Therion / Luciferian Light Orchestra

Sweden’s theatrical metal troupe enthrall Islington

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If the name LUCIFERIAN LIGHT ORCHESTRA [6] suggests a Satanic ELO, then the truth is slightly heavier. Led by Therion founder Christofer Johnsson, the sound is darkly symphonic metal with hints of 70s Uriah Heep and Mk II Deep Purple. This might seem intriguing, but the reality is a little dull, although Taste The Blood Of The Altar Wine and Dante And Diabaulus offer promising quality.

THERION [8] make their intentions clear from the start. “We have no new album,” says vocalist Thomas Vikstrom. “So we are just having fun on this tour.” And for the next two hours they perform with such a sense of enjoyment, you have to believe that sentiment. Coming onstage to the classical masterpiece Also Sprach Zarathustra sets the tone. Therion certainly have musical connections to Nightwish, Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden, but they have their own sense of pomposity. On occasion they come perilously close to becoming a rock opera parody – having three operatically inclined singers can be seen as overkill – but thankfully remain the right side of the line.

Therion: keeping their promise to have fun

Therion: keeping their promise to have fun (Image credit: by Jake Owens)

There are two distinct groups here: the musicians and the vocalists. Each appears to be doing their own thing, but miraculously they coalesce. And there’s enough variation in the music to set Therion apart from others in the symphonic metal genre. Nifelheim bristles with lusty riffs, Melek Taus has a primitive stride and Black Diamond picks up an almost thrashy pace.

But there is the occasional oddity. For instance, the band only play two songs from the Draconian Trilogy – it seems incomplete without the third one – and bringing on Luciferian Light Orchestra singer Mina Karadzic for the erotically charged Mon Amour, Mon Ami seems a little daft. You’d think three frontline vocalists would be enough, but these quirks just add to the band’s allure. The highlight, though, is the majestically melodic power ballad Lemuria, which showcases a stunning vocal rendition from Chiara Malvestiti. Musically, Therion are magnificently overblown, but what they lack is the sort of stage show to really give everything a larger-than life-perspective. The ensemble should fully embrace the absurdity of what they do with a suitably theatrical setting. Still, as it stands they have everyone here in their thrall, and nobody disputes this is the sort of show to make you smile.

Malcolm Dome

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, 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. He died in 2021