Therion didn't invent symphonic metal, but after Theli's runaway success, Cristopher Johnsson (the band's only constant member and musical driving force during the band's career) became the father of this subgenre to most metal pundits, since that album was the first successful coupling of two very disparate musical camps and for once, the symphonic parts sounded like they were composed alongside the riffs and not added as an afterthought. After this seminal album, Therion kept repeating this winning formula with bigger budgets by replacing samples with real instruments and adding more opera singers in each subsequent album with varying degrees of artistic success. After reaching a second artistic peak with the Lemuria / Sirius B double album, Mr. Johnsson decided to go after a simpler, more stripped down approach on 2007's Gothic Kabbalah, which in hindsight proved disastrous, since Therion's signature sound is all about symphonic bombast, and frankly, without full classical embellishments, the metal element is kind of lame at worst and painfully generic at best.
Thank goodness then that with this album, Mr. Johnsson doesn't pull any punches and returns to the over produced classical bombast featured on Vovin, Deggial, Secret of the Runes and the aforementioned double album: aside from an 18 piece classical chorus, a children's chorus and a full symphonic orchestra, we get a top notch band that includes metal luminaries such as Thomas Vikstrom, Waldemar Sorychta and the legendary Snowy Shaw.
So ultimately, this album is just business as usual in the Therion camp: a nice addition to the band's signature, classical bombast heavy sound that's not really in league with its most celebrated works. Fans of the band will hail it as a return to form and everyone else will just ask what all the fuss is about.
As a side note, even if you're not a big fan of the band, don't miss this album's tour: the set list and pacing of the show are absolutely perfect, the live band sounds as tight as can be, and the four vocalist's performances are short of unbelievable. I saw the band perform last October on a medium capacity theatre, and it was literally one of the best metal shows I have ever witnessed in my twenty five years of headbangin'.