I thought a return to the Goth side of the Indie Culture would be more than appropriate for my first new 'Arts' writing, since my computer got zapped. I DO intend to follow up with articles on ALL genres, and in fact, are hoping to hear back from Toby Keith, who is not only one of the most famous Country 'Indie' Artists, but has developed his own label and is signing, recording, and promoting other 'Indie” Bands and Performers, as well.
The band: Therion, in many ways, brings to mind Black Sabbath's ongoing “flirtation with success” in the late 60's and 70's. Every new album seemed to be another breakthrough that would finally propel them to the recognition many 'hard-core' fans felt they were due.
Sadly, it took the core of the band, Ozzie, going solo to finally focus attention on their achievements.
With Therion, the Core of the band has mostly remained, but often key personnel had a habit of not staying around for more than an album or tour. This often forced the band to reinvent it's sound and style for the album and tour.
Perhaps all that invention has paid off. The last four Albums of this twenty some year old band have become 'jewels in their crown', and are the focus of this article. To truly track their heritage, would require, at this point in time, someone to write a complete biography of the Band and it's history.
I have included comments, biographical data, and the processes involved in the recent albums, pictures, and links to their Websites, as well as a video smorgasbord of some of their finest music from the studio and from the stellar Live Concert in Miskolc, Hungary.
A dream of Chris's became reality at the end of 2006, when the band joined forces with the Romanian National Orchestra and Choir for a show at Palace Hall in December. The show had a successor six months later in Miskolc, Hungary. Both shows consisted of two parts, a classical one where classical pieces by Antonín Dvorák, Giuseppe Verdi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns and Richard Wagner had been arranged for and played by orchestra accompanied by guitars and drums.
The second part delivered Therion songs with orchestral support and was a genuine experience both for the audience and for the musicians on stage. Among the arranged songs, we can mention Eternal Return, Draconian Trilogy, Sirius B and The Siren Of The Woods, pure classical fragments of The Khlysti Evangelist and Wondrous World Of Punt (in Bucharest). The show in Romania was recorded and broadcast by the national television, while the stunning show in Hungary was recorded by the band and released later on in 2009 on a DVD + 2CD box set called The Miskolc Experience. The DVD also contains a "Making of" footage, and the first act of the Bucharest show.
As Chris Comments:
It would have been an easy choice just to take a bunch of THERION songs, stand on a stage with an orchestra, and just play. I'm sure we would have been having a very grateful crowd for that. But THERION isn't a band that settles for what is ‘good enough', we want to do more than that. So much of what you will hear and see are exclusively arranged for this event and one previous we did in Romania and we wish to offer you a musical journey where the band both enters the classical world as humble guests, as well as inviting the classical players and singers into out world.
There are several ways to incorporate opera and classical music with metal and rock music. Most rock musicians would do it in a rather chauvinistic way - looking upon themselves as the stars and the orchestra, choir, soloists and conductor as a bunch of people just helping them to realize some spectacular event they would do at some point in their career. And as they are the big stars, they would play over the compositions like a bulldozer, adding guitar chords in every inch of even the classical pieces. Here, THERION tries to show a great diversity by knowing what style and which rock instruments to play in each place, and, most importantly, when to be quiet and allow the orchestra to do their thing, undisturbed, in which dynamics between the two genres can grow.
The two parts
First you will discover how a Therion song could sound like if converted into a piece for orchestra. While being an event with much of its focus on bringing classical music into rock and metal music, it is only fair to also make an attempt of the opposite. Indeed a rock song is never able to become a true classical composition no matter what you do with it, due to the solid foundation on contemporary thinking it consists of, but nevertheless, it makes it interesting enough to re-arrange it into orchestral music and perform it in a way that the classical musicians are familiar with.
