Metal opera legends Therion brought their show in support of the new three CD album (Beloved Antichrist) to Glasgow Audio, along with three supports for a night of metal, opera and craziness.
When I arrived, the first band had started. It was a very early start, with Midnight Eternal (a symphonic metal band from the USA) onstage at 6:30! Singer Raine Hilai had a very nice voice and guitarist Richard Fischer does some fine soloing, especially in the second to last track, which was, according to Raine, 9 minutes long. They were solid and a decent start to the evening.
Next up came Null Positiv from Germany. The band was led by a very tall imposing lady called Elli Berlin. She had two styles of vocals, those being guttural (with growls) mixed with a “clean” vocal at various moments. I must say, I actually thought her clean vocals were good and I would love to hear her use them more often. On one of the songs she sounded wonderfully evil; between her vocals and glares, she had me near terrified! As most of the songs appeared to be in German (which is fine), it is difficult to give names to anything song wise, but there were a couple I really quite enjoyed. She certainly has plenty of stage presence and character. With the bassist and guitarist (Tom and Martin) smiling, grinning and singing along, they are good to watch.
Main support Imperial Age came from Russia! This is truly an international touring ensemble. Having only heard one track before, via You Tube, and having liked it, I was looking forward to the set. They were very good indeed. Despite being “another” symphonic metal band, they had a twist and a style of their own, along with melodies that sounded authentic and interesting. In addition, featuring two female opera singers, like the headliners, along with an operatic frontman, they really got the crowd going.
Their last album also featured members of Therion as well as Arkona, so on this performance, along with the pedigree of those involved, the album (The Legacy Of Atlantis) looks like a must buy.
On a night where the change overs were quick and efficient, roughly 15 minutes between each act, it was typical that the last one leading up to headliners Therion would be delayed by technical issues! Those would show up again during the set a couple of times, with crackling and popping like there were connection problems. Fortunately, it didn’t upset the show to any extent.
With that brand new three CD opera to promote, the set had five songs peppered through it. As frontman Thomas Vikstrom said early doors “he (the antichrist) will be popping up through the show, so be ready”.
Out of the new tracks, “Bring Her Home”, “Night Reborn” and “My Voyage Carries On” were the pick of the bunch, with the latter being much heavier live than on the CD! Before “Bring Her Home”, singer Thomas remarked (with a big grin on his face) that “we have written an opera”, before explaining a bit about the song. The disdainful way he said “imagine being in a church” was brilliant. Definitely not a fan of the church, but when the album is called “Beloved Antichrist”, I suppose it should be no surprise.
The vocal interplay in “Nifelheim” is most impressive. Sort of like a choral or operatic Gentle Giant or in a more modern day Spock’s Beard. “Typhon” has some great operatic vocals mixed with some demonic growls. The harmonies and melody are a delight to listen to.
There are moments of real beauty, both musically and vocally. Two examples of this are “An Arrow From The Sun”, which is the perfect example of bombast, the two styles of metal and opera, with the right amount of pathos. “Lemuria” is just sumptuous, with a very graceful and emotional vocal from Chiara.
The crowd excelled themselves on “Cults Of The Shadow”, where they were led into a Freddie Mercury type singalong.
The backing musicians happily indulged in silly synchronised dancing and movement with Christian Vidal (guitar) smiling away like a Cheshire cat during “Der Mitternachstlowe” and especially on “The Rise Of Sodom”. “Rise” had the crowd absolutely bouncing.
For some reason I tend to find myself thinking of the lyrics of ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me” during the song ”Sons Of The Slaves Of Time”. There is just a melody line that is so similar. I am sure it is probably just a coincidence! Great melody though!
Finishing with “To Mega Therion”, their signature tune was obviously a good strong ending. Before the last song, Christofer Johnsson (main writer and arranger as well as guitarist) explained how Glasgow is a place he is fond of, due to the first time playing in the city. He said that there were very few folk there and those who were didn’t seem that keen or, at best, bemused by them. However he said by the end of the show the people that there were going crazy. Said it was like nothing he had experienced before. It is one of his fondest gigging memories. As you can imagine, the fans were delighted with that.
A very enjoyable evening of what is perhaps a niche market, but one that has still enough variety between the four acts to draw a good crowd and lively response throughout.
For Therion themselves, these live shows will draw more fans into the new album, as the material starts to take hold. I certainly have gone back to listening to it with renewed enthusiasm. The songs and story seem to come more to life, having a greater understanding of them.
If they do the whole album in some shows (as rumour has it), then I think they should be worth attending. Even if the closest they get to the readers of this review is on the more stripped down tour that played Glasgow, then I highly recommend going.
Note : Photos reproduced with thanks are by Imperial Age (in Glasgow) and Therion (both from a previous show, with the first one by Robert Sutton Photography and the second by Artur Tarczewski).