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Review: Therion - Secret of the Runes
Secret of the Runes

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2001
Duration: 47:57
Tracks: 13
Genre: Death Metal


Review online: May 21, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.13/5 (82.58%) (31 Votes)

How did I miss this band for so long? I guess I was lumping them mentally in with Tiamat, assuming this was another former Death Metal band who have wandered into Pink Floyd country. But no, this is epic, symphonic Viking Metal of the first order, and I am so happy to have discovered this awesome band, as now I have a huge back catalog to pick up. "Secret Of The Runes" is the band's ninth full-length album, and it is about as perfect an album of its kind as you are going to hear.

Therion did start out as a Death band, but that was a loooong time ago, and no trace of that remains. This is epic metal with crunching guitars, booming symphonic passages seamlessly integrated, and highlighted by genuine operatic vocals. And I mean genuine: Therion have dispensed entirely with having a lead vocalist and have recruited a slew of classically skilled guests to provide the vocals on the album. There are some solo parts, but largely the male and female singers are layered together to create a choral effect straight out of Mozart. Now bands like Aina have proved that you can do this sort of thing badly, but Therion do it magnificently. The songs are neither too long or too short, too slow or too fast. Cuts like "Migard", "Asgard", and "Vanaheim" come thundering out with catchy riffs and pounding rhythms to spare, but there is not a single skipper or filler track on the whole CD. The whole simply sweeps along like a tide, and you never want it to stop. I can play this CD over and over and not get tired of it, at least not so far. There are pensive moments within the album, as on the moving "Helheim", but Therion never forget the metal, and there is crunch to spare.

The concept of this album is really cool. There are eleven tracks: an intro, and outro, and a track each for each of the Nine Worlds of Norse myth. The lyrics are well-researched and well-written, and the art design is really beautiful, as well as fitting perfectly with the theme of the album.

So this is a stellar album, which fans of Symphonic or Viking-themed metal will not want to miss. Therion have completely and utterly impressed me with this album, and now I am eagerly looking forward to the double release they have planned for later this year. "Secret Of The Runes" is classical, heavy, emotional and just plain kick-ass all the way through. Despite some rough similarities to Nightwish, Hollenthon, or even Mozart, Therion really have a highly original sound, and I cannot wait to see what they do next. Don't miss this one.

More about Therion...
Review: Beyond Sanctorum (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Celebrators of Becoming (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Deggial (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Gothic Kabbalah (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Lemuria (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Leviathan (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Leviathan II (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Leviathan III (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Secret of the Runes (reviewed by Steel Warrior)
Review: Sirius B (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Theli (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Vovin (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Christofer Johnsson (Guitar) on February 22, 2003 (Interviewed by Barbara Williams (Crowley))
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