Sweden’s symphonic metal avant-gardists Therion released their seventeenth album “Leviathan” on January 22nd via Nuclear Blast Records. Three years in the making, their newest endeavor is marvelously crafted on epic symphonic compositions. “Leviathan” ventures into the old and new styles of the band’s existence, where the different qualities give the total a multilayered sound. Mastermind Christofer Johnsson (rhythm guitars, vocals, bass, and keyboards), who has been at the helm since 1988, seems to be caught in another transcendental and visionary state of art. Along the lines of past albums such as “Vovin”, “Deggial”, and the double album “Lemuria/Sirius B”, the newest album successfully entwines the cinematic qualities where Therion reveals yet another epic facet of their grand orchestra.
The songs are imbued with ornate textures of vibrant symphony and dramatic sopranos creating majestic moments. Since the classic 1996 album “Theli” Therion begun to incorporate some operatic arias into their music and took gradual steps to achieve cinematic quality. While this momentum was later attained during the mid-era of the band, “Secrets of the Runes” for instance showcased an unprecedented approach to symphonic metal. The quality of such a powerful and dramatic component has defined and re-structured the musical scope to visceral levels which undeniably boosted the sonic atmosphere profoundly.
The eleven bombastic tracks are fronted by a soaring soprano and once again the symphonic arrangements are built on epic Middle Eastern/Far East themes. Built entirely on lush cinematic composition, the album has more of a classical signature style that sounds retrospective. Elements of heavy metal are strongly presented on the album, where the opening track “The Leaf on the Oak of Far” is powerfully delivered by the tenor voice of Thomas Vikström (ex-Candlemass) and the dramatic soprano of Rosalía Sairem. Therion presents an astonishing diversity throughout the forty-five minutes length the album holds.
“Tuonela” is full of galloping riffs and features a guest appearance from Marco Hietala (ex-Nightwish). This mid-tempo track is one of the catchiest and more melodic songs. It is led by the soaring vocals of Taida Nazraić with the heavy guitars emphasizing rhythm and the pounding drums that fit the sweeping melodies of the violin.
In spite of the musical diversity, title track “Leviathan” is beautifully balanced between the complexity of the songwriting and flawless performance. With blazing riffs and heavy percussion moving the song from mid-tempo to up-tempo, the electrifying orchestra swells at its most enchanting melody. While the overall atmosphere here is reminiscent of Therion’s classic albums such as “Lemuria” it offers a beautiful symphony of lush soundscapes.
“Der Wellen der Zeit” weaves an emotional symphony of epic anthems, the remarkable role of Taida Nazraić brings emotional variety to this beautiful song. However, some tracks like “Aži Dahāka” lack somewhat of that magical touch, the sudden change of the orientation felt uninspiring. Even though the track contains a sharp drumming performance by Snowy Shaw, the change of the vocal tone was unsuccessful. But with “Eye of Algol” Therion integrates the straightforward intensity of heavy metal, the track is easily one of the best hits by the band.
The clear inspiration to early albums like “Vovin” gives it a unique and catchy feel, especially the extreme tone of the soprano Rosalia Sairem. “Nocturnal Light” adds the bombastic arrangements of the choir. Thomas Vikström gives a powerful performance on the following track “Great Marquis of Hell”, the song arrangements are nearly perfect with the blazing guitars and thundering drums this track is so grandiloquent!
Another highlight of the album is the majestic performance of the choral work on “Psalm of Retribution”. It is combined with the dominant vocals of Mats Levén, Thomas Vikström, and Lori Lewis which intertwine throughout with the catchy choir. “El Primer Sol” delivers excellent riffing and percussion and again the track is filled with a beautiful choir that ends with a catchy solo guitar. The album closure “Ten Courts of Diyu” covers the Far Eastern mythological themes and proves that Therion can always re-invent themselves through their own thrilling ways. Through “Leviathan” Therion evokes the cinematic style of a movie soundtrack, the songs are diversified and highly textured. “Leviathan” is yet another jewel added to the crown of the band’s discography.
Release Date: January 22nd, 2021
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
- The Lead on the Oak of Far
- Die Wellen der Zeit
- Aži Dahāka
- Eye of Algol
- Nocturnal Light
- Great Marquis of Hell
- Psalms of Retribution
- El Prime Sol
- Ten Courts of Diyu