Secret of the Runes is a concept album whose concept is centuries old. Norse mythology is said to have nine different worlds or planes, and each world gets a track devoted to it. With the lyrics that are sung in several different languages, it's hard to keep up unless you're a UN translator in your spare time. However, the operatic overtures transcend verbal communication, as every song swells and recedes with majestic aplomb, taking the listener on a ride that sounds more like a very loud opera instead of anything with a metallic base. Christofer Johnsson's gothic flair for the dramatic has never been more pronounced than on this, the band's tenth album, and the life he breathes into underground metal will make up for the breath it takes away from its listeners. Metallica's forays with a symphonic orchestra sound like being stuck between two radio stations compared to the seamless integration of metallic trappings and Wagnerian soundscapes. Therion continues to be one of the most painstakingly original acts, and even those who think the band strays too far from their roots with each subsequent album have to marvel at the musicianship and imagination Therion displays on Secret of the Runes.
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AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill