Therion has been around for a long time, originally as an unremarkable death metal band, but they really hit the pinnacle of their career with Theli, the operatic metal masterpiece. Therion’s later albums feature a perfect fusion of operatic elements with heavy metal. In addition to the traditional metal instruments, they have a large symphony section, and a choir of operatic vocalists. The result is something unlike anything else you’ve ever heard, and it’s all orchestrated by Christofer Johnsson, a man with no formal music education. Now that’s impressive.If you’re new to Therion, this is an excellent place to start. Every track on this album is strong, but “To Mega Therion” is my favorite, not only on this album but in their entire catalogue. Be prepared to have it stuck in your head for a long time. Other favorites are “Nightside of Eden” and the very cool “Invocation of Naamah,” and the end track, “Grand Finale/Postludium,” which closes things off on a real high note. Quite simply, if you want to know what operatic metal sounds like at its very best, this album is essential. The only criticism I have is that Johnsson’s vocals could be better, but it’s such a minor thing on a record of this calibre.From here, I’d recommend going to “Secret of the Runes,” which is my second favorite of Therion’s. It’s a little different in that the operatic elements are more pronounced, and Johnsson’s vocals are completely absent in favor of the choir, but still first-class work. If you’re curious about their older, death metal stuff, you might want to check out “Live In Midgård” to get an overview of their whole catalogue, though I don’t think it’s been released in North America as of the time of this writing, so you may have to get an import.