Label: Hammerheart Records
Three similar bands: Nightwish/Amorphis/Celtic Frost

Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. Preludium
2. To Mega Therion
3. Cults of the Shadow
4. In the Desert of Set
5. Interludium
6. Nightside of Eden
7. Opus Eclipse
8. Invocation of Naamah
9. The Siren of the Woods
10. Grand Finale / Postludium

Christofer Johnsson – guitar, vocals, keyboards
Piotr Wawrzeniuk – drums, vocals
Lars Rosenberg – bass guitar
Jonas Mellberg – guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards

Of Darkness... (1991)
Beyond Sanctorum (1992)
Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993)
Lepaca Kliffoth (1995)
Theli (1996)
A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming (1997)
Vovin (1998)
Crowning of Atlantis (1999)
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)
Leviathan II (2022)

Dan Swanö – vocals
Jan Peter Genkel – grand piano, keyboards, programming
Gottfried Koch – keyboards, programming
North German Radio Choir:
Raphaela Mayhaus – soprano
Bettina Stumm – soprano
Ursula Ritters – alto
Ergin Onat – tenor
Joachim Gebhardt – bass
Klaus Bulow – bass
Siren Choir:
Anja Krenz – solo soprano
Constanze Arens – soprano
Riekje Weber – alto
Stephan Gade – tenor
Axel Patz – solo bass-baritone

Recorded in Studio Impuls Studio (Hamburg, Germany)
Producers: Jan Peter Genkel, Gottfried Koch, Therion
Cover by Peter Grøn

Released 2022-09-09
Reviewed 2022-11-19


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One of those well-known and influential bands that I have never really listened, I have heard a song here or there but never anything to peak my interest. Now comes the chance as Hammerheart reissues plenty of Therion albums, and I plan to write about all of those. Theli was the first I took on, it was released more than a quarter of a century ago, and was groundbreaking then, but not so much nowadays.

It is a majestic symphonic album, that focuses almost solely on being symphonic. The arrangements are grand, the songs are more like adventure movie soundtracks, or large stadium symphonic recital. There is little focus on the songs themselves, and I find it makes the album appear a little unfocused. We have some growls, some vocals, but you don’t notice them so much, kind of like the voice in many of the sludge albums, it is there but you don’t really notice. You notice the choirs, and the grand stuff, you also notice that it seems like that is what was the goal, to make symphony with metal. And if I had heard this in 1996 it would have appeared amazing and exciting, now there are just so many albums and bands that has improved this craft, and in a sense made this album irrelevant.

It is of course not irrelevant as it probably had a huge impact on the symphonic metal style, and it probably gave plenty of inspiration to succeeding bands. I come to think of bands like Epica and After Forever as such bands, along with many others of course. So, it is more of what it did than what it is that is great about this album, time hasn’t really treated Theli that well, and even as a fan back then I would probably not be that inclined to ever listen to this album. It is kind of like albums that once was amazing to me, and they still are when I think of them but never when I listen to them, albums like Rainbow’s Rising and Long Live Rock’n’Roll that have so many great songs when I think of them, but they sound disappointingly old when I listen to the albums. The same goes with Ayreon’s first two albums that was groundbreaking in the nineties but feels tired and old now. And there are many more examples, like this one.

It is nice as a background, and the surface is fine, but it is like those effect heavy movies. It is all show, but no substance. I am not saying that Theli is a poor album, it is rather good, especially if you are looking for something to have as background music when you don’t want the music to steal your attention.