Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Therion: Sitra Ahra (2010)


Therion bears the distinction of being the first true symphonic metal band, after starting in their early days as a fairly straight-forward death metal band. I've been a fan of the band for a number of years now, and I was eagerly anticipating their fourteenth full-length, Sitra Ahra. It came out this week in the US (it's been out for more than a month in Europe).

This album seems to be their most ambitious effort to date, combining many different styles beyond simply classical symphony and heavy metal. And most of the album is good. But as with many ambitious projects, sometimes the people working on it bite off more than they can chew.

The problem with the album is that they made the weaker tracks longer, and put more of the weak material up front. It's very hard to get into, and harder to keep your attention focused. Compare the best track on the album to the worst track. "Din", clocking in at 2:37 and coming in second-to-last, is by far the best track, and blends Therion's death metal roots with their symphonic metal evolution to great effect. It's also the shortest track on the album. The longest track is also the worst track: "Land of Canaan" clocks in at over 10 minutes, and comes in at track 4. It takes orchestral pomp and combines it with circus/gypsy melody, 70's prog rock, rock opera, blues harmonica, and folksy flute. If that sounds like an ungodly mess, that's because it is. I have to wonder if it's a joke at the listeners' expense.

That's not to detract from the other good material on here, like "Unguentum Sabbati" or "Kali Yuga Part 3: Autumn of the Aeons", but there's a lot here they tried to do, but couldn't do well.

The Verdict: This album is only for fans of the band or the genre. Others would be wise to pick up some of their better material, like Lemuria/Sirius B or Secret of the Runes. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


  1. I'll probably pass on this one. I liked Gothic Kabbalah, but not nearly as much as I thought I would.

  2. Good call. This is 2 in a row now where they've gone downhill, and this one is an even bigger step down.