Wednesday, 25 April 2012

THERION - Of Darkness... (1991)

01  The Return
02  Asphyxiate With Fear
03  Morbid Reality
04  Megalomaniac
05  A Suburb To Hell
06  Genocidal Raids
07  Time Shall Tell
08  Dark Eternity

Therion was originally formed under the name Blitzkrieg in Upplands Väsby, Sweden. The founder, Christofer Johnsson, was originally the bassist and vocalist, despite having only played bass for 3 months prior to the band's formation. Joining him in this new band were guitarist Peter Hansson and drummer Oskar Forss. The band however never recorded any proper demos, only did two concerts together and as a result, Blitzkrieg decided to split up in March 1988. The band was reformed later in 1988 under the new name Therion and the rhythm section was replaced by Erik Gustafsson of Dismember as bassist and Oskar Forss returned on drums.

'Of Darkness...' released February 1991 via Deaf Records consisted of songs Johnsson had written in the 1980s; despite having newer songs, the band opted to save them for their next full release. The album can be seen as a somewhat progressive death metal album, in that it contained mainly influences that were not standard in death metal at the time. The lyrics were quite political, in the vein of Napalm Death and other late-1980s hardcore punk bands.

This hint comes in the form of synthesizers, which are used on the opening track "The Return" to create another level of atmosphere behind the dense and central guitars. The guitars are so thick on this album, broiling beneath Christopher Johnsson's reverbrous grunts, that you feel like you are drowning in molasses. "Asphyxiate With Fear" is a faster flurry of vomitous death metal, more in line with early, thrashing Pestilence. In "Morbid Reality", the Hellhammer/ Celtic Frost influence shines through the churning guitar rhythms, though it's faster to the point of grindcore. "Megalomaniac" has a good melody to follow, and "A Suburb to Hell" is easily my favorite here, with some haunting melodies thrown in fore good measure. "Genocidal Raids" is Hellhammer-inspired thrash that opens with a doomed atmosphere, and "Time Shall Tell" revisists this pervasive hybrid, with some sick leads. Final, and potentially the best track "Dark Eternity" ends the album with some sumpremely beefy grooves.

If your attraction to Therion's music stems solely from their later work, which incorporates increasing use of choir and orchestra to create conceptual, gothic metal symphonies, then their earliest albums might be a little outside your comfort zone. Therion directly reference this album with the opening track on "Beyond Sanctorum" but then quickly move into a different, more epic sounding (at least in some instances) direction which inevitably opened the door for their current, radically different sound. It seems almost as if this band was doomed to be less than truly astounding from the start, but "Of Darkness" and the following two albums are a decent addition to any death metal collection.

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