Therion – The Miskolc Experience (Nuclear Blast Records)

Saturday, 16th March 2013

Only fitting that Christofer Johnsson and co. team up with a full-sized orchestra. Take that, S&M-era Metallica! But seriously, as the last proper release with the now-departed Niemann brothers (Kristian and Johan; guitars and bass respectively) The Miskolc Experience fulfills a career-long ambition of Johnsson and is a fitting segue into the next era of the band.

Comprised of three discs (two live, one DVD), The Miskolc Experience is essentially Therion teaming up with the Miskolc Orchestra in Hungary for renditions of classical songs by the likes of Wagner, Dvorak and Mozart, along with nine Therion songs.

Disc one (titled Classic Adventures) starts with a heart-wrenching version of “Clavicula Nox,” which first appeared on 1998’s Vovin album. With the orchestra leading the way, the song is stripped of its metal-nature and is worked over into a cinematic, emotional piece. From there, the band and orchestra take stabs at familiar classical works, highlights including Mozart’s “Dies Irae” and Wagner’s “Overture from Rienzi.”

Disc two is mightily underwhelming, due to the lackluster song selection. Only the mighty “Blood of Kingu” and “Lemuria” (both from Lemuria/Sirius B) expand upon the original. Obscure cuts like “Eternal Return” and “Via Nocturna” fail to translate with the orchestra, which is a surprised given just how orchestratedTherion’s songs are.

Rounding out the set is disc three, which contains documentary of the experience, along with concert footage from a show in 2006.

Now that the band has flooded the market with live albums (last year’s Live Gothic covered a lot of what was covered here, sans orchestra), it’s time for another studio album, which should see the light of day in 2010. Minus the Niemanns, it’s going to be a daunting task, but Johnsson is one tough Swede to write off…

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