Our top 10 Therion songs list looks at the catalog of a Swedish outfit distinguished for its impactful role in the development of symphonic metal. The band was established in 1987, starting out as a death metal band. Soon after, Therion appreciated doom metal-influenced sounds, adding electronic and avant-garde elements to its music, especially on its sophomore and third studio albums. Eventually, Therion went ahead to appreciate symphonic metal with its fourth album release, Lepaca Kliffoth, thanks to the introduction of classical musicians and sometimes choirs on its personnel. The evolution to more symphonic directions in the mid to late ‘90s catapulted the band to critical acclaim.
Therion’s Album Releases over the Years
Throughout its career, Therion has released seventeen studio albums. Its first studio album, Of Darkness…, marked the band’s only death metal album, featuring notable songs including “Asphyxiate with Fear” and “The Return.” The band’s sophomore studio album, Beyond Sanctorum, and third studio album, Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas, saw Therion take on death-doom sonic influences.
While the band’s fourth studio album, Lepaca Kliffoth, featured some death-doom sounds, it marked the band’s first symphonic metal-influenced release. “Evolution of Vovin,” “The Beauty in Black,” and a cover of Celtic Frost’s hit “Sorrows of the Moon” are some of the best Therion songs from the album. In 1996, Therion released its fifth studio album, Theli, which seemed to draw inspiration from bands like Pink Floyd and Klaatu. Theli was Therion’s first fully symphonic metal album, featuring popular songs by the band including “To Mega Therion,” “Nightside of Eden,” and “Cults of the Shadow.”
A’arab Zaraq – Lucid Dreaming, the band’s sixth studio, was the band’s first album to make it to the charts, peaking at number ninety-eight on the German Albums Chart. However, its success majorly lies in the popularity of Therion’s transcendent symphonic metal hits on the album Theli. A more monumental release, Vovin, would be issued as the band’s seventh LP in 1998. Vovin remains Therion’s most successful album by Therion to date, having sold over a hundred and fifty album copies in Europe.
The album is home to some of the best Therion songs including “Wine of Aluqah,” “The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah,” and “Birth of Venus Illegitima.” Vovin rose to number forty-six on the German Album Chart, peaking at number forty-eight on the Austrian Albums Chart.
Therion’s next studio album release, Crowning of Atlantis, failed to surpass the impact made by Vovin. However, the album still managed to rise to number eighty-seven on the German Albums Chart. The album featured live tracks from the band’s 1998 Vovin Tour, a few new songs, and covers of songs by Accept, Manowar, and Loudness.
With Deggial, Therion managed to rekindle its successful ways, seeing the album peaked at number forty-three on the German Albums Chart. The album saw Therion feature an orchestra and choir, making its music even more symphonic! Deggial is home to some of the best Therion songs including “Via Nocturna,” “Seven Secrets of the Sphinx,” and a cover song to the hit “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff.
Secrets of the Runes, issued in October 2001, marked Therion’s tenth studio album. The album finds the band sticking to its symphonic metal influences with top hits including “Ginnungagap,” “Midgard,” and “Asgard.” Secrets of the Runes was a success on the Polish Albums Chart, peaking at number thirty-eight. The album also made it to the seventy-fourth spot on the German Albums Chart.
Therion issued its eleventh studio album, Lemuria, and its twelve studio album, Sirius B, simultaneously in 2004. Top hits like “Lemuria,” “Abraxas,” and “Quetzalcoatl” made Lemuria quite a glamorous release. As a result, Lemuria peaked at number thirty-four and seventy-six on the Hungarian and Dutch Albums Charts, respectively. On the other hand, Sirius B made it to the Hungarian Albums Chart, thanks to songs like “Son of the Sun,” “Dark Venus Persephone,” and “The Khlysti Evangelist.”
