Dammit, Aurora, it's hot out here. Sink this motherfucker and let's get back to rocking.
Deggial I had ideas for a new album, but one day I woke up and felt I needed to make a Nordic concept album for some reason."
— Christofer Johnsson on the origin of Secret of the Runes
Therion is a Symphonic Metal
band from Sweden. They are considered the Trope Maker
and Trope Codifier
for the genre.
Originally formed in 1987 by bassist/vocalist Christofer Johnsson as a Death Metal
band named Blitzkrieg, they split up after only two shows but were soon reformed under the name Megatherion, after the album To Mega Therion
by Celtic Frost
. Johnsson switched from bass to guitar and the band went through some lineup changes, and the name was shortened to Therion.
The band recorded two demos, an EP, and three albums in the Death Metal
style, with their second and third albums showing some experimental tendencies, such as the inclusion of keyboards and classically-trained singers
. Their fourth album, Lepaca Kliffoth
, switched to a more Thrash Metal
-influenced style with Johnsson changing his vocal style from death growls to a higher-pitched shout. The album also featured classical singers once again and had more prominent keyboards.
Therion's fifth album, Theli
, is the point at which the band became full-blown Symphonic Metal
, with two choirs providing most of the vocals and complex keyboard parts used to simulate an orchestra. The band has continued refining this sound throughout the years, using live orchestras on most subsequent albums.
Most of Therion's lyrics deal with occultism, religion, and mythology, and are written by Thomas Karlsson, head of the occult order Dragon Rouge, of which Johnsson is a member. However, Karlsson has never been an official band member.
The band's discography is as follows:
- Paroxysmal Holocaust (demo, 1989)
- Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness (demo, 1989)
- Time Shall Tell (EP, 1990)
- Of Darkness... (1991)
- Beyond Sanctorum (1992)
- Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993)
- The Beauty in Black (single, 1995)
- Lepaca Kliffoth (1995)
- The Siren of the Woods (single, 1996)
- Theli (1996)
- A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming (compilation album featuring B-sides, covers, a re-recording of an early song, and a soundtrack Christofer composed for an art film, 1997)
- Eye of Shiva (single, 1998)
- Vovin (1998)
- Crowning of Atlantis (EP featuring unreleased songs, covers, and live tracks, 1999)
- The Early Chapters of Revelation (boxed set of first three full-length albums, 2000)
- Deggial (2000)
- Secret of the Runes (2001)
- Bells of Doom (compilation featuring rare tracks from the band's Blitzkrieg days and early Therion demos, 2001)
- Live in Midgård (2-disc live album, 2002)
- Lemuria/Sirius B (double studio album, sometimes each disc is sold separately, 2004)
- Atlantis Lucid Dreaming (Crowning of Atlantis and A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming packaged together, 2005)
- Celebrators of Becoming (boxed set with four DVDs of live shows, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage, plus two live CDs, 2006)
- Wand of Abaris/Path to Arcady (single, 2007)
- Gothic Kabbalah (two-disc studio album, 2007)
- Live Gothic (live album on one DVD and two CDs, 2008)
- The Miskolc Experience (live album on one DVD and two CDs, featuring a live orchestra, 2009)
- Sitra Ahra (Studio album, 2010)
- Les Fleurs du Mal (Studio album, 2012)
The band's current lineup is:
- Christofer Johnsson (guitars & keyboards, formerly vocals)
- Christian Vidal (guitars)
- Nalle Påhlsson (bass)
- Johan Koleberg (drums)
- Thomas Vikström (vocals)
- Lori Lewis (vocals, originally session/live only but became a full member in 2011)
Therion provide examples of the following tropes:
- Artifact Title: "The Siren of the Woods" was originally just the song's working title and has nothing to do with the lyrics.
- Audience Participation Song: The band often encourages the audience to sing the chorus of "To Mega Therion".
- The Board Game: Probably the only metal band to have one: the Fantasy/Steampunk/Norse Mythology-based 011, featuring player characters based on the band members trying to stop (or cause) The End of the World as We Know It.
- Book Ends: Les Fleurs du Mal begins and ends with two different versions of the same song (not counting the bonus track on the tour edition).
- Concept Album: Secret of the Runes and Gothic Kabbalah.
