It might not be as important to the Celtic Frost/Hellhammer legacy as its immediate predecessors, but To Mega Therionis still a fine work of metal 30 years (and four days) after its release. Many early underground metal recordings are noted for stripping their musical content to a bare minimum of function and simultaneously exploring new methods of arrangement and songwriting. To Mega Therion, on the other hand, takes a step towards refining the new standard, with more elaborate instrumentation, production, and songwriting than the EPs that came before it. It’s still more restrained in its aesthetic exploration than anything else Celtic Frost released, but listeners can easily hear how some of the more obvious experiments here (timpani, occasional female vocals, etc.) anticipate elements that would become fixtures in the band’s later works, and furthermore in the plethora of subgenres to follow.
Therion are busy making final preparations to celebrate their 25th year anniversary of the band and to release the new album “Les Fleurs du Mal” (Preorder: $18) during the tour. The tour is going to include 26 cities.
(Stockholm, September 2012) – Up to this moment, none of the songs have been made public. From Friday September 28th on, Therion is going to introduce it for the first time to their fans during their “Flowers Of Evil” 25th year anniversary concert tour.
The album “Les Fleurs du Mal” is a part of an art project that Christofer Johnsson has been thinking about for some years.
“The time was never right for it, but in celebration of the band’s 25th year anniversary, I thought now will finally be the right time for it,” Christofer Johnsson explains.
There are still many details that are unknown about this mystical art project, and so far only the album title “Les Fleurs du Mal” of Therion’s upcoming release can be officially announced.
The album title refers to Charles Baudelaire’s (French author and poet 1821 – 1867) famous poem collection “Flowers of Evil” (“Les Fleurs du Mal” in French) that caused such an upset of emotions in France that the author was brought to court and got fined for “insulting the public” with six of the poems, that remained forbidden in France until 1949 when the ban was finally lifted. The spirit of the project is a tribute to Baudelaire, and is imbued into both music and artwork. The album was recorded at Adulruna studio, located in a separate building next to Johnsson’s decadent “Villa Adulruna” where the band lived together while recording.
Christofer states that this art project: “Was being too controversial for Therion’s label, Nuclear Blast Records, by the final results, so I asked if it was possible to buy back the master tapes of the record and release it on my own label. And after some negotiations, my wish was granted.”
“But Therion of course is still signed to Nuclear Blast Records for future releases,” Christofer clarifies.
By having full control of the release now, Christofer has decided to do everything his own way, and starts by releasing the album to the loyal fans first that come to the concerts in Europe during Therion’s 25th Anniversary “Flowers of Evil” tour.
The album will of course also be officially released and distributed at a later stage to everyone who is not able to attend any of the shows, and will also be available through licenses to the territories outside of Europe.
Christofer explain that “This is the beginning of a new period that will last for a number of years, where the band will focus on doing certain projects performed by Therion rather than releasing regular albums. In the planning after the art project is a rock opera that is scheduled to take several years to complete.”
Now during Therion’s “Flowers of Evil” and the band’s 25th anniversary tour the audience can expect a classy performance which combines all the elements which have been the key to Therion’s success throughout the years.
Below is the schedule of the upcoming Therion tour dates.
Therion – “Flowers of Evil” – Tour 2012
Date Country City -Venue
28.09.2012, Holland Eindhoven – Effenaar
29.09.2012, Holland Groningen -Oosterpoort
30.09.2012, Belgium Antwerp – TRIX
01.10.2012, France Paris – Bataclan
02.10.2012, France Rennes – Antipode
04.10.2012, Spain Madrid – Heineken
05.10.2012, Spain Barcelona – Razzmatazz 2
06.10.2012, Spain Bilbao – Rock Star
07.10.2012, France Toulouse – Bikini
09.10.2012, France Lyon – Transbordeur
10.10.2012, Switzerland Pratteln – Z7
11.10.2012, Italy Trezzo d Adda – Live Club
12.10.2012, Germany Glauchau – Alte Spinnerei
13.10.2012, Czech Republic Zlin – Masters of Rock Cafe
14.10.2012, Czech Republic Prague – DK Vltavska
15.10.2012, Poland Krakow – Club Studio
16.10.2012, Poland Warsaw – Stodola
17.10.2012, Hungary Budapest – Club 202
19.10.2012, Romania Bucharest – Arenele Romane Tent
The CD has 15 tracks, but the edition sold at the concerts will have a bonus track and you will get a small poster with it. My aim is to sign and personally dedicate every single one of them at the shows.
The CD itself is fully financed by me. Nuclear Blast thought it was a bit too spectacular and we have totally different visions about how we should work on such a project. I’ve had a fantastic relationship with that wonderful label over the years. I’ve had total artistic freedom and much patience from them in a way that most other artists at our level only could dream of at many labels. So rather than having disagreements and make compromises, I suggested I release it by myself instead and they generously gave me their blessings for it. So our relation has never been better than now.
