I must admit I'm new to symphonic opera metal, having been hooked by Nightwish's Nemo late last year, and this is my first foray into the work of Therion.
And i've got to say it's brilliant- An epic, worthy of putting to the soundtrack of some Lord of the Rings-esque film, two discs, soaring orchestration flowing with ease into progressive metal riffs - the inclusion of something like 170 musicians on the team besides the band make the sheer scale of the album something else.
the ideas of the album also appeal to me, the gothic and mythic themes seem a favorite of Therion. Especially the remembrance of the heroic Berik on the two part "Three Ships Of Berik" which talks of pagans crusading on christian tyrants in Rome. The band use their own vocalist very little: pretty much all the tracks feature guest vocalists, which are mostly operatic or soprano type guys and girls with big voices. The marriage of the powerful operatics and the face melting guitars is what makes Therion but also all opera metal a winner.
The highlights include tracks 1,2,5-7 and 11 on Sirius B and 3-5 and 8 on Lemuria, although it is all very consistent and best listened to as a whole.
(Wondrous World of Punt deserves a special mention- beautiful! Church organ moves into acoustic strumming, then drum-aided piano and finally into a power-stance worthy metal finale, all the time accompanied by operatics. Epic!)
I really REALLY reccomend this to all the metalheads out there, especially those who, like me, have unearthed the gothic/ symphonic/ operatic etc etc scene so little recognised in Britain's appalling music scene (this is a great place for a rant at pop music, but I shan't bore you!). I shall however be sure to check out Therion's intimidatingly large back-catalog, and once again urge you to invest!