Gothic Kabbalah, the band’s thirteenth studio album, saw Therion reach new feats in the mainstream, charting nine countries. This included a peak position of number twenty-six on the Swedish Albums Chart, marking the first time any of Therion made it to the Swedish charts. Unlike most of the previous albums, Gothic Kabbalah blended symphonic gothic metal and progressive metal elements. “Son of the Staves of Time,” “Gothic Kabbalah,” and “The Perennial Sophia” are the top Therion songs from the album.
In September 2010, Therion went on to release its fourteenth album, Sitra Ahra. The album saw Therion return to symphonic metal-influenced music. Therion’s next album, Les Fleurs du Mal heavily featured symphonic metal sounds with the band despite most of its songs being cover versions of French pop hits from the ye-ye music genre. Beloved Antichrist, a triple album, marked the band’s sixteenth studio album. Therion made use of large choirs and orchestras in this symphonic metal album. Leviathan, issued in 2021 marked Therion’s most recent album, with its sequels scheduled for release in 2022 and 2023.
By the time Therion released its debut album, death metal in Sweden was already evolving to a more melodic sound, which resulted in the Gothenburg metal scene. However, unlike In Flames, At the Gates, and Dark Tranquillity who appreciated the Gothenburg sound, Therion took a different path establishing itself as a pioneering symphonic metal outfit in Sweden. Other European bands that followed suit include Epica, Within Temptation, Nightwish, and Rhapsody of Fire. However, Therion’s career beginnings remind us of the impact on the band’s death metal sound, thanks to influence from bands like Slayer, Venom, and Celtic Frost. Celtic Frost’s debut album To Mega Therion also inspired the band’s moniker, Therion.
# 10 – Sitra Ahra
Opening our top 10 Therion songs list is the classical hit “Sitra Ahra.” The song serves as the album title track of the band’s fourteenth studio album. “Sitra Ahra” proves to be the perfect introduction to the album, thanks to its deep yet alluring symphonic metal influences. The song alludes to breaking free from the lies of existence and returning to primeval commotions. “Sitra Ahra” proves strong enough for listing on the top ten Therion songs list thanks to the enthralling female operatic vocals by Linnéa Vikström and Lori Lewis!
# 9 – Via Nocturna
Delivered in two parts is the hit “Via Nocturna,” one of the instantaneous masterpieces from the band’s ninth studio album, Deggial. Thanks to the tremendous male and female choirs featured on this hit that it manages to bring out an unadulterated symphonic feel to this metal song. The song’s melancholic lyrical content blends in perfectly with its impressive instrumentation.
With “Via Nocturna,” Therion adds some theatrical and organic feel, unlike the usual symphonic influences. The song’s composition feels a little more refined, with the band adding extra woodwind instruments. However, the song feels a little too melodic than heavy owing to Johnsson’s move to bank on ‘80s-influenced guitars styles which resemble those of heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden. While Deggial might not have been the best album by Therion, songs like “Via Nocturna” and the cover of Carl Orff’s hit “O Fortuna” helped crown the album as a masterpiece!
# 8 – Initials B.B.
Throughout its music career, Therion has covered rock/metal classics by Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, ABBA, Accept, and Judas Priest. However, amongst all of the band’s covers, none surpasses our number eight pick on the list “Initials B.B.” This amazing cover hit was initially released by the French pop/ye-ye artist Serge Gainsbourg in 1968 as the opening single of his album of the same title.
“Initials B.B.” alludes to the famous French actress and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot. Apparently, singer Serge Gainsbourg had an affair with Brigitte, only to release the hit “Initials B.B.” later on as his perfect way of expressing how he felt about the whole escapade. Therion members put their touch of symphonic metal on this pop hit, a move that saw critics applaud the band for turning this famous pop hit into a metal classic! Mick Harvey also released a cover of the song on his 1995 album, Intoxicated Man.
