THERION – Leviathan

THERION - Leviathan
  • 8.6/10
    THERION - Leviathan - 8.6/10


Nuclear Blast
Release date: January 29, 2021

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

The only commonality Therion’s newest and seventeenth album, Leviathan shares with their first, Of Darkness…, is the sheer ambition and audacity of guitarist and founder Christofer Johnsson. The Death Metal stylings of Of Darkness… may not have hinted at the full blown orchestral projects that later Therion releases would become, but even in those early releases Johnsson always reached for something new and different in the sounds Therion laid down to vinyl, incorporating ever changing time signatures and other Thrash elements that set Therion apart from less musically adept practitioners of the genre. Listen to “Die Wellen Der Zeit” off the new album and “Asphyxiate With Fear” off the first and you’ll hear it: two bands with nothing in common but ambition.

Leviathan, by Johnnson’s own admission, brings a temporary halt to Therion’s ever-shifting nature by essentially doing one for the fans; “deliberately packed with Therion hit songs”, reads the promotional material. As such, Leviathan continues the sweeping choral and orchestral arrangements of Therion releases of the last few years in yet another overwhelming package. From the first track “The Leaf On The Oak Of Far”, which rides a speedy riff and galloping rhythm into an exchange of male and female vocals before sliding into a full multiphonic chorus, to the last, “Ten Courts Of Diyu”, Johnsson makes good on his promise. Virtually any of Leviathan’s eleven tracks hits with enough power to stand up as a single or live favorite, the album avoids some of the more esoteric songs of the releases of the last few years, preferring to stick with the epic symphonic approach.

Former NightWish singer and bassist Marko Hietala makes a guest appearance as the male voice on “Tuonela”. The title track follows, a slower operatic track powered by a full choir. Other standouts include the rousing “Eye Of Algol”, combining thunderous drumming with a high ranged female vocal soloist counterpointed by a choir of male bass vocalists, and “El Primer Sol”, the chorus of which capably delivers the full majesty of Therion’s capabilities.

Therion have spent the last couple years making darkness, and sometimes evil, beautiful, and perhaps the only place where Johnsson misses the mark in pleasing the fans lies in making music where the beauty so overwhelms the menace inherent in both the earlier releases and their otherworldly, supernatural themes. Even in songs like “Great Marquis Of Hell”, where the topic ostensibly involves a lord the fiery furnace, the vocal is so clean, the keyboards so airy, the solo so note-perfect, the end result leaves one feeling euphoric, not edgy. Maybe Johnsson’s secret goal is making darkness beautiful and alluring, but one longs for some of the old Therion grit here and there–the harshness of “Dawn Of Perishness” off Symphony Masses or the brutal crunch of “To Megatherion” from Theli. Johnsson did this one for the fans; perhaps the next iteration of Therion will push the musical envelope further by incorporating some rough elements in amongst the sublime.


  • Daniel Waters

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind wasn’t the first Metal album he owned, but it was the one that lifted the lid off his soul when he received the record as a gift on his 15th birthday. He's been a Metal fan ever since. He's probably best known as the author of various Young Adult novels such as the Generation Dead series and the ghost story Break My Heart 1,000 Times, now also a major motion picture entitled I Still See You, starring Bella Thorne. Writing and music, especially Heavy Metal music, has always been inextricably linked in his mind and career. His first paid gig doing any type of writing was for Cemetery Dance, where he wrote a horror-themed music column called Dead Beats, and when he was writing the first Generation Dead novel he had a ritual where he started his writing day with a Metal playlist that kicked off with “Crushing Belial” by Shadows Fall.

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