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Renaissance and revolution of sophisticated music - 99%

kluseba, October 25th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Nuclear Blast

Therion’s Theli may be the most essential symphonic metal album ever released. It’s the kind of work that is necessary to listen to at least once in a lifetime of fandom. It’s an album worth exploring thoroughly for Therion fans, as it exists in many different versions and formats including bonus tracks and even additional live cuts. I’m aware of the fact that many bands experimented with heavy metal music and symphonic elements. Let’s cite Lizzy Borden’s Master Of Disguise or Savatage’s Gutter Ballet - which were both released in 1989, and followed by others. What makes Theli stand out among these other ambitious releases is the consequent will to fuse operatic and symphonic elements with doom, gothic, and even power metal in equal parts to invent something extremely courageous and completely unrivaled in originality. It’s something new from an intellectual point of view, but also from an atmospheric and technical approach. This album features sophisticated tracks including dark and raw vocals, full choirs, gripping riffing, vivid rhythm work, and the crowning keyboard orchestrations. Classical music and heavy metal have rarely come into such close contact as on this release. At a time when the metal scene seemed to be waning in power, bands like Amorphis, Moonspell, and Therion kept an entire scene alive with their determined approach to inventing and reinventing themselves with each new release.

I first listened to Therion’s In Mega Therion around ten years ago when it was included on a double DVD collection as part of Nuclear Blast’s highly recommendable “Monsters Of Metal“ series. There are a very few precious moments in your life when you listen to a song and realize that it will change your perception of music. Listening to this song was one of those moments. The longer I listened, the more I sat in speechless surprise. The beauty and the beast mixture of heavy riffs and powerful raw male vocals with male and female choirs was special enough. When the incredible solo with dueling guitar and keyboard came up, followed by a section of sacred-sounding choirs, I got heavy goosebumps and a racing heartbeat. The conclusion kicked in, with enchanting piano and trumpet, and I had tears in my eyes. Choirs, pianos, violins, and even trumpets in a metal song? This was something completely new to me, and it shook up my fifteen year-old world. Thanks to Therion, I started to listen to and to appreciate classical music at that young age. These long-haired death metal musicians had just reinvented a whole genre with a song.

It’s hard to believe it, but the most amazing thing about Theli is that the rest of the album is just as amazing as the opening “Preludium“ and “To Mega Therion“. The relaxing bass and the mysterious keyboard tones of “Cults Of The Shadow“ immediately grab my intention, and the song becomes a catchy, yet diversified symphonic metal anthem with two different gloomy male vocalists in addition to the grandiose choirs. This song is very easy to approach and catchy from the beginning onward. The following “In The Desert Of Set“ comes around with an obvious Egyptian feel. From the intro on, guitars take control and lead into passages where gracious female and male choirs interchange with both clean and harsh male vocals. The song surprises with its impressive structure that includes a short bass guitar interlude, recurring folk elements, majestic grand piano, and faster orchestral parts. Therion put more ideas into this single impressive song than most others put into entire albums or discographies. “Nightside Of Eden“ continues to convince with more progressive, almost space rock-infused sounds a passionate ending with guitar solos of the highest quality. “Invocation Of Naamah“ is the only faster track on the record that goes musically back to the band’s early days. The fast melodic death metal verses meet the band’s typical orchestral elements and operatic vocals for most of the rest of the song, and the final result sounds refreshingly balanced. “The Siren Of The Woods“ is by far the longest track on the record, and it’s a very appeasing and elegic song that delivers more mysterious keyboard sounds, sacral chants, and an epic atmosphere. It is mostly instrumental, and features almost no metal instrumentation whatsoever. The soothing female vocals make me think of new age music, but they also have a tender Asian folk-like touch to them. The calm male singing that complements the female performer could have come straight from an Italian opera. Among many very impressive songs, this one is definitely Therion’s most courageous and radical, as it nearly breaks with any expectations held by critics and fans, as well as Therion’s own doom and death metal ridden past. It’s very symbolic to choose exactly this title as a single. It shows the world that with Therion, you can only expect the unexpected. Despite its length, this floating lullaby definitely has its very own charm. It’s a perfect track to peacefully fall asleep to.

