Therion live in Athens 2018

Due to the date being a working one and work getting the better of me, I did miss British openers The Devil who came on early enough at seven o clock as well as, a good portion of the German melodic industrial metallers Null Positive.
Therion Athens live show 2018 poster

Null Positive, with their mechanical, sometimes melodic, but more often extreme metal, sung in German, was intriguing, but not spine tingling at least as it translated on stage. Their frontwoman Elli Berlin, who also came out to assist Therion with some vocals in a song, cuts an impressive figure standing at almost seven feet with heels (ie taller than most people in attendance) and did really try to ignite the spatially filled hall of Piraeus academy. Vocally at times she sounded like AWG, while at others like Doro, via Rammstein (probably it has to do with German as a language and not the overall style – a switch to English, might help em gain more of an international crowd (I guess) – entertaining enough I guess.

Russians Imperial Age sounded like a more amateur version of Therion, looked a little silly in something I could best describe as traditional grab with some cosplay accents (ie rubber/foam pauldrons) and appeared as a sextet (with one of their singer ladies also handling keyboards). They were good and the “catchy” melodies were there, although not in abundance, but what really sort of detracted me from enjoying them thoroughly was the pacing of some of their songs… despite none of them being too long, some of them seemed to go on for a while and since I was hearing them for the first time, this was a determent. Allegedly CJ from Therion did help produce their album(s) so, the Therion influence is all too evident. Their mix of 3 vocalists creates some interesting interplay, but again, I thought interesting… but in need of further refinement from a com positional standpoint.
Therion came on stage a good portion of time after their Ruskie counterparts had departed and as always (in recent years) looked flamboyant and confident, something that translated in a solid and good performance that hardly ever seemed to sag even in their newest songs from the quite controversial “3 hour” opera, Beloved Antichrist, that seemed to leave a lot of fans cold, mostly due to its sheer length, more than anything else. In fact they began the proceedings with “Theme of Antichrist” – the sort of epilogue, sort summation of the whole story that ends the album, only to delve into relative past with “The Blood of Kingu” making an impressive appearance. CJ with his top hat and aristocratic grab, did not move much due to his neck problems, but did still thrash around with “entire” body movements rather than “headbanging” showing to be into it and providing great rhythmical playing while leaving CV to handle the more demanding lead parts, while a returning Sammi and Nalle on drums and bass respectively kept things nice and tight. But it was the ever moving trio of singers, spearheaded by the ever-great Thomas Vikstrom, with his daughter Linnea in tow (not for reasons of nepotism, but because she’s every bit as talented) and the also impressive Chiara Malvestiti from Italian metallers Crysalys doing mostly Lori parts. The aforementioned Elli Berlin took center stage for a pedal to the metal version of “Din” but what sort of pissed me off slightly was the fact that older albums than “Theli” where not represented, with at least “Lepaca Kliffoth” being an album from which a few tracks could have been lifted.
At any rate… “Bring Her Home” and “Night Reborn” from the opera ensued next, the latter to some more crowd cheering, only for “Nifelheim” and “Ginnungagap” to follow them, both from “Secret of the Runes” an album I am not particularly fond of in all honesty, considering it to be one of Therion’s least inspired. “Typhon” from” Lemuria”, if I am not mistaken, was a far better and apt choice, while “Temple of New Jerusalem” didn’t seem to work entirely on its own and out of the context of the opera, but it was sort of ok. “An Arrow from the Sun” and the eponymous “Lemuria” both from that album, sandwiched between them the rather similar sounding “Vovin” track “Wine of Aluqah” in a pleasant succession and “Cults of the Shadow” the one of two “Theli” songs to be performed that night – all the more symphonic and energetic – seemed to send chills down the spines of older fans, who might have been present even at Therion’s debut performance in Greece, countless years ago at Rodon club. Those were the days… my friends.
The sick rhapsody to Rasputin in the form of “The Khlysti Evangelist” (from “Sirius B”) gets an airing, only to be succeeded by the final song the band elects to perform from their “operatic” – “Beloved Antichrist” epic, with “My Voyage Carries On” a song that TV confirms to be one of his favorites from the album. “The Invincible” is the single “Deggial” contribution to the show and the rather deep cut and apocalyptic themed “Der Mitternachtslöwe” one of two from “Gothic Kabbalah”, making it a rather weird, choice since that album did have a lot of other “catchier” tunes as exemplified by the final song of the normal set and the second choice cut from the album the well-known “Son of the Staves of Time” that does sound a little weird in place without Mats raspier voice, but is translated well enough by the current septet anyway. The band took a short bow only to return for a “Vovin/Theli” one-tow with “The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah” and “To Mega Therion”, as an encore which were received expectedly well.
A thoroughly enjoyable and professional performance by the Swedes, with showcases by some interesting and exotic bands that was only mired by the low attendance that hardly passed the 500 mark, casting a relative shadow over the return of the band to Greece, relatively soon. Still not their fault and a fine display nonetheless.