Date: January 15th, 2016
Venue: The Academy, Dublin
Line-up: Therion + Luciferian Light Orchestra + Ego Fall + Imperial Age
It’s been a while since orchestral metal legends Therion have been to Ireland, their last show was back in 2007. Marked as a ‘Best of’ show, the night see’s Therion bringing their best known tracks and those lesser played ones in a mammoth 2 hour long set. Looking to bring some smaller bands along with them to gain some exposure they are joined by Russian group Imperial Age, Ego Fall from China and Luciferian Light Orchestra, a side project formed by Therion’s own Christofer Johnsson.
Taking to the stage a mere 10 minutes after doors had opened, symphonic act Imperial Age didn’t have much of a crowd amassed. However, the band didn’t let this deter them and they played as it the room was full; giving their performance their all and encouraging the crowd to join them. It was clear that the band were influenced by headliners Therion but with a bombastic touch to their music. Their line-up featured 3 vocalists, 2 of which played keyboards, and occasionally they all joined together at the center of the stage for the more theatrical sections.
Chinese group Ego Fall opened their set with a beautiful track with a Morin Khuur, a type of traditional Mongolian cello, and throat singing performed by the group’s bassist Chaoluomeng. Quickly enough the rest of the band had amassed on stage and they switched to a heavier metalcore/melodic death metal style of music while still retaining the throat singing in some sections. The performance was really high energy with almost dance-like beats in some sections which really got people pumped up. The band was having fun on stage and this really seemed to translate well to the crowd who really enjoyed the bands set.
While the sets from Imperial Age and Ego Fall were quite fun and energetic, Luciferian Light Orchestra caused a dip in that energy, coming off as quite dull in comparison. The group, who released their self-titled debut last year, play retro inspired occult rock. To maintain this mysterious like aura to match their music, the band members came out wearing masquerades masks or dark shades. Despite this rather uninspired set-up, there was a saving grace in their performance and that was vocalist Mari Paul. Mari’s vocals were dark and sultry, not to mention the fact that she was the nicest frontwoman I’ve seen, she was constantly grateful for the crowds reactions and cheering.
Headliners Therion looked as if they were fighting for some space on the stage with 7 members gathering on stage. Each of them were dressed just as eccentric as the band’s music, guitarist Christofer Johnsson was wearing a steampunk inspired suit, vocalist Thomas Vikström had a captain’s hat of some sort and female vocalist Linnea Vikstrom had her hair dyed illuminous pink.
Opening with the first of a selection of tracks from the Secrets of the Runes album, ‘Ginnungagap’ quickly had the crowd in good spirits and loudly cheering. Thomas and Linnea had even had them singing along with the main riff of ‘Vanaheim’. While the setlist concentrated on the bands most popular albums (the aforementioned Secrets of the Runes, Theli, and Vovin), there was a good selection of tracks from all across their discography. From 1995’s Lepaca Kliffoth there was a haunting duet between Thomas and the bands most recent soprano singer Chiara Malvestiti for ‘The Beauty In Black’, and then going all the way up to the band’s latest album Les Fleurs Du Mal for another duet ‘Mon amour, mon ami’ but this time with Luciferian Light Orchestra vocalist Mari Paul.
The room was full of die-hard Therion fans; everywhere I looked there were people singing along with every word or dancing to the music. Of course the band themselves also looked to be having a ball on stage with Thomas remarking at the beginning that he knew the band had no new material to show off but that they wanted to come out and play shows because they were fun. Before the rarely played ‘Black Fairy’ Thomas recalled how he often had to beg Christofer to play this song live and for this tour he got his wish, belting it out and giving it his all with diva-esque backing vocals from Linnea.
Despite having up to 5 vocalists singing at any one time I was constantly in awe at how well all the tracks came to life live, even soprano Chiara who’s only been in the group a short time has already gelled in well with the rest of the group. With such versatility in the group they were able to cover just about any era/singer the group has gone through over the years.
The band came back for an encore of their biggest songs ‘The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah’ and their seminal ‘To Mega Therion’, the latter even saw some brief vocals from Christofer. The crowd were absolutely in awe and it capped off what had been an amazing evening. Nearly 30 years into their career but Christofer and company still have the steam to continue for many more years to come.