Friday, February 27, 2009

Therion - Theli (1996)

The one thing I’ve always loved about Therion is that they keep surprising me at almost every turn with the direction they take with their music. Theli was made soon after Lepaca Kliffoth, and showcased the band moving towards a more operatic style.

Theli achieves the interesting blend of operatic, symphonic and who knows what else that Therion is perhaps best known for. Whereas Lepaca Kliffoth was a transitional phase, Theli represents the style that Therion has morphed to, and will keep for several albums and years to follow (and since we’re talking about Therion, this means that while they remain recognizable, they sure as hell keep introducing variation into their work).

So, how about the music itself? Well, Theli is composed more or less in the form of a single work. Beginning with a prelude, stopping in the middle with an interlude and ending in a finale, the album functions as if it was the soundtrack to some fantastic opera, telling tales of strange and eldritch events. All the songs are tied to each other in some way, so as not to stand out too much. The songs retain their unique sound, and when played back to back become a grand compilation of feelings ready to carry you away to the sea of obscure magic and myth.

Identifying stand-out songs in the album is a little difficult to me, as so many of them are so very, very good. If I had to give one, which stands above all others, it would be “To Mega Therion” with its generous use of operatic female vocals and extremely dynamic structure. Like many of the songs on the album, use of peculiar melodies and Therion’s heavier roots form a glorious symbiosis in “To Mega Therion”, which is pure fuel for imagination. Other peculiarities worth mentioning include “In The Desert of Set” with its blend of nigh-middle-eastern melody, and “The Siren Of The Woods” which slows the album to a tranquil, beautiful end, before throwing one final thrill with “Grand Finale/Postludium”.

Theli is definitely worth checking out if you have a taste for strange music, and good music in general. Therion’s songs are extremely evocative, and their new direction was first showcased in Theli, making this album an interesting starting point for those who might be more averse to Lepaca Kliffoth and Therion’s earlier albums.

Verdict: Epic Win (9/10)

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