Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Therion - Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993)

I'll never forget hearing this album for the first time. I was on my way back from Phoenix Records in Waturbury, CT (R.I.P.) and I had just picked this up along with Mortician's 'Mortal Massacre' and Cannibal Corpse's 'The Bleeding' which had just come out. It took me about one whole minute to realize that something was terribly wrong. The Therion I had known and loved had officially undergone a sex-change operation and busted out of the closet clad in pink boas and wielding purple dildos. I was mortified.

The greatest offense committed here by FAR are the vocals. Prior to this release Cristofer Johnsson was easily one of my favorite growlers. His Celtic Frost inspired "ooh's" are perhaps even greater and more powerful than the master himself, Tom Warrior. Seriously! On this album, however, I don't know WHAT the fuck happened. Apparently the bottom gave out because these are just fucking weak, and it's not like my Man was all of a sudden channeling Thom Yorke or something, I mean these are still death metal vocals but they sound like they were delivered by someone who dropped by the studio after a full week of being throatfucked by nigger savages. I was shocked.

Musically, this sounds like the next logical step downward from the band's last album 'Beyond Sanctorum'. I wouldn't say that it's a straight up nosedive but it certainly aint no improvement either. Crissy'fur and company had basically strapped on their tights and were venturing further into that chasm otherwise known as the butthole of metal -aka- symphonic metal. The catch being that they weren't terribly good at it during this time so anything that may otherwise have been salvageable just sounds downright awkward or bland. This trait would reach a fever pitch on the band's next two albums (Lepaca Klifoth and Theli) before they reached the black belt level of symphonic faggery.

One thing I cannot take away from this album is the stellar artwork from iconic go-to Swede, Kristian (Necrolord) Whalin.

Jokes aside, I actually do not mind this album all that much. Therion was such a huge favorite of mine early in their career that, for many years, I did my best to brush aside any notion that I may have had that they had utterly "lost it". Even though their next album would see them spiralling further on down the rabbit-hole, I do consider that to be their very last "decent" release.

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