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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2007
I thought it impossible that Therion would produce anything as grandiose as the two album sets of Lemuria/Sirius B of a few years back. But goodness, they have done just that. "Gothic Kabbalah" is a huge, sprawling 2 CD set of mind boggling symphonic metal. Gone are the death metal vocals, replaced by a combination of operatic together with traditional rock female and male rock voices, making the music more involving and dramatic. The musicianship throughout is superb, especially the drumming of Petter Karlson which is dynamic, with lots of intricate cymbal work. But the writing of Christofer Johnsson is at a peak of creativity. Using eastern motifs with big operatic and symphonic themes to great dramatic effect. If a comparison can be made, then the work of Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon and Streams Of Passion comes to mind. But Therion are very much of their own. There are more prog rock elements to the music this time, helped by much more use of synthesizer and some superb Hammond playing by Uriah Heeps Ken Hensley. The production is one of the best I have heard on a metal record. Every instrument and vocal is given room to breath. Credit must go to the excellent mastering by the legendary George Marino which is subtle and dynamic. The usual practise in a lot of rock recordings these days of pushing everything to the max is admirably avoided.

This is an incredible recording by a band who are very much at the peak of their abilities. For me this is simply one of the very best symphonic metal albums I have ever heard!
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VINE VOICEon 12 January 2007
Sweden's THERION have always been a band prepared to push the boundaries of heavy metal to the very limits. This album once again has tremendous orchestratition and a range of different vocals like you hear nowhere else. Female vocals, high male vocals, low male vocals and of course, the THERION choir! All these elements are combined to create a glorious sound that once again gets the extremely good production it deserves.

As the title woiuld suggest, `Gothic Kabbalah' is a rather dark affair and this mood is set immediately with the creepy intro to impressive opening song `Mitternacht Lowe'. Many of the 14 tracks that follow also tred a similar path although `Son of the Staves of Time' is a real standout with memorable vocal lines as well as some excellent solo guitar work. `The Path To Arcady' is a rare weak moment with repetition being it's downfall.

By the time I got to the latter third of ther album my patience was wearing a little thin and the album was becoming tiresome. This album is a whopping 2 disc set spanning 78 minutes and THERION's music is just so grandiose that despite their obvious qualities, listening to the material really can take your brain's metal capabilities right to the edge of sanity! I guess this shows what a fantastic songwriter and creative genius THERION's brainchild, Christofer Johnsson really is.

As with many of THERION's releases, `Gothic Kabbalah' requires a lot of digesting and certainly a broad mind. It's difficult to say how this compares to previous THERION records, but I can definitiely say that their legions of fans will be delighted with `Gothic Kabbalah' as all the key ingredients of a good, modern day THERION album are present. This is a dark but majestic epic of an album and who knows, this may end up in the metal history books as an all time gothic classic.
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on 10 May 2008
First thing, yes, there was a shift of gear on this 2007 Double CD release from all out Symphonic Metal to a more accessible but definiteley not commercial sound. I would label this as more Progressive than Symphonic with more than a nod to Alternative Metal & Classic Rock. I think this album will find favour with Opeth's crowd despite being totally different to their Prog Death Metal sound.
There is a LOT less orchestration/Classical instruments on here than the previous 4 or so albums. It's as if the band really wanted to let their more trad rock/metal abilities shine. The two Niemann brothers REALLY shine - the bass is the most technical I've perhaps heard on a Therion release & the guitar work sizzles - there's even more great solos now & some very clever riffs! This might be these lads best work yet. Also they have noticeably written a sizeable chunk of the material on offer.
Drums courtesy of Petter Karlsson have more room to breathe in the mix - the production is state of the art - and the less is more approach often works,
One big change is that main man Christofer Johnsson has now called time on vocal duties in order to concentrate on guitar, keyboards & songwriting. Actually, songwriting duties are more shared than on any other Therion release - It's a real team effort.
In his place, the likes of Mats Leven & Snowy Shaw contribute contrasting vocal styles - Leven at times sounding like Chris Cornell (Audioslave).
One thing still reassuringly present is the Operatic vocal backing from the tenors & sopranos- It's not as in your face as say, Secret Of The Runes, this time it is carefully integrated into the songs more as an accompaniment than a 50/50 split.
In truth, I like the BIG 100 plus symphony and a bigger choir presence BUT I applaud Therion for doing something different - and doing it well!
Songs like The Perennial Sophia, Son of the Staves of Time, Three Treasures (AMAZING solo, full of emotion) & Path To Arcady are all up there with the Therion classics.
These songs often show the Rock sensibilities of the giants, Led Zeppelin!
The album closes with the 13 minute plus, Adulruna Rediviva which is a full on symphonic epic, up there with any classic Therion - This song is easily one of the band's finest.

Interesting note, apparently Christofer Johnsson has now split from the Niemanns & co. and is looking for new soldiers to the Therion crusade - with a new studio album due in 2009, is this a return to the orchestral bombast???....
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on 7 May 2007
Hailing from Sweden, Therion have here managed to destroy all conceptions of genre and stretch the limits of symphonic/black metal to new fronteers.