Secondly we have arranged various classical and opera compositions to allow us to take part in it. And it is here you will really see and hear the big difference in attitude compared with other bands that did similar things before us. We are here allowed to show how a band can make a respectful journey into the world of some of the most famous classical composers works. Many people would take for granted that the band must play 100% of the time and fight to uphold the status of the rock/metal elements. But I want to have the dynamics,life, and interplay between the worlds emerge where it makes sense, rather than play something for the sake of playing, and by that, ruin both the composition and the effect of the band's presence. Take an instrument like Tympani, for example, it's a lovely and very powerful instrument. But what happens if we use it all the time?...If we over use it? It will just become a noisy instrument, blocking much of what we love many compositions for. In many regards, this is how we must look upon a rock band performing too, though the band, of course, offers greater diversity and possibilities than the percussion instrument in my example.
However, as there was a majority of the audience being into metal music attending the event, I took the decision we also need some pieces where the band would play typically heavily through the entire piece, an acceptable compromise between being artists and entertainers. As it was great challenge to do this in a truthfully respectful way, shorter excerpts were used for this purpose. All in all, I think the mix turned out rather tasteful and entertaining, while at the same time paying appropriate tribute to the composers.
This part of the evening needs no deeper introduction. It has always been the dream of me as a composer to be able to perform my works live with huge arrangements. Up to now, financial resources needed to pull this off hasn't been available. My dream has been shared by many thousands of fans around the world. It finally happened and I'm happy to be able to offer one of the two events on this DVD.
THERION would like to give a very special thanks to Richard Peach in general, but particularly for his outstanding efforts around this event.
Christofer also would like to send a thanks to Tamas Bator, Szabolcs Horvath, and the Miskolc International Opera Festival for their participation, for making it possible for us to film it, and for offering the documentary and photos for the DVD. Other people who have made great efforts in support of this product and deserve a warm thanks, are Aquarius Foundation, Markus Stollenwerk, Maor Appelbaum, Sigge & Fuse, and the always so amazingly supportive guys at Nuclear Blast Records.
On Gothic Kabbalah:
Prior to the first show, in September 2006, Christofer announced the upcoming album, Gothic Kabbalah, was due to be launched in January 2007 and followed by a world tour with Grave Digger and Sabaton as support acts. The album came out as a double one, with 15 tracks altogether and 2 bonus live ones. And once again, it brought changes in the band's line up: Petter Karlsson has returned to play drums, while Snowy Shaw, Mats Levén, Katarina Lilja, Anna Nyhlin, and Hannah Holgersson performed the vocals. All of them backed up by the Niemann brothers and Christofer on guitars and bass. But Peter did his share in singing as well.
In this album, that celebrates 20 years of Therion, the listeners will find a lot of references to the life of 17th-century esoteric scholar Johannes Bureus, and though it no longer offers the huge amount of participants as Lemuria/Sirius B does, or fast songs, as before, it still gets one through a progressive rock opera journey, spiced up with sounds of Hammond organs (including performances by Ken Hensley from Uriah Heep), flutes, tambourine, and different ranges of sopranos and tenors. There are many folk references in the songs that have been composed by or with the help from everyone in the band at the moment, completing Christofer's work and ideas.
Also to mark their 20 years anniversary, on May 2007 a celebration tour was announced. It was limited only for 16 gigs, exclusively in Europe and they were due to perform the entire Theli album as the second act of the gigs, and ended with the main piece of the Gothic Kabbalah album: Adulruna Rediviva. Other songs were chosen upon the fans' voting, except the Kali Yuga Part. 1-2. which was played due the fact they also decided to perform Kali Yuga Pt. 3, a song on the upcoming album. The tour took part in November and December 2007, and it brought Lori Lewis on stage, the lead singer for Aesma Daeva and a wonderful soprano, doing a really great job with Therion songs live. The other soprano on stage was Katarina Lilja. As for the male parts, they were performed by the newly added talented singer who can do both tenor and heavy metal voices, Thomas Vikström (his debut happened at Wacken 2007) and Snowy Shaw. The keyboard parts were played at every gig by Ferdy Doernberg, and were arranged for especially for this tour. The scenery and settings gave the band a new Gothic and dramatic image. Some of the shows in this tour offered real treats for the audience, as they had Piotr Wawrzeniuk and Messiah Marcolin as guest vocalists and belly dancers on stage. All the guests, including Mats Levén, had returned for the final performance in Paris in December 2007
Christofer Johnsson plays Gibson guitars exclusively and uses the Tronical PowerTune system, because he wants the best.Kristian Niemann plays Ibanez guitars and uses Crafton musical products exclusively.
