Therion

Sitra Ahra

Written by: PP on 16/12/2010 06:22:10

Quite a bit of my time recently has been spent listening to Therion - a long-running Swedish metal band that started already back in 1987 - in trying to formulate some sort of opinion about their new album "Sitra Ahra" that wouldn't be completely biased based on my general disdain for the sort of music they write. On paper, they are classified as either symphonic metal or gothic metal, but their sound has so many different nuances that when put together, I'd rather call it 'medieval metal' based on my experience with such bands in the past, more than anything else.

The band itself likes to refer to their music as "Opera Metal", and I can see why. They used to be a death metal band, but evolved in mid 90s into a more operatic, progressive unit with even oriental sounds incorporated into their sound. Today, that translates into plenty of Scandinavian folk sequences mixing with traditional heavy metal passages and plenty of gothic undertones given the classical style of their female singer. She reaches operatic heights even higher than Tarja Turunen in places. She is but a small part in their overall repertoire when it comes to vocals, however, because what follows next is some extremely strange gang-choirs that sound like a dozen monks are wailing on the background. Some of the older readers of Rockfreaks.net may remember what I think about monks in my metal, enough said.

So just to paint a clearer picture, what we have in their soundscape are the following elements: classically trained, operatic female singer and gothic tendencies, symphonic orchestra making an appearance often, textbook 80s heavy metal overlay, high-pitch male choirs that sound like something out of the medieval times, folksy sections, and much more. Therion owns a unique sound, you gotta give them that, but while it gains them an extra point or two in my thoughts, the overall impression isn't overtly positive. The songs are neither as catchy nor as inventive as the first-impression signals initially, though not outright disasters either. They just give off this pompous "look at me look at me" vibe of pretentiousness that puts me off consistently. Try and give "Land Of Canaan" a listen, for instance, it's like watching an actual opera with so many styles and events thrown in together that one's unsure what to think of it.

6

Download: Land Of Canaan
For the fans of: Potentia Animi, Tristania, Haggard, Epica
Listen: Myspace

Release date 17.09.2010
Nuclear Blast

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