Review Summary: A classicaly influenced piece of music. Epic, haunting, and great.
Now, I don't know much about Therion's past musically, other than the fact that they used to play straight up death metal early on. Although not familiar with Therion's past, I know that they have changed their sound completely. Gone are the harsh vocals and punishing riffs that are so commonly found in traditional Metal bands. Instead, Therion have pulled a rabbit out of a hat. The rabbit however, wasn't really a rabbit, but instead a bag of new tricks. Therion capitalized from their past and pulled together an album that would take the Metal world by storm. Ironically, this is their best sellers to date and for good reason. I found this in FYE one day used inside of the metal bin. I wasn't aware of the music this band created, but constantly heard the name being thrown around. I'm a man that like's to take some risk's, so I bought this album and soon put it on. This album along with Nightwish's "Oceanborn" had changed my whole perspective on what metal really was.
Sweden, a country that's kind of a big deal when it comes to metal. Led by the likes of In Flames and Dark Tranquillity for the past two decades, Sweden has produced numerous metal bands with their own style, paving the way for the future with new sounds and experimentation. Therion, have been around a long time as well, just forming around the late eighty’s. "Vovin" had set a land mark in Swedish Metal by abandoning the characteristics of the heavy music scene that gave success to many, and instead forge their own path through the ages. 1998 saw Therion release "Vovin", a quite unexpected album that later saw great commercial success, cementing the path of the band in the process. Therion had created a classical album with metal and symphonic influences. The basic instrumentation was still there, but just used to a lesser extent as unordinary instruments took over. As I said before, there are no harsh vocals to be found on this album. In fact, the vocals are used to complement the music instead of drowning everything out. Various style's are contributed by men and women alike.
One word to describe this record would be epic as demonstrated by the opener " The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah". This opens with some instrumentation work that could be used in an epic foreign film. This song has a middle eastern vibe to it as the guitar provides the rhythm. The male choir vocals enter and female soprano vocals make their way to a great effect. A solid song that catches the listener with great musicianship. I can't personally describe each members contribution's to this disk as dozens of talented musicians are used here, including the Indigo Orchestra who provides the cello and violin work. A choir full of male and female singers provide many of the vocals to be found here. Over the top is a word that Therion feels comfortable with because that's what this album is. In this case, over the top is good because the music itself is pretty balanced out.
The drumming is pretty solid. Despite the abundance of instruments being used, Wolf can be heard cleanly through the mix, providing steady patterns and beats to a great effect. Guitar work is pretty solid as well although the role it play's is minimal compared to straight forward metal bands. Chris play's a lot of power chords that end in a catchy rhythm. Another plus is that he plays his fair share of solos that are executed pretty well and leave a great effect upon the listener. A great example of this could be shown near the 4 minute mark in "Wine Of Aluqah" in which the solo complements the mid paced drum work. Vocal work is excellent, headed by Kimberly Goss. Various classical styles of singing can be heard in the whole CD. Ranging from Soprano to Operatic tones, to male and female choir's, the voice of the music has many sounds that are played to perfection. Vocal work is definitely top notch on this album despite not sticking to the typical structure that you're used to hearing. No matter, the musical interludes are nothing short of spectacular. "Clavicula Nox", the albums finest moment, displays this in a dramatic fashion. The later moments of the song are Therion's shining star. With melodic guitars providing the pace, this later stop's and start's with a soothing note from Kimberley Goss as an acoustic guitar fill's the room with a merging bass line. "The Wild Hunt" brings the aggressive side of Therion into play. Fast riffs and steady drum work opens the song with male power metal vocals trading off with the choir. This ends with a great solo, to be expected of course.
The production on this album excel’s with ease. Each instrument can be heard clearly to perfection. Nothing is muffled out or higher than any of the other instruments. It is amazing to think at this point in their career, Therion had a big enough budget to have multiple guest's appear on this album to add a touch to the music. Therion have opened the door's and created a land mark album that set the path that they were meant to follow. Abandoning their heavy metal roots, they took a big chance with so much experimentation and were greatly rewarded with they're fans. As this had become their top selling album in the Therion catalog. This album doesn't appeal to a certain type of crowd other than those with an open mind. I suggest this album to any one who is open to different styles of music. 52 minutes of excellent music is what you'll find here, so give it a run or two.
Christofer Johnsson - guitar
Kimberly Goss - vocals, keyboard
Wolf Simon - drums
Jan Kazda - bass guitar, additional arrangements, orchestra and choir conducting
Great Diversity shown throughout.
Great musicianship, solid vocal performances.
Nothing tops 8 minutes, never becoming a complete bore to the listener.