Holy crap. This is a three-CD album, with a total duration of over three hours. Dear me. Where do you even begin with a release like this? And in case you’re wondering; no, I have not listened to this in its entirety in just one sitting!
This is the very definition of a metal opera, with a fully-fledged concept and storyline that runs throughout the entire album. Or, I suppose, albums.
Anyone who’s familiar with Therion’s work knows what to expect in many ways, (although this project is also a departure from the Therion standard too, as we’ll see), with full choirs, dramatic operatic vocals, multiple singers, etc., but on Beloved Antichrist the band’s controlling mastermind takes these concepts to an entirely new level. There are around 30 distinct roles/characters on this colossal release, with almost as many guest vocalists voicing them. Some of the collaborators return from previous releases, but many of them are new to the Therion experience.
And this is an experience. Ambitious and sprawling in the most grandiose of ways, the band’s blend of power metal, symphonic pomp, operatic sensibilities, and classical stylishness has come to a head on Beloved Antichrist. Powered by what is essentially a pure operatic influence, the metallic aspects of the music are sometimes less prominent than on a typical Therion release. The power, (and other), metal vocal styles are entirely absent. This is all a necessary part of this musical experience, and the truth is that this collection of music flows so well that Beloved Antichrist can just be considered as one huge rock/metal opera; sometimes with guitars and drums, sometimes without.
Yes, overall this is a metal opera with an emphasis on the operatic side of the equation. As with anything as ambitious as this, I’m sure there are even some Therion fans that will denounce this album, (to varying degrees), but as someone who’s been a fan of the band since I first heard and was blown away by 1996’s Theli, I can say that this really is an accomplished and enjoyable work. It’s just not something I’d necessarily recommend listening to all in one go…
Due to its immensity this is an album that I’d ideally like to re-review a year or so from now to see how it’s held up once I really get to know it, but for now I’m confident to say it’s bold, ambitious, and thoroughly commendable.