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Therion - Leviathan II review



Reviewer:
7.5

74 users:
7.15
Band: Therion
Album: Leviathan II
Release date: October 2022


01. Aeon Of Maat
02. Litany Of The Fallen
03. Alchemy Of The Soul
04. Lunar Coloured Fields
05. Lucifuge Rofocale
06. Marijin Min Nar
07. Hades And Elysium
08. Midnight Star
09. Cavern Cold As Ice
10. Codex Gigas
11. Pazuzu


I double-check their discography, and sure as rain, Leviathan II is no less than Therion’s 18th full-length studio album. You will not find anything truly new here, but it is greatly more varied than its predecessor, and probably the band’s most memorable album in over a decade.

Now, I cannot say that Therion’s output as of late has been all that relevant to me, but this is a band to which I have a long-standing personal connection. It was one of the very first bands I fell in love with as a young teenager, having recently discovered metal by way of Nightwish’s Oceanborn, and I have spent countless hours listening to every album released before 2010. Hell, even my username is one I have used on various sites since my teens after appropriating it from the song “Up To Netzach” from A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming (not so much because it is a great song and album, because, nah). Thus, I felt the need to appoint myself for reviewing their latest effort, with a fair share of trepidation associated to the task. This trepidation mainly stems from the fact that I have not truly enjoyed a Therion album since the excellent prog opus Gothic Kabbalah, which by now is (counting the years in my head)... wow, 16 years ago? Damn, that is old. Damn, Therion is old. Damn, I am old.

Enter the 2020s, then, to find a band finding its way back halfway through to its roots. As pointed out by Radu in his review, “With Leviathan, Therion give you exactly what you want.” While that was certainly the band’s mentality in the making of Leviathan II’s predecessor, Therion certainly did not give me what I want from a Therion album in 2021; being a hit parade of songs all veering into symphonic pop territory resulting in an album full of tunes so equally memorable that to this day I still can only remember the best one of them, namely “Tuonela”. My hopes were kindled slightly after reading an interview with Christofer where he says that Leviathan II would be more “dark and melancholic”, with more experimental and progressive songs, and compared it to 1998s high-water mark Vovin.

So, how does Leviathan II compare to my expectations? For starters, the much more varied songwriting and, I feel, more natural performances on display here meant I needed only half a play through to decide in favour of this album over its predecessor. It starts out with the 2½-minute short, but sweet, “Aeon Of Maat” (referring to the Egyptian goddess of truth, balance and justice). There is an airy sparseness to the instrumentation which adds a certain bounce to the layered interplay of Thomas Vikström’s tenor and Lori Lewis’ soprano, and while it is grandiose and memorable, I would hesitate to say it opts for “catchy”, instead moving quickly through its motions and ending in a blistering guitar solo by Christian Vidal.

“Litany Of The Fallen” is the latest of Therion’s many odes to Satan, and reminds me of the fact that this is still the band whose main lyricist used to be Thomas Karlsson, founder of the occult Swedish left-hand-path organisation Dragon Rouge. It is one of the singles released ahead of the full album, and one of the songs most similar to Leviathan. It is here it becomes apparent that the main fault of said predecessor was not so much the quality of the music itself, but the fact that it was a collection of songs that all fought for the same spot in your memory: that of the album’s top hit. While “Alchemy Of The Soul” follows up with another catchy number, it goes through more progressive sections, and about midway through the lush power ballad “Lunar Coloured Fields”, I find “Litany Of The Fallen” still fresh in memory rather than any of its impact having been taken away by following songs, as they all deliver a variety of impressions that nestle snugly beside, rather than on top of, each other in my memory.

Next follow two lukewarm songs about the prime minister of Hell and the fiery origins of djinns, respectively, and then another pseudo-progressive power ballad where any momentum in the tracklist meets a bitter end. Luckily, “Midnight Star” remedies this with a hard-rocking riff and Lori’s intense performance in the verses trading place with a high-octave, albeit slightly uninspired, chorus by Vikström in the “Beauty and the Beast” fashion Therion pioneered in the 90s and helped become a mainstay of gothic and symphonic metal alike. “Codex Gigas” is another memorable, epic arena rocker which makes it clear to me that the best parts of Leviathan II are the rocking, riffing, catchy cuts - but this only thanks to much of the tracklist not being deliberate hit songs, instead consisting of progressive and classical mid-paced pieces replete with lots and lots of layered operatic trickery.

All in all, Leviathan II is much more memorable than its predecessor, mostly thanks to literally every song not being equally memorable; the greater variety in compositional approach and dynamic tracklisting resulting in a very decent album. The one problem with Leviathan that persists is a slightly flat production that does not offer enough room for all the orchestrations and sometimes puts too much focus on the vocals, to the point that the instrumentation drowns behind them. There is something to say about the lack of innovation, but as the 2010s showed, innovation is not necessarily a good thing for this band (any more).