There is no questioning in my mind, Theli is a revolutionary record. The only tough decision when purchasing is to choose the perfect version of this milestone. The digipack offered by Scarecrow Records from 2003 features live versions of “To Mega Therion“ and “Black Sun“, while the 2007 version from NEMS Enterprises comes along with the tracks from The Siren Of The Woods single, which includes edited versions of the title track and “Cults Of The Shadows“, as well as the rare track “Babylon“, which is solid but not really impressive. The most recent 2014 versions from Scarecrow Records and Nuclear Blast include a remastered version of the original album in addition to three bonus tracks. These are “In Remembrance“, which is a darker but rather generic track apart from its catchy chorus; the more vivid “Black Fairy“, which includes some punky shouts in the chorus; and finally, a rather average cover version of Scorpions’ “Fly To The Rainbow“. These three songs are also included on the 1997 release A’Arab Zaraq – Lucid Dreaming, which is a weird compilation that is considered to be regular full length release by the band. The current editions of Theli also include an extra DVD that features a live performance of the entire regular album recorded in 2007. These live cuts are a part of a bigger concert which was released in the highly recommendable 3-DVD set Adulruna Rediviva And Beyond. No matter which version you choose, have fun with this mindblowing masterpiece!

Originally written for Black Wind Metal

The birth of symphonic metal - 90%

EvinJelin, March 22nd, 2014

A lot of other "metal archivists" have already done reviews of Therion's complete discography, but, since I'm an unabashed Therion fangirl, I'd like to make my own series of reviews for the Apocalypse Beast's band.

That's not my absolute favorite Therion album, but what an album! It's the time when they started creating that new sub genre known as symphonic metal, and it really feels like the first album in a new genre. It sounds fresh and full of ideas, full of projects for the future. They're ready to try everything, like choirs with metal riffs, a song in an ancient mesopotamian language, references to many "evil" mythological figures, and the riffs and solos sounds like they're trying to play every note possible.

And it's in no way an awkward first try, it's the first masterpiece of a band still young and full of energy, but who knows right. Every song sounds well-developed and ready to conquer the audience. They're long… but it's because they have everything they need. There's indeed something glorious about "To Mega-Therion", you know it will become the band's biggest hit.

There's no denying Christofer Johnsson and his team, whoever is part of it, can play, and there's also the vocals. Well, Therion always has good vocalists. In a quite unusual way, the most prominent vocalist is the choir. Soloists sing only choruses or only verses, except for "The Siren of the Woods". If you ever thought lyrical choirs didn't fit in metal, "Theli" proves you wrong. Now that's what I call a metal opera! Although it doesn't really tell a story, but revolves around a common occult theme. The soloists are usually more typical heavy/power metal vocalists, and that's one of the things I like about Therion, that they always use a "true metal" voice. With that, their song always have some punch and a metal feel. But there's also Christofer's "vulgar barking", as some reviewers called them, that are thankfully less frequent and vulgar, a low-pitched voice that kind of gives a gothic rock feel to "Cult of the Shadows", and on "The Siren of the Woods", a semi-operatic male voice duetting with a very quiet and soft female voice.

Speaking of "The Siren of the Woods", it's that song in mesopotamian I mentioned earlier. Although it's the only thing on this album that could be considered a ballad, it's far from being the simplest track. It's quite long and, with that ancient language, incomprehensible to modern listeners, gives a rather strange feeling at the same time as a relaxing one. It perfectly illustrates Therion's crazy but always working ideas.

So if this album is so interesting, why do I say it's not my favorite Therion album? Because it's unfortunately not so perfect. No, there's nothing I could call bad, and it's not at all an album that disappointed me like "The gothic Kabbalah". The problem is that there's only two tracks that I find really remarkable, "To Mega-Therion" and "The Siren of the Woods". The rest, while it's superior to what the average band could churn out, is a bit too homogenous and, well, less memorable. Not boring, just not as moving as the two really good songs. But since TMT is the first song and TSOTW the last one, the intro was so good you really feel like listening to the rest, and the ending is worth waiting for. Therion would have more truly memorable songs on later albums. This is how I conclude? Yes.

