Unpredictable is the world of a Therion fan. Expect the unexpected and when you do, don’t expect things to be unexpected. Kind of. Therion started out as a death metal band in the early 90’s formed by guitarist and then lead singer (growler) Christoffer Johnson. But for every album, they became more and more melodic until, with the addition of Mats Levén (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Treat, Swedish Erotica) and the parallel albums Lemuria and Sirius B in 2004, where most of the growling was gone, replaced by clean singing and some big operatic influences. With their 2007 masterpiece Gothic Kabbalah, all growling was gone and the music had gone from extreme metal to hard rock and metal with catchy melodies all over the place. But the whole band jumped the Therion ship after the tour and for their 2010 album Sitra Ahra new vocalist Thomas Vikström (ex-Talk Of The Town, Candlemass) had taken the place as lead vocalist beside Snowy Shaw. After that album and the following tour, there would be no more Therion records, we were told. Just to, out of the blue, being served with a new album, Les Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers Of Evil) in 2012, an album full of covers – covers of old French schlagers, dance hall, chansons, pop and lounge songs. Expect the unexpected, huh? After that one, there was a tour, but no more Therion albums for a while, we were told again. And then – quietness. Until one day, without any pre information – at least I hadn’t seen anything until I saw some posts on Facebook – a project called Luciferian Light Orchestra – of course, a dark play on words with Electric Light Orchestra – showed up. Knowing Johnson’s death metal past and the fact that he is a member of the occult order Dragon Rouge, one couldn’t help but expecting the unexpected and wondering if maybe, this time Johnson had gone black metal on us instead? After all, in the year of 2015, to shock people and create a stir with being satanic and evil just won’t cut it – we’ve been dealing with stuff like this for 30 years now and no one raises an eyebrow anymore. Beside, with Ghost taking satanic rock to the mainstream, people won’t even bother getting upset. Also, knowing Johnson’s reputation, he’s not the kind of guy who would take part in any Ghost-like theatre spectacles, if he’s gonna do a satanic thing, you better believe it’s the real deal, hence my black metal wonderings. Who plays in this band, then, except for Johnson? Well, that’s hard to say as the musicians are kept a secret, but if I’m not misinformed there were two drummers, five guitarists, two keyboard players, three Hammond organists, four lead singers and five backing vocalists involved in this project. There are some pictures online, that shows up when Luciferian Light Orchestra is googled, but there’s no telling if these pictures are manufactured or the real deal. It’s probably not a wild guess to guess that there are some, or many, Therion members involved, both new and old. But what Johnson wants with this stunts, of course, is for everyone to focus on the music and not the members, so let’s do just that.
“Dr Faust On Capri” opens the album and I am in a time machine back to the early 70’s. The whole tune has lots of Therion over it, but I can also hear Ghost, maybe it’s because they’re both influenced by melodic hard rock from the 70’s. The song has an evil touch, but is very melodic. “Church Of Carmel” is a real hit to these ears. It’s soft rock with female lead vocals and the melody, especially in the chorus, sounds a lot like Therion and it could have fitted any of their later albums. Funny thing is, I could actually hear this on their Flowers Of Evil covers album. “Taste The Blood Of The Altar Wine” is really dark and heavy and there are riffs here that Leif Edling could have written for Candlemass, or rather Avatarium. That mixed with some very recognizable Therion melodies makes it a stand-out track. “Black Mass In Paris” is classic rock at its best and there are some major Uriah Heep and Blue Öyster Cult references here – great stuff. “Eater Of Souls” has a name that makes you think that you’re gonna get a real jawpunch, a hard-hitting metal track with screaming vocals. Instead we get a very melodic 70’s rocker with a big pop feel and a melody that is really beautiful and catchy. Me like! “Venus In Flames” is another high quality 70’s rocker with some major Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin influences. There are also some cool symphonic elements that brings my thoughts to Europe of today and their songs like “No Stone Unturned”, “Firebox” or “Rainbow Bridge”. Awesome! “Sex With Demons” brings out the deep, slightly operatic vocals that Therion are known for, but otherwise it’s a straight forward hard rock song, not complicated at all. “Murloch” brings out a dark and scary atmosphere. The big, deep and clean voice and the darkness that surrounds the whole song makes you believe that the Devil is about to appear. Darkness lies over closing track “Dante And Diabaulus” as well. The song sounds old – and I mean real old. Think if heavy metal was played in the 18th or 19th century. This is the most metal sounding track on the album – and it’s a damn good one.
I really, really like this album. It’s a short album and very direct. There are a lot of Therion over this album, of course, and many of the songs sound as they were written for Therion in the first place. As a matter of fact, most of the songs sounds like a more raw, stripped and naked version of Therion. Christoffer Johnson might feel like kicking my butt for this, but I hear Ghost in here as well. Maybe it’s because of the theme and the fact that both are heavily influenced by 70’s classic rock. Now, playing satanic music that is based in the 70’s isn’t really anything new, it seems like there is a bit of a trend with bands playing their “black metal” in a more melodic way instead of going to extremes and there are other bands doing the same thing, like the now defunct The Devil’s Blood, Purson and Blood Ceremony, indeed with a big influence by Black Widow, a band who did this ages ago. But that’s not to take anything away from Johnson and his crew because they (he?) has put together a brilliant classic rock album that combines the raw, stripped and naked with a satanic and evil feel and a spooky atmosphere that goes through the whole record. I recommend this to both fans of Therion and to lovers of 70’s classic hard rock. And if it is available on vinyl, it’s preferred here. Great work and for us that are in waiting for the next Therion record, this will do just fine. And then some.
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
01. Dr. Faust On Capri
02. Church Of Carmel
03. Taste The Blood Of The Altar Wine
04. A Black Mass In Paris
05. Eater Of Souls
06. Venus In Flames
07. Sex With Demons
09. Dante And Diabaulus