Formed during the late '80s, Swedish death metal band Therion was led by vocalist, guitarist, and composer Christofer Johnsson. Originally rounded out by lead guitarist Peter Hansson, bassist Erik Gustafson, and drummer Oskar Forss, the group debuted in 1990 with the LP Of Darkness. Gustafson exited soon after, and as a three-piece Therion returned in 1991 with Beyond Sanctorum. By 1993's Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas, only Johnsson remained from the original lineup, and he was now backed by guitarist Magnus Barthelson, bassist Andreas Wallan Wahl, and drummer Piotr Wawrzeniuk. The album marked the beginnings of a more experimental approach, with Johnsson incorporating more orchestrations and pseudo-classical aspirations, plus some industrial textures. Both Barthelson and Wahl were gone by 1995's The Beauty in Black EP, with the addition of bassist Fredrik Isaksson again returning Therion to a trio format. The same roster appeared on the full-length follow-up, Lepaca Kliffoth, which built on the experiments of Symphony Masses, but by 1996's Theli, Isaksson too had hit the road, making way for the arrival of guitarist Jonas Mellberg and bassist Lars Rosenberg. Theli was almost universally acclaimed as the apex of Therion's career to date, fully realizing Johnsson's taste for elaborate, operatic grandeur. Mellberg was absent for 1997's A'arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming, and by the following year's Vovin, Johnsson was performing with an entirely new supporting unit consisting of second guitarist Tommy Eriksson, bassist Jan Kazda, and drummer Wolf Simons. Crowning of Atlantis followed in 1999 with the same personnel, but Johnsson jettisoned this lineup for early 2000's Deggial, recruiting guitarist Kristian Niemann, bassist Johan Niemann, and drummer Sami Karppinen. In 2001 Therion released Secret of the Runes, a conceptual piece that featured heavily orchestrated tracks, each representing one of the nine planes of Norse mythology. Live in Midgard arrived the following year, chronicling the band's 2001 tours of South America and Europe. Therion took the next year off and began work on their most ambitious project yet, Lemuria and Sirius B. Originally slated for release as two separate entities, the sprawling 21-track explosion of classical, choral, and heavy metal excess was released as a two-disc set in 2004. Therion continued the excess with the 2007 release of the two-disc Gothic Kabbalah on Nuclear Blast. ~ Jason Ankeny
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