- Cover Version: Tons. The band has covered Metallica, Judas Priest, Judas Priest covering Fleetwood Mac, Thin Lizzy, Accept, Venom, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Running Wild, Loudness, Manowar, Carl Orff, ABBA, Mercyful Fate, Motorhead, WASP, the Russian National Anthem, Antonin Dvorak, Giuseppe Verdi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns, Richard Wagner, and Faith No More (as special guests with Trail of Tears).
- Les Fleurs Du Mal is an all-out cover album of French chansons and yé-yé hits from the 60s and 70s.
- Doing It for the Art: Christofer funded the recording of Les Fleurs du Mal himself when the record company wouldn't go for it.
- Epic Rocking: Numerous examples, but "Adulruna Rediviva" is the band's longest song, at over 13 minutes. "Land of Canaan", the second-longest, is ten and a half minutes.
- Everything Sounds Creepier in German: The German lyrics to "Prometheus Entfesselt" aren't exactly evil, what with them being about Prometheus in Greek Mythology giving fire to mankind and delivering them from ignorance, but the baritone singing the verses sounds creepy as hell delivering them.
- Harsh Vocals: Christofer did them when he still sang. They're still used occasionally.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Hansi Kürsch does guest vocals on "Flesh of the Gods". Sarah Jezebel Deva has performed with Therion both live and in studio.
- I Am the Band: Averted. Despite Christofer being the Face of the Band and only permanent member, the other members write songs as well.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: In addition to his standard style, former vocalist Mats Levén did some really good impersonations of Lemmy and King Diamond.
- Metal Scream: Mats Levén and Snowy Shaw are masters of this vocal style, especially live. Check out Live Gothic to see what we mean.
- Multilingual Bonus: The band's has lyrics, album titles, and song titles in English, Swedish, Greek, German, Russian, Spanish, Latin, Sanskrit, Akkadian, and Enochian.
- As of Les Fleurs du Mal, they have an entire album in French.
- New Sound Album: Lepaca Kliffoth (from Death Metal to Thrash Metal) and Theli (from Thrash Metal to Symphonic Metal).
- One of Us: Mats wears a Han Solo shirt during the Mexico City concert from Celebrators of Becoming.
- The classical singers are actually into metal as well, as they can be seen wearing metal shirts and rocking along to the band offstage on the second disc of Celebrators.
- Power Ballad: "The Siren of the Woods". Also an example of Bilingual Bonus (it's in Akkadian, although the lyrics have never been published; according to the fan club wiki this is because they're grammatically incorrect) and Epic Rocking (it's nearly ten minutes long).
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- "THE WORLD! WILL BURN! BY SOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAAATH'S! FLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!"
- "KALI MAAAAAAAAAAA! NOW IT'S THE AUTUUUUUUUUUUUUMN! OOOOOOOOF THE AEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONS!"
- Rock Opera:
- Gothic Kabbalah.
- Christofer says he's been working on a full theatrical "metal rock opera" on and off for around ten years; he's decided to make that the band's main project for the foreseeable future, which means a temporary halt to regular recording and touring.
- Signature Song: "To Mega Therion" is the main one; "Schwarzalbenheim", "Invocation of Naamah", "Blood of Kingu", and "Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah" get played live quite often as well.
- Step Up to the Microphone: A couple of the band's former drummers have done lead vocals on a few songs, both live and in the studio.
- Symphonic Metal: Obviously.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Good luck trying to figure out what Gothic Kabbalah is about without looking it up unless you happen to be familiar with the life story of seventeenth-century Swedish esotericist Johannes Bureus.note Other songs throughout their career have rather obscure mythological references.
- All things considered, the lion's share of their work is essentially a well-researched musical tour of the mythoi of the world, both ancient and modern. Varied enough to touch on some stories or characters of which listeners were thitherto unaware and educated enough to, more often than not, avoid triteness. Sirius B visits, in order, Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, the Greco-Roman myth of Persephone, Hindu death-goddess Kali, and a heavily-veiled step inside Egyptian mythology. Raise your hand if you're sufficiently familiar with all of these as to not have to look up lyrics when you hear these songs. ...Yeah, not too many out there.
- X Meets Y: Metal meets orchestra.