Sunday, February 25, 2024

Therion @ la Machine, Paris - February 25th, 2024

With its Wagnerian cavalcades, gothic harmonies, instrumental bombast ans operatic vocals, it was always inevitable that Heavy Metal would mate with symphonic classical music. Therion was one of the first bands to successfully attempt such an ungodly alchemy over thirty years ago, straying far away from their Death Metal roots and refining a formula only hinted at by Deep Purple in the late sixties. It seems obvious now that hundreds of bands have followed suit but in the Extreme Metal scene of the early nineties, it was a small revolution.

Fast forward to 2024, and Therion, who all this time have kept releasing quality albums at a pretty steady pace, are now rightly considered originators of an entire genre. The audience attending last night's show at La Machine Du Moulin Rouge did so with a mix of trepidation and deference befitting the band's status, and when the band stormed the stage to the sound of "The Blood of Kingu," the opening track from their 2004 LP "Sirius B," it erupted into an earth-shattering roar of appreciation. The fervor wouldn't let down until they ended the encores with the 1996 classic "To Mega Therion."

In between, the band played a mix of new songs from their recent Leviathan trilogy of albums, quite a few of their tunes that have rightly become classics, and some deeper cuts from their repertoire, pleasing the die-hards and the casual fans in attendance. As an added bonus, this tour saw the return of soprano vocalist Lori Lewis, who, although she remained a full-fledged member of the band for studio duties, had retired from live performances a decade ago. 

The new touring line-up, comprised of Lori, Thomas Vikström and Rosalia Sairem on vocals, Sami Karppinen on drums, Chris David on bass, and Christian Vidal and band founder Christofer Johnsson on guitars, is a veritable war machine, relentless and powerful but also capable of emotional, delicate moments such as on "Lemuria," the title track from their 2004 album.

This being France, the covers of classic French songs by Sylvie Vartan and Marie LaforĂȘt, performed earnestly and without the slightest hint of irony, were met with knowing appreciation. Although somewhat theatrical, the performance didn't feel affected and when the lights came back on, the musicians appeared just as appreciative as the audience for an evening of audacious, genre-breaking classic Metal.

Experience or re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below
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