Nothing of a Masterpiece - 10%

zervyx, May 11th, 2011

As an innovator in the fusion between metal and Opera/Orchestra, it was not a surprise that many people considered it a masterpiece. However, inequality seems to drive this album, for it has many great musicians but leaded by smartless compositions, it is full of songs that don’t evolve naturally and usually the good parts come near the end.

Concerning composition, there’s 3 situations that worry me:
1) Songs should evolve naturally, but instead Theli has parts that sound like 2 completely different songs attached forcedly by duct tape.
2) The songs are extremely repetitive, How can a song be repetitive and still not catchy? Also if you add the overuse of choir, it turns out to be very annoying.
3) There´s times in which a “break” comes by, at times with only one instrument that keeps playing, I consider that the band overused this “strategy” as a way to also attach the song to another part that has nothing to do with it, again they are just forcedly pasting parts that are not related at all.

Song “To Mega Therion”, happens to be the better known song of the album, it starts with a “right in your face” chorus, a professional choir followed by a common guitar riff that can make you headbang, but still being very basic guitarwork. The chorus goes long and repetitive, you will realize that it just goes over and over. The song doesn’t sound bad, until you figure out that the song is nothing like when it started, so they abruptly added a chorus in minute 4:13, it sounds out of place, gotten out of nowhere. The truth is that the song doesn’t show anything memorable until minute 5:13, that’s when the good part of the song starts, more moving melodic and catchy; but it is a shame to wait for 5 minutes to find it in a song.

Same thing goes with “Nightside of Eden”, the interesting part starts at minute 5:38, everything before that is dominated by boredom, plenty of ambient and acoustic parts. In this song they are using “silent” parts in order to forcedly add non-related song fragments, by example min 2:50, after the chorus they have an acoustic piece in order to introduce a bridge part (which is a good one) but then they don’t know how to get back to the song, so they add another “silent” part to return to the chorus… that can’t be right. Then, after the chorus, they abruptly added a cool riff, right at 5:38, there’s when the good part of the song starts, but the way they attached it to the song is laughable.

“In the Desert of Set”, it has some “Egyptian” orientated arrangements, however I found minute 2:37 disappointing, they practically ended the song in order to return to the right path of it. And then again in 4:15… What was C. Johnson thinking? Why did he think that the song could go one way, and then paused it to return to something left behind? Then just as the other songs, the interesting part comes nearly at the end, min 5 is the best part of the song.

“The Siren of the Woods”, this is the ballad song of the album, not catchy enough for a ballad and the guitar solo at the end was just too basic, not memorable, many other bands put more feeling and effort in their guitar solos.

I don’t think Theli is worth it, I actually believe that the production and talented musicians could should’ve been used in better compositions. This is an album that has no memorable parts and catchiness, and offers nothing better than later bands. Other than the choir (which turns out to be very repetitive) the album doesn’t show any impressive work.

Best track: To Mega Therion

New sound of Therion, and it’s incredibly great! - 98%

darkside93209006, May 28th, 2009

What can I say about this album? This album is so great that it’ s hard to clearly describe how amazing it is. Theli is simply one of the best albums I’ ve ever heard in my whole life. When I listen to music, I always want to imagine that I’ m entering another world where the music guides me to, and that’ s the reason why the unity of the album plays an important role in my music taste. Theli is definitely the album which can fully satisfy my strongest thirst of music, everything in this album is perfect, not only the music itself, but also the lyrics and album art.

How the music in Theli sounds like? To explain it generally, is symphonic operatic metal on melodic death metal root with lots of neo-classical and progressive influences. Therion was a death metal band before, but from now on, they start to abandon their death metal sounds, and become much more symphonic and operatic. Theli is their first attempt to this new style, and it’ s pretty successful. The intro “ Preludium” is a pure symphonic instrumental, sounds weird, but very enjoyable. The mighty opener “ To Mega Therion” is one of the best tracks on the album. It has powerful operatic female chorus and heavy guitar sound wall, melodic catchy middle part, and dramatic ending. Especially the last minute of the song, finish with neo-classical guitar and keyboard solos, absolutely mind-blowing. “ Cults of the Shadow” is another highlight of Theli, Therion add many progressive elements in it, to make it sounds more mysterious, Therion also use symphonic keyboard line and female chorus together to create powerful atmosphere. The last 30 seconds is my personal favorite, it just like an unexpected present, surprises me at the first time. Therion truly show their talented creative songwriting skills here. You can sense the same feeling in songs “ In the Desert of Set”, “ Nightside of Eden”, “ Invocation of Naamah” and “ The Siren of the Woods”.

