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Therion (formerly Blitzkrieg, Megatherion) is a Swedish symphonic metal band founded by Christofer Johnsson in 1987.
Its name was inspired by the Celtic Frost album To Mega Therion.
"To Mega Therion" is Greek for "The Great Beast" and was a title used by Occultist Aleister Crowley'.
Originally a death metal band, Therion adjusted its musical style by adding orchestral elements, including choirs, classical musicians, and even a full orchestra at their concert performances.
As a result, it has popularized the symphonic metal genre.
In their biography, they state they have been cited as "the most adventurous metal band at present".Therion takes its themes from different mythologies and practices, including occultism, magic and ancient traditions and writings.
Thomas Karlsson, the head and founder of the magical order Dragon Rouge, has provided lyrics for the band since 1996.Blitzkrieg and Megatherion (1987–1988)Therion originated as the band Blitzkrieg in Upplands Väsby, Sweden.
In 1987, Christofer Johnsson, who had played bass for three months, teamed up with guitarist Peter Hansson, whom he had met in several musical groups, and drummer Oskar Forss, who was Johnsson's old schoolmate.
The band's main influences were Metallica and Slayer, but its sound resembled Venom and Motörhead.
The band had only two concerts.
In March 1988, it split up after some disagreements with Forss.In 1988, the band reformed with the moniker Megatherion, which was based on the album title To Mega Therion by the Swiss heavy metal band Celtic Frost.
Johnsson has mentioned that therion is Greek for "beast" and likens it to Belphegor.
Johnsson switched from bass to guitar and Peter Hansson played guitar.
Johan Hansson became its bassist, and Mika Tovalainen its drummer.
After the band shortened its name to Therion, Erik Gustafsson of Dismember replaced Johan Hansson as the bassist, and Oskar Forss returned and replaced Tovalainen as the drummer.Demos and record deals (1989–1993)In 1989, Therion released two demos: Paroxysmal Holocaust and Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness.
In 1990, the band worked with House of Kicks, a local record store, to print and release the Time Shall Tell demo.
The latest release enabled the band the sign a one-album record deal with Deaf Records.Therion's first full-length album, Of Darkness..., released in 1991, featured songs that Johnsson had composed in the 1980s.
The band called it "both a debut album and the end of an era", and described it as progressive death metal, since it contained elements that did not quite fit the standards of death metal at the time.
The lyrics were very political, in the vein of Napalm Death and other late-1980s hardcore punk bands.Therion signed with Active Records for its second album, Beyond Sanctorum.
Prior to the recording sessions, Gustafsson left the band to return to the United States, so Therion continued as a trio with Hansson, Forss and Johnsson, the last of whom covered the bass.
The album shows a more experimental edge to the death metal music; keyboard and clean vocals were used sparingly.After the recording, Therion changed members again.
Forss left the band, and Hansson had to quit for health issues.
For the Central European gigs, Johnsson brought in drummer Piotr Wawrzeniuk from his old band Carbonized, and bassist Andreas Wahl, who was an old friend.Musical metamorphosis (1993–1996)Therion released Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas in 1993.
Its style was less death metal, but more doom metal.
The band experimented with elements of jazz, industrial music, traditional 1980s heavy metal and religious chanting.
Masses sold about 10,000 copies, which was more than the band's first two albums, but hardly a financial success.
In order to scale down operations, Active Records stopped releasing new records, and transferred the band to Megarock Records.
As the band's touring gigs were not that profitable, Bathelsson and Wahl quit the band, and Fredrik Isaksson was brought in as the new bassist.
After a hiatus where Johnsson worked as a vocalist for Messiah, it received an offer to join metal label Nuclear Blast.
Megarock Records, lacking the resources to properly promote the band, decided to release Therion without any strings attached.
Therion signed with Nuclear Blast in 1994, and has remained with them since.Therion's first album with Nuclear Blast was Lepaca Kliffoth, with its single "The Beauty in Black" released in advance of the album.
To Johnsson's surprise, "The Beauty in Black" sold 12,000 copies in Europe, before the company stopped printing.
The album experimented with more elements: "a classic soprano and bass-baritone, more keyboards, more Persian influences, more melodies".
Johnsson had "a new style of singing" that severed their ties to death metal.
The album sold around 15,000 copies over the following weeks.
Isaksson had some personal problems, and was eventually released from the band.
Therion brought in bassist Lars Rosenberg from the death metal band Entombed.
The band toured with Annihilator in Germany, and also did a small headlining tour in Argentina and Chile.Symphonic metal beginning (1996–2001)In 1996, Therion recorded their experimental album, Theli.
The album heavily featured the vocals of two choirs, as well as vocals from Johnsson, Wawrzeniuk and guest vocalist Dan Swanö.
The album featured keyboards and classic samples, which was labeled the "Barmbek Symphony Orchestra" after the subway station next to the studio.
