by Kev Rowland
There have been many attempts to blend rock with operatic styles over the years, with ‘Tommy’ being widely regarded as one of the most successful, but in truth that was much more of a rock musical than a real opera. Here Therion, or more accurately Christofer Johnsson, have created a three-disc, three-act opera, lasting somewhat over three hours. With some thirty singers, there are times when the music is opera, with or without some metallic influences, while at others it is more like symphonic metal. Overall, one has to say that it is an incredible achievement, totally subsuming metal into an operatic setting, and I am sure that they are incredibly proud of their achievements. It has worked so well that this is going to be performed in its entirety at various opera houses around Europe. There’s only one problem for me, I don’t like opera.
I can appreciate how clever this is, and if any band can claim to have moved more musically than Opeth it has to be Therion, but I just don’t like it. True, it has been well recorded, the production and sound are great, and the layers are rich and complex, but while there are a few songs such as “Never Again” which I enjoyed, they are very different to the album as a whole. I kept checking to see if the album was nearly finished, not initially realizing that there are 46 songs here!
There are going to be many who acclaim this as an incredible work, and in many ways, I agree with that statement, but just because it is incredible doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy it. When the album finished I had to wash out my ears with some Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Napalm Death just to feel cleansed and ready to face the next one. Yes, this is a true metal opera or even an opera with metallic tendencies, but it just isn’t for me and I wonder how many of their fans will feel the same?