Therion – Symphony Masses Ho Drakon Ho Megas Review

 “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” – in Ancient Greek Ho Drakon Ho Megas means “The Great Dragon” – is the second album of our series, and the third of Therion’s career, of unknown and obscure albums. The fan that had the opportunity, as I had, of knowing those albums now might have had that reaction ‘Oh, my God. What is this? Is it the same band?”. Yeah, I had this kind of reaction. Maybe in that time fans didn’t notice that much because the album had a poor sale performance of less than ten thousand copies. “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” isn’t only different from “Beyond Sactorium.” It sounds as if it were recorded by another comletely different band. Everything changes here from vocals to instrumentals. Line-up also changed to be a quartet. It’s fair to say that “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” is the album where Therion went crazy due to all the elements they added here which some of them made no sense at all. Pay attention that this album is from 1993 and before the band was contracted by Nuclear Blast Records. So, the record company has nothing to do with their change of heart. Regarding to genre, this album has nothing to do with Death Metal and much more with the Symphonic the band would help to shape. To be honest, it sounds as a hodgepodge of Metal styles and elements. Take a look at last but not least track “Ho Dracon Ho Megas Act 2 – Fire and Ecstacy” and tell me about it. But it got clear to me while listening to “Dark Princess Naamah” that Scorpions were a huge influence on the band. It’s really no wonder as Scorpions are a huge influence on many European bands. Most notably the ones that play some kind of neoclassical. I mean not the Scorpions that went huge in the 1980’s but the 1970s Scorpions with guitarist Uly Roth who impressed a very Progressive Rock and classical influence on the band.

It’s also fair to say that musically and technically “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” is one step ahead of “Beyond Sactorium.” Songs are more polished with more interesting and well played tracks. Maybe a reflect of the new line-up “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” was released under changed line-up; only Christofer Johnsson remained. During the playing “Beyond Sactorium” tour, band ran into a few personnel problems. Oskar Forss decided to leave the band, Peter Hansson quit the band after health problems. 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. With all the experience on albums I have it’s also fair to say that this album is clearly a transition album. Therion were making some experiences to really define their current style. Fun fact is that there are no tracks here that remotely remind their previous album. Maybe “Powerdance” does. But still the track has some Progressive elements that drives it away from Death Metal thing. In “A Black Rose” vocals, for instance, sounds a bit Industrial. By the way, vocals are the element that had the most changes. R=They changed from standard gutural to unique.

I don’t know but for me this album sounds as a band that still doesn’t know exactly their business. In some senses, “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” sounds a little lost in all the influences Therion wanted to deliver. On the other hand, the album is a typical product of the 1990s with all the loose ends it has and the musical hodgepodge. Remember that “Ho Dracon Ho Megas Act 2 – Fire and Ecstacy” is exactly this. Ok, it’s also fair to say that by this album the fan will know where the inventive drive of the band came from.

P.S.: The album cover looks like a much more produced Desolation Angels debut album cover. On second thought, “Dawn of Perishness” sounds a lot like Desolation Angels. The same unpolished guitars with a better production. I could even hear the Oh-oh-oh chorus. To be continued…

Therion “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas” will be released on April 08th via Hammerheart Records.

Track Listing:

  1. Baal Reginon
  2. Dark Princess Naamah
  3. A Black Rose
  4. Symphoni Drakonis Inferni
  5. Dawn of Perishness
  6. The Eye of the Eclipse
  7. The Ritual Dance of the Yezidis
  8. Powerdance
  9. Procreation of Eternity
  10. Ho Dracon Ho Megas Act 1 – The Dragon Throne
  11. Ho Dracon Ho Megas Act 2 – Fire and Ecstacy

Watch “Ho Drakon Ho Megas” official video here: