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3.67 | 28 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2007

Filed under Symphonic Metal


Disc 1
1. Der Mitternachtslöwe (5:38)
2. Gothic Kabbalah (4:33)
3. The Perennial Sophia (4:54)
4. Wisdom and the Cage (5:01)
5. Son of the Staves of Time (4:47)
6. Tuna 1613 (4:23)
7. Trul (5:11)
8. Close Up the Streams (3:55)

Total Time: 38:26

Disc 2
1. The Wand of Abaris (5:51)
2. Three Treasures (5:20)
3. Path to Arcady (3:54)
4. TOF - The Trinity (6:18)
5. Chain of Minerva (5:21)
6. The Falling Stone (4:46)
7. Adulruna Rediviva (13:37)

Total Time: 45:10


- Christofer Johnsson / Guitars, Keyboards, Programming
- Kristian Niemann / Guitars, Keyboards
- Johan Niemann / Bass, Guitars, Guitars (Acoustic)
- Petter Karlsson / Drums, Guitars, Keyboards, Percussion, Choir (Disc 2, Track 5)

- Stefan Glaumann / Tambourine
- Rolf Pilotti / Flute
- Joakim Svalberg / Organ (Hammond)
- Ken Hensley / Organ (Hammond)
- Mats Levén / Vocals, Guitars
- Snowy Shaw / Vocals
- Katarina Lilja / Vocals
- Hannah Holgersson / Vocals (Soprano)
- Jonas Samuelsson-Nerbe / Vocals (Tenor)
- Anna Nyhlin / Vocals (Soprano)
- Karin Fjellander / Vocals (Choral Soprano)

About this release

Released by Nuclear Blast, January 12th, 2007

Thanks to DippoMagoo, UMUR for the updates


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siLLy puPPy
With the 2004 double album releases “Lemuria” and “Sirius B” immediately followed by a two year tour that found THERIOIN putting on 106 shows around the world including the ProgPower Festival in the UK on March 21, 2006, it would seem that THERION would not have the time to craft more material for another album but band founder and leader Christofer Johnsson was insanely prolific and a song writing machine along with the Nieman brothers and not only crafted enough material for the next album but enough to make it a double one. After several albums since “Theli” which launched THERION into the big leagues with its new brand of symphonic metal that added massive symphonies and choirs, the time was ripe for a change and that’s exactly what the fans got with the 13th album GOTHIC KABBALAH.

As the name of the album implies, GOTHIC KABBALAH takes THERION’s symphonic metal sound more into the world of Gothic metal as if Type O Negative joined the crew and this was the result. In 2006 Christofer Johnsson announced that he was retiring from singing duties therefore Mats Levén of Yngwie Malmsteen fame who performed on the “Lemuria / Sirius B” albums took the role of ghoul in chief with his dracula inspired vocal style at the forefront. A second singer was recruited with Snowy Shaw of Mercyful Fate and Dream Evil along with three female singers, Katarina Lilja, Anna Nyhlin and Hannah Holgersson. GOTHIC KABBALAH also found the number of musicians involved trimmed down considerably although in addition to the four main members of THERION there are still eleven guests involved.

This is the least symphonic of THERION’s output since the pre-“Theli” years although there are still elements of the choirs and a few classical instrument sounds but overall GOTHIC KABBALAH is much more in the Gothic metal camp with the symphonic elements set to simmer. Thematically this album is dedicated to the Swedish mystic Johannes Bureus who invented a philosophy called GOTHIC KABBALAH which mixed the alchemy, astrology and magic of the 17th century with the ancient runes and Norse gods. The lyrics of the album narrate in great detail the themes of the texts written by Bureus. Another notable musician on this one is Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep who plays keyboards. The trimmed down symphonic, orchestral and vocal domination of previous albums ramped up with a more aggressive guitar sound and an overall darker atmospheric presence makes GOTHIC KABBALAH one of the most unique sounding albums in the THERION canon.

One of the most noticeable differences in this double album is that the tracks are some of the most progressive that THERION had done at this point. While each album was fairly unique in certain ways, each retained the basic characteristics of 80s styled heavy metal mixed with classical symphonies and operatic choirs along with the extra accoutrements of ethnic folk music and other minor elements. On GOTHIC KABBALAH the metal parts are much more progressive and for the first time the companions are more labyrinthine and graced with more time signature deviations. While gothic metal is clearly part of the mix it’s not as much so as true goth bands and although dominant not ubiquitious. Often the vocalists are simply trading off parts more like an Ayreon styled rock opera album. Occasionally creeping through are touches of various folk melodies, both Western and Middle Eastern. The album is quite diverse with many different songs taking on different roles and therefore one of the most unusual of THERION’s career.