Another strong point of this album is the variety of style. As I mentioned before, Theli contains several different styles such as symphonic, melodic death, progressive, neo-classical and power metal. “ To Mega Therion” is kind of typical symphonic power metal with operatic vocals. “ Cults of the Shadow” sounds progressive and beautiful. “ In the Desert of Set” and “ Nightside of Eden” are melodic death base songs, but with many neo-classical performances. “ Invocation of Naamah” gains the power and speed of power metal, but combines with classical. “ The Siren of the Woods” is the longest and slowest song on Theli, it also has the most beautiful melodies and the greatest arrangement on the album. You will not lose your attention while listening to it. The rest of the songs are instrumentals, they make Theli become a complete album. Don’t skip them if you want to enjoy the well-crafted unity of Theli.

Let’ s talk about the lyrics and the production. The lyrics are well-written. All of them are based on different mythologies, including ancient Greek, the bible, and many more. It’ s hard to understand all the meanings of them if you are not a professional mythology researcher. But it doesn’ t matter, because these lyrics are flawlessly fit the songs, so you can just enjoy the music without reading the lyrics. If you are interested in their lyrics, it’ s also a good chance to increase your knowledge. The production of Theli is great, too. The guitar sounds crystal clear. You can also distinguish the bassline and double-bass easily. Therion spent much money on making this album, hiring guest musicians and North German Radio Choir. I’ m glad they did. These guest musicians have done a great job here. The operatic vocals and symphonic arrangements are simply amazing. They put this album to the highest level.

Theli is just like a grand metal opera. It isn’ t a concept album, but it’ s successful to create a different new world, a world full of myths and imagination. The catchy melodies and chorus make the songs memorable, and the variety of the style can satisfy different taste of music lover. It’ s one of those few albums which will completely astonish you at first time. Theli marks an important turning point in Therion’s career. It’ s the beginning of the golden era of this mega beast, and one of the many quintessential Therion albums that everyone should own. If you haven’ t heard it yet, just give it a try, this is an instant classic.

I'm sorry but... - 47%

RageW, September 20th, 2008

I really, really wanted to like Therion; they put such a huge effort in this album, with Opera choruses, and the symphonies, and other fuckery, that I'm almost ashamed of doing this review. I have listened to Theli (and the rest of Therion's works) a lot of times, hoping that I'll find something good, some beautiful music or catchy melodies; but I give up. Every song here is shamelessly overlong, with too many symphonic arrangements drowning the riffs, or the drums are so fucking loud at times that the snare hurts; it's a huge mess, summarizing.

The guitar department lacks good riffs, with the probable exception of "Invocation of Namah". Also, when the solos are not some really sloppy shredding, they're a slow melody which attempts to be beautiful does nothing at all; they're not aggressive, they're not epic, there's nothing to the guitar solos--You forget them, since there's so much stuff everywhere. In "Nightside of Eden", for example, they use one of the things I like the most, which is a solo out of fucking nowhere, a very cool tapping section at 6:33, but then it morphs into a slow solo which (the same as everything here) tries to be beautiful, but it fails. If you want to be beautiful, have solos which at least you're gonna remember when the next song comes. There's a saying that goes "Without quiet, there can't be loud"; and this thing is never quiet, unless you count those strings interludes which just drone for the sake of being slow. There are also countless time and tempo changes which, once again, are just there for the sake of time and tempo changes.

Then there's the vocals, oh fucking hell, the VOCALS! Damn, it's sad to see how mostly everyone of them is a competent singer, but it's so annoying--Take for example the intro of "To Mega Therion", the Opera singers are so loud, maybe if they had just stopped after the first verse, instead of doing like 6, they wouldn't get old and annoying so fast. There's also Mr. Dan Swano, who sometimes sings on verses, but his vocal range isn't nothing spectacular. No, when Therion wants to have a high vocal range, they bring the goddamn Opera singers which you start to completely loathe approximately at 1:29 of "Cults of the Shadow", you have the tenor singer singing too high, which makes that the soprano chick singing in front sounds like a retard. After that there's a synth part which is really annoying, and then more keyboard parts. That's another problem with this album; most songs don't have a coherent structure, which some call 'experimentation' but I call 'lack of songwriting'.