Jason Ankeny of Allmusic noted that the album "was almost universally acclaimed as the apex of Therion's career to date, fully realizing Johnsson's taste for elaborate, operatic grandeur".
In a month, the album sold 75,000, more than double that of Lepaca Kliffoth.Personal issues plagued the band's members.
Jonas Mellberg, who had joined as a guitarist from Unanimated, had severe alcohol problems, and walked out during the mixing and mastering sessions.
Wawrzeniuk was busy with his studies, so Johnsson brought in more members for their tours, including Tommy Eriksson of Shadowseeds.
Rosenberg's drinking problems got worse and he was fired from the band.In 1997, Therion released A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming, which contained unreleased songs from Theli, some covers, and Johnsson's soundtrack that he produced for a short art movie called The Golden Embrace.Johnsson noted that the next album, Vovin, was practically a solo album as it used studio musicians instead of the ones from the Theli tour, besides Eriksson, who provided some guitar support.
Vovin was recorded at Woodhouse Studios; it involved a real string orchestra for the first time, and a "hand picked opera choir" which included Austrian singer Martina Hornbacher, and British vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva.
The album was released in 1998, and in two months, sales had reached 150,000 in Europe alone, doubling sales of Theli.The band toured with Moonspell and showcased Hornbacher and Deva on vocals.
It brought in Sami Karppinen as the drummer, Kristian Niemann on guitar, and his brother Johan Niemann on bass.
The album Crowning of Atlantis, released in 1999, was a mini-album that was padded to full-length with covers and live tracks.The band's next release, Deggial, involved the participation of a full orchestra.
Johnsson noted it was 90% another solo album, but with a more permanent band lineup.
Deggial sold more copies than Theli but not as many as Vovin.Secret of the Runes (2001–2002)Johnsson had written seven songs but shelved them in order to make a Nordic concept album.
He built a recording studio for the band called "Modern Art".
The band's tenth album, Secret of the Runes, was released in 2001, and had themes from the nine worlds of Norse mythology.
It included the cover songs of "Crying Days" (Scorpions) and "Summer Night City" (ABBA), of which, Piotr Wawrzeniuk provided vocals.
The album received positive reviews, and was an Allmusic editors' pick.
Therion headlined tours in Europe and Latin America with Evergrey and My Insanity.
Afterwards, Karppinen left the band to focus as a sound engineer for Modern Art, but brought in replacement drummer Richard Evensand.In 2001, Therion released the compilation album Bells of Doom to its official fan club.
It includes recordings from the Blitzkrieg days in 1987, demos from 1989 that did not appear on any album, and an unofficial promotional demo from 1994 that enabled the band to land the record deal with Nuclear Blast.
The album was later sold through Therion's webstore.
In 2002, Therion released its first concert album Live in Midgård, which contained recordings from its Secret of the Runes tour.
Mostly drawing from its Budapest concert, the album was released to commemorate the band's 15th anniversary.Lemuria and Sirius B (2004–2006)After the Secret of the Runes tour, the band had amassed 55 unreleased songs which included the ones Johnsson had shelved as well as contributions from the Niemann brothers.
Johnsson remarked that "we went through the songs and realized that we had enough good material for three albums.
Recording one after the other, promoting, and touring each one separately would have taken several years and would have been a bad idea; and being so productive, we would have had another 55 songs waiting when we finally came to the end of it." In 2004, the band released 21 tracks on two albums: Lemuria and Sirius B.
The albums were released simultaneously and were available as separate albums or a twin-pack.
171 musicians participated, including the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and a 32-member choir.
Contributing to lead vocals were Mats Levén and a returning Piotr Wawrzeniuk.In July 2005, the band released Atlantis Lucid Dreaming, which is a compilation of the 1997 tracks that were not part of The Golden Embrace soundtrack (not including its Iron Maiden cover of "Children of the Damned"), and seven tracks from its 1999 album Crowning of Atlantis.
It included a bonus live version of "Black Sun".The band toured Lemuria / Sirius B over two years and 106 shows, with its final performance at the ProgPower Festival in Cheltenham, UK on March 21, 2006.
The last gig marked Johnsson's final vocal stage performance.Therion released their first DVD set, Celebrators of Becoming, on May 2006.
The set contains four DVDs which include concert footage from its 2004 visit to Mexico City, documentaries of its 2004–2006 World Tour, Johnsson's art movie The Golden Embrace, the band's music video singles, bootlegs and commentaries, and two audio CDs from its Mexico City concert.Gothic Kabbalah, live classical shows and The 20th Anniversary Tour (2006–2007)On September 2006, Johnsson announced that recording was completed for Therion's new album.
Gothic Kabbalah was released on January 12, 2007, and was followed with a tour through Europe, North and South America with Grave Digger and with support act Sabaton.
Therion also toured Japan for the first time.
The band's Warsaw gig was recorded for the live album and video set Live Gothic, which was released in 2008.In these times Therion held live shows that included local symphonic orchestras and choirs.