The result of more varied songwriting and lusher execution makes Leviathan II an enjoyable, albeit unsurprising listen, and it is at least on par with Sitra Ahra, which makes it the best Therion album in over a decade. Still, it is a far shot from Vovin, Secret Of The Runes, or Gothic Kabbalah, but by the 18th album in a band’s career I think we can accept the stellar performances and decent music in all its predictable glory, no?


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 6





Written on 20.10.2022 by 100% objective opinions.


Comments

Comments: 16   Visited by: 242 users
20.10.2022 - 15:05
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
It might be 20 soon.... It will happen I believe
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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20.10.2022 - 15:07
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Bad English on 20.10.2022 at 15:05

It might be 20 soon.... It will happen I believe

It will for sure be 19 anyway, since the third album in the trilogy has already been announced. Apparently they wrote over 40 songs and it's only a matter of recording them.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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20.10.2022 - 16:36
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Netzach on 20.10.2022 at 15:07

Written by Bad English on 20.10.2022 at 15:05

It might be 20 soon.... It will happen I believe

It will for sure be 19 anyway, since the third album in the trilogy has already been announced. Apparently they wrote over 40 songs and it's only a matter of recording them.
I wish 20th album would be pure roots dm.
I am sceptic to trilogies unless band fix it at same time and release later..
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
20.10.2022 - 23:47
prnzokoshiroltra

Quote:
It will for sure be 19 anyway, since the third album in the trilogy has already been announced. Apparently they wrote over 40 songs and it's only a matter of recording them.


Beloved Antichrist was a trilogy all in itself n look how good that worked out

I believe that and Dream Theater's "The Astonishing" are being used as as a makeshift modern replacement for Chinese water-torture

the question is, is there enough water to mercifully drown in to extricate yourself from circumstances of
sure self-megalomaniacal egodeath

the other question is, can I use your bathroom? I'm gonna hurl diamonds & pearls - who gets hurt? Lots of Girls, ov covrse! I THOUGHT I TOLD U TO LEAVE THIS VILLAGE KVARFORTH U UNEMPLOYABLE JACKWAD
----
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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24.10.2022 - 22:29
Crème fraiche

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.
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24.10.2022 - 22:42
JoHn DoE

Written by Crème fraiche on 24.10.2022 at 22:29

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.


cringe, probably not, predictable, i think so.
----
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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25.10.2022 - 00:10
Crème fraiche

Written by JoHn DoE on 24.10.2022 at 22:42

Written by Crème fraiche on 24.10.2022 at 22:29

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.


cringe, probably not, predictable, i think so.


Cringe may have been a tad bit harsh haha. I will have to check it out though!
Loading...
25.10.2022 - 10:03
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Crème fraiche on 24.10.2022 at 22:29

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.

Their old heights... I'd say no, but they reach greater heights than they have in quite a while
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
Loading...
26.10.2022 - 02:08
Crème fraiche

Written by Netzach on 25.10.2022 at 10:03

Written by Crème fraiche on 24.10.2022 at 22:29

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.

Their old heights... I'd say no, but they reach greater heights than they have in quite a while


I'll take it!!
Loading...
26.10.2022 - 16:41
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by JoHn DoE on 24.10.2022 at 22:42


cringe, probably not, predictable, i think so.

Yes, that's the short of it. It's not cringe (unlike some of their 2010s stuff) and it's generally quality music, but you won't find any surprises except possibly less disappointment depending on what you thought of the first Leviathan.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
Loading...
26.10.2022 - 16:45
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by prnzokoshiroltra on 20.10.2022 at 23:47


Beloved Antichrist was a trilogy all in itself n look how good that worked out

That album was a clear cut case of Christofer doing only what he himself wanted, with predictably unbearable results. The Leviathan trilogy is designed for each album to show a different side to the band and I'd say that thus far that's been generally true.

Written by prnzokoshiroltra on 20.10.2022 at 23:47


the other question is, can I use your bathroom? I'm gonna hurl diamonds & pearls - who gets hurt?

If you clean up after yourself, you can use my bathroom. Might have to clean up after me first, though.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
Loading...
26.10.2022 - 19:43
prnzokoshiroltra

Written by Netzach on 26.10.2022 at 16:45

Written by prnzokoshiroltra on 20.10.2022 at 23:47


Beloved Antichrist was a trilogy all in itself n look how good that worked out

That album was a clear cut case of Christofer doing only what he himself wanted, with predictably unbearable results. The Leviathan trilogy is designed for each album to show a different side to the band and I'd say that thus far that's been generally true.
Quote:


yea I liked Leviathan's 1st more than I thought I was going to last year... the ones I've heard are Theli, A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming, Vovin, Lemuria, Sirius B, Gothic Kabbalah, Sitra Ahra, Le Fleurs de Mal and ofc... Bore-Hated Fans-Die-Christ-... as in Christ-Almighty-This-Sends-Me-to-a-Dubious-Slumber - I don't easily bail out on albums - but long, unrelenting time-wasters leave me no choice

Written by prnzokoshiroltra on 20.10.2022 at 23:47


the other question is, can I use your bathroom? I'm gonna hurl diamonds & pearls - who gets hurt?

