Therion - _Lemuria / Sirius B_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (10 out of 10)
It's been nearly ten years since the first issue of Chronicles of Chaos swept across the pornography emporium that is cyberspace, and while we have never claimed to be the world's harshest critics, there have been comparatively few bands who in the time since then have managed to achieve a perfect score. Even rarer still have been instances of a band being awarded this elusive honour for more than one album. Therion are an exception however, boasting not one, not two, but three flawless records, underlining the fact that here at CoC Central, there clearly exists a consensus view that in his fifteen year career as the band's leader and main songwriter, Christofer Johnsson has been doing something right.

Still, in measuring the quality of Therion's tenth effort one must look to the evolution of the band's discography and the gradual decline in quality displayed on the likes of _Deggial_ and _Secret of the Runes_. While these releases weren't nearly the overblown, self-indulgent puff-pieces their detractors made them out to be, they did fail in many respects to live up to the daunting standards etched out by their predecessors, in particular those achieved on the band's breakthrough opus, _Theli_. Taking this into account, one might therefore almost have considered the possibility that once seemingly bottomless pool of Johnsson's creativity was about to run dry. Of course, seeing as how _Lemuria / Sirius B_ is about to achieve a record-setting fourth perfect ten, you'd have been wrong.

Nine months in the making and featuring the contribution of some 171 musicians (yes, that's right), the _Lemuria / Sirius B_ double album is admittedly a band effort. Johnsson, along with Kristian and Johan Nieman and producer Lars Nissen have created a double-headed beast that quite frankly renders this review redundant after the first ten minutes of play. It takes ideas that were hinted at on _Theli_, _Vovin_ et al and elevates them to the nth degree, but such is the scale of this opus that these form only a part of its dense sonic tapestry. To aptly describe its sound would see one combing virtually the entire musical spectrum. Woven into the rich soundscapes that form the album are elements of opera, classical and neo-classical, progressive rock, folk, and jazz, all augmented to levels unheard of anywhere else. Similarly _Lemuria / Sirius B_ is a markedly heavier record. Where more recent efforts may have forsaken the harsher side of music, _Lemuria / Sirius B_ restores it to its former glory, and in this instance, Johnsson has stepped up to the plate and pushed himself to extremes that were last seen on the band's earliest demos -- even bringing back the odd death metal vocal.

In further listing its strengths, I could probably spend several more paragraphs analysing this album and honestly, if I were to do that, I'd more than likely find fitting superlatives in short supply. At the same time, it is very hard, if not impossible to find a flaw on this record. Every song is virtually note-perfect from start to finish, and in this sense, it is an effort that is able to not only equal its ambition, but one that ultimately ends up transcending mere musical expression, to become pure art.


(article published 31/5/2004)

1/7/2007 J Smit Therion: In the Nightside of Eden
12/31/2004 J Smit Therion: The Dragon Breaks Down the Temple Wall
3/5/2000 A Bromley Therion: Soothing Opera... to Kill by
9/1/1998 A Bromley Therion: Eloquent Emotions
8/12/1997 A Wasylyk Therion: Melancholic Musical Masters
1/7/2007 J Smit 7.5 Therion - Gothic Kabbalah
1/14/2002 B Meloon 7 Therion - Secret of the Runes
3/5/2000 P Azevedo 8 Therion - Deggial
6/15/1999 A Wasylyk 7 Therion - Crowning of Atlantis
6/7/1998 P Azevedo 10 Therion - Vovin
8/12/1997 A Wasylyk 7 Therion - A' Arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming
10/11/1996 A Bromley 10 Therion - Theli
9/2/1995 G Filicetti 10 Therion - Lepaca Kliffoth
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