Shortly before Therion’s performances in Athens and Thessaloniki, Christofer Johnsson talks with Dimitris Kazantzis about the releases of Leviathan’s project as well as about a not-so-common show memory of him from our country. I guess “Leviathan II” was created under the global pandemic conditions. How was this new experience? Did you find something positive in all the chaos that was created and stopped people’s lives? Did you say at some point, “Oh, here’s an opportunity!”?

Christofer Johnsson: We were in our recording cycle, so it didn’t ruin as much for our live performance as for many other bands. The main thing was that we had to record everything on distance as we live in different countries and the airports shut down. If we consider that the pandemic is over, as far-fetched as this may sound, how do you find the situation now? For example, in the last two months, a dozen or so tours by well-known bands have been canceled for financial reasons…

Christofer Johnsson: In the aftermath the result was insane prices for crew and tour busses, but the biggest problem now is the insane energy prices as a result of the sanctions against Russia. At the moment it’s not much point touring in Europe. We will just play Malta as a warm up VIP show, Istanbul and Athens and then we fly to Latin America instead (where things are still normal) and do 24 shows there. With “Leviathan II” we are in the middle of a trilogy, have you already completed the concept in your mind or is even its creator waiting for any development, beyond what we already know about the myth?

Christofer Johnsson: We wrote all three albums at the same time. The third part is almost recorded. How do you plan to present the new album? Maybe in conjunction with the first part of Leviathan, or should we expect something bigger with “Leviathan III” and the completion of the concept?

Christofer Johnsson: It’s like any concert when you have a new album, except we now have two albums we haven’t toured, so there will be a few songs from Leviathan I + II and then old classics. Just like every time there’s a new release. Would you like to single out any of Therion’s previous shows in Greece? Do you remember anything special?

Christofer Johnsson: We had a show cancelled in Thessaloniki in 2012 and we really thought that sucked. So we rented some acoustic guitars and made a spontaneous unplugged concert at a bar. It felt great being able to play after all and it was our first time ever playing unplugged, so it was a lot of improvisation and fun actually. Therion are the pioneers in the prevalence of the symphonic sound in metal, “Theli” seems to have reinvented the wheel back then. How do you see the progress of symphonic metal nowadays?

Christofer Johnsson: I don’t think it has progressed much the last 15 years. It has become “normal” metal with time and these days it’s not considered spectacular at all anymore. So, the bands keep writing new songs and release albums just like any other type of metal bands. Nothing wrong with that. Do you feel the need to create music beyond Therion? To deal with another musical idiom, possibly…

Christofer Johnsson: I have my side project Luciferian Light Orchestra for fulfilling my need to write more retro sounding stuff. I’m planning to do a second album after Leviathan III is done (Ed, Luciferian Light Orchestra have released their self-titled debut album in 2015 and an EP a year later). Is there anything you would like to say that you’d never been asked in any interview before?

Christofer Johnsson: I doubt that. They have been pretty good at covering most things to ask.