True that this one could have been trimmed down a bit. I think that if this would’ve been released as a single disc it would’ve been a much stronger album but this one is a grower nonetheless. Personally i find the second disc to be the stronger of the two with the first one engaging in too many long-winded even whiny tracks such as “The Perennial Sophia.” Unfortunately the weaker tracks are in the forefront which may drive off many from hearing the album out in its entirety but IMHO it all picks up big time with “The Wand Of Abaris” as the tracks become more cleverly crafted with interested dynamic shifts that find bombastic metal in interplay with the toned-down symphonic touches and more adrenalized vocalists. The folk melodies add a sense of timelessness and the eerie atmospheric touches give this one a mysterious vibe that fits perfectly into the world of the occult. The closing “Adulruna Rediva” is probably the most classical sounding and reminds you how much Johnsson was inspired by the sounds of Karl Orff especially works like “Carmina Burana” only with a sense of Wagnerian pomp.

Admittedly GOTHIC KABBALAH was a little put offing for me in the beginning but one that has grown on me and although i find this double disker to be a little lopsided with the cream of the crop appearing on the second half, it’s overall a compelling listen that stands out in the THERION canon for its unique mix of styles and the more progressive touches. This would also pretty much be the end of the line for the classic THERION lineup. In 2008 after the massive touring schedule the band announced that its core group of musicians were going their separate ways. Johnsson continued the THERION brand name but none of the albums that followed would ever have the same magnificence that the run from “Theli” to GOTHIC KABBALAH captured. Some of THERION’s best works on this one and although not all tracks are created equal none are horrible either but an editing process that culled a few would’ve made this an even better album as a single album. After all at 83:37, the track list simply could’ve been trimmed of a couple of the weaker tracks and made a single album. Still though, i love this one for the most part despite its flaws.
A double symphonic metal concept album about how divine wisdom percolates down to humanity with a gothic aesthetic and flirtations with more progressive music styles? Ah, it must be a Therion project - and on Gothic Kabbalah, late-period Therion turns in perhaps its most complete album. Does it merit being a double album? Well, no. There's plenty of fat here and there that could be trimmed, and whilst it feels more varied than much of the band's post-Theli output, at the same time it feels like the band trying out a wide range of experiments without quite getting deep enough into any of them to really polish them fully. It isn't quite Therion going prog, but it's perhaps the closest they'll come to it, and whilst it's an interesting listen I can't help but think that if they'd condensed it down to one disc and really polished everything up it'd be a great listen.
When it comes to double albums, I think the best method is making them short and sweet (basically longer than a normal album), and this is the perfect example. With near 90 minutes of music, this album is easily digestable and overall, one hell of an album. This is the album where everything just clicked for me. At times Therion can be a double edged sword, but this was the perfect balance between metal and opera.

With a weird concept about a librarian (weird) and runes and stuff, the songs do excell at high rates. There isn't a bad song on it really.

Perfect album with the best line up they've ever had (especially vocal wise, with both Mats Levin & Snowy Shaw)

CD 1

1. Der Mitternachtslöwe - The perfect balance. Amazing vocal performances and a great chorus. 10/10

2. Gothic Kabbalah - Love the chorus and the flute work is fantastic. 10/10

3. The Perennial Sophia - Has quite a doomy vibe to it and sounds a bit like HIM or Type O Negative. Great chorus. 9/10

4. Wisdom & The Cage - I love how this song changes so much. From the amazing vocals from Mats to the calm section that follows. Brilliant. 9/10

5. Son Of The Staves Of Time - Best song on the album, and one of the greatest metal songs ever made. This song has to be heard to be believed. The amazing vocals from Mats, and the epic beauty of the whole song. The video for the song is also worth checking out. 10/10

6. Tuna 1613 - Another perfect balance. Suprisingly cathcy and some serious riffing is involved. 10/10

7. Trul - My brother's favourite Therion song, and I can' disagree with him, this song does rule. With the female vocals that are just heavenly, to the chanty chorus and the Jethro Tull like instrumental section, this is one charter moment on the album. 10/10

8. Close Up The Streams - The riff in this song just rocks like a mofo. Weird chorus and some odd instrumental work adds to the grandness of the song. 10/10

CD 2

1. The Wand Of Abaris - This song is weird, but nonthless specataculaire. The chorus does have an odd contrapnuntal harmony with falesto male vocals, but it is incredbily infectious. 10/10

2. 3 Treasures - Love how well this song flows, and again provides a perfect balance. 8/10

3. Path To Arcady - Where Opera becomes interesting. 9/10

4. TOF - The Trinity - This song is mainly instrumental, but the guitar work is amazing. 9/10

5. Chain Of Minerva - This song would be amazing, if the lyrics weren't so stupid, yes, eagles don't eat flies. 9/10

6. The Falling Stone - The most power metal song on the album. Amazing vocal work and a great anthemic chorus. 10/10

7. Adulruna Rediviva - Therion's most longest and epic song. This is one mother of a song, with dramatic twists and turns and spine tingly moments at every turn. The perfect endings.

CONCLUSION: In my opinion their best album, I need to get aload more, and so do you!

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