THERION — Lemuria (review)

THERION — Lemuria album cover Album · 2004 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
The period around the “Secret Of The Runes” album was one of the most prolific for Christofer Johnsson and his symphonic metal project THERION who not only had released a string of successful albums with “Vovin” being the largest seller of the lot but also engaged in a massive tour that would yield a live album called “Live in Midgård.” During this period Johnsson along with the Niemann brothers (Kristian on guitars and Johan on bass) amassed an amazing amount of material to work with. With 55 unreleased songs in the coffers, THERION picked out the strongest which resulted in 21 of them being released at the same time. Instead of simply cranking out a double album per se, it was decided to release two individual albums instead. Both LEMURIA and its counterpart “Sirius B” were released on 24 May 2004 both as single albums as well as a twin-pack with two titles.

Since these two albums were released simultaneously the obvious question of which one comes first in the discography. No chicken and egg scenario here as they were released exactly at the same time so it seems that through the sophisticated occult practices of contacting demons or a scryer or whatever sort of supernatural forces intervened, it was decided that the alphabetical method was the determining factor and therefore LEMURIA, which refers to the other sunken continent like Atlantis, is officially THERION’s 11th studio album. It does get a little confusing since the two albums were released as a twofer as well as separately but they are indeed separate albums and each has its own personality despite being culled from the same repository. LEMURIA is the shortest of the two and only exceeds past the 42 minutes in contrast to “Sirius B” which just skirts past the 57 minute mark.

To call these works ambitious is an understatement. On these two recordings there were a total of 171 musicians involved in one form or another which included the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a 32-member choir. These two albums found a new lead male vocalist with Mats Levén who had worked with many artists before most notably with Yngwie Malmsteen and a continuing guest appearance of vocalist Piotr Wawrzeniuk. LEMURIA follows in the footsteps of “Secrets Of The Runes” with the heavy metal aspects of the band’s sound in the forefront. But then again any given THERION album from “Theli” on incorporates a massive sound spectrum of classical symphonic elements, choirs and on this one even includes some ethnic instruments such as balalaikas, a domra and even a little proggy mellotron and Hammond organ. While the title suggests a concept album, LEMURIA is all over the mythological map covering Greek themes (“Typhon,” “Abaris”), Germanic (“Futhark”), Aztec (“Quetzalcoatl”), Gnostic (“Abraxas”) and even closer to home Swedish occultism with the track “The Dreams of Swedenborg” about 18-century occultist Emanuel Swedenborg.

While LEMURIA emphasizes the heavy metal thunder for much of its playing time, it’s actually more like “Deggial” in that it has lots of softer parts like acoustic guitar arpeggio segments, classical non-metal moments but alternates with more bombastic bravo however the metal is often more brutal as on “Secret Of The Runes.” Basically THERION takes established formulas and changed up the recipe ever so slightly. Every tune is crafted extremely well as you can expect instantly catchy classically inspired melodies rocking it out with classic 80s metal that showcase those classic Iron Maiden guitar gallops as well as other elements from hard rock, doom metal and even a faint reference to the band’s death metal origins at times such as blastbeats, tremolo guitar picking or even a growl or two but mostly this is just another excellent display of symphonic operatic metal that spares no expense. There is even a Rammstein sounding track with the closing “Feurer Overtüre / Prometheus Entfesselt ! ”
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