Therion / Soulscar Live In Vancouver: August 31, 2005

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Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

The Red Room

Vancouver, British Columbia  Canada

**Live Report & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

Only one word can be used to describe the attendance for Therion?s third date on their first-ever North American tour: DISMAL!  If there were more than 100-150 people at The Red Room, I would be shocked.  Along with the cult status of Sweden?s Therion and the fact that they have been around for the better part of fifteen years, this show should have been packed, but the paltry faithful who were there were treated to one heck of a show.  In truth, my knowledge of Therion?s music is pretty slim but I do know the jaw-dropping auditory landscape created on CD by the band and to witness the grandiose operatic passages and orchestral movements in a small club like The Red Room had me curious, to say the least.  Perhaps the lack of an opening act until the day of the show (and a lofty ticket price of $30) kept people away but for nearly 90 minutes, those in attendance rocked the house HARD and the band seemed to feed off that energy, as well.      

Vancouver?s own Soulscar have been the ?go to guys? on two occasions in the past year.  First, they saved Dimmu Borgir?s July 2004 Ozzfest ?off date? show from tanking when God Forbid and Otep bailed at the last minute by coming in with literally three hours notice and pounding out a solid set.  This time around, they found out the morning of the Therion show that they were being called to duty and, once again, they rocked their socks off!  Soulscar is the most un-metal-looking bunch of guys to ever flash the horns, yet their attack of melodic death echoes shades of early Arch Enemy and In Flames, and the ripping death/thrash tones of Carnal Forge.  With a mere half hour allotted to ply their trade, Andrew Staehling?s growled vocals perfectly suit such tracks as ?Self-Mutilation? and ?Without A Shadow,? while Brent MacKenzie?s gigantic six-string bass and background vocals are an important part of ?It Takes A Wolf.?  On that same track, Stas Mikheev?s finger-tapped riff is truly glorious.  Drummer Igor Cheifot is the most animated of the bunch, pounding away behind his kit in a blaze of sweat and double bass.  This crowd seemed a bit indifferent to them, but with the right dose of karma, Soulscar should break out of the local confines and move on to bigger things.  They have been toiling the mean streets of Vancouver since 1998 and with two full-length CDs under their belt with Galy Records (and a third due in 2006), it may finally be time for bigger fish like Century Media or Metal Blade to take notice.

To The Pain
Without A Shadow
It Takes A Wolf
Terminal Prayer


Therion?s stripped-down stage setup at The Red Room was amazingly deceptive at what was about to transpire.  With only a drum kit visible initially, the tiny stage was soon filled with the four members of Therion, a lead vocalist and a five-member choir.  This, in itself, was something to behold, but once ?Blood of Kingu? kicked in, the real spectacle began.  The extremely passionate crowd was in a frenzy of maniacal headbanging (and two stoned idiotic moshers who were annoying everyone) and the band seemed absolutely shocked that people were so into them.  Two guys at the front of the stage seemed to know each and every lyric and appeared to be having some sort of religious experience as the night wore on.  Of course, the mammoth production of LEMURIA and SIRIUS B could not be taken on the road and the symphonic passages were sampled, but the inclusion of a stoic and oddly expressionless backup choir (and a soprano sharing front and centre with the band) helped capture the majestic nature of the band?s mid- to later-period catalog.  Mats Leven (At Vance, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), who did session vocal work on LEMURIA and SIRIUS B, was brought on tour to help Christofer Johnsson on vocals and while looking more like Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Leven did a solid job behind the mic and provided a good dose of energy to boot.  Johnsson delivered his death metal growls on ?Baal Reginon? to the delight of fans but mostly focused on his guitar and left the vocals to Leven.  Unfortunately, brothers Kristian (guitar) and Johan Niemann (bass) and Petter Karlsson (drums) are nearly swallowed up by the entire setup.  Somehow, this show just seemed ?bigger? and with all that was going on on stage, I can see why.  Their pieces of the collective puzzle is undeniable but they certainly are nothing compared to Johnsson and Leven in terms of stage presence.  ?The Invincible? was extremely well done with an almost otherworldly ambience created by all the musicians on stage and the sampled parts.  A small moshpit developed for ?Melez,? which appeared to be a last-minute replacement for ?Typhon? according to its handwritten addition to the printed setlist.  Johnsson mentioned the band had not played ?Melez? in a while but it appeared to go off flawlessly.  ?Riders of Theli,? ?Blood of Kingu? and ?Wine of Aluqah? were other standouts but Therion?s show really must be taken as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts.  The encore was to be expected, but in a rare club show move, the band returned for a second encore of the Motorhead classic ?Iron Fist? to the delight of fans who would not let Therion leave.


Maybe it was the lack of hype, the poor turnout or the late start on a weeknight (Therion didn?t hit the stage until 11:00PM), but I just was not into this show at all.  However, I found myself thinking back to it afterwards and realizing that it really was something special and being disappointed at not enjoying it as much as I should have.  That aside, Therion fans can rejoice in knowing that the band comes out and gives 100% even if the attendance figures are less than stellar.  Hopefully Therion?s first North American tour is a rewarding one for them and the rest of the stops along the way are as warmly received as Vancouver was.

Blood of Kingu
Uthark Runa
Invocation of Naamah
Baal Reginon
Black Sun
The Invincible
Seven Secrets of The Sphinx
Riders of Theli
The Khlysti Evangelist
Wine of Aluqah
The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah
Cults of The Shadow
To Mega Therion
Iron Fist (Motorhead cover)

**As always, thanks to Jamie at House of Blues Canada for his help at the show and to Loana at Nuclear Blast Records for photo approval.

Visit Therion?s official website
Visit Soulscar?s official website