The "Therion Goes Classic" show took place on December 9, 2006, in Bucharest, Romania.
Another show followed at the Miskolc Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary on June 16, 2007, with future band member Lori Lewis as its featured vocalist.
The first half of the show featured orchestral pieces from Dvorak, Verdi, Mozart, Saint-Saens and Wagner.
The second half pulled from Therion's repertoire.
The song "Clavicula Nox" was featured as a full orchestral version in the first half.
The Bucharest concert was broadcast on Romanian television, and its first part was later released together with the entire Miskolc concert as the DVD/CD box set The Miskolc Experience in June 2009.In November–December 2007, Therion had a 20-year anniversary tour with 16 shows in Europe.
Songs included "Kali Yuga" parts 1 and 2, the entire Theli album, and "Adulruna Rediviva".
Part of the set list was determined from fan voting.
Some songs were accompanied by keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg and a belly dancer on stage, and some of the shows featured also the ex-singers Piotr Wawrzeniuk and Mats Levén.
The Budapest gig of the tour was recorded, but it was released only in February 2014 as a part of the DVD Adulruna Rediviva And Beyond.Lineup changes and Sitra Ahra (2008–2011)In 2008, the band announced that its core group of musicians would be parting ways, but Johnsson posted that he was in no way ending Therion.
Johan Koleberg became the new drummer, and Nalle Påhlsson the bassist.
The band did not tour that year, except for a single open-air festival show in Plock, Poland on September 6.On May 10, 2009, following the release of The Miskolc Experience, Therion announced Thomas Vikström as its new lead vocalist.
The band worked on a new album, Sitra Ahra, which featured new guitarist Christian Vidal, and Snowy Shaw on vocals.Sitra Ahra was released on September 17, 2010 The band toured South and Central America for 17 days, and European tour through November and December.In March 2011, Gothic Kabbalah singer Katarina Lilja left the band for a second time to "re-join the boring civil world and not be a cool rock star anymore".
Vikstrom's daughter, Linnea, provided supporting vocals for the band at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in 2011.
Therion performed at Hellfest Summer Open Air, ProgPower USA, and the 2012 cruise liner based festival 70000 Tons of Metal.
In a Bloodstock interview, Shaw mentioned that the band will work on new material at the end of the year.
In September 2011, after four years of collaboration and session work, vocalist Lori Lewis joined Therion as a member.
In this year also a board game called "011" was released; it features the band members and is based on the Sitra Ahra album.Les Fleurs Du Mal and the rock opera project (2012–)On February 14, 2012, Therion announced it was recording a studio album and had planned a 25th Anniversary Tour.
Les Fleurs du Mal was released on September 28.
The album was not released by Nuclear Blast, but financed and released by Johnsson's own label, Adulruna.
He calls Les Fleurs an "art project", which includes not only the music, but also special inlay graphics and video clips - later partly released on a limited edition DVD.
The album consisted of covers of French chansons and pop songs that were performed in the band's style.
On the release day the 25th Anniversary Tour was also started through Europe, also featuring the album's contributing keyboardist Stefan Jernståhl.On September 14, Johnsson posted a statement on the band's website about developing a rock metal opera, and that the band will not be doing any major tours or releasing studio albums.
According this in 2013 the band played only at three minor summer festivals in Europe.
In April 2013 this statement was reconsidered by Johnsson itself, and the Rock Opera Unveiled Tour was scheduled for December 2013 with 15 European gigs, to test the fans' acceptance on the new material.
The main framework of these shows didn't only include excerpts from the future rock opera, but also the entire Vovin album due to its 15th anniversary.On February 21, 2014 two new releases were put on market: a deluxe edition of Theli - including three bonus tracks from A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming and a DVD with Theli's live performance - and a DVD set Adulruna Rediviva And Beyond with the 2007 Anniversary concert in Budapest and the 2011 Atlanta show.SymbolsThe symbols on Therion's album covers originate from magick, occult, and Dragon Rouge themes.
The most common symbol is a {11:5} hendecagram, an eleven-pointed star.
First appearing on the 1993 album Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas, and every album since, it symbolizes the night side of the Qabalah, and has also been called the Star of Seth or the Star of Qliphoth.
Johnsson admits that the symbol is important to his magick and lyrics.Other symbols include:Pythagorean pentagram (one point down), on the dragon's head, for the cover of Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas.Nordic runes with Elder Fuþark alphabet, on the front cover and the booklet for the album Secret of the Runes.Celtic cross, on the booklet's page for "Helheim" on the album Secret of the Runes.Clavicula Nox, a key symbol in Dragon Rouge and also the title of one of the band's tracks, on the covers of Crowning of Atlantis, Vovin (inlay), and "Eye of Shiva".Mjölnir, the Hammer of Thor, on the inlay cover of Secret of the Runes.The astronomical symbols Venus (?), moon (?), and sun (?), on the covers for The Early Chapters of Revelation box-set.


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