Therion's latest album, "Secret of the Runes", is a concept album about Norwegian mythology, produced with lyrical and musical attention to detail such as may be expected of Therion mastermind Christofer Johnsson. Those who didn't like the direction the band was taking in previous albums won't like this one either, but for those of the other persuasion here's yet another little gem of sheer musical diamondhood.

Obviously, there's a lot of classical influences on this album. There's a lot of choire, many classical instruments, yet still accompanied by the necessary heavy ingredients that comprise the unique sound of the Therion we know and love. "Secret of the Runes" starts right off with the excellent "Ginnungagap", switching back a gear to the more laid back "Midgard". The rest of the album combines majestic, slow-tempo anthems like "Jotunheim", with plenty of sopranos and basses thrown in, as well as the heavy amazing excellence of "Schwarzalbenheim" and "Muspelheim". There's some really good guitar work I hadn't heard before in Therion at the end of the varied track "Vanaheim", whereas "Helheim" is a hauntingly melancholic song with a lot of accent on solo vocals. The heavy title cut wraps up the regular version of the album. The digipak boasts two covers in the form of "Crying Days" (originally by the Scorpions, but not easy to recognise) and "Summernight City" (from the Nuclear Blast Abba tribute).

"Secret of the Runes" is once again a true masterpiece, varied in styles, with many different influences shaped onto something much worth listening to. A fine album to keep moods of despondency at bay.

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Written October 2001


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