Review Summary: Excessive and overblown or something more?
27 character roles, 15 vocalists, 46 tracks and 182 minutes of running time. Beloved Antichrist
is probably as demanding to listen as it was to be conceived and materialized. Well, maybe not as much but listening to a 3-hour rock opera – or as Christofer Johnsson described it, a “rock/metal musical with opera vocals” – repeatedly is not a walk in the park. Considering the amount of information we are exposed to on a daily basis and the diminishing attention span which is a direct effect of this and the fact that new music is only a couple of clicks away, Christofer Johnsson’s decision to release this work now seems quite odd. But then again, as he admitted, Therion is no longer in fashion which might be quite liberating and may be the reason that he decided to record something so diverse, so deep in Therion’s discography.
might not be as diverse as previous LPs compared to the transition from “Cthulu” to “To Mega Therion”, but it is unlike what Therion have released before. To begin with, it is more vocal-driven, less heavy metal and – like every opera – it has a storyline. Inspired by Vladimir Solovyov’s A Short Tale Of The Antichrist
, the opera presents the story of a very religious man who has the ability to talk to god. Once he loses this ability, he decides to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. However, he gets saved by the devil who offers him a dark gift which he accepts and then writes a groundbreaking book that contains groundbreaking concepts about humanity, politics, religion, and philosophy. The book is so important that he gets to become the world leader and under him, humanity prospers like never before. Nevertheless, it becomes known that he is the antichrist which divides the human race as some want him dead because of his “evil” nature while others support him because of how the world has flourished with him at the helm.
In terms of instrumentation, the first act is more like your typical rock opera, the second act is more characteristic of Therion as it includes their known formula of symphonic metal, while the third act is a combination of the two. However, the delivery (or libretto) consists entirely of operatic vocals which might put some people off and the emphasis is on creating a story which flows seamlessly. In addition, there are no big choirs or choruses like on previous LPs. In fact, if you are judging Beloved Antichrist
as a typical symphonic metal album, you will be disappointed. There are no hooks and catchy riffs here but its cinematic nature is quite immersive and beautiful melodies are scattered throughout. There are no moments of building tension such as on Vovin
for example, but each piece creates the platform for the next one and everything serves the story of the album. As such, individual pieces don’t work so well out of context which explains why the singles didn’t make the best impression when they came out before the official release of the album. However, “Forgive Me” is one of the most beautiful Therion tracks I’ve listened recently.
At the end of the day, it seems that Beloved Antichrist
will probably be a love/hate affair deeply dependant on the time and effort one is willing to devote. Of course, fans of rock operas and Therion will find it easier to get into this behemoth of an album. It is easy to disregard a 3-hour opera as overblown and boring, especially nowadays that everything is free and two-clicks away. In fact, Beloved Antichrist
as excessive as it may seem, is a breath of fresh air to the decaying world of modern symphonic metal provided that you give it the time it demands.