At some places the guitars will be alone with the bass and drums, which sounds really awesome, but then SOMETHING has to come and fuck it up, be it any stupid synth 'beautiful' melody, or the fucking Opera singers. When they put everything: Guitars, Bass, Drums, Synth, Opera vocals, and normal vocals together, it sounds so crowded and anti-harmonic that your ears hurt. Therion needs to learn to shut the fuck up, and also to know when to stop; most songs here don't need to be more than 4 minutes long--The shortest song (which features vocals) lasts 5:27, and you can feel how they just put extra parts to make it longer.

If you can stand the unnecessary loudness, you like your songs to plod for no reason, you love endless opera vocals, and you can't live without pointless interludes which don't complement the songs but are rather bad songs on their own, then you might like this. I don't mean to insult people who love Therion, but I just don't see what do they see in their music. They're not for me at all--If you want symphonic metal with orchestral arrangements, get Rage's "Lingua Mortis", but not this.

Ancient Occult Metal - 100%

Sue, January 22nd, 2008

Therion grew up with this album, which is impressive because they had been mature for their last 3 albums too. It may be more accurate to say that Therion grew into their shoes here, and finally embraced what they had only hinted at before with Beauty in Black. In Theli we are finally confronted full force by the ancient egyptian tonalities, greek myths and occult lyrics that would become their calling card, and more importantly, this is where the vocals embraced opera and chorus, and where the melodies attained their full classical potential.

That's not to say it isn't a brutal, kick ass album. It's as fun to listen to as Metallica and as hard as anything else mainstream Sweden had to offer (the keyword being mainstream there). To Mega Therion would become the single track that represented the band best, like the Celtic Frost album from which they took their name this song and it's following tracks would keep the evil tone of their early work while adding the melodic and ancient traits that Nightwish wish they still had.

Though Vovin, Deggial and Secret of the Runes would follow the middle-Therion feel, it would not be until Sirius B that they would recapture the quality, occult signifigance, and listening joy that Theli offered so long ago.

Wonderful, yet has one clear flaw - 85%

TommyA, May 29th, 2007

By combining the sound on "Lepaca Kliffoth" with symphonic and operatic elements, Therion released "Theli". Well, this sounds like a good combination and it works on perfectly on most of the tracks. However, three out of the ten tracks on the album are just plain boring. If "Theli" was an EP, it would've gotten a perfect rating.

First of all, I don't really agree with the presence of all those '-ludiums'. An intro and an instrumental in an album is a good idea, but when four out of ten tracks are instrumental, it gets irritating. The intro track is a very good track and quite necessary in my opinion (since it shows the big involvement that the symphony will have throughout the album). The catchy and memorable "Opus Eclipse" also has its place on the album. However, the "Interludium" was very unnecessary and the "Grand Finale" is just too long for an instrumental. Although the main problem of the album isn't exactly in those two songs...

The real disappointment is "The Siren of the Woods". This is one of the most boring tracks I've ever heard. It's ten minutes of pure boredom. I don't hate it because it's long (lengthy tracks can be good); I hate it because it doesn't go anywhere. This is probably one of Therion's weakest tracks to date (along with a few tracks off their latest album). I seriously cannot see how someone can like this song. I mean, the acoustic guitars are nice and it has a very gripping atmosphere, but it's just boring and excessively long (in fact, even five minutes would've been too long for such a simple track).

The rest, however, is all great and original. A song that many fans like myself consider a favorite is definitely "To Mega Therion". It is probably the catchiest Therion track ever with a chorus that never manages to exit your brain. Basically, it's the perfect combination of metal and symphony. My other favorite would be "Invocation of Namaah". This is definitely the best track in the album (and among Therion's best tracks ever). It's got a very catchy chorus, a haunting atmosphere and splendid guitar work. It will take years for your brain to remove the phrase "LEPACA, NAAMAH AMA, RUACH MASKIM, ROSARAN".

