The return of symphonic metal titans Therion could have not been more triumphant as Christofer Johnsson has been working meticulously on the magnum opus “Beloved Antichrist” for many years. This is not a typical symphonic metal album as “Beloved Antichrist”, loosely inspired by Vladimir Soloviev’s philosophical Russian novel “Short Tale Of The Antichrist”, is properly structured like a classical opera divided in three acts therefore the listeners will experience the grandeur and passionate performance just like they would in the context of a live opera in an old fashioned theater. In fact, Christofer plans to create a revolutionary live stage performance as this rock opera is designed to be presented in opera houses. On this exciting music endeavor featuring 30 different vocal roles and a playing time of over three hours, Christofer is joined by all Therion’s members and many utterly amazing vocalists.
The first act begins with “Turn From Heaven” which brings melodic warmth as well as epic vibes with luminous kaleidoscopic orchestral arrangements and solemn choirs while sharp guitar riffs certainly add a traditional metal attitude.
On “Where Will You Go?” guitars maintain a pleasant crunchy riffing that is seamlessly entwined with charismatic operatic vocals & choirs and absolutely lavish orchestrations that will soon acquire mysterious tonalities.
“Signs Are Here” amplifies the spellbinding classical inspiration behind this opera with refined orchestrations that flawlessly shift from graceful atmospheres to excitingly sumptuous moments and the amazing operatic vocals & choirs channel additional symphonic grandeur.
“Bring Her Home” features stunning delicate orchestral tapestries that flawlessly embrace various more metal oriented moments skillfully built by cohesive rhythmic guitar patterns that provide groovy layers on which impeccable female & male operatic duets add stunning dramatic tones.
“Garden Of Peace” is filled with ethereal atmospheric layers and soft guitar harmonies while enchanting operatic duets contribute to enhance a tragic essence typical of a classical live opera.
“Our Destiny” is another magical moment where simply groovy guitar & drums dynamics contribute to create a steady cohesive rock approach while subtle lavish orchestrations feel particularly inspiring depicting a sincere emotional palette enriched by lovely melodic guitars.
The beautiful elegance of the melodic passages of “Nothing But My Name” evokes peaceful soundscapes with impressive sonic clarity, melancholy infused symphonic accents and intense vocal delivery.
The second act starts with “The Arrival Of Apollonius” where otherworldly operatic vocals and intense choirs continue to hold a dominant role softly surrounded by captivating multifaceted orchestrations and even if guitars tend to stay in the background they do provide a strong rhythmic backbone and occasional melodic accents.
On “Night Reborn” guitars take the center stage to deliver a tight ensemble of sharp riffs while diverse operatic vocals featuring male soloists and opulent choirs keep alive a classical vibe surrounded by rich symphonic textures.
“Dagger Of God” begins with lovely sorrowful piano melodies soon accompanied by shimmering melodic guitars and radiant soprano vocals resulting in a deeply melancholic composition.
Grave operatic male vocals on “Temple Of New Jerusalem” solemnly introduce a catchy rhythmic ensemble of familiar rock/metal grooves with mid pace guitar riffs and a flamboyant solo that often display ‘80s vibes.
The magnificent atmospheres of “The Lions Roar” ensure a strong impact also with the contribution of the expected glorious symphonic elements mixed to the metal edge of guitar riffs and superb operatic choirs.
“Behold Antichrist” has a wicked essence matched by a wonderful theatrical vocal approach that definitely enhances the live opera style but also features a series of super catchy guitar riffs & eclectic melodic progressions.
With a gloomy mood “Astral Sophia” features familiar elements of symphonic metal with darkened atmospheric nuances always embellished by delightful soprano vocals and intense guitar riffs enriched by a somber male operatic performance.
The third and final act starts with “Shoot Them Down!” which is evidently influenced by classic ‘80s metal and focuses on easy guitar driven grooves mixed with a wide variety of vibrant classical operatic vocals.
“Beneath The Starry Skies” starts with strong bass lines and wistful atmospheric layers but soon picks up speed to build another round of entertaining mix of metal grooves and classical finesse.
“Burning The Palace” feels almost furious with thunderous drumming and fiery guitar riffs yet the exquisite soprano delivery brings a sophisticated aura and the subtle orchestrations evoke gloomy soundscapes.
“Day Of Wrath” channels immediately an understated opulence with the flawless operatic splendor of vocals and the refined melodic tapestries created by melancholia infused instrumental passages that can evoke mystical vibes as well as surreal atmospheres.
“My Voyage Carries On” is filled with mesmerizing melodies but also showcases powerful symphonic metal grooves always embellished by stylish instrumental variations and dazzling classical accents.
“Theme Of Antichrist” shines for the baroque allure that influences the whole instrumentation as inflamed metal oriented rhythmic dynamics are carefully mixed with absolutely dramatic vocals and intricate melodic textures ending with monumental choirs.
“Beloved Antichrist” certainly showcases the primary aspects of the creative symphonic metal essence that characterize Therion’s previous releases yet for some listeners it might be too lengthy or not metal enough, indeed it would be challenging to find time to listen often to the entire album, but nobody could ever doubt that mastermind Christofer Johnsson with absolute fervor and rare dedication has crafted what will be remembered as the most majestic album in the history of metal.