Financing a full Therion audio production mixing at ToyTown with the fantastic Stefan Glaumann, paying for orchestra and the Band members and many, many other things isn’t cheap. To be more precise, it cost 75.000 euro. On top of that I also carried costs for video clips, photo session and the costs for creating the art and stuff for the CD. I don’t have that kind of cash lying around in a drawer at home, so I had to go to the Bank and take a loan. I have always bragged about how I never compromise and am ready to risk everything with each release. It’s easier to say that when you have a record label being a bank for you. This time I had to put my money where my mouth is. So if you buy the CD, you don’t just buy a record with music, you buy a share of an idea, the idea and concept of art where the artist really risks everything to be able to bring out what he wants. Some of you will like the CD, some maybe not. But if you feel that I’ve done something worth raising a toast to over the years, there will be no better way of showing your appreciation than buying this CD. It will be sold at 15 euros and I hope the majority of those going to the shows will walk home with it after the shows.
I’ve been called risky and more crazy than usual with my ideas for this art project, by some of those very few who have been initiated into the mysteries of it. Even within the Band there has been quite some strong feelings about it. And clearly the record label didn’t think they had a smash hit in their hands. This pretty much reminds me about the feeling when Theli was recorded. I recall the record label saying: “Do you really think we can sell this? What will your fans say?”. But they didn’t have much other choice than releasing it and hope for the best. They had just invested more money in the sound production than with any other Band in the history of the label – on a Band that didn’t sell many records. But there were people at the label who really liked it too and carefully believed in it. Like the boss Marcus Steiger. But in the Band the atmosphere was really bad. The bass player Lars hated it to the core. “Fucking opera shit!!”. The guitarist Jonas didn’t like it either, it was “too much classical stuff and opera, should have been just some small elements of it as a spice”. Drummer Piotr kind of liked it, but thought it as kind of odd and didn’t have too much hope for it (just like myself, who thought it would flop too). But it turned out to be the album that made Therion a big band.
This time at least half of the Band thinks it’s great stuff and believe in it. But now I’m risking my own money and not the record labels. When I took the decision of borrowing money and release it myself, I was officially declared out of order in the head by some people familiar with the matter. Well, we will see about that. When a fan buy a CD directly from a band it counts as if they bought 10 CD’s at the store released via a record label. With loyal fans buying many CD’s at the concerts, a big part of the production costs will be recovered.
Being dissatisfied with creating what might be called a pinnacle of death metal in Beyond Sanctorum (an undertaking that for all its immersive grandeur and epic legends never felt entirely comfortable within the genre), Therion mastermind Christofer Johnsson embarked upon a massive crusade in pursuit of an album that successfully integrated a symphonic revelry into a metal foundation. While others, including Mr. Johnsson himself, might disagree, it is the opinion of this reviewer that, having toiled for over fifteen years in this particular effort, Therion finally achieved the full extent of its aim in ‘Gothic Kabbalah’, and album that we not only deem to be the single best record of the past record, but also the most inventive, most ingenious accomplishment to emerge from a band no longer affiliated with the original death metal framework.
Once the listener can eventually penetrate the deeper meanings of Gothic Kabbalah, which can require a great deal of time and concentration due to the sheer immensity of its vision, he is likely to be struck by how purposeful the music seems. Every track sets out an individual lyrical theme (all lyrics written by the studious Thomas Karlsson), and the composition as a whole (not merely the vocals) actually reflects the corresponding theme as it should always do. This is where truly excellent music will unfailingly show its quality: the imaginative vision of the artist, whether the intent be conscious or not, is sublimely displayed in the overall thematic unity of the album, in both conceptual and strictly musical dimensions, as well as in an intricate understanding of precisely what the artist wishes to create, and of course of the tools that he is working with.
In Gothic Kabbalah, we are entranced by a composition that sings and dances fluidly in a notable contrast to the relatively plodding movements that characterize some of the earlier records. A full sense of the album’s strong self-awareness is manifested by an easy alliance between some convincing, eccentric vocals, plenty of nimble solos and delicate melodies, and a deeply visceral performance by a devoted rhythm section; taken as a whole, the instrumentation is perfectly charismatic. This does not altogether give the impression of being a fun, careless endeavour to entertain guests around a campfire; the album does, however, address some perennial subjects with a certain seriousness that graces them with an unmistakable aura of authenticity, all the while doing so with a natural easiness that only reinforces the sense of sincerity.
What makes this, Therion’s ninth album, especially remarkable is not that it approaches arcane material in the hope of evoking something real and mystical; previous albums have evidently been produced in this very eagerness. No, what makes Gothic Kabbalah special is that it actually accomplishes the invocation of a strong esoteric presence in a musical fabric that goes far beyond the aesthetical, something which the albums prior could never do. The true moments of greatness on this record are found wherever the shocking light of revelation pierces through the veil of the myth and of the occult; whereas Therion were previously content to simply demonstrate the shapes and the outlines of the old legends, ‘Gothic Kabbalah’ cannot cease until it has transcended them altogether!