If you clean up after yourself, you can use my bathroom. Might have to clean up after me first, though.


Before I even got to your bathroom I did a 180 about-face n walked back from whence I came with great expediated pace.. dude. it smelled like a mix of Apt. 213, Elmo's Bubble Bath suds, and Spiritually-Conflicted Candles that blew themselves out in a grateful suicide.

..but! I really, really had to go... so I entered your Helluva Rest-Rhum-atoid Arthritis Inducer... in full Scuba Gear... and I opened the door and it was sparkling, immaculately clean wtf...

...well, not anymore hoo hoo ha hah
----
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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28.10.2022 - 11:05
Enissa

As always, a really enjoyable read - At this point, I was waiting for you to review this one particularly

I think I have the same notions as you when it comes to Therion; Vovin and Crowning of Atlantis were how I got introduced to them, and remain to this day, THE two staples of Therion for me, and that never changed (although Deggial and SotR come in second). Having said that, I kind of liked Leviathan, but that could mean little as the bar was set really low with the coma-inducing Beloved Antichrist. Seriously, to this day, no idea how the whole album sounds like, just fever dreams of what might have been. I also like Sitra Ahra more than Gothic Kabbalah (I know, controversial).
Now to this album: I think I see and hear your point comparing this one to Leviathan, which I can't remember anything from right this second but Tuonela (might be because of Marko). This one indeed has more variety, which is always welcome. As you said, when Christopher said this one will be more melancholic, I got more invested. Midnight Sun is the ticket tho, I wanted more like this one, reminiscent of Son Of The Sun.
Anyone got reminded of Christopher's other project Luciferian Light Orchestra while listening to this?

Quote:

.. wow, 16 years ago? Damn, that is old. Damn, Therion is old. Damn, I am old.


I felt that, deep.
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28.10.2022 - 11:06
Enissa

Written by JoHn DoE on 24.10.2022 at 22:42

Written by Crème fraiche on 24.10.2022 at 22:29

Haven't really gave them a chance since Gothic Kabbalah.. last one from their I really loved was Secret of the Runes..

Do they reach any of their old heights here? Might have to check this one out if it isn't too cringe.


cringe, probably not, predictable, i think so.


I think they maxed their cringe-o-meter with Beloved Antichrist.
Loading...
28.10.2022 - 20:10
Rating: 10
FELIX42

Im very surprised
The songs of the videos are not bad for my taste..but the other tracks really catch me
Very pleased with this album
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19.11.2022 - 19:19
Rating: 7
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Enissa on 28.10.2022 at 11:05

As always, a really enjoyable read - At this point, I was waiting for you to review this one particularly

I think I have the same notions as you when it comes to Therion; Vovin and Crowning of Atlantis were how I got introduced to them, and remain to this day, THE two staples of Therion for me, and that never changed (although Deggial and SotR come in second). Having said that, I kind of liked Leviathan, but that could mean little as the bar was set really low with the coma-inducing Beloved Antichrist. Seriously, to this day, no idea how the whole album sounds like, just fever dreams of what might have been. I also like Sitra Ahra more than Gothic Kabbalah (I know, controversial).
Now to this album: I think I see and hear your point comparing this one to Leviathan, which I can't remember anything from right this second but Tuonela (might be because of Marko). This one indeed has more variety, which is always welcome. As you said, when Christopher said this one will be more melancholic, I got more invested. Midnight Sun is the ticket tho, I wanted more like this one, reminiscent of Son Of The Sun.
Anyone got reminded of Christopher's other project Luciferian Light Orchestra while listening to this?

Quote:

.. wow, 16 years ago? Damn, that is old. Damn, Therion is old. Damn, I am old.


I felt that, deep.

Oops, was gonna and then forgot to respond to this. I think Secret Of The Runes is probably the standard I set for modern Therion (Vovin is a close second), since I don't expect them to release another Gothic Kabbalah anytime soon (but damn I love that album, double as it may be). Tuonela's success is probably partly thanks to Marko but also because it's simply the best song among a dozen others that try to fit the same bill - it's impossible to memorise them all when they're all fighting for the same spot in your memory (that of the best hit song). Taken one by one, I'm sure the songs on Leviathan (I) would have more impact, but taken as an album, all I can remember is Tuonela + a bunch of fillers...

The more classical-inspired, anthemic songs were always Therion's best aspect (like Midnight Sun) but the hard rocking songs on here work very well in tandem I think. Very good point about Lucifera Light Orchestra; Therion has more of a hard rock edge than a metal edge these days, so it's a good comparison.

Yep, we're old and getting older still. No time to waste!
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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