Therion - Beloved Antichrist album review

Symphonic Swedes unveil a rock opera extravagance writ large

Cover art for Therion - Beloved Antichrist album

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Everyone knows rock operas should be grandiose and overblown, but even by the epic standards of such beasts, Beloved Antichrist is massive, ambitious and pompous – in the best possible sense. Inspired by Russian mystic Vladimir Soloviev’s 1900 story, A Short Tale Of The Antichrist, which foretells of religious intolerance leading to the rise of the Antichrist, this is a work Therion mainman Christofer Johnsson has been fermenting for three decades. Now, spread across three and a half hours, it has 29 vocalists and a vast choir to bring his vision to life, those voices woven into a tapestry melding metal power with classical majesty. The scope and scale of this undertaking is awesome. The uplifting yet forbidding music escalates to crescendos, then temporarily dips before rising towards the monumental climax. A work of beauty and fear, befitting the story it relates.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.