Nuclear Blast Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's not often I have to do a double-take on a disc I'm listening to for a review -- but in the case of Deggial, the latest full-length release from the operatic/metal outfit Therion, I found myself not only consulting the review I wrote on their last disc Crowning Of Atlantis, but also re-listening to Deggial an extra time.

In my review of Crowning Of Atlantis, I mentioned how I loved Therion almost from note number one, and how the disc left me wanting to hear more. So what was the difference between that and my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Deggial? Simple: I found myself getting tired of the disc real quick. Repeat listens helped -- but why was this album not lighting my speakers on fire the same way that Crowning Of Atlantis did?

The answer isn't quite clear, but it could well be that guitarist/band leader Christofer Johnsson tries almost too hard to make this work, almost conceptual in theme, be the crowning point for Therion. While there are a few good moments, the bulk of the album collapses under its own grandiose weight.

It's not that Therion -- Johnsson, guitarist Kristian Niemann, bassist Johann Niemann and drummer Sami Karpinen -- fail with this work. There are some moments on Deggial that remind you that metal doesn't have to be full-volume distortion to be heavy. Tracks like "Eternal Return" and "Via Nocturna Part I, II" demonstrate the ability of this band to merge two styles that one might never have thought to combine before. Musically, Therion - who perform with heavy classical instrumentation, including a full choir - create a sound that is both beautiful and spine crushing.

But in the case of Deggial, it almost becomes redundant after a while - something I could not say the same about with Crowning Of Atlantis. It's almost as if the listener is lulled into a state of being with tracks like "Ship Of Luna," "The Invincible" and the title track. Add on to this that it's extremely difficult to understand the lyrical content, and the final result is a disc that becomes hypnotic - and a tad boring.

While the classical overtones of Therion's music are an intregal part of the band's identity, it sometimes seems that they might be relying on them a little too much with this release. Yes, there's plenty of room for the core of the band to shine, but the focus is often moved off of them and onto the orchestral readings.

Deggial is a disc that I had high hopes for going into it, but it left me feeling like Therion could have accomplished much more, simply by layering on less. It's not a failure, but it is a disappointment.

Rating: C

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.