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Christopher Johnsson: the new Ludwig van Beethoven - 98%

kluseba, April 7th, 2015

Two and a half years after the apocalyptic, gloomy and heavy conceptual record Secrets Of The Runes, band leader Christofer Johnsson and the Niemann brothers come around with two new releases which are available separately or together in a collector’s edition. Lemuria has a darker and more mysterious tone and the songs are consistent, short and to the point. The album uses a few instruments which are even unusual by Therion standards such as balalaikas, domras, mellotrons and Hammond organs. Sirius B has a lighter atmosphere, more commercially accessible tracks and the songs are a little bit more epic, progressive and symphonic. This album also adds some interesting instruments to Therion’s symphonic soundscapes such as gongs, mandolins and church organs. Both releases perfectly complement each other, deliver everything Therion stood, stands and will stand for and are absolute must have releases for any symphonic metal fan.

Lemuria opens with a big bang and a big surprise. The apocalyptic opener “Typhon” features distorted extreme vocals by Christofer Johnsson for the first time in almost a decade. His vocal performance sounds energizing, sharp and unique and the chorus is an outburst of bleak passion. He is supported by dramatic female and male choirs and a few apocalyptic orchestrations but the track is maybe the greatest extreme metal song ever written by the band. The powerhouse drumming, the mean bumblebee bass guitar sounds and the sharp yet variable guitar riffs are extremely dynamical. Christofer Johnsson cherishes us once more with his unique vocals in the fast and epic “Three Ships Of Berik” where he portrays the legendary king of the Goths who asked his troops to conquer the world. Next to a tight extreme metal performance, the orchestrations are top notch in the two parts of the song and the triumphant march music by fast brass sections leading to a victorious finale is maybe the most epic moment on the entire double-album. As a listener, you feel like you were on a battlefield with the gothic tribes. This masterpiece in two parts is epic war cinema for your all your senses.

The band also shows its slower epic side on this excellent album. The title track is so great that I can’t help but having tears in my eyes whenever I’m listening to it. The song starts with chilling acoustic guitars and angelic female vocals that beat all the Tarja Turunen’s on this planet. Appeasing and mysterious male choirs lead you to a forgotten magic land under the sea. Long-time collaborator Piotr Wawrzeniuk is in charge of the male lead vocals in this song and his performance is both epic and powerful. After a short bridge with a narrative passage, the track ends with the strong chorus over longing guitar sounds before elegant string passages and emotional flutes kick in. These flute sounds are absolutely hallucinating. They are so beautiful that it’s beyond words. Maybe this is the best song Therion has written since “To Mega Therion” that once ended in a similarly stunning way with powerful trumpet sounds.

The genius doesn’t stop there. “The Dreams Of Swedenborg” has slow and mysterious passages with another chilling lead vocal performance by Piotr Wawrzeniuk who delivers the best performance of his career, decent, elegant and elegiac orchestral passages and a catchy chorus where the massive rhythm section almost has a funky tone before the track ends with minute-long amazing guitar harmonies and solos. The great Piotr Wawrzeniuk returns for a third and last time in the masterpiece “Feuer Overtüre / Prometheus Entfesselt”. This perfect fusion of classical music and heavy metal is entirely performed in German. It features a mixture of classical music and choirs in the key of Richard Wagner, melodic heavy and power metal guitar sounds and a few almost narrative Neue Deutsche Härte inspired vocals. With one single song, Therion beats any similar past and future attempts at this style by Apocalyptica and Rammstein which are both outstanding and unique bands in my opinion. This just proves what kind of band Therion is. Christopher Johnsson is the contemporary Ludwig van Beethoven.

In conclusion, the Lemuria / Sirius B double-album is a must have for any symphonic metal fan. These two magic albums might change your life. There aren’t many records like these out there. Do yourself a favor and get them now. In addition to that, you should get the best live record ever released which is called Celebrators Of Becoming, including a whopping four DVDs and two CDs with a two-hour long concert in Mexico, an extensive tour report, an additional concert in Germany plus studio reports and finally a large historical section with more live clips made between 1989 and 2001. Ten years back in time from today, Therion were definitely solidly installed on the metal throne.