ALBUM REVIEW: Therion – Leviathan

Release Date: January 22nd 2021
Label: Nuclear Blast Records


Remember the concept of dying a hero before you live long enough to see yourself become the villain? Well, for all of their fantastical explorations into mythical lyrical subject matter, Therion clearly missed this lecture.

‘Leviathan’ marks the first instalment of a proposed trilogy, with second and third volumes slated for release over the next two years. It’s also the band’s seventeenth full-length offering, which is an admittedly impressive figure by any standard.

Sadly, within the first thirty seconds of the doom-spelling opening track, ‘The Leaf On The Oak Of Far’, ears are accosted with horrifically compressed, nasally vocals, the most absurdly generic riffing, and shoe-horned choral arrangements that fall heavy on the side of cheese as opposed to atmosphere.

For a group initially rooted in death metal, even taking their name from the iconic Celtic Frost record ‘To Mega Therion’, who would eventually become credited founders of the ever-prevalent scene of symphonic/operatic metal, it’s genuinely shocking how bland and uninspired this project is.

Most ensuing cuts consist of multiple vocal takes from a wide array of guests, which has been a constant in their sound since 1992’s ‘Beyond Sanctorum’. Rarely with such differing levels in quality of compression, however, has the band sounded this unsure and pandering, like a Nightwish tribute act. Cringe-inducing lyrical fodder is engulfed by plodding riffs, while grating string sections seem merely stitched into the sonic fabric with absolutely no regard for nuance or subtlety.

By the close of ‘Tuonela’, you’ve already heard enough choral section to last you an eternity. There are glimmers of substance within the album’s title-track as well as ‘Eye Of Algol’, which opens with an intriguing off-time shredder of a riff, before artificial sounding harpsicord keys and unintentionally hilarious operatic vocals bombard the senses yet again.

‘Die Wellen Der Zeit’ starts like a rejected piece from the Game Of Thrones soundtrack, before turning into pirate metal Titanic music.

Most cuts miserably slog their way to the default choral chorus, while the occasional snoozefest ballad does often arise in an attempt to break up the monotony. The end result of ‘Leviathan’ is consistently the same; plastic keys, overly animated vocals, and lyrical drivel all coalesce into a painstakingly predictable, irritating experience designed for a very select audience.

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