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Music / Therion

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"Right after 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. They are also considered one of the Trope Codifiers for Avant-Garde Metal.

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 and Celtic Frost-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:

    Studio Albums 
  • Of Darkness... (1991)
  • Beyond Sanctorum (1992)
  • Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993)
  • Lepaca Kliffoth (1995)
  • Theli (1996)
  • Vovin (1998)
  • Deggial (2000)
  • Secret of the Runes (2001)
  • Lemuria (2004)
  • Sirius B (2004)
  • Gothic Kabbalah (2007)
  • Sitra Ahra (2010)
  • Les Fleurs du Mal (2012)
  • Beloved Antichrist (2018)
  • Leviathan (2021)

    Demos, Singles, EPs, and Splits 
  • Paroxysmal Holocaust (1989)
  • Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness (1989)
  • Rehearsal (1990)
  • Time Shall Tell (1990)
  • The Beauty in Black (1995)
  • Siren of the Woods (1996)
  • Eye of Shiva (1998)
  • Lemuria / Sirius B (2004)note 
  • Wand of Abaris (2006)
  • Les Sucettes (2013)
  • Classical Goes Metal (2014)note 
  • Les Épaves (2016)note 

    Compilations and Boxed Sets 
  • A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming (1997)note 
  • Crowning of Atlantis (1999)note 
  • The Early Chapters of Revelation (2000)note 
  • Bells of Doom (2001)note 
  • Lemuria / Sirius B (2004)note 
  • Atlantis Lucid Dreaming (2005)note 
  • Order of the Dragon (2017)note 

    Live Albums and Videos 
  • Live in Midgård (2002)
  • Live in Mexico (2006)
  • Celebrators of Becoming (2006)note 
  • Live Gothic (2008)
  • The Miskolc Experience (2009)
  • Adulruna Rediviva and Beyond (2014)note 
  • Garden of Evil (2015)note 

The band's current lineup is:

  • Christofer Johnsson - rhythm guitar (1987-present), vocals (1987-2006), bass (1987, 1992), keyboards (1992-present)
  • Christian Vidal - lead guitar (2010-present)
  • Nalle Påhlsson - bass (2008-present), rhythm guitar (2016-present, studio only)
  • Sami Karppinen - drums (1998-2001, 2017-present)
  • Thomas Vikström - lead vocals, flute (2009-present)
  • Lori Lewis - vocals (2011-present)
  • Linnéa Vikström - vocals (2011-present)
  • Chiara Malvestiti- vocals (2015-present)

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).
  • Call-Forward: "Mitternachtlöwe" has a verse about the "Three Treasures", a later song on the same album.
  • 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, Motörhead, WASP, the Russian National Anthem, Antonín Dvořák, 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.
  • 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.
  • Genre Mashup: Metal meets orchestra.
  • Harsh Vocals: Christofer did them when he still sang. They're still used occasionally.
  • Heavy Mithril: As most of their songs focus on mythological themes, they definitely count.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: "Birth of Venus Illegitima" takes a tale and a goddess from Classical Mythology and weaves in explicitly Christian concepts of sin, sexuality, paradise and Hell.
  • I Am the Band: Averted. Despite Christofer being the only permanent member, the other members write songs as well.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: "Son of the Sun" is about Pharaoh Akhenaten's attempt to replace the Egyptian gods with monotheistic sun-worship, and his ultimate failure and descent into madness as his god abandons him.
  • 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).
  • 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!:
  • 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; Beloved Antichrist is now complete and was released in February 2018.
  • 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: Therion started as a Death Metal band, but its style shifted gradually towards symphonic metal, with Theli usually considered their first symphonic metal album. As this page's introduction says, Therion is considered one of the genre's Trope Codifiers.
  • Tragedy: "Son of the Sun" is about Akhenaten's attempt to elevate the Sun as the only god above the traditional Egyptian gods, and how this led to his descent into despair and madness.
  • 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.