THERION- Gothic Kabbalah (Nuclear Blast)
One of the most progressively evolving metal bands ever, Sweden’s THERION return with another epic in Gothic Kabbalah
. Following up the monster double album release Lemuria/Sirius B would likely pose a challenge for many bands, but THERION have no trouble pushing the envelope once again and creating not just another high quality album, but another 2-disc epic. They have always been a unique, forward-thinking band since even their early death metal days, with founding member Christofer Johnsson anchoring THERION amidst a revolving door of band members that have come and gone since the band’s inception in the early 1990's. Since 1995's Lepaca Kliffoth
, the band has continued to morph into the progressive symphonic metal beast they are today through a consistent slew of high quality releases. Gothic Kabbalah
blends more new elements to their already impressive arsenal of sound, creating yet another grandiose work of art. This is the kind of music truly can be called art, as the amount of attention to detail and effort put into every composition is above and beyond what the vast majority of metal bands are doing these days, even those considered to be in the same genre. THERION are the most exciting and unique band still active from Swedish scene of the early 90's, and have branched out enough to the point where they have been able to enjoy widespread recognition and the success that they deserve through years of perseverance and an unfailing dedication to making great music.
While there are indeed many orchestral and folkish elements to the music, as well as the metal aspects that draw from a variety of distinct styles, the way THERION combine them all without any one dimension taking over makes this a complete album all the way through. The use of piano, keyboards, and even a Hammond organ are some of the coolest parts, as they all give a distinct flavor to the music. Another unique thing about THERION is their use of a wide range of singing, from generic clean male vocals, to female singing, choral vocals, just about everything one could expect (strangely though, there is an absence of any harsh vocals or growling). It also helps that there are several different individual singers performing, including ex-KING DIAMOND drummer Snowy Shaw. The title track “Gothic Kabbalah” is a great example of how the variety of vocal styles mesh together well, not to mention it is musically also one of the strongest tunes of either disc, with a strong 80's metal vibe in the riffing mixed with some tasteful folk elements. The female vocals in the ballad “The Perennial Sophia” are incredible too, though the male vocals seem a bit awkward to me during the chorus, which is a little irking because the music is so good. “Tuna 1613" features some flat-out awesome thrash riffing after the misleadingly power metal intro, along with some of the edgier vocals on the album to fit with the metallic drive of the music of the song. I should mention that apparently there is some concept behind the lyrics, as there is with just about every THERION album, but much of it is rooted in mythology and is not very easy to follow, though lyrically its nothing that is likely to jump out and make much of an impact anyways; the vocal melodies are enough to carry by themselves. The guitar solos don’t take much precedence throughout most of the album, though the one in “Son Of The Staves Of Time” is certainly worth mentioning. More of the heavy metal influence comes across during “Trul”, a cool mid-tempo song with a memorable lick during the main riff. Atmospherically, songs like the exotic “Three Treasures” and “The Wand Of Abaris” provide some great vivid imagery, with the latter making good use of the Hammond. Ending with the lengthy cinematic epic “Adulruna Redivivia”, the album leaves quite a deep impression that signifies a need for repeated listening’s to let all of it digest and fully sink in.
The strength of this album lies in its masterful melding of a unique fusion of styles that span nearly every genre of music, including the excellent use of vocals that add another wonderful dimension to the album. Gothic Kabbalah
is an all-encompassing work of art and one of the finest representations of progressive metal today.