Therion: Les Fleurs Du Mal

Symphonic Swedes go overboard on operatics

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Nightwish did it with movie ballads and now Therion are pushing the cheese-ometer up to 11. Les Fleurs Du Mal is pure ear-wormery. We’re talking 15 reworked classic French pop songs that have been embraced by a title that comes from a controversial, 150-year-old poetry anthology. Wait, come back!

Despite what you might be thinking, this album is seriously addictive and really lives up to the Swedish band’s high standards. Bold and unashamedly brash, Les Fleurs Du Mal is an operatic power-metal project to beat all others. Admittedly, not all of the band were entirely convinced by it – vocalist Snowy Shaw only pops up on two songs – and the collective’s metal label Nuclear Blast chose not to release it, fearing that these bombastic reworkings would be too much of an acquired taste. And they weren’t wrong.

Opening with Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son, Therion lift the ludicrous 60s Eurovision winner to new heights of campness with beefy guitars and Lori Lewis’s soprano vocals. Short but explosive songs are reinterpreted with the band’s trademark melancholy and it’s all been carefully tweaked by legendary remixer Stefan Glaumann (Rammstein/Apocalyptica).

Les Fleurs Du Mal is a crazy concept but it’s paid off – this is a superbly executed album that’s a must for all fans of operatic metal.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.