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Therion - Lemuria
Review: Probably the most "power metal" album Therion has produced, this fusion of heavy metal songwriting and styles ranging from punk through speed and death metal exemplifies what defines that niche genre. Like a fusion of Overkill and late Iron Maiden (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), it is highly operatic and dramatic like a high school production of Hamlet, but the essential musicality of Therion has been rescued from its true nadir, the execrable Lepaca Kliffoth, which attempted to fuse the simplicity of underground styles with heavy metal riffs and ended up boring most of us silly.
Really, it's unwise to even consider listening to this album unless you like power metal enough to have a cheese tolerance worthy of a French chef. It's bombastic and ludicrous like a soundtrack to a Roger Waters production of The Three Musketeers, but inside of this comedy, there's some vital heavy metal best expressed through the expert and evocative lead guitar. Unlike many metal bands, Therion seem to have made a systematic study of all past successes in glam, stadium, NWOBHM and Tolkien-inspired heavy metal; what you get as a result is simple, folk-rock adaptations of classic heavy metal riffs, and later Bathory- or Celtic Frost-style integration of choirs and keyboards, giving this music the quality of a visual production. Like distant ancestors Dead Brain Cells (DBC) and Powermad, Therion integrate death metal precision strumming into heavy metal in a form that produces fluid cadence in which the changing of notes defines an offbeat rhythm that drives the song. Of note is the cover medley "Feuer Overture/Prometheus Encore," which despite simplifying its source material preserves its beauty. While this is clearly an upgrade for heavy metal and an extension of its attention span, it is a step back from the riffcraft and involved song structures of Norwegian black metal from the early 1990s; perhaps in the future these two can be fused without losing the compositional integrity of the black metal, or the appreciable beauty and easy-listening aspects of this CD.
What makes this band intriguing is its fusion of ancient knowledges, from Phoenician to Norse to Indian to Nietzschean, in an attempt to discover a greater meaning in life than our functional, utilitarian jobs'n'shopping survival. Every generation must have its introductions to the halls of ancient learning, and as Iron Maiden must have been to the 1980s, Therion is to the now.