Anyway, if "The Siren of the Woods" wasn't present, I would've given at least ten more points to "Theli". The other five points would be for the "Interludium" and "Grand Finale". The rest is absolutely flawless and mind-blowing. Just remember to skip the three previously mentioned tracks, and get ready to enter a world beyond your imagination.

Only one amazing song - 67%

phantomofdeath, November 29th, 2005

...and that would be "Invocation Of Naamah", the reason I got interested in "Theli" and Therion in general. A short dark melody (that reappears at 3:20) leads into some fast and heavy riffage and Christofer's gasping vocals having a duel with the operatic choir until another (male) vocalist replaces him. The song suddenly stops at 1:58 for a keyboard interlude followed by another set of cool riffs. Some guitar solos complete the "invocation" in a pleasing I-want-more-of-that-stuff way.

The rest?

The instrumental Opus Eclipse is surprisingly catchy and really funny. So is To Mega Therion, which features mid-paced galloping riffs and lots of different instrumentations (even some trompets are thrown in) but the main melody is repeated far too often. And the best guitar solo of the album can be found on Nightside Of Eden.

The Siren Of The Woods deserves an award for being one of the most boring songs ever. It's ten minutes long and really goes NOWHERE. But if you're into acoustic guitars and operatic vocals, you may love it. Sometimes a weak e-guitar drops by but quickly disappears because of the boredom that surrounds the whole thing.
The Pre-, Inter- and Postludiums aren't great either and quite filler.

As background music the whole album works very well. Despite the great variety of musicians and vocalists the music rarely manages to attract your attention for the whole playing time.

Perfection. - 100%

Corimngul, January 7th, 2005

This was the first metal album I ever heard, and I came across by chance it in a second-hand record store. Instantly, it blew me away and I have yet to find something better, more perfected, more orgasmic… None of these ten tracks could be regarded as filler. None of them are anything else than timeless classics, monuments of composing, music of the gods. In releasing Theli, Therion took their final step away from the death metal scene. They had a larger budget than any band before on Nuclear Blast – even though their last album didn’t sell very well. Yet today the Theli budget has only been exceeded by Therion themselves on their later albums. And now Theli is something of the definition of symphonic metal and has inspired tons of bands. Therion is more or less to be accredited of, or blamed of all the symphonic bands that comes to existence like mushrooms today.

It’s worthless to try comparing Therion to other bands as no other band have never sounded anything like this. It’s just as worthless to criticize the musicianship. You don’t see a flaw anywhere. The steady drumming (not an single echo!) is just one of the bricks in this intense, atmospheric castle of pleasure. The ever-pulsating keyboards and pianos creates atmosphere, maintains the rhythm and the melodies. The bass lines are all splendid – and that includes the solo. The riffing is well… varied. We have a lot of the real cool Egyptian riffs that Therion was going to use even more on later albums, and riffage sounding a lot like Lepaca Kliffoth and the earlier days. The leads, they blaze, especially in Siren of the Woods. Not less than sixteen people do vocals, whereof Dan Swanö is one, and eleven of them are members of classical choirs.

The vocals are clean and operatic which of course do suit their orchestrated metal very well. Christofer’s screams and other attempts of harsh vocals have now been completely dropped. The music range from heavy metal disguised by the sheer intensity of the keyboards, guitars and drums to the long, sweet, more melodic Siren of the Woods. The production is crystal clear. No instrument dominates the sound, no; everything blends together in a wonderful way. Like a creamy, honey-tasting pastry with chocolate chunks. Each and every chew is a sensation of tastes, and its many layers reveal something new every time.

Atmospheres and sound pictures are a bit harder to describe and explain. Most of the lyrics are written by Tommy Karlsson, leader of the Swedish section of the Dragon Rouge sect, in Arcadian languages that few understand. We might however try to interpret the musical composition. We got to remember this. These songs are not just songs written for a happy sing along and sounding good. Even if they do have these qualities too. What we have here are Compositions. Compositions means there’s a meaning behind every single note. They symbolize something. I’m choosing Cults of the Shadows as my first example. It’s my favourite song, with it’s amazing kind-of pulsating keyboards. The bass solo and the following rhythms build up into that complete, energetic wall of sound. It doesn’t only portray alchemy as in turning lead into gold but also the ecstasy in finding the way to do it. How the alchemists formed socially, celebrated their progress and so on.

