These two songs are fairly laid-back, and just when you think you're going to lose interest, Therion hits you in the face with Wine of Aluqah. Everything you expect to hear in a Therion song is here – violins, opera, great melodies and… thrashy riffs. Yes, this song will make you happy. It seems like I can't stress out enough just how impressive the contrast is between the classic influences and the heavy metal, but in this song it's even more apparent – the high-society concept of opera and classic music against the "dirtiness" of thrash metal. Sounds interesting? Wait until you hear the fantastic composition full force. Even the toughest metalhead will have to try hard to resist headbanging to this asskicker. The song ends with a surprising, very melodic segment of guitars and opera and a build-up of violins accompanied by the distorted guitars, leading to what could have been lifted straight out of your typical philharmonic evenings with a Tox and some… wine.
Next up is Clavicula Nox, returning to the soothing and insanely melodic. The simple guitar strums are rhythmic and weird, helped by just the right effects to compliment the song's fairly-mysterious tone, which becomes especially apparent after the chorus. The guitar passages after each chorus, containing a bit of an ominous riff, are followed by a pretty heavy part that displays some dramatic opera, good palm-muted rhythm guitar and an interesting guitar harmony. The song is the longest on the album, clocking in at 8:50, but that's not a repetitive, tedious 8:50. However, it's at the song's fifth minute that things go from impressive sounding to interesting-impressive-sounding. The acoustic and classical guitars come in, with a very melodic acoustic solo. What's interesting is how great the solo sounds with the heavy riff in the background. The violins that follow are also excellent, and the guitars fading this song out are great. Another piece ends on a very high note.
A bass note sounds, and another thrashy riff begins. The Wild Hunt is even thashier and more intense than Wine of Aluqah, and between the dramatic choirs and catchy riff comes Ralf Scheepers with a catchy chorus. The song is pretty short, but its great energies carry on through and through. Particularly immersive is the choir passage in the middle before they go into the second verse. The guitar work is particularly impressive, with a great solo from Mr. Erisson ending the song.
Eye of Shiva is very relaxed and even sinister-sounding. There isn't much to say about this song except that it's yet another impressive tune on an already-impressive album. As noticeable and individually impressive as it is, it doesn't stand out much against the other pieces on the album. It's not bad. It's actually very good, but it's also probably the weakest song on the record.
Sadly, Black Sun isn't that much better. The cello/violin/piano intro is ominous, yet the song itself begins abruptly and isn't as heavy as the intro suggests. Some would say this makes for a good surprise, but to me, its cuts the album's flow a bit. Thankfully the song, while different from its intro, is pretty good. It has a good rhythm and some good melodies, yet I just can't get over the sudden change the song takes at the beginning. Had this song had a better intro, it would've ranked higher on my scale.
The next three songs form the Draconian trilogy, and they connect to each other, naturally forming one progressive song. However, each song is distinguishable from the others. The first is almost entirely instrumental, but the best of them is definitely the middle-part, Morning Star. It's heavy and scary, sometimes even trippy. The bass-heavy male singing may contrast the soothing female vocals of the chorus, but that's not a pace-breaking contrast like the one in Black Sun. The song eventually builds up and goes into Black Diamonds. It's another nice piece that actually continues the melodies in Black Sun but manages to differentiate itself. The ending piano-violin passage is almost Jewish-sounding, transmitting a sense of tragedy.
Next up and last for the evening is Raven of Dispersion. This is one of the best songs on the album, right up there with The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah and the insane Wine of Aluqah. It's the perfect conclusion to the album, mainly because it's very different. There aren't a lot of classical instruments most of the time - it's just guitars, bass, drums and some excellent singers. The singing on the trippy chorus is simply stunning – the female vocals are so beautiful they will make your chest hurt. Only on the last minute of the song do the violins come in, yet the song remains dominated by the "conventional" instruments, and the guitar harmony ending the song also ends the album on a very high note, leaving the listener (in that case, me) thinking about the masterpiece they just heard.
To tell you the truth, Therion's lyrics have never caught my interest, but what's so great about them, and I mentioned that quite a lot in this review, is their trademark combination of metal and classical music. There isn't any band out there that sounds quite like Therion, and it's that uniqueness that gives them an edge. They're a metal band, you know, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. And a choir. And a string orchestra. The combination is spectacular. Those with a mind open enough will find a moving, emotional experience that transmits such powerful feelings and atmosphere that it's almost impossible to absorb in one listen, at least until you've had at least six or seven full listens. The orchestration throughout the album is incredible, and the operatic singing, as strange as it may sound, is complimented with respect and class by the metal sound. A unique experience that's not to be missed.
If “Theli” was Therion’s first step into the fully operatic / symphonic metal style they’re now famous for, “Vovin” is the confirmation of their skills. Though basically conceived as a solo album by Christofer Johnsson, “Vovin” features a lot of guest musicians, especially for the choir and orchestra. This is the first Therion album ever recorded with a real orchestra. Actually it’s just a small string section, but it really adds an extra dimension to the songs, as “Vovin” is probably the most symphonic and less metal release from this Swedish band.
Unlike many other albums in this genre, “Vovin” shows a true fusion between metal and classical that could be appreciated by a wide, open-minded audience. The vocals are mostly performed by the choir, except for a few (female) solo parts and the song “The Wild Hunt”, which features a guest appearance by Ralf Scheepers. This one is undoubtedly the most metal oriented track: fast power metal with high-pitched vocals from the Primal Fear singer. Some might argue that this song is a nice contrast for the overall mellowness of “Vovin”, but for me it ruins its classical mood a little bit; it’s the only reason why I don’t give this album the highest score. For the rest, “Vovin” is the most perfect mixture of classical music and metal I’ve ever heard, and therefore one of the best examples of symphonic metal out there.
