Therion – Live Gothic (Nuclear Blast Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Not on the scale of 2006’s massive Celebrators of Becoming 4-DVD, 2-CD set, Live Gothic is scaled down to two discs and a DVD of the live show. Shot during the band’s Gothic Kaballah tour in early 2007 in Warsaw, Poland,Live Gothic serves as a fitting reminder of how well-stocked the band’s repertoire is, but also is the last salvo from what is arguably Therion’s finest lineup in their 20 year-plus history.

If anything, this could serve as a veritable Greatest Hits package, as the tracklisting is nearly flawless. Shot in front of a sold-out crowd and culling largely from the beyond-godly Lemuria/Sirius B albums, there is nary a bump in the song selection. Highlighted by “The Blood of Kingu,” “Wine of Aluqah,” “Ginnungagap,” and perpetual staple “To Mega Therion,” Live Gothic reveals a band at the very top of the symphonic metal heap.

Intrinsic to Therion’s sound are the backing singers, who on this particularshow/tour were Snowy Shaw (ex King Diamond, Dream Evil), Mats Levin (Yngwie), and the two female sopranos, Katrina Lilja and Lori Lewis. All four handle the vast Therion catalog with ease, especially Lilja and Lewis who have the daunting task of replicating what is usually a vast female choir. Levin is the preferred male singer, as his biting classic metal rasp is welcome on “Son of the Slaves of Time.”

Visually, the nine-member ensemble makes good use of the stage with Lilja and Lewis portraying seductive, yet stoic songstresses, while Shaw and Levin hit the stage like madmen. Some minor effects like candles and medieval-themed fences were also inserted to add to the aura.

As noted earlier, this set is bittersweet, for mainman Christofer Johnsson recently let go of guitarist Kristian Niemann and his brother Johan, two cogs in what is perhaps Therion’s most successful decade. It will be interesting to see how Johnsson forges ahead without the Niemann’s, as they were top-notchmusicians and vital contributors.

Therion are without argument, symphonic metal touchstones with a catalog ofsongs that is nearly insurmountable. In the live arena, the band is even better and Live Gothic is a joy for old fans and the perfect gateway into one of metal’s most creative and expansive acts.

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