Gothic Kabbalah in particular shows Therion fusing classical music, operatic vocals, russian sounding choral elements (all to the backdrop of slicing guitars) Their music is quite novel and if I had to describe it would say it sounds like Dead Can Dance mixed with Queen, Bathory, Wagner and a bit of Viking metal and Prog rock thrown in too. Due to its experimental sound I think its fair to say it will not appeal to everyone. I would however say that metalheads bored with mass products and looking for some real talent should at least have a listen to the band. Uplifting, powerful-sounds like J S Bach composing a black mass.
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on 27 May 2007
Without a doubt, Therion have to be one of the most difficult of bands to review due to the extreme complexity of their music, along with being the most innovative metal act at present. I have had limited exposure with regarding the music Therion has produced over the years, owning a few of their post death metal discs that have their own unique personality stamped all over them. Therion is the brainchild of Swedish guitarist Christofer Johnsson who started the band more as an experimental death metal outfit nearly 20 years ago. Since then the music has evolved far beyond their original sound, but to dismiss them as a technical / death / thrash outfit nowadays would be unwise in the extreme.

To try and pigeonhole the band, or to sum up what they sound like in a few sentences is next to impossible as they are uniquely individual.' Gothic Kabbalah' is the bands latest release and what a grandiose and symphonic effort it is, offering over 82 minutes of pure euphoric delight. It is a poignant mixture of progressive, folk, death metal, power metal, operatic metal and is about as unique an experience as it is possible to get these days. Vocals on this latest masterpiece

are split four ways, two male and two female with Mats Leven and Snowy Shaw (ex Dream Evil) sharing centre stage with chanteuses, Katarina Lilja and Hannah Holgersson.

They all do an outstanding job, however the inclusion of Shaw and Leven into the Therion camp has been a wise decision on Johnsson's part as they have delivered a very nice edge to the music. Matts Leven needs no introduction as he has sung with some of the bigger bands of past and present. The music has a darker, heavier side this time around with the orchestration sounding as magnificent as ever. Every single instrument has a place in the mix that fits in so uniquely, but what is appealing is how audible the bass has been utilized in each song. Normally the bass is the full for the rhythm section, however in an instance it has been used as another one of the instruments adding great depth and feel to the proceedings.

Although `Gothic Kabbalah' still has all the unique ingredients that make it Therion, it is probably the most grandiose, most melodramatic, and commercially focussed Therion release thus far! Mention must be made of the guitar-work, which is unparalleled to what has been done with past releases. The riffs appear to be heavier and crunchy combining a strong layer to the sound. Another thing I admire with Therion is the loud and brash chorus, which just drive the message home with such splendour.

The lyrical themes are very mystical delving into Nordic and Middle Eastern mythology leaving the listener intrigued, yet curious. The cover art continues along the Middle Eastern theme which has been tastefully done by respected graphic artist, Tomas Ewerhard who has done breathtaking cover work for other top acts. This release is for anyone who likes to experiment with something a tad more challenging and substantial from time to time, `Gothic Kabbalah' is just awesome from beginning to end!
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on 19 June 2008
For those new to the band their sound has been based on the use of choirs and guest solo vocalists (sometimes operatic) with orchestral backing to their mainly guitar-driven music. Lyrics are fantasy-based and mainly drawn on Norse mythology. Their lack of a regular vocalist has been a drawback, in my opinion, depriving them of a clearer identity, and giving the impression of being slightly soulless.

This offering is a definite departure from (and improvement on) "Lemuria" from 2004. There is a noticeable improvement in the guitar solos which add considerably to the dynamics of the band, and which appear more frequently. Mats Leven ,who has appeared on some of their tracks in the past, is given more vocal responsibilities on this album thus giving more of a "band feel". The choir is used more sparingly here (check out their "Secret of the Runes" for hair-raising Choral Metal!) Female vocals are not up to the same standards as the "opposition" ( Nightwish, After Forever, Within Temptation and Epica )

What of the music ? Disc 1 has the brilliant title track but the quality dips on the next 2 or 3 tracks before picking up with the headbanging "Tuna 1613". Disc 2 is superb with every trick in the book thrown in (a catchy chorus in Three Treasures, crushing guitar riffs, tasteful use of a brass section, Ken Hensley's Hammond organ and a magnificent Symphonic Prog-Rock epic in the closing number being just some of many highlights) Some of the guitar-playing is so far ahead of their previous efforts I've to check it's really Therion.

The sound is crystal clear and almost overwhelming. Minus the couple of weaker songs this would have been a 5-star single album. I'm looking forward to see what they'll come up with next. My advice is to play side 2 first (more consistent songwriting) if you're checking on whether to buy this.
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on 22 October 2014
great album but not my favourite Therion cd
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on 15 November 2014
5 stars.
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on 10 May 2011
I'll be perfectly blunt: I don't like Therion's music. It's not that I'm particularly narrow-minded it's just that Therion serves up a kind of Metal-lite that's more akin to what I imagine my mother would want from heavy metal: Operatic singing, massive orchestral accompaniments and tasteful guitar solos. Probably there would be tin-whistles and cod-Irish jigs in there as well.

If that's the kind of music you like that's fair enough. Me, I was expecting heavy metal.
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