The album sounds beautifully dark and evocative. With the exception of the superb opening track “The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah”, which sounds majestic and bombastic, the forementioned “The Wild Hunt” and “Wine of Aluqa” (a fast and somewhat happy track), the songs are slow, with many clean guitars, string orchestrations, enchanting female vocals and operatic choirs. There are some middle-eastern melodies coming from time to time; actually a typical Therion element.
The production is absolutely flawless, crystal clear and very natural sounding. I especially love the drums’ sound and how it gives the right space for every instrument, including the classical strings. Actually a big improvement over all the previous Therion discography. Guitar work is stunning and varied, with beautiful clean sounds, nice harmonies and very effective rhythm heavy guitars.
“Vovin” is Therion’s masterpiece and the definitive symphonic / operatic metal album. A well deserved classic.
If we disregard A’arab Zaraq – Lucid Dreaming, which wasn’t really a full-length par se, this is Theli’s follow-up. Follow-ups to incredibly great albums generally tend to be watered-out shit or something different. Vovin is in deed something different. Vovin is completely different. Where Theli was heavy and synthbased, Secret of the Runes centered around guitars and Deggial, well a symphony, Vovin is string orchestra metal.
It’s calmer, more laid back, far from the intensity of Theli’s, yet far from the sleeping pill that was A’arab Zaraq – Lucid Dreaming. Recorded with studio musicians, this was pretty much a solo album of Christofer Johnsson’s and thus softer, relying more on classical arrangements than the usual metal song concept. Think of the slow music cloth upon which the beautiful, mostly female vocals are projected. We all know how much vocals can mean, how much they can convey, portray or well… say. It makes Clavicula Nox a sad song, no matter how long the guitars, drums and strings are continuing its musical progression.
Wild Hunt is the antipole that confirms the rule. Fast drumming that get monotonous and dull, even though the guitars are blazing and everything, trying to get the song on track. This is one fast song on an album of thoughtful, wary, slow, growing pieces. It’s like it’s there just to be “the fast song”. They’ve even borrowed Primal Fear’s and Gamma Ray’s Ralf Scheepers and his effort is very good, not to forget. It’s the operatic vocals that give Vovin its special touch though. They’re overall great, and there is no sign of that bloody Piotr Wawrzeniuk (who I hate…) anywhere!
It’s slow, it’s operatic and the guitars are splendid as usual. They glitter, they lustre, and they gleam. They are perhaps not as heavy as beautiful, but it’s the same case all over the album. It’s slow, well composed, and beautiful but do not expect a right-in-the-face, hard-pounding, fucking heavy album. One doesn’t headbang to this; at most you make a nod of acknowledgement. Closing one’s eyes is the way to fully enjoy and explore all layers of the 55 minutes of ethereal landscapes. Why not put it on repeat?
And it is, as I said, string orchestra metal. Listen to The Opening. Bass guitar and violin go hand in hand. Viola, cello and guitar complete it. Oh yeah, string instruments apart from guitar and bass are way underrated these days. As the violin has made The Mist And The Morning Dew great, as have the string orchestras used here given this album an aura of its own, made it special, beautiful, virtuous and great. It’s solid, and sadly underrated.
Therion were less than impressive to me at the time they debuted with their sub-Entombed death metal. And I had nearly forgotten about them until I received a review copy of this CD for a magazine I write for when it came out--I threw it in not knowing what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised.
As opposed to generic death metal, Therion progressed to something entirely different on this release, a whole new level of musical expression, as opposed to inklings of this they'd dabbled with on previus releases. Where there had been blast beats and fuzzy guitars before, there now were simple and catchy riffs and melodies with solid, strong drumming and exceptional production--you can even hear the fat, smooth bass guitar tone, and I think the guy (Jan Kazda) is even playing fretless on this CD, which lends a unique warmth to his sound. And those choir vocals! Heavenly, especially Martina Hornbacher's heartbreakingly beautiful singing on the chorus of "Raven Of Dispersion"--makes me wanna cry every time I hear it to this day. (Now if only she could've done better on the Alas CD!)
The only real speed metal moments come on "Wine Of Aluquah" with its furious double bass drumming on the chorus and Queen-goes-thrash ending featuring amazing harmony guitar parts and a rousing violin-soaked finale, and "The Wild Hunt", which keeps things going in overdrive all throughout.
Most every other song has a very laid-back feel that unfolds in a most unhurried fashion, which is both good and bad; some songs feel as though they drag on and overstay their welcome, and could have used a notch more energy--and what the hell possessed them to hire the obnoxious Ralf Scheepers to sing on "The Wild Hunt"?? The soloing could also have been a little more imaginative overall--mostly whoever is lead guitarist usually just quotes the melody from some part of the song, and while it works on "Wine Of Aluquah", it doesn't always. But this CD is not all about instrumental virtuosity, it's about mood and vibe, and feeling, and it delivers beautifully on all those fronts. Again, I mention the stellar and moving ending track, "Raven Of Dispersion"--everything just comes together in a haunting and beautiful display of somber mood and yearning female vocals--the eerie male choir on the verses sets that up perfectly, as well as the crushing flatted fifth power chords that come in about halfway through the chorus that only add to the overall spine-chilling ambience. Everything else flows very smoothly, given the shortcomings of this CD.
I still highly recommend this CD if you are after something to play for awesome background music and if you think pure classical is a little boring (though Wagner and such make for great classical for us headbangers). For all its shortcomings it still has more than its share of moments where they connect hard to bring you feeling and emotion in spades. Check it out!