Therion (formerly Megatherion);
is a Swedish symphonic metal band founded by Christofer Johnsson in 1987. The word "therion" comes from the Greek therion (θηρίον), meaning "Beast," i.e., that of the Christian Book of Revelation.However, the band's name is a homage to the Celtic Frost album To Mega Therion.
Beginning as a death metal band, they later turned to combining orchestral elements with their metal music, employing heavy use of choirs and classical musicians, not only as additions to but also as integral parts of the composition. Therion is the first metal band with fully live orchestra featured. It is also the band which originated, popularised and influenced the symphonic metal genre, cited as "the most adventurous metal band at present".Because of these extents they take in conducting their music, they have been dubbed as "Opera Metal".
Therion's music takes its themes from different mythologies and is based on concepts ranging from occultism, magic and ancient traditions and writings. The majority of their lyrics are written by Thomas Karlsson, head and founder of the magical order Dragon Rouge, of which Johnsson is a member.The band has seen many changes in line-up and style throughout its history.
Blitzkrieg and Megatherion (1987–1988)
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. Johnsson and Hansson had met in several musical groups, while Forss was an old school friend of Johnsson. Blitzkrieg's main influences were Metallica and Slayer, but their sound was similar to Venom and Motörhead. The band however never recorded any proper demos, and only did two concerts together.Blitzkrieg decided to split up in March 1988 due to problems with Forss. Only a few recordings survive to this day.
The band was reformed later in 1988 under the new name Megatherion and began to be influenced by the Swiss heavy metal band Celtic Frost. The new group name was originated by their album To Mega Therion. Johnsson switched [from bass] to guitar, P. Hansson was still guitarist, while Johan Hansson became a new bassist and Mika Tovalainen a drummer. The band name was soon shortened to Therion and the rhythm section was replaced by Erik Gustafsson of Dismember as a bassist and Oskar Forss returned as a drummer.
Debut releases and the first contract ('89/'93)
Therion "Asphyxiate with Fear" ('91)
Sample from Therion's "Asphyxiate with Fear". From the album Of Darkness....
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Therion recorded and released in 1989 the first two demos, Paroxysmal Holocaust and then Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness. In 1990, the band released EP release, Time Shall Tell. It was still technically a demo, as it was only published by a local record store House of Kicks in a printing of 1,000.The record got the band their first record deal with Deaf Records.
Of Darkness... 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 progressive death metal album in that it contained mainly influences that were not standard to death metal at the time. The lyrics were very political, in the vein of Napalm Death and other late-1980s hardcore punk bands. The deal with Deaf Records was only for one album, and the band had never had a good relationship with the label, so after the release, they moved to Active Records.
The band began to record a second full-length album, entitled Beyond Sanctorum, in 1991. Before the recordings started Erik Gustafsson decided to leave the band in order to return home to the U.S., but Therion continued as a trio with Hansson, Forss and Johnsson filling in on bass guitar.The record Beyond Sanctorum shows a more experimental edge to the death metal music, with keyboards and clean vocalists used sparingly.
After this recording, the band ran into a few problems. Forss decided to leave the band, Hansson quit the band after health problems. The shows in the Central Europe were played using a new line-up. Piotr Wawrzeniuk, from the band Carbonized in which Johnsson also played, took up drumming duties. The guitar was taken up by Magnus Barthelsson, another old school friend of Johnsson's, while Andreas Wahl took up the bass.
Musical metamorphosis ('93/'96)
With the new line-up, the band recorded the experimental less death metal stylish, but more doom metallic Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas in 1993. As Therion's first, and only, doom metal record it was very experimental, incorporating elements of jazz, industrial music, traditional '80s heavy metal and religious chanting. This record sold more than the first two, but it was still only about 10,000 copies.