Desert of Set follows and creates an atmosphere of the expectations and rites in awaiting a big, big change to come… The fact that the music portrays its lyrics so well and conveys even more is astounding. And it’s a fact that I can’t convey in words, all that is conveyed to me while listening to Theli. I cannot do more than vaguely describe how I sense the atmosphere. But I feel good listening to it, and it never gets old. Theli is a meadow flowers waiting to be picked, and when picked and put in a vase, never fades, never withers. It's perfection.

A landmark of Symphonic Metal - 86%

jaevlasvensk, October 3rd, 2004

In many ways, 1996's Theli could be considered Therion’s defining moment–that is, the Therion we know today. With this album, Christoffer Johnsson left behind nearly all trace of his death metal roots. However, it should be noted that while it’s a very solid “symphonic metal” album, easily one of the best releases of the sub-genre, it’s very much just a heavy metal album under the guise of something more. Many of the song structures and ideas one hears on this disc are time-honored metal concepts, Christoffer Johnsson just has a knack for incorporating operatic vocals and symphonic elements into said concepts.

That being said, we have a great piece of work on our hands. Each song evokes intense gothic atmosphere and ethereal dreamscapes, dealing with such themes as Thelema and other forms of occultism. Some tracks barrel forth with bombast and grandiosity, such as “To Mega Therion,” while others masterfully slither into our ears, as “Cults of the Shadow” and “In the Desert of Set”. “Invocation of Naamah” sears with aural black-magick, thrashing the hell out of that main riff, which underlies a relentless volley of shouting, choir, and clean vocals. Very nice. It’s followed by “The Siren of the Woods,” a sad, dreamlike composition whose structure rises and falls with chilling grace.

Another great aspect of this album is the overall structure. All three of the instrumental segues are well-executed, and feel right in place. No filler here. In fact, they’re necessary. “Preludium” is a brilliant opener to the album, an eerie foreshadowing of the opus to come. “Interludium” moves the listener to the second half of the album, which has (with such songs as “Nightside of Eden” and “Opus Eclipse”) somewhat of a different feel to it. However, before things start to drag, we are assaulted with the wonderful, previously described “Invocation of Naamah”. ...And exhale. Once we’ve been successfully slaughtered by its awesomeness, we are gently lilted to the most emotionally evocative song on the album, the aforementioned “Siren of the Woods”. And then... one last burst of energy! The up-tempo “Grande Finale/Postludium” leads us out of the album, and fades off into the distance as we’re left contemplating what we just listened to.

This is good stuff indeed... but you need to have tolerance for symphonic metal to appreciate it. Definitely recommended; it’s a great place to start with Therion.

Gate to unbelievable world - 100%

loinclarm, April 13th, 2004

When I listen to some music, I may appreciate the music itself, but seldom, I have the feeling that all the world become hopeful and luciferous just because of the music I am listening to. Except for this one, when the sound of "Theli" begins, I am lost in the world it creates, again and again, sometimes like an illusion, even the world outside become so magical and miraculous.

Until now, I have never found a band like Therion, can use the chorus so well, and mixed the element of metal and symphony so perfectly. Compared with their later album, this album is heavier, the guitar riff and drum are stronger; but for the earlier ones, they come to a new stage, change the style of the music, and use lots of orchestration and human chorus, which make this album more gorgeous, and more plenty.

After a beautiful intro, in which the keyboard and the female voice make an excellent atmosphere and make you fall into the world of ancient imagination, there comes the first climax, from the very beginning of "To Mega Therion", a majestic chorus attracts the listener¡¯s attention, but you can hear the drums behind the vocals, which make it stronger, and distinguished with the pure orchestral works. In the entire song, we see a perfectly combination of the element of metal and symphony, especially the chorus.

Then, my favorite one, "Cult of Shadow". Its music is just like the title. After an majestic ceremony, with the same male and female chorus, with the same use of keyboards, with the same beautiful melody and rhythm, the music becomes darker and darker. I would say, if the "To Mega Theion" make you think of a rising sun, shiny and splendid; the "Cult of Shadow" will put you under a setting sun, into the noble light, the mystery of the night. Maybe it is less bright than the anthem "To Mega Therion", but in the "Cult of Shadow", you can also find the mystery of northern land.

