Therion - _Gothic Kabbalah_
(Nuclear Blast, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (7.5 out of 10)
Notwithstanding the stated intention from mainman Christofer Johnsson himself to deliver the final instalment in the trilogy begun by the release of _Lemuria_ and _Sirius B_, Therion's creative track record alone should have been enough of a hint that album number thirteen would not seek to revisit well-worn musical ground. Factor into the equation new members in the shape of Dream Evil / Mercyful Fate's Snowy Shaw and drummer Petter Karlsson -- the latter of which reportedly played a very active role in the creation of this record -- and a producer better known for his work with Europe and Def Leppard, as opposed to anything remotely extreme, and it's nothing less than a case of simple mathematics.

So it is that the latest chapter in Therion's often eccentric discography finds the band stripped almost entirely of the mammoth ensemble present throughout their last two records, leaving only a handful of guest musicians to assist in carrying a sprawling, variegated concept across two discs. Indeed, the abstraction itself is a shift away from its predecessors - still overseen by Thomas Karlsson, and in keeping with Johnsson's endless fixation on Dragon Rouge mythologies, but instead delving into the writings of Johannes Bureus, a mystic of Northern Europe.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, such details remain extraneous in the face of the record's fundamental benchmark. _Gothic Kabbalah_ is unmistakably Therion, even with tracks like "Mitternacht Lowe" being more guitar-heavy and presenting possibly Therion's most accessible work to date. "Sons of the Staves of Time" equally has producer Stefan Glaumann's commercial sensibilities fingerprinted all over it, while "The Falling Stone" is essentially straightforward power metal replete with duelling female tenors.

In theory this should provide cynics of the band with plenty of proverbial mud to sling, and if the ever-present online geek squad is anything to go by, they're already out in force. To at least partly give them their due, it would be folly to claim that _Gothic Kabbalah_ is anything like the sublime perfection of _Lemuria_ and _Sirius B_. Take into account something as epic as "Adulruna Redivivia" however, and it becomes abundantly clear that even with a clutch of artistic gaffes, Therion aren't about to plunge downwards into the caliginous depths of mediocrity either. For its faults, _Gothic Kaballah_ is a brave effort, and one which definitely won't have the band hanging their heads in shame anytime soon.


(article published 7/1/2007)

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
5/31/2004 J Smit 10 Therion - Lemuria / Sirius B
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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