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The other side of a golden coin - 94%

Observer, February 11th, 2007

And what a golden coin, people! It’s hard to begin this review since Lemuria is linked with its twin, Sirius B. Both were released at the same time but are also separated works which sum up more than 105 minutes of superb music. This part contains about 48 minutes of such masterful pieces and hell they don’t disappoint!

Unlike Sirius B, which had clean vocals and a lot of “catchiness”, Lemuria seems to be the experimental part of the pack, with things that may not appeal everyone. It’s an album that takes longer to get into.

Once again, get ready for a journey through dreamy, complex, intrincate, insane and poetic topics, including a song dedicated to a notable philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg. Thomas Karlasson never fails when it comes to provide interesting topics to listen to. By the way, this album contains a lot of lines in many languages, ranging spanish to german so better be ready for strange accents, especially in the last song, “Feuer Overtüre”.

Album art is something that could be reviewed separately. It’s incredibly detailed and mysterious (“Lemuria” and “Abraxas” come to my mind) so another point for the wonderful visual treatment.

Going into the music (what really matters here), things kick in with the interesting “Typhon”. After a short operatic mix of orchestra and metal we are driven into what should’ve been a melodic chorus but it’s not. And thank all the divinities for that! This, along with “Three Ships of Berik Pt. I”, include death metal vocals, nothing to get really scared of for those that absolutely hate that type of singing. Moreover, it adds a lot of consistence to the songs, keeps your attention and, what’s better, it doesn’t make them predictable.

Riffs with all the power are all around. Guitars (oh, the guitars!) and vocals with distortions also say present, the bass is hopefully there along with a great drumming. It is pretty good to try and separate the orchestration and guitars to simply follow the rhythm of the drums. And the more you distinguish stuff, the more you find interesting things. The classical music soloists accomplish a great task at delivering an ominous ambience and the grandiloquent choruses simply end the work by exalting the intricate rythms and enforcing the lyrical lines. This can be quite notorious in “Uthark Runa” (which seems like something that should’ve been placed in Secret of the Runes… “Rise, Rise, from Ginunngagap!”) and “The Dreams of Swedenborg” with the distorted choruses between the conventional vocal lines.

This game of balance between metal vocalists and classical ones was also present in Sirius B but the songs there were more, say, blunt and direct. Here, the band gave more space to the experimentation mentioned at the beginning.

It’s worth pointing that two excellent vocalists from previous albums are also present: Mats Léven and Piotr Wawrzeniuk, both amazing singers that are always an honor to hear.

There is only a single moment that could be considered filler or a waste, and that could be the brief instrumental “Three Ships of Berik Pt. II” but it gives the orchestra a chance of taking control of the music and they develop a nice and short battle march.

The pace slows down at “Lemuria”, practically the only slow part of the album… but it’s also one of the best songs. Lyrics are full of strange melancholy, and this is reassured thanks to the voices of the classical soloist and Piotr.

It’s remarkable how Therion melded both the classical instruments along with metal and managed to get out alive and well (because it’s still metal of the good kind). They ended up making their own music, away from most standards and while the orchestra could’ve been used a bit more, that by any means lowers the final result.

So, these twins conceived by this musical beast that responds to the name of Therion are such a pair of great works that it’s bound that you won’t see something similar in years.

Extremely recommended!