Johan Niemann plays Ashdown amplifies exclusively
Petter Karlsson plays Meinl cymbals and Tama drums and sticks.
The Band's Core for Gothic Kabbalah & The Miskolc Experience was:
- Christofer Johnsson: Guitar
- Kristian Niemann: Lead and rhythm guitars
- Johann Niemann: Bass guitar
- Petter Karlsson: Drums
A sad news came out for fans who got used to the current band's lineup - the Niemann brothers and Petter Karlsson parted ways with Therion in the spring of 2008, after it was clear that they all had different goals and visions for the future. It didn't mean that Therion has reached an end though, since Chris has always experimented with various musicians and it made it interesting to hear the different touch added to his music by the new members. Hence, a few months after the departures were announced, the world got the names of the new members. They were Johan Koleberg, as the new drummer, who plays all the material from the previous albums really well, adding his own personal style in a tasteful way, and Nalle Påhlsson as bassist. Nalle worked with Thomas previously, so they already had a good working relationship. Thomas Vikström became a permanent member of the band, the first ever in their history (besides Chris, founding member and former lead vocalist).
There was only one concert in 2008, in Poland at an open air festival. But due the success of the concerts in 2007, the band also released a second live album called Live Gothic, made of a double CD and one DVD and containing the recording of the concert in Warsaw, Poland on February 14, 2007.
Prior to the release, the band had several live appearances in Mexico and European festivals where they also presented the new guitarist - Christian Vidal, after Chris had tried to persuade Lori Linstruth to join the band. There were also some issues with Snowy Shaw, who announced in July 2010 that he'd leave Therion and play bass with Dimmu Borgir, but rejoined Therion in August 2010. In an interview about the upcoming album, Christofer declared that as usual, it will be thrilling for some fans, while some others would hate it. But he continues to playing the music he likes to make . The release of the album is followed by a South American Tour, followed
by one Europe, where most of the shows would have Loch Vostok from Sweden and Leprous from Norway, both progressive metal bands. Unfortunatelly, Nalle decided not to join as bass player for the tour, due personal problems, but he hopes to stay a member of the band. He'd be replaced for the live shows by Waldemar Sorychta, an artist mainly known for his skills as a guitarist. The tour would bring out a new image of the band, since Therion is a band that needs to be rediscovered for each tour, just like each new album is a challenge to the perception of what is Therion and what is not. What developments in the distant future will bring, no one knows, but those who live will see!
On the New Release, Sitra Ahra, the line up is now:
- Christofer Johnsson: Guitars
- Johan Koleberg: Drums
- Nalley Pählsson: Bass guitars
- Christian Vidal: Guitars
- Thomas Vikström : Vocals
In close co-operation with:
- Waldemar Sorychta: Rhythm guitars, additional harmony, lead guitar
- Lori Lewis: Solo soprano
- Snowy Shaw: Lead vocals
Therion's Official Site: http://www.megatherion.com/en/
Therion: Sitra Ahra:
Therion: Sons of the Staves of Time
Therion: Siren of the Woods:
Therion: The Rise Of Sodom & Gomorrah:
Therion: The Miskolc Experience (Preview Trailer):
Live: The Rise of Sodom:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPYpKJlFq7Y
Live: Clavicula Nox: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPYpKJlFq7Y
Live: Draconian Trilogy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m58yQ2WfM8Y
Live: Eternal Return: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqjfntzY7Lo
Live: Schwarzalbenheim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mGZ-8dxVc