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therion leviathan
Artist: Therion
Title: Leviathan
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Release Date: 22nd January 2021
Label: Nuclear Blast


Album Review

Originally having formed in 1987 as a Death Metal outfit & having changed name twice, Sweden’s THERION are considered one of the progenitors of Symphonic Metal. Now with its 17th album which is released 30 years after their debut & the first of a three-part trilogy, ‘Leviathan’ emerges from the underground with a fair amount of expectation prior to its release.

Opening track ‘The Leaf on the Oak of Far’ pulls no punches in setting the tone for what’s ahead with a sombre yet upbeat tone that is the musical love child of a collaboration between EPICA & BATTLE BEAST which is ironic given that THERION would have influenced both. Followed straight on & featuring a guest appearance by former NIGHTWISH guitarist MARKO HIETALA, ‘Tuonela’ is a delightful piece of Norse-inspired European Metal which wouldn’t sound out of place on the recently finished TV Series ‘Vikings’. Choir lead & backing vocals are scattered throughout to this record, most of which embellish the compositions they are used on and dominate the title track ‘Leviathan’ which along with some astute but never overdone guitar work from Cristofer Johnsson & Christian Vidal give a relaxing and some might say fairy-tale feel but one with Gothic overtones. ‘Die Wellen Der Zeit’ (The Waves of Time) with lyrics in both English and German could easily be the soundtrack to a Heathen Ritual. Again, the choir vocals dominate this number.

‘Aži Dahāka’ (Avestan Great Snake) takes our imaginations from Pagan Europe to Zoroastrian Persia, with a more traditional Heavy Metal feel through the majority of the song and is paired up nicely with ‘Eye of Algol’ which returns to a more symphonic feel in its first half before guitar solos dominate the second. Just over halfway through the record though and the lack of standout impact from both Nalle Påhlsson & Sami Karppinen in regards to their instruments is disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they play their parts well, but the bass is heavily buried in the overall mix and the drums seem to only follow the songs without truly adding anything unique.

The last third of this album unfortunately runs out of steam and leaves the listener with a bit of an anti-climax. ‘Psalm of Retribution’ is certainly more than listenable and features some quality guest vocals from Mats Levén (who has previously collaborated with CANDLEMASS and FIREWIND) and probably would have been better suited to being earlier in the track listing. ‘El Primer Sol’ & the album’s finale ‘Ten Courts of Diyu’ aren’t bad by any means either, but also don’t sound like anything you haven’t heard earlier on.

Overall, this is an album with a lot of ambitions and ideas with all its songs based on various mythology. A Great first half of the record is ultimately let down by an average ending and the impression that THERION unfortunately overstretched themselves on this occasion. Right now, I’d say that they have seriously got their work cut out to make ‘Leviathan’ a successful Trilogy. On a more positive note, though, it’s first part is certainly worthy of a sequel.


Tracklist

01. The Leaf on the Oak of Far
02. Tuonela
03. Leviathan
04. Die Wellen der Zeit
05. Aži Dahāka
06. Eye of Algo
07. Nocturnal Light
08. Great Marquis of Hell
09. Psalm of Retribution
10. El Primer Sol
11. Ten Courts of Diyu


Line-up

Christofer Johnsson — Guitars, Keyboards, Programming, Hammond Organ, & Orchestral Arrangement
Sami Karppinen — Drums
Nalle "Grizzly" Påhlsson — Bass Guitar
Thomas Vikström — Lead Vocals
Christian Vidal — Guitar
Lori Lewis — vocals


Website

http://therion.se / https://www.facebook.com/therion


Cover Picture

therion leviathan


Rating

Music: 7
Sound: 7
Total: 7 / 10




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