Band Info
OriginUpplands Väsby, Sweden
Genre(s)Symphonic metal
Death metal (early)
Label(s)House of Kicks
Deaf Records
Active Records
Megarock Records
Toy's Factory (Japan)
Nuclear Blast
Associated Acts'
Last.fmTherion on

Therion is a Swedish symphonic metal band founded by Christofer Johnsson in 1989. It takes its name from the Greek word therion (θηρίον), which means beast, in reference to the "beast" of the Christian Book of Revelation.[1][2] However, the band's name itself originates from the Celtic Frost album To Mega Therion.[3]

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. The band is one of the first both commercial and audience successful heavy metal with fully live orchestra featured. It is also one of the bands which originated, popularised and highly influenced[4] the symphonic metal genre, cited as "the most adventurous metal band at present".[5]

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.[6] The band has seen many changes in line-up and style throughout its history.


Blitzkrieg and Megatherion (1987—1988)Edit

Therion 89

Lineup in early 1989. The band's very first picture ever taken.[7]

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 a few 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's. 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.[8] Blitzkrieg deciding to split up in 1988 due to problems with Forss.[9] Only a few recordings survive to this day.

The band was reformed 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.[5]

Debut releases and the first contract (1989—1993)Edit

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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 (limited to 600 copies[10]) and then Beyond the Darkest Veils of Inner Wickedness (500 copies[11]). In 1990 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.[5] The record got the band their first record deal with Deaf Records. Through this company, they released their first full-length album, Of Darkness....

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.[8]

Therion beyond

Beyond Sanctorum line-up

The band began to record a second full-length album, entitled Beyond Sanctorum, in 1992. 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.[8] 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 Netherlands 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, an old school friend of Johnsson's, while Andreas Wahl took up the bass.[8]

Musical metamorphosis (1993—1996)Edit

Therion logos
Logo Years
Therion logo 1988-91 1988—1991
Therion logo 1992-95 1992—1995
Therion logo 1996-97 1996—1997
Therion-logo 1998—present

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 a Therion's first and last doom metal record it was very experimental, incorporating elements of jazz, industrial music, traditional 1980s heavy metal and religious chanting. Active Records at the time decided to scale down their operations and the band was switched to the new owners, Megarock Records.[8]

The band, despite being popular with its hardcore fans, was still largely unknown. Sales were poor and the band members were having a hard time making ends meet. Despite the work they put in, there was no financial success for the band. Because of this, Barthelsson and Wahl were forced to quit the band. Fredrik Isaksson was brought into the band as the new bassist. After a few months break, the band got an offer from the famous metal label Nuclear Blast. Despite the record deal, Megarock Records decided to let Therion go without any strings attached. The band signed a deal with Nuclear Blast in 1994 and remain with them to date.[8]

The first record published with the new label was Lepaca Kliffoth, though a single entitled "The Beauty in Black" was released just before as a promotion for the new record. The record was very experimental, featuring classical sopranos and bass-baritone singers, and also Johnsson with a completely new style of singing. Fredrik Isaksson left the band after some personal problems. Lars Rosenberg, from the death metal band Entombed, took his place.[8]

Metal and symphony era beginning (1996—2001)Edit

Template:Sound sample box align left Template:Multi-listen start Template:Multi-listen item Template:Multi-listen item Template:Multi-listen end Template:Sample box end In 1996 Jonas Mellberg was added to the line-up and Therion began recording their new experimental album, entitled Theli. The album heavily featured the vocals of two choirs, along with some vocals from Johnsson and Wawrzeniuk. Dan Swanö also contributed to the vocals on this album. The band used keyboards heavily, so many in fact that it was humorously called "Barmbek Symphony Orchestra" after the subway station next to the studio.[8] Theli is considering to being almost acclaimed as the apex of Therion's career to date.[12] The sales were more than double of Lepaca Kliffoth.[5]

After recording was over, the mixing and mastering period became stressful. Mellberg was suffering from severe alcohol problems and literally walked out of the studio, never to return to the band. Rosenberg was also having problems with alcohol, but the band survived these problems long enough to release Theli. Johnsson also had a problem with the band members; Wawrzeniuk was busy with his studies and could not go on tour so Johnsson got Tommy Eriksson of Shadowseeds to fill in on drums. Tobias Sidegard was hired to play guitar, while Kimberly Goss was hired as a keyboard player and vocalist. Rosenberg's drinking problems got worse and in result of that, he was fired from the band.[8]

In 1997 Therion released A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming album. The record contains a few unused songs from Theli, a few cover songs the band had made, plus a full soundtrack Johnsson had made independently for the short art movie called "The Golden Embrace".

