Friday, September 24, 2010

Real Time Review: Sitra Ahra


It has been a long time since Therion has done anything. 3 years in fact and after a almost complete lineup overhaul Christopher Johannsen has finally put together another album. I know that a lot of Therion's themes have something to do with the occult therefore I have no clue what Sitra Ahra means but apparently it is the last record in a series of four dealing with this subject according to Wikipedia. Seeing as how the previous three albums in this quadrilogy were probably the best in the catalog hopefully this won't be like the third Matrix movie and blow ass.Gothic Kabbalah which was the last recording Therion did was a bit of a letdown following the heals of Lemuria/Sirius B. Much of the orchestration was not present and there wasn't a whole lot of attention grabbing songs. Hopefully this album will be a return to the much more epic earlier material. So enough talk, let's see what we have in what is on my list of most anticipated albums of the year.

1.Introduction Sitra Ahra: Well the opera is still here. Song starts off with a wailing female vocalist. Now we get a cool heavy riff with pounding drums. Now of a more mid tempo with a woman singing. Or is it it 2 women? Now some guy chimes in. And now a choir that I love so much about Therion. This is going to be hard to keep track of with so many vocalists. I might have to cut corners on this Real Time Review. This song is pretty epic and good though there is one male vocalist who is kind of generic in his attempts to be operatic. The chorus is bad ass though. 7 out of 10.

2. Kings of Edom: Piano intro. Some of these songs are long such as this one clocking in at almost 9 minutes. Yeah I'm going to cut corners and type less and listen more. I don't like this guys generic opera voice. Dammit. He's going to ruin this whole cd. the women are awesome that Christopher found. Shit, this might be Thomas Vikstrom of Candlemass fame where he recorded one album which happened to be their worst and they disbanded afterwards for quite a few years. Fantastic. Halfway through this song is a fast galloping thing going on. Pretty heavy on the orchestra and choral moments. This is more like the albums of old if not quite as good. Some acoustic guitar during the musical inturlude that almost sounds Spanish. This song is not bad. 6 of 10.

3.Unguentum Sabbati: I almost wish I was into some sort of occult so I could decipher some of these names.Epic female choir vocals to start. Pretty good beat to start with. Snowy Shaw pipes in on this track. I actually think his vocals are overrated to be honest. He has this hollow pitch to his voice that is kind of annoying. The vocal effects are not helping much. This song is sort of frentic in it's pace. The dueling male female vocal parts are rapid and hard to follow. Riffs are cool. Is that a Phantom Opera tribute with a the big horn section? So far all of these songs really make you pay attention. Otherwise you're left wondering what just happened. 6 of 10.

4. Land of Canaan: Are we actually going to get biblical here? Longest song on the cd at over 10 minutes. This might tax my tolerance for hyper opera metal choirs. Very Mideastern beginning. Catchy riff with a cool beat man. Harmonica? Flutes? Interesting and odd over an almost acoustic rhythm. Oh hi Snowy, welcome back. I don't mind his vocals on this as much as the previous track.This track is pretty cool overall even with the uneven pacing. Seriously, you really need to be awake and attentive because everyone of these songs is like a huge composition in of itself. The tempos and styles change like every minute with this track. Waltzes, Italian folk music it's all in here. I know it doesn't make sense, try listening to this. I give it an 8 of 10 for enjoyment factor though.

5. Hellequin: I swear these songs remind me of the German opera metal band, Haggard. Choral intro. This song almost starts almost power metal like. Wait, somebody just had a black metal vocal. Ok, this song is cheesy as fuck. Even by Therion standards. Some guy is singing real low and pretty much overdoing it.This song is pretty dopey. 4 of 10.

6. 2012. Oh noez! The end of the world. Yet there are 5 tracks after this. Sure why not.Ok, cool normal metal intro that's pretty riff heavy. Goddammit, are there any good male vocal parts on this cd? These people Christopher hired to do this project suck for the most part. The women are fine and the choir is good but the guy they have doing this song has a almost whiny high pitched delivery. Shut Up! His name is Peter Karlsson and is a member of multiple bands. I recommend him trim down those projects including Therion. When he's not singing the song is not bad. 5 of 10.

7. Cu Chulainn: Barbershop quartet type intro with somebody who has harsh vocals in the middle.Not much to say about this track. I'm already getting fatigued listening to this. Probably the most generic track on the cd so far. Very male choir heavy. 6 of 10.

8. Kali Yuga III: Third part to the two part song on Sirius B. Don't question me, this is the silliness that Therion is bringing to you, not me. You know what is missing with all of this choir stuff is heavy relentless riffs. That's what made previous works so great. 6 of 10.

9. The Shells are Open: Ok...great....well can you close them up again please? Oh I'm sorry, that's the name of the song. Mercifully by now these songs are short clocking in under 4 minutes. This one has a cool male choir chant of sorts. 7 of 10 because its not annoying. I'll take all choirs over some of the vocal parts thus far.

10. Din: Appropriate name for this song. I can't hear myself think over the Din that was the previous tracks. Shortest song on the cd. Harsh vocals. Yay! Nice break up to the operatic madness. Finally a true metal song. Well, folk metal song.Well done Mika Hakola whoever you are.Pretty sad when it's his vocal performance is the best. Oh shut up wailing vocal man, you're screwing this song up. 6 of 10.

11. Children Of The Stone/After The Inquisition: Last song. Children choir this time to open. Acoustic passages and this is probably the melloest song so far of the whole cd. Possibly my favorite on the whole damn thing depending on how the final 5 minutes play out. 8 of 10 mainly because it was too long.

Well there we have it. I'm going to have to listen to this thing again maybe a few more times. First impression is that this is another turd. While I appreciate the continuance of choirs going back to Sirius B or even Secret of the Runes there was a power in the songs that is lacking from these tunes. This whole album played out like a real opera with cast of characters and multiple vocals. The difference is the male vocals for the most part were average to horrible. And some of these songs were above average to downright stupid.

I hate being disappointed by bands I've really liked in the past. Especially ones who do try to push the envelope like Therion does except this time I think the envelope may have gone over the edge. I'll listen to it again though in the meantime here is some live footage of one of the tracks.

4 Sins out of 10.

And here is probably one of my favorite tracks and what this album is missing in terms of kicking ass.

1 comment:

amazing grace music said...

This band and there songs are great i like the way they perform.