Starting with the opening track “Aeon of Maat” where the guitars swell only to be taken by the vocals of Thomas Vikström contrasting with the beautiful soprano voice of Lori Lewis. The orchestral arrangements are on effect, but they seem particularly lush. Since the groundbreaking album “Theli”, Therion never strayed away from the symphonic templates, though each track unfurls with emotional grandeur. “Litany of the Fallen” is an ode to the fallen angels, and it’s one of the best songs of the album, with the elegant soprano singing you can expect some dramatic moments full of bombast. Although “Leviathan II” never goes beyond what the band has presented in the past, it somehow weaves introspective ballads and Christofer Johnsson binds some compelling musical pieces throughout the album.
“Alchemy of the Soul” is where the mood darkens and moves into the somber spectrum, the heavy guitars and the splendid soprano evokes some compelling cinematic themes. Lead guitarist/rhythm Christian Vidal captures the 80s styled heavy metal riffs, for all their sonic appeal and the bombastic display of the instruments like the cello, viola, and flute. There is every hidden facet that comes to the fore, the album also features countless guest musicians. “Lunar Coloured Fields” beautifully blends many elements into one emotional score however, the guitars, bass, and especially the keyboards are inspired by 70s rock music. In fact, “Leviathan II” keeps everything in operatic aptitude, but above all Therion mixes a variety of vocal themes where each track unexpectedly brings many twists and thrills.
“Lucifuge Rofocale” and “Marijin Min Nar” navigate across the band’s past work bringing a vivid piece of mythic fantasy music, while these qualities give the album a sense of operatic majesty. “Hades and Elysium” emphasizes the splendid female vocals with its fascinating orchestral scale that exquisitely combines the role of the guitars and drums duet with the classical instruments. Despite the emphasis on the choir, the music doesn’t capture the magic that the band had presented on its albums like “Lemuria” and “Sirius B”. And this is to say that Therion somehow lacks the inspiration of creating towering heights, therefore “Leviathan II” still possesses the mystical charm of Therion’s ability to set symphonic standards but from more musical aspects the band offers nothing new.
Songs like “Midnight Star” and “Cavern Cold as Ice” are less convincing, even though there is plenty of contemplative experience conveyed by the symphonic orchestra. The steering vocals of Rosalía Sairem demonstrate some unique facets of Therion the orchestral work, the choirs interweave with melodies, violins, and guitar solos the latter song re-establishes an alteration to modern symphonic style. Therion has been pioneers at their game for many years now, therefore the 18th album fits well in the category of the mystical opera.
The songs here are balanced with the guitars and orchestral compositions and the songwriting follows the same modus operandi resulting in catchy hooks whereas the lyrics are immersed into mythology, and religious cultural themes. Therion’s musical strengths rely on the female operating vocals, choirs, and the gripping symphonic soundscape. The melancholic entry in “Codex Cigas” is an energetic rock anthem steeped in the traditional template of heavy metal, sung in a vigorous style that proves the classical influences and the foundations of the band.
Throughout the album, the guitars provide a driving rhythm in which the songs are settled in the mid-tempo. “Leviathan II” isn’t very different from its predecessor, the songs wander through charming melodies, creating some memorable and melodramatic moods. The final track “Pazuzu” is another heavy metal bluster full of majestic choral hymns, the powerful elements remain in the vocals of Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse).
- Music / Songwriting 8/10
- Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
- Mix / Production 7/10
- Artwork & Packaging 7/10
- Originality 10/10
“Leviathan II” is a decent release by this Swedish symphonic band although it seems tempting to assume what Therion will bring next on the final installation of its trilogy, nevertheless this is yet another memorable album with some prominent songs.
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