Remember back in the day when Therion was still a death metal act? Well, they kept the word act, but they have evolved to a very avant-garde symphonic metal band. It has been about 6 years since we have had another release from Therion. Now they are finally ready to present us “Beloved Antichrist”, a rock/metal opera that lasts for over 3 hours. With 46 tracks, it is impossible to write a detailed review about every single song, or even to pick out a couple of highlights. Christofer Johnsson based the opera loosely on the sweeping story of “A Short Tale Of The Antichrist” by Vladimir Soloviov.
“Beloved Antichrist” is divided into 3 acts. It doesn’t have typical ‘songs’, but instead chapters and scenes, where different storylines take place in various environments. The opera counts in total 30 different roles and characters, who all sing in classical. Therion hired a big choir and multiple male and female soloists to bring this story to life.
What I did enjoy about this massive work is that the story was adapted to fit better into a contemporary timeframe, so for example while in the book there were only male characters, that has been balanced out, for musical reasons and to improve the story.
From my experience as a visual artist, I feel however that there is something missing in this album. What is missing in this rock and metal opera, are by any means necessary the visuals.
Sure, we can talk about how some of the songs are great and how much work there has gone into this album, but chances are that without seeing the story happening live on stage, no one will sit and listen to this album for three and half hours straight without completely and 200% understanding it. Music does bring a mood and somehow the story is of course understandable to a certain extent, like how you can read a play of Shakespeare and understand all the words they say, but still the experience of seeing it played out for you is lacking.
And there is no surprise there that it turns out that Therion has intended this story to be performed live. By all means, I feel like I can only form a proper opinion and make up my mind about this album, when I have seen that happening and I actually am looking forward to that. I’m an opera enthusiast, both classical and contemporary operas and surely, if you like opera as much as I do, you will enjoy this work. On the other hand I can also see Therion fans struggling with this work because it is different, but what needs to be reminded is that the audience the band now tries to appeal to, is much larger than the usual intended audience.
In general “Beloved Antichrist” makes an interesting album. Whether you love it, or you can’t stand to listen a single note of it, the fact is that in its form “Beloved Antichrist” is unique. Moreover, it bridges the gap between our society and traditional classical music, making it more open to anyone outside. Now, let’s hope for “Beloved Antichrist” to be performed live, so we can go through the full experience. Who knows, maybe one day this review will have a follow up?