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Global Domination | Demo reviews | Therion: Paroxysmal holocaust

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Therion: Paroxysmal holocaust

21/12/10  ||  Habakuk

Yeah, you can call me stuck in the past. What’s my alternative?

Listen to the operatic shit metal that Therion is widely known for today? I did that for a recent Audio Autopsy, and no thanks. Actually, I can’t even remember what drove me to give “Paroxysmal holocaust”, their first demo, a shot. Was it some obscure recommendation? Or the absolutely awesome title? I’ll never know. What I do know is that this is surprisingly awesome stuff from a band that at some point in time just went completely crazy with a musical u-turn from bad-ass death metal to bad ass death metal, and we should probably put “metal” into quotation marks as well.

It’s still a demo, so the production is obviously not perfect, noisy and a bit thin with too much treble and lacking low frequencies. Hence, the listener only gets a rough idea of what the Swedeath guitar sound these guys were aiming for could have been. It actually isn’t too far from the sound on their debut album, though – as far as I can tell from what I’ve heard off that one on YouTube. So, just blame it on the times back then or something. As it is, there’s a lot of hi-hat and the guitars have a very enjoyable dirty, DIY grit to them, just not as much punch as on other actual albums in the genre.

The music however makes up for any shortcomings in sound, obviously. Songwise, we get atmospheric old school Swedish death/doom metal (accordingly with song lengths around 5 to 6 minutes) with an emphasis on groove, some sluggish pounding and very simple yet effective riffing. Only occasionally the whole thing morphs into thrashing outbursts, but those, too are pretty tasteful. In other words: King Riff has a firm grip on his scepter, while his skilled minions Speed and Groove are sent into battle as he pleases.

The job of court jester is done by Matti Kärki from Dismember/Carnage/Carbonized et al. fame on vocals (his only appearance with Therion), so all’s cool on the raspy death growl front, too. If he wants to, he can definitely sound pretty fucken evil. And he seems to want that.

So, let’s not make rocket science out of this – If you want to find out where the style of bands like Runemagick originated, this primitive-sounding demo (in a positive sense) is well worth a shot. All the classic demos I’ve reviewed so far have been from 1989, and they are all awesome. Maybe someone poured some liquid metal into the water supply around the time? Feel free to look for other historical events that might have had an influence and let me know, so we can work on repeating those.

Last but not least, as always with these recordings, you won’t need to feel guilty downloading them, so stop wasting your time and get this. Me, I shall investigate further into their first two albums sooner or later.


  • Information
  • Released: 1989
  • Website:
  • Band
  • Matti Kärki: vocals
  • Christofer Johnsson: guitars
  • Peter Hansson: guitars
  • Erik Gustafsson: bass
  • Oskar Forss: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Morbid reality
  • 02. The return
  • 03. Bells of doom