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Therion - Les Fleurs Du Mal

Label: self -issued
Format: CD
Released: 2012
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8.5/ 10

Although still part of Nuclear Blast, for some reason (most of the details surrounding this album are closely guarded secrets, just as mastermind Christofer Johnsson wants it) the German-based label passed on releasing this rock opera opus, thus the Swedish guitarist decided to buy back the tapes and issue it himself. All the titles are sung in French and the story relates to 19th century poet, Charles Baudelaire's Flowers Of Evil collection, which remained forbidden in France until 1949. He was convicted of insulting the public with his work. Therein, methinks, is Johnsson’s intrigue, as too often in the past he ran afoul of public taste (nearly scraping Therion all together). Only in the last few years has he been hailed as something of an eccentric genius.


So, what does this 15 track (alternate version of ‘Poupée de cire, poupée the son’, makes 16 total) opus sound like? Well, it’s a mix of Abba pop (can never seem to extract the Abba from Swedes), a symphonic/female operatic metal style, circa Tarja Turunen era Nightwish, the strange, multi-voice and instrumentation (brass horns, harpsichord, etc) of In Extremo/Corvus Corax and Johnsson’s own creations, beginning with 1995’s ‘Beauty In Black’.

The considerable number of tunes still clocks in at 47 minutes, so about three minutes each, more short ideas than fully developed songs (by Therion standards). In other words, none too distant from more recent, orchestral laced output, although the last studio album I truly devoured was “Secret Of The Runes”. However, the live stuff, especially the Miskolc Experience, has always been enjoyable. Given the climate for female-fronted material, surprising the label balked (although Nuclear Blast’s most recent signing have all been away from that overblown trend). Perhaps they were scared of the investment, or more likely, the French language (although Scandic black metal was never a problem in the past). Probably not the point to begin one’s investigation of Therion (never an outfit to pigeon-hole), but don’t let the (negative) pre-release, Internet buzz keep you away.

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