After two really random gigs in a row the previous nights, my third was at the Manning Bar for a night of symphonic metal brought to Sydney by Hardline Media. Swedish metallers Therion have been around for a long long time and were finally making their debut performance on our shores! The opening band was one that I had never heard of before but hearing that they had been signed to Candlelight records (home of Emperor and Orange Goblin) I assumed that it would be pretty damn good. I was partially right. I entered the venue just after The Devil had begun their set and my eyes fell upon five men in black suits (?) and wearing masks that resembled creatures that were not from Earth. It was this strange aesthetic that caught my attention first more than anything else. I’ll start with the music, and musically I was quite intrigued by this UK act.
I’ll say this; they’re heavy, there’s no doubt. The layers of sonic doom and gloom in their music is overwhelmingly huge and there’s a lot going on. The band is purely instrumental in creating sounds in the vein of post-rock, but with heavier atmospheric vibes and lots of very cool melodic sections breaking up the heaviness. However, after a point, this got to be a little bit monotonous for me and in the end ended up sound like one long post-metal track. But adding a certain political and dramatic effect to the music which I thought was rather interesting was their backdrop of videos playing that covered major political events in the past couple of decades. Soon, the whole get-up made sense to me; the band is trying to make a very confronting point here about the current situation and status of our world and doing so through their music and that is something I respect them for. But bassist, honey you need to stop moving like you’re giving the crowds a lap dance! There were a few headbangable moments for sure and although the Ghost-like band seemed a weird fit for Therion, they definitely began the night on a strong note.
Up next were the Swedes; Therion is one of those bands that I’ve heard of and listened to the odd track and album here and there but had no idea what to expect live; and sometimes that’s good and adds that suspense factor when going to a gig. Little did I know that what I was about to experience would be a mix of a 1960’s carnival, an opera and a rock show. What a bloody night! The band graced the stage with a regal but immense energy that was met with an excited cheer from punters. Dressed in outfits that made it seem as if they had just walked out of the medieval period (those hats!), the band’s exuberance and energy was so vibrant right from the beginning of their set when they opened with an absolute banger “Theme of the Antichrist” from their latest album. And from then on, every track was packed with style, incredible artistry and an amazing stage presence.
Vocalists Thomas Vikström, Chiara Malvestiti and Linnea Vikstrom were each fantastic in their own way, possessing completely different vocal styles which undoubtedly complemented the others. While Chiara’s soprano sophistication boasted a beauty like no other, Linnea’s badass rock chick vibe and Thomas’ versatile and classy style brought every song to life and quite frankly, kept things very interesting! There was never a dull moment; not to mention the added element of theatrics as part of the band’s performance. Bringing their three hours long musical opera and themselves to Australia for the very first time, the band honoured their new album ‘Beloved Antichrist‘ by performing (thankfully not the whole album which is 46 songs long) quite a few tracks from it. Other albums that made the cut for the night were ‘Sirius B‘, ‘Deggial‘ and ‘Gothic Kabbalah‘ some of the absolute classics! One thing that definitely stood out to me about Therion was the fact that each of their songs is an entity of its own; paying enough attention, every track was different from the previous one and translating this live, it made for a varied, fun and excellent set. While Therion isn’t necessarily a band that I would listen to often, after this show I would definitely be keen to see them live again for these very reasonsn; they were so entertaining, passionate, talented and just plain delightful.