For those of you who are not aware of the Swedish symphonic Metal band Therion (formerly known as Megatherion; Greek meaning Beast); and I must admit I was one until I received their latest album 'Les Fleurs De Mal'; are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. Formed in 1987 by Christofer Johnsson, the band originally started out as a death Metal band before crossing over the genres to symphonic Metal in 1996.
I was surprised to find out that 'Les Fleurs De Mal' is their 15th album release as this is a band that I personally have not had the pleasure of coming into contact with in any sense, which is a crime for saying they are known as one of the leading bands to kick off the symphonic Metal scene with their album 'Theli' in 1996.
The last Therion album, 'Sitra Ahra', was released in 2010, which was mixed strangely enough by ABBA legend Lennart Östlund at the famous Polar studio. 'Fleurs De Mal' however, was not released through Nuclear Blast, which is the band's record label, but as an independently funded release by Christofer which he recorded and mixed in Aldruna Studios, and was produced by Stefan Glaumann at Toy Town Studios, Sweden.
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The album, though not a concept, is a core part of a special art project, with the booklet containing pictures by controversial Italian painter Saturno Butto, and the album title being inspired by French writer and poet Charles Baudelaire whose works were entitled 'The Flowers Of Evil'. The tracks themselves are based on old French songs that have been stripped down to their bare bones and have been given a major overhaul by Chris and the guys to create a symphonic masterpiece in my opinion.
Some symphonic Metal bands go overboard with their bombastic over-confidence, however Therion have got it down to a tee. You may think it strange Swede's singing French, but let me tell you, it works!
There is plenty of power and emotion running freely through the compositions, complete with an unearthly and euphoric smoothness to both the mixing and songs. Chris' and American Female vocalist Lori Lewis' silky vocals are in perfect harmony with the emotive and fluently yet stunningly beautiful accompaniment. This album is like drinking a perfectly full bodied dark Red Wine, coating your senses and relaxing as you soak it up.
Commencing with a full on orchestral delight in the form of 'Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son' (2.45 min) as an intro, there is no lack of drama, leading the listener into the album with full promise of what they are about to aurally embark on.
For saying this is a symphonic Metal album with 15 songs, it definitely doesn't verge into the progressive genre, which most do. The longest track is four minutes long, whilst the others reign in around the three minute mark. This is refreshing as you get just the right amount without having any unnecessary drags. Any longer, I believe would spoil the impact and the va va voom of the individual tracks.
There is not one harsh moment that I can think of. This is a total and utter delight to listen to, with each track having a separate identity, varying from the traditional folk sound of 'Une Fleur dans Le Coeur', to the simply provocative 'Mon Amour Mon Ami' with its slow and seductive atmosphere, growl of Gothic organs and deep, dark riffs. Think 'Phantom Of The Opera' Metalized and you're not far off.
'La Maritza', 'Soer Angélique' and 'La Licorne D'or', are pure and uncomplicated with their arrangement whilst in total contrast, 'Initials B.B.', 'Dis-moi Poupée' are very dark and heavy, the latter having a very solid guitar solo.
The performance of the artists is technically precise. There is not one falter. Every instrument comes in to do their piece in such an exacting manner at times it's scary. It is almost like I am waiting for a total disaster to appear, but it doesn't. It keeps getting better.
Even the off the cuff 'Je n'ai Besoin Que DeTtendresse' with its pop/Abba sound emerging through the cacophony of guitars, drums and strings works, I even found it quite amusing due to its quirkiness. The chorus and its melody reminded me of Rainbow's 'Since You've Been Gone' as soon as I heard it.
The coup de grace comes in the form of the energetic and dramatic reprise of 'Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son' finishing a complete triumphant tour de force. It's just a shame I didn't pay more attention at French during my High School years, as this would only to serve to make this a totally perfect experience.
Hmm, I think I have put it clearly enough that I liked this album…and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn't dared venture into the symphonic side.
1. Poupée de cire, poupée de son
2. Une fleur dans le coeur
3. Initials B.B.
4. Mon amour mon ami
6. La Maritza
7. Soer Angélique
8. Dis-moi poupée
10. En Alabama
11. Wahala Manitou
12. Je n'ai besoin que de tendresse
13. La licorne d'or
14. J'ai le mal de toi
15. Poupée de cire, poupée de son
BONUS TRACK (France + Touredition)
16. Les Sucettes
Therion 'Flowers Of Evil' Tour 2012
28.09.2012, Holland Eindhoven - Effenaar
29.09.2012, Holland Groningen -Oosterpoort
30.09.2012, Belgium Antwerp - TRIX
01.10.2012, France Paris - Bataclan
02.10.2012, France Rennes - Antipode
04.10.2012, Spain Madrid - Heineken
05.10.2012, Spain Barcelona - Razzmatazz 2
06.10.2012, Spain Bilbao - Rock Star
07.10.2012, France Toulouse - Bikini
09.10.2012, France Lyon - Transbordeur
10.10.2012, Switzerland Pratteln - Z7
11.10.2012, Italy Trezzo d Adda - Live Club
12.10.2012, Germany Glauchau - Alte Spinnerei
13.10.2012, Czech Republic Zlin - Masters of Rock Cafe
14.10.2012, Czech Republic Prague - DK Vltavska
15.10.2012, Poland Krakow - Club Studio
16.10.2012, Poland Warsaw - Stodola
17.10.2012, Hungary Budapest - Club 202
19.10.2012, Romania Bucharest - Arenele Romane Tent
20.10.2012, Greece Saloniki - Apothiki Mylos
21.10.2012, Greece Athens - Gagarin 205
23.10.2012, Russia Rostov - ODO
24.10.2012, Russia Krasnodar - Arena Hall
26.10.2012, Russia St.Petersburg - Glavclub
27.10.2012, Russia Moscow - Milk
28.10.2012, Ukraine Kiev - Bingo