# 7 – Son of the Sun
A simultaneous album release in May 2004 meant that Therion’s fans had quite a catalog of music by the band to listen to. However, amongst many, few songs including “Son of the Sun” managed to find a special place in the hearts of symphonic metal lovers. The song is among the best Therion songs from the album, Sirius B. “Son of the Sun” is a song that alludes to Akhenaten, a pharaoh who favored worshipping the god of the sun, Aton, over every other god.
Unfortunately, the pharaoh’s time in power was unsuccessful, which resulted in people believing that his failure was cursed by other gods. With his reign deemed cursed, his name was annulled from the pharaoh’s history and monuments were dismantled. Forget the melancholic feel that comes with the narrative; Therion’s magnificent delivery is enough to keep you hooked on this song!
# 6 – The Beauty in Black
Number six on our top 10 Therion songs list is the magical hit “The Beauty in Black.” The song was the first single issued by the band and featured on the band’s album Lepaca Kliffoth. “The Beauty in Black” is among the foundational symphonic metal hits released by the band. Christofer Johnsson is joined by occultist Thomas Karlsson in penning the lyrics to this hit. Thomas Karlsson would, later on, become the band’s primary lyricist for almost a decade and a half.
Since its release, “The Beauty in Black” has remained a fan-favorite track for many Therion followers. Christofer Johnsson played a massive role in making this hit a success, having him play the guitar and keyboards, while still handling the vocals and production of this hit. The song also features bass-baritone vocals of Hans Groning and soprano vocals of Claudia Maria Mokri, both of who are also featured on the hit “Evocation of Vovin.
# 5 – The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah
Since the inception of Therion, no album has led to massive commercial gains compared to Vovin. The album is home to some of the best Therion songs including the number five pick on our top 10 Therion songs list, “The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah.” While Thomas Karlsson penned the lyrics to this hit, Christofer Johnsson’s major task was the composition of its music.
“The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah” has an astounding intro thanks to the impressive instrumentation employed on this record. In this song, Christofer restricted himself to the guitar and keyboards. Hence, songs like “The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah” leaves the orchestra and choir in the spotlight as the major driving force towards the success of the whole symphonic metal record.
#4 – Birth of Venus Illegitima
“Birth of Venus Illegitima” is yet another hit from the album, Vovin to make it to our ten best Therion songs list. The song finds Christofer Johnsson continuing with his magical experimentation of merging death metal with classical symphonic elements. Masterpiece is almost an understatement when it comes to describing this symphonic metal hit!
# 3 – Son of the Stares of Time
The third pick on our top 10 Therion songs list is the impressive hit “Son of the Stares of Time.” “Son of the Stares of Time” is among the musical gems featured on the band’s thirteenth studio album, Gothic Kabbalah. The song features high-pitched soprano vocals of the operatic singer Hannah Holgersson. While the song also features a grandiose choir, it is Mats Levén’s enthusiastic performance on the lead vocals that make it quite an emphatic release.
# 2 – Lemuria
Even before scientists got to find some evidence about the fabled lost continent of Lemuria in 2013, Therion had already released the hit “Lemuria.” As expected, the song alludes to the mythical lost island, Lemuria, which is alleged to have sunk underneath the waves. “Lemuria” features some heavy metal riffing blended with a dark/gothic feel. The song commences with slow acoustic guitar tunes with some operatic female vocals. However, the song builds up slowly to Therion’s signature symphonic sound as the end approaches. “Lemuria” serves as the album title track of the band’s eleventh studio album.
# 1 – To Mega Therion
Number one on our top 10 Therion songs list is the anthemic hit “To Mega Therion.” The song is among the most sought-after hits featured on the band’s fifth studio album, Theli. As suggested by the title of the song, “To Mega Therion” has quite a deeper connection with the band’s beginnings. The song title contains the name of the band, while still reminding us of Celtic Frost’s debut album of the same title. Translating to “The Great Beast,” the song is among the hits that pushed Theli towards critical acclaim in 1996.
Top 10 Therion Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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