Now, it is quite clear that Therion have indeed managed an artistic representation of a wondrous realm in Esoterism, and have made it come alive therein; what is especially remarkable, however, is how the many different mythic strands that the albums touches on are eclipsed by a strong recurrence to the specifically Hellenic idea of the ‘Sophia Perennis’, or of the universal idea of the ‘Eternal Wisdom’. Just as a decidedly bombastic classical music has melded with a more crudely defined death metal background, as well as with other styles besides, so too have the various topics respectful to esoterism conformed to the overriding aim for the beautiful Sophia. So, while the cryptic meaning of the pair of terms Gothic Kabbalah still escapes us, the meaning of this album has not: it is the soulful execution of a vision set squarely upon the sun and the heavens above, and as such it is the perfect transition from a typically death metal perception that stares perpetually into a deep, long, and fiery abyss.
As we predicted at the close of last year, a storm of power metal is coming at last and replacing the soon to be dead genre of post-metal. With beta-male hipsters turning toward retro rehashes of classic metal they are at last abandoning the pretentious nasalings of post metal. Let us rejoice in the death of post-black metal!
With Fridays becoming the new Tuesdays for metal releases (for reasons unbeknownst), let’s turn our attention to the next meaty drop of 2018 extreme metal. (more…)
“Dude, their demos were so much better” is one of the most obnoxious cliches of underground metal. Usually a sign of virtue signaling used to mask one’s insecurities about their knowledge or taste, many lost souls of a nostalgia-obsessed age will use this one as a pale attempt to one up their brethren. However in many cases within metal’s sonic sphere, bands that were truly fantastic on their early demos left much to be desired and ultimately left listeners unfulfilled. Whether it be a record company’s influence, a change in heart or band members, or a touch of genius quickly fumbled away, may bands throughout the history of metal have never quite been able to match the quality of their demo recordings.
With death metal built on an entire sub culture of tape trading, demos were more than a proverbial foot-in-the-door to a potential record deal. For musicians of the genre’s early days, the demo was the equivalent to having your record in the store- it was being shipped all around the world to fans desperate for something they couldn’t find in shops and to musicians hungry for new ideas. Furthermore, a band’s demo was untainted by the direction and input of record labels who, in those days, quite often suppressed what was deemed “too weird” or “too extreme” as death metal was often determined by the suits of those days. Tape trading death metal demos was an underground of its own, and your band’s demo tape wasn’t just a pathway to commercialization or musical success- but a often the start of new friendships in a rapidly globalizing world. Given all of these unique factors, it’s no surprise death metal was full of bands who could never quite capture the magic of their demos.
To offer a complete list would be a dishonor and disservice to the legions of quality works that fall under this umbrella. Therefore in today’s editorial, I will briefly offer a handful of my personal favorite death metal demos from bands that could never quite capture the magic. Though I pay little mind to what happens in our comment sections, this will mark a special occurrence where I’d be delighted to know what DMU’s readers would have on this list.
In a recent blog post, Celtic Frost vocalist/guitarist Tom G. Warrior has publicly disowned BMG’s upcoming double CD reissues of his band’s best output, Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion, and the more pandering and spotty Into the Pandemoniumand Vanity / Nemesis. The embarrassing Cold Lake was omitted at Warrior’s request. While initially on board with the reissues and involved with the creative process, Tom Warrior has abandoned ship because the commercial mega-label BMG refused to print his linear notes as he intended. This blatant censorship was a means of preserving the integrity of the Noise Records liquid assets purchased by the label but had inadvertently overwhelmed the Cold Laker with a plethora of painful flashbacks of the corporate influence that plagued Celtic Frost throughout its existence.
As part of our Retro Reviews series, DMU looks into one of those classic bands that was on every Gen X death metal fan’s shelf, but probably never made it out for repeated playing after the early 1990s. Some bands just seem to fade… into the background.
Before lapsing into embryonic death ’n’ roll on their second LP False (1992), Gorefest were among the earliest Dutch proponents of solid bread-and-butter death metal with a sense of melodic contour joining the many rhythm riffs into coherent songs which reach a point of focus in their cycles, forcing re-interpretation of its parts. The early style more or less complete on their demo recordings was brought to a fuller and more refined form on the 1991 debut album Mindloss.
2016 is over. The funderground mentality continued spreading forth, infesting metal over the last year just the same as it had in the decades past the genre’s artistic high-point in the early nineties. Rehashes of past greats pandering to a lowest common denominator audience continue to dominate the release schedules of metal labels all too willing to please the lemmings with music fit to safely ignore during drunken socializing. Ever-flowing streams of posers are desperate to be rock stars, pumping out plagiarism, and paying their way to record deals. File sharing and streaming reducing the cost of hearing new music to essentially nothing has led fans to constantly consume whatever is new regardless of quality. However the purging is at last at hand. The day of doom is here. The filth who have lied and corrupted the underground must be cleansed while the commendable elite few will remain.
Ananku is a term from the Tamil language describing the otherworldly and awesome power of sublime natural places and objects to overwhelm mankind into submission to their will by merely the perception of them. Jarno Nurmi of Serpent Ascending accomplishes this musically on his album of the same name by composing harmonized heavy and black metal style leads atop a death metal rhythmic basic into occult blackened narratives. Riffs are phrased and repeat to numerologically unfold, revealing profound and novel melodic leads as if the petals of a flower gradually blooming into gnostic truth when bathed in unconquered light.