The others are also excellent, and have their own features to make each one an excellent work: The slower rhythm in the beginning of "In the Desert of Set", which make you recall their doom style; the graceful female vocal solo in the "Nightside of Eden", which fits the vocals performed by P.Warwzeniuk and Dan Swanö so well; the marching drum beat of the "Ivocation of Naamah" brings the music into a more heated atmosphere; and the last song, "The Siren of the Woods", in which the guitar riff and the slower drum beat make a gallant environment, and the somewhat mournful singing take it into Gothic middle ages.

There are four songs of pure music, with the preludium, the interludium, the opus eclipse and the grand finale/postludium. But with the part of the choir singing, their harmonized unification of the element of opera and metal, you will not have the feeling of blankness. For the entire album, Therion use a speed of slow to medium, to bring the music more splendid, compared to the effect that faster, stronger, and heavier of other metal words. I think Therion has successfully achieve their goals, I don't know whether the concept of "metal symphony" had begun from this album, for my point of view, this album is the most representative one, it has open a gate of a brand new world to me.

There is a folk saying in China: "The more the people there are, the stronger the power is". Seeing people who join forces on this album, except the members of the band, there is also the north German radio choir and the siren choir, and many other guest players. With all of those excellent musicians, no doubt this album becomes a masterpiece.

If the scores permit, I think I will give this album 200. No matter it is called "symphonic black metal" or "metal symphony", this is the most fantastic and most classic work that I have listened on my journey into the world of metal.

Wonderful album - 98%

AriesWarlock, July 10th, 2003

By combining some elements of Lepaca kliffoth with symphonic music, Therion has created one of the most extraordinary and original albums in the world of metal: Theli. This is the glorious album that marked a new era for Therion. I like old Therion a lot, and it is a shame that I will not be able to enjoy more of their death metal stuff, but I am certainly not disappointed with the path they have chosen. Most people would say they have matured, I would say I don’t think so. As I understand it, Christopher Johnsson has always liked classical and symphonic music and has always wanted to play this type of music since years ago, but he could not until he had the budget to do so.

One of the things we notice in this album is that the screams from the previous album are no more, Christopher opted for his normal voice and I think that was a good choice since it fits better with this type of music. The word symphony is written all over the album. Choirs, orchestra, and keyboards are all reunited in this album to make each song a really symphonic and pleasant experience. Nevertheless, there are metal elements here like those rocking guitars with some nice solos, and neat heavy guitar riffs like In the Desert of Set.

Even though all songs here are symphonic, there is one song that is really different from the rest and that is The Siren of the Woods. It is really gloomy, slow and long – a good addition providing something really different to the album.

The first time I listened to this album was the first time I had ever listened to something symphonic, and I really liked it a lot! Theli is an outstanding album with a very original concept. It’s just marvelous.

A masterpiece - 98%

HawkMoon, August 10th, 2002

Wow. How does one write about an album like this. Swedish Therion managed to come up with something I've never encountered and one of the most interesting albums I've ever had in my possession.

This is a majestic piece of work, metal which is both highly melodic and symphonic, with both opera- and regular vocals. A lot of different vocalists too: there's the opera singers, Piotr Wavrzeniuk (the drummer), Christoffer Johnsson (the frontman & guitarist/keyboardist) and even Dan Swanö lends his vocal cords to this project. What else can I say.. well the leads (both guitar and keyboard) are magnificent, great lyrics (although I don't understand all of them since some are in some foreign language) dealing with the occult and stuff like that.

A piece of advice before you run out to buy all Therion-albums, they weren't always like this. Albums released before this one are some of the worst death metal efforts ever put out, if you think Christoffer Johnsson is bad here you're gonna think he stinks on the previous albums (where he did all vocals himself), he's actually alot better here. The lyrics were also crappy, nothing really made me want to listen to albums like "Ho drakon ho megas" and "Lepaca kliffoth" (although the later one is more towards heavy metal), and after this one they continued on this course but in my opinion few songs are worth a listen on the future albums although they're all high-class productions.

I think this is the only Therion-album you need, so you should at least start with this before doing anything else, this one easily qualifies for my top-10 albums of all time.