At The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., February 6, 2018

THERION (Live at The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., February 6, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

There is a saying in music that more is less and that one note can say more than a thousand and that may well be true in some cases with BB King being a prime example but in others the entire opposite can also apply.

Therion’s latest album, Beloved Anti-Christ, which is due out at the end of this week is a hugely ambitious and totally OTT Symphonic Gothic Rock Opera based on a novel by Vladimir Soloviov spread over three CDs clocking in at well over three and a half hours featuring full blown orchestras, choirs, opera singers and Rock band and is the culmination of band founder and creator Cristofer Johnsson’s vision for the band. The Ramones this is not and anyone looking for a rapid fire musical quick fix should look elsewhere.

Before Johnsson achieves his life long ambition of performing his Rock Opera in its entirety live on stage with a full production to back it up he decided to head out on tour to gradually introduce the new material to their fanbase.

It’s been quite some time since the Swedish Rockers played in the UK and the first ever show in Newcastle so this was an historic occasion and one the promoters at the Riverside did well to bring to the City.

With a seven-piece band including Thomas Vikstrom on lead vocals covering both the Opera and Rock vocals gave a particularly commanding performance throughout and with his daughter Linnea and Chiara Calvestiti on classical vocals, this was never going to be an ordinary Rock show.

The Blood of Kingu encapsulated Therion in one song combining a particularly bruising riff with both the Rock side and Operatic aspect combining in full force ending with a searing bombastic choral climax. Breath-taking stuff.

Therion have moved a long way from their early Death Metal roots of old and really share very little with those times however they did briefly surface on Din from their Sita Aura album where the almost Speed Metal pacing and aggressive vocal attack by Linnea provide a sharp counterpoint to the serene, dreamlike Lemuria which just exuded class.

Johnsson, dressed in a gold waistcoat and top hat, led the band with pride and had no problem letting others take the limelight in delivering his creations as Christian Vidal took the lions share of the guitar solos.

New songs Bring Her Home and Night Reborn sat comfortably with the older material while showing Therion pushing their already vast boundaries ever further however it was the likes of The Khlysti Evangelist with its dramatic vocal delivery from Vikstrom and the imposing Typhon where Classical collided with some brutal Death grunts from bassist Nalle Pahlsson that really got the crowd going.

The deeply moody and atmospheric Der Mitternachtslowe was a mini Rock Opera in its own right while the soaring Son of The Staves of Time was arguably the most direct and dare it be said, commercial Rock song of the night while the Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah was so grandiose in scope it was not too difficult imagining this providing the soundtrack to a Cecil B. DeMille Biblical epic featuring Charlton Heston and makes Bat Out Of Hell sound like Yellow Submarine.

As signature tune To Mega Therion brought the show to a triumphant close those in the crowd had witnessed a show that was truly unique and very special, a real collision of Gothic, Rock, Classical and Opera that was a spectacular musical production to hold. One can only wonder how impressive Johnsson’s vision would be if his plans to tour with a full orchestra and choir come to fruition.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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