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Therion - 'Sitra Ahra' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/66/97/9e/826_TherionSitraAhra_1290543677.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 23, 2010    
 
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An undisputed triumph of an album.

It has been three years since the genre-defying band triumphantly unleashed their monumental studio album ‘Gothic Kabbalah’, following which there have been two live packages to keep the fans happy: ‘Live Gothic’ and ‘The Miscolc Experience’.

Apart from the founding ‘father’of Therion (a band that, incidentally, he describes as “a living organism”), Christofer Johnsson (guitars, keyboards), the rest of the lineup is completely different from the one that appeared on the previous few studio albums, and now includes Christian Vidal (Guitar), Nalle "Grizzly" Påhlsson (Bass), Johan Koleberg (Drums), plus vocalists Thomas Vikström, Snowy Shaw and Lori Lewis. Quite frankly, once you add in the usual quotient of additional musicians, you do not notice the join!

’Sitra Ahra’ is no less challenging and eclectic than any Therion album that has preceded it, but therein lies the charm of any album by this brilliant juggernaut and to keep you listening intently, its (assumed) lyrical charm and puzzle has once again been provided by the extraordinary Thomas Karlsson. However, even after many, many listens to the promo I have still failed to grasp much of the lyrical content, and it frustrates me significantly that the band’s label seem to think that it is unimportant for reviewers to receive adequate information!

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Clocking in at a respectable - and not overly long - 61 minutes, this is a cocktail of many different influences, a vast array of instrumentation (some of which is undoubtedly new for a Therion album) and an even greater palette of bombastic vocal effects, styles and approaches (and just a very few seconds of the “extreme stuff” – at the beginning of ‘Din’ (so that’s appropriate then!)) The title track opens the show and this is as close to “classic” Therion as you will find on this album. It’s a mid tempo number with female and more aggressive male vocals, plus mixed choir passages along with orchestral instrumentation enhancing the metallic elements. ‘Kings Of Edom’ is chameleonic in nature with its many contrasting phases while ‘Urguentum Sabbati’ starts with strange “gurgly” vocals, but is otherwise quite a straightforward track. ‘Land Of Caanan’ is this album’s tour de force and throws more than the kitchen sink at the listener, including harmonica, accordian, harpsichord and sections reminiscent of Irish folk songs and Parisian cafes. Need I say more – except that it works wonderfully!

I don’t have space to tell you in detail about the rest of ‘Sitra Ahra’ – but you should have a good impression of what this release has to offer by now. This is an undisputed triumph of an album, impressive on so many levels, and for those of you who have never tried the band, try a gentle introduction by listening to the exquisite closing track ’After The Inquisition: Children Of The Stone’. I’m sure you will want to explore further…

Paul Jerome Smith

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