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Welcome to banality - 59%

Exterus, August 16th, 2007

What I loved about Therion was their magnificent use of choirs and operatic vocals in combination with what can be described as almost wagnerian melodic structures. It gave the music a very unique and dignified sound. With Gothic Kabbalah, these aspects seem to have been toned down to the extent that they're almost gone. The choirs are reduced to background noise and these new singers, while not inherently bad, are woefully ordinary and boring compared to what I've come to expect from Therion. The grandness is still there, but it seems shallow and clanky in contrast with the previous albums pompous greatness. This album sounds more like an epic Katatonia album than a serious Therion effort.

When I listen to Therion, I don't want to listen to regular heavy metal. I want Therions own patented brand of symphonic greatness that didn't fit into any existing musical mold, but who instead had created their very own mold. One that doesn't necessary conform to what the average dull-brained metalhead thinks should be in a heavy metal album. At least they used to be that way. With Gothic Kabbalah, Therion have taken one step away from that. I've heard rumors about how Therion wanted to slip a foot in the door on the american market with this album. Somehow, that makes the whole situation a bit more clear.

The lyrics of Thomas Karlsson (the kooky leader of the "magical" order Dragon Rouge, which Christofer Johnsson is a member of) have always been a mishmash of more or less obscure mythology and his own demented notions about magic. But on this album, they seem to be especially silly. Perhaps because of the new vocals. I suppose it used to be easier to ignore the painfully pretentious lyrics and just enjoy the abstract beauty of the choirs and operatic vocals on the previous albums. Now we don't have that luxury.

All in all, I'm disappointed and somewhat disillusioned. I hope this was just a one-shot deal, but somehow I doubt it.