Home > Music > Therion – Lemuria/Sirius B (2004)

Therion – Lemuria/Sirius B (2004)

A quick preface: Lemuria and Sirius B were released on the same day, share significant similarities in cover design, and significant amounts of musical personnel beyond the core members of Therion. They form a double album in all but name, and therefore are best listened to and discussed together. Which “side” one listens to first is entirely up to the listener; I personally started with Sirius B, but whatever.

smallsmallAnyways, I’ve claimed in the past that this duology is Therion’s best symphonic metal work, at times approaching the quality level of Beyond Sanctorum. It is blatantly in a different style, of course – entirely based in traditional/power metal with a very heavy symphonic presence (due to hiring a philharmonic orchestra). Even then, there’s significant stylistic variation throughout the duology. Sirius B contains more aggressive, direct songs, aided by guest vocalist Snowy Shaw. Lemuria is generally slower and more accessible, although for some reason there are some death growls on the 1st and 3rd tracks. Either way, Therion is using songwriting techniques here that date back at least to Theli, so that, at least, is nothing new.

The difference between Theli and all of Therion’s later ‘symphonic metal’ albums (these two included) is one of execution; even though Therion is still writing mostly verse/chorus songs on this album, they are much more memorable and coherent verse/chorus than they were on the aforementioned Theli. A lot of it is instrumentation – the band at this point clearly had more budget to play around with due to previous commercial successes, so they could vary the symphonic side a bit more than in the past. However, the underlying metal has improved. It’s still simple and basic, but it makes much better use of the ‘language’ of traditional/power metal, with better riffs, and more coherent (if not particularly technical) solos. In general, the vocals have not improved, but mainly because there was nothing really wrong with them on previous albums.

By my appraisal, the better songwriting is on Sirius B, which is also longer than the other ‘half’. I know that there’s a rough “east/west” split between the lyrical themes on these works – Lemuria takes on western Europe and the Americas, while its counterpart primarily handles various parts of Asia. There is one crossover in the form of Greek/Roman mythology; both albums have several songs  pertaining to that. I have little to say on the lyrics, except that they’re reasonably well written considering that they dabble in all sorts of weird occult mythology that I can sometimes recognize but lack the specialization to really pay attention to. Besides, I rarely pay much attention to the lyrics of my music. Tangents aside, Lemuria is also the shorter “half”, with fewer tracks and one odd tracking decision – “Three Ships of Berik” is split into two tracks despite seemingly being written as one. The ‘corresponding’ track on Sirius B, “Kali Yuga”, does not seem to suffer from that problem, although the first part segues into the second, and I generally feel the need to listen to both parts at once whenever.

As a result of all this, Lemuria is occasionally claimed to be formed from the “B-Sides” of Sirius B (pun probably intended by those making the claim). I don’t think this is intentional, but as I said, I do prefer the other side, just because it’s more direct and forceful in comparison. Even Lemuria has its heights – for instance, the title track is basically a sign that by 2004, Therion had figured out how to do coherent ballads. It’s better written and less cheesy than “The Beauty in Black”, at least. In general, it’s probably a better place to start looking at Therion’s symphonic metal work than Therion’s actual start. To be fair, many of the improvements that manifested between Theli and Lemuria/Sirius B were already present on Vovin to varying degrees, so I’m not going to make the claim that it took Therion an entire 8-9 years just to figure out their new style. I can, however, suggest that they probably peaked in this style here, or at least got bored with it. After this, there’s apparently a rather stripped down, experimental album, a meandering lost album, and an album of French pop covers (which was well received, surprisingly). Either way, Therion mostly abandoned progressive songwriting after 1993’s Ho Draken Ho Megas, so with the exception of “The Wondrous World of Punt”, you’re mostly getting verse/chorus. If you can live with that, you will probably find this duology to your liking, or more.

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