The next album, Vovin, was recorded using professional studio musicians and his friend Tommy Eriksson helping out with some additional guitars. It featured for the first time a real string orchestra and a hand picked choir of considerable number. The Austrian singer Martina Hornbacher Astner and Sarah Jezebel Deva were chosen as the lead sopranos. Total sales were over 150,000 copies in Europe alone.[5]

The band capitalised on this success and went on tour with the band Moonspell. The hired drummer, Sami Karppinen was offered a permanent place in the band. With this new line-up, the mini album Crowning of Atlantis was recorded. It was a short album fleshed out with several covers and live tracks that the record label and management insisted be placed on it to make it a full length album. Through Karppinen, Kristian Niemann joined the band on guitar, along with his brother Johan Niemann on bass.[8]

Johnsson had already made material for the next release Deggial which is far more symphonic, employing far more complex orchestral scores, this time using a full orchestra as opposed to a simple string one. The record went on to sell more than Theli but never reached the high sales of Vovin. Therion then began a big tour to promote their new record. This was the band's first headline tour as before they had always been support acts to other bands.[8]

Secret of the Runes (2001—2004)Edit

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Sample from Therion's "Asgård". From the album Secret of the Runes.

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Secret of the Runes

Secret of the Runes (2001) cover

After Deggial, Johnsson began to compose again; he had idea to make a Nordic concept album. For the recording he built band recording studio "Modern Art".[8] The new written songs were based on the nine different worlds of the world tree Yggdrasil from the ancient Norse mythology. This album was named Secret of the Runes and released in 2001. For a bonus, the band recorded cover songs of "Crying Days" originally performed by Scorpions and "Summer Night City" of ABBA. Piotr Wawrzeniuk returned as a guest vocalist for the bonus tracks of this album. The band's tenth album received very good reviews and scores including All Music Guide editors' pick.[13] Therion followed up this release with a tour with Evergrey and My Insanity as support acts. After the tour, Karppinen decided to leave the band, but he was responsible enough to find a replacement drummer for the band, Richard Evensand.

In 2001, the official fan club compilation Bells of Doom was released exclusively to paying fan club members. The album contained rare songs, including some original recordings from 1987, when the band was originally called Blitzkrieg. It also contained a few songs from demos, and rarities not found on other Therion records.

Selection of the recordings from the 2001 Secret of the Runes tour were released on the 2002 band's first live album, a two-disc Live in Midgård. The album was released celebrating the band's 15th anniversary.

Lemuria & Sirius B (2004—2006)Edit

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Sample from Therion's "Lemuria". From the album Lemuria.

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After the tour, the band decided to take stock and sort out what they had in terms of music. The seven songs that Johnsson had made had grown to a considerable number, and along with the Niemann brothers' contributions the band discovered they had 55 new songs.[8] The band decided to record and release two of the albums simultaneously. 171 musicians were used in the recording of the new albums, a 32-member choir was recorded in Prague along with many lead vocalists.[5] The results were the albums Sirius B and Lemuria, released together in a special twin pack in 2004. The albums are far more guitar-driven and more melodic than the previous Therion records[citation needed]. Wawrzeniuk returned on this album to provide vocals, along with the singer Mats Levén.

On July 2005, an album entitled Atlantis Lucid Dreaming was released. As the name suggests, it is a mixture of tracks from 1997 A'arab Zaraq - Lucid Dreaming and 1999 Crowning of Atlantis. The tracklist is all the non-soundtrack songs from the first one (except for the Iron Maiden cover version), followed by the first seven Crowning of Atlantis songs, and additionally the live version of "Black Sun".

The Lemuria/Sirius B Tour would last for 106 live shows stretching over two years. The final concert took part at the ProgPower Festival in Cheltenham, UK on the March, 2006 and that was the last Christofer Johnsson vocal stage performance.[14]

Therion released their first DVD entitled Celebrators of Becoming on May 2006. The set contains four DVD discs, featuring live video from Mexico City recorded in 2004 and other live video materials, bands' documentary from the 2004–2006 World Tour, art movie "The Golden Embrace", all band music videos to date and bootlegs with commentary, and two audio CDs with a live show recorded in Mexico City.

Gothic Kabbalah, classical shows and The 20th Anniversary Tour (2006—2007)Edit

C. Johnsson and L. Lewis.jpg

Lori Lewis and Christofer Johnsson with symphonic orchestra and choir during the live classical show at the Miskolc Opera Festival, Hungary, 2007.

On September 2006, Johnsson announced that recording was completed for Therion's new album. Gothic Kabbalah was released on January 12, 2007, and was followed with a tour through Europe, North and South America with Grave Digger and with support act Sabaton. Therion also toured Japan for the first time. The band's Warsaw gig was recorded for the live album and video set Live Gothic, which was released in 2008.

In these times Therion held live shows that included local symphonic orchestras and choirs. The "Therion Goes Classic" show took place on December 9, 2006, in Bucharest, Romania. Another show followed at the Miskolc Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary on June 16, 2007, with future band member Lori Lewis as its featured vocalist. The first half of the show featured orchestral pieces from Dvorak, Verdi, Mozart, Saint-Saens and Wagner. The second half pulled from Therion's repertoire. The song "Clavicula Nox" was featured as a full orchestral version in the first half. The Bucharest concert was broadcast on Romanian television, and its first part was later released together with the entire Miskolc concert as the DVD/CD box set The Miskolc Experience in June 2009.

In November-December 2007, Therion had a 20-year anniversary tour with 16 shows in Europe. Songs included "Kali Yuga" parts 1 and 2, the entire Theli album, and "Adulruna Rediviva". Part of the set list was determined from fan voting. Some songs were accompanied by keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg and a belly dancer on stage, and some of the shows featured also the ex-singers Piotr Wawrzeniuk and Mats Levén. The Budapest gig of the tour was recorded for a DVD, but it's still unreleased and unscheduled.

Lineup changes and Sitra Ahra (2008–2011)Edit

In 2008, the band announced that its core group of musicians would be parting ways, but Johnsson posted that he was in no way ending Therion. Johan Koleberg became the new drummer, and Nalle Påhlsson the bassist. The band did not tour that year, except for a single open-air festival show in Płock, Poland on September 6.

On May 10, 2009, following the release of The Miskolc Experience, Therion announced Thomas Vikström as its new lead vocalist. The band worked on a new album, Sitra Ahra, which featured new guitarist Christian Vidal, and Snowy Shaw on vocals.

Sitra Ahra was released on September 17, 2010 The band toured South and Central America for 17 days, and European tour through November and December.

In March 2011, Gothic Kabbalah singer Katarina Lilja left the band for a second time to "re-join the boring civil world and not be a cool rock star anymore". Vikstrom's daughter, Linnea, provided supporting vocals for the band at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in 2011. Therion performed at Hellfest Summer Open Air, ProgPower USA, and the 2012 cruise liner based festival 70000 Tons of Metal. In a Bloodstock interview, Shaw mentioned that the band will work on new material at the end of the year. In September 2011, after four years of collaboration and session work, vocalist Lori Lewis joined Therion as a member. In this year also a board game called "011" was released; it features the band members and is based on the Sitra Ahra album.

Les Fleurs Du Mal and future plans (2012–)Edit

On February 14, 2012, Therion announced it was recording a studio album and had planned a 25th Anniversary Tour. Les Fleurs du Mal was released on September 28. The album was not released by Nuclear Blast, but financed and released by Johnsson's own label, Adulruna. He calls Les Fleurs an "art project", which includes not only the music, but also special inlay graphics and video clips. The album consisted of covers of French chansons and pop songs that were performed in the band's style. On the release day the 25th Anniversary Tour was also started through Europe, also featuring the album's contributing keyboardist Stefan Jernståhl.

On September 14, Johnsson posted a statement on the band's website about developing a rock metal opera, and that the band will not be doing any major tours or releasing studio albums. The band plans on performing at a few festivals across Europe in 2013. In April 2013 this statement was reconsidered by Johnsson itself, and the Rock Opera Unveiled Tour was scheduled for December 2013, to test the fans' acceptance on the new material.


Bells of Doom

Bells of Doom cover with hendecagram in foreground.

Therion frequently uses visual symbols in its album covers. Most of them are according to magick, occult and Dragon Rouge themes.

Hendecagram, the star of Qliphoth, an eleven pointed star also called Star of Seth, is the most often used symbol by the band. The star symbolises the night side of the Qabalah. Hendecagram has influential aspect in Christofer's magick and his lyrics. It has been admitted as a band symbol.[15] There is also a connection between the eleven points of the star and the Dragon Rouge's Draconian initiation based on 1 + 9 + 1 levels that together constitute 11 steps. The symbol appears on all the album covers (not only front covers, also in back and/or inlay) since Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas (1993).

Other symbols used uniquely include:


Current members
Former members
  • Erik Gustafsson - Bass (1987-1991)
  • Oskar Forss - Drums (1987-1992)
  • Peter Hansson - Guitars, Keyboards (1987-1993)
  • Matti Kärki - Vocals (1989)
  • Andreas "Wallan" Wahl - Bass (1993-1994)
  • Piotr "Docent" Wawrzeniuk - Drums, Vocals (1993-1996)
  • Magnus Barthelson - Guitars (1993-1994)
  • Fredrik Isaksson - Bass (1994-1995)
  • Tommy Eriksson - Drums (1994), Guitars (1997-1998)
  • Lars Rosenberg - Bass (1995-1996)
  • Jonas Mellberg - Guitars, Keyboards (1995-1996)
  • Kimberly Goss - Keyboards, Vocals (1996-1997)
  • Sarah Jezebel Deva - Soprano (1997-2002)
  • Sami Karppinen - Drums (1998-2001)
  • Wolf Simon - Drums (1998-1999)
  • Johan Niemann - Bass (1999-2008)
  • Kristian Niemann - Guitars (1999-2008)
  • Richard Evensand - Drums (2001-2004)
  • Petter Karlsson - Drums (2004-2008)
Current collaborators
  • Thomas Karlsson - while not an official member of the band, Thomas has written most of the lyrics on albums since 1996


Main article: Therion discography
Studio albums
Compilations and box-sets

See alsoEdit


a. Template:Note label There are "Rockn' Roll Jam", "Scared to Death (excerpt)" available on Bells of Doom and "Fight Fire with Fire", cover of Metallica song.[16] Some of the material from the Blitzkrieg era survived to the first Therion album Of Darkness..., including some riffs from "Morbid Reality".[9]

b. Template:Note label Christofer Johnsson was a guitarist on every album. Guitar column doesn't list him as a collaborating guitarist.

External linksEdit

Official websites

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