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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Album Review: Turisas - Stand Up and Fight by Devin Walsh

Turisas - Stand Up and Fight
2011 Century Media
Devin Walsh

Turisas is coming fresh off of their newest release Stand Up and Fight, and that’s exactly what I feel like doing even though I don’t have an honorable and just cause. These guys are another solid and unique product of the almighty Finland. I was first introduced to them via the most recent Cradle of Filth tour, and their live show made me take that step and actually pick up their album.

Personally, I love folk metal bands and how they incorporate non-traditional metal instruments into their sound. Turisas does it well with the usage of accordions and violins. Their sound is of epic battle music, as one feels the urge to adorn majestic armor and a 60 pound battle axe. There is a large 80’s influence on the music as it is very grand and, dare I say, fun-sounding.

“The March of the Varangian Guard” is the first track off the album, and I have no idea who the hell the Varangians are, but this song is a perfect match for picturing them march down the green fields of ancient middle earth on their way to battle. The song quickly gets to a big epic chorus that may come across as cheesy, but hey, I like it. The music isn’t overly complicated, but it fits very well with the spirit of their overall sound and image. It really reminds me of a modern day Blind Guardian and Rhapsody mix but with a Turisian twist to it.

“Take the Day” is a very epic sounding song that starts off with a staccato bass line overlaid with a horn section. I can feel the intensity and grandeur in this song from the very beginning. When the song kicks in, I feel like it belongs on a movie soundtrack or something of that nature. It flows into an almost Iron Maiden-like soft and creepy vocal part that leads into the pounding chorus that will instantly make you feel like a warrior. There is something refreshing about their sound that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s almost like feelgood metal.

The following song, “Hunting Pirates” is one that Swashbuckle should watch out for because these warriors are on to you! They set the mood perfectly for a war with pirates as the accordion and grand percussion parts really make you feel like you are on a battleship preparing to pillage and plunder. There are a plethora of songs written by various bands pertaining to pirates, but I find “Hunting Pirates” to be by far the best in setting the mood and really feeling like a pirate song with their unusual instruments and very pirate-like sounds. Turisas doesn’t forget they are playing metal as they have some tasty lead guitar parts thrown in amongst the hunt for pirates.

“Venetoi! – Prasinoi!” is another song thrown at you with horns and an overall very full-sounding mix of instruments. In comparison to many other metal songs with orchestrations and horns, the horns and orchestration in this song take a front seat and really carry the song while being supported by the traditional heavy drums and distorted guitars. If the movie Hook is to ever have a sequel, I vote for this song to be a main staple during one of the battle scenes since I feel like I need to get up and go fight in hand to hand sword combat while being lead by Rufio or Pan himself.

“The Great Escape” is another track that sticks out to me as it combines signature Turisas sounds along with more traditional metal sounds. There are screamed vocals that fit in very well between the pounding drums and folk vibes that permeate throughout the song. Along with all of their other songs, I can almost feel a Broadway type of vibe from it. I think an official Broadway play is in order featuring Turisas as the soundtrack.

The rest of the album continues on in the same manner – battle music that will make you smile at the same time. Turisas certainly have a unique sound as they combine traditional metal elements with folk, while at the same time infusing their own epic end of days battle music. Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in right now, but I walk away from this album with the desire to join a band of pirates or marauders – all with a smile on my face. The music is played very well from top to bottom and I really can’t think of another band who they sound like. There are certainly elements of other bands, but Turisas has their own unique formula that fits just them. I’d recommend to anyone to check out Stand Up and Fight and see if it’s your cup of tea. I don’t think a verbal summary can really give the full picture of what their sound is. Come in with an open mind, no expectations other than you will be checking your local stores for swords, battle axes and armor, and you just may find something unique you never thought you would get in to.

Rating: ***1/2


DPTH International said...

The Varangian's were Baltic Vikings that landed in Russia and surrounding area where they did the usual Viking thang.

I've been a fan of Turisas since their debut "Battle Metal". I find they have a Bal-Sagoth feel. A fun band who do a fine live show.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

You know, I'm sure headbangers play D&D to this stuff, while my group (for the short time I played that crap) were on the Floyd trip...but a game of Risk with Turisas, Battlelore, Finntroll and Enslaved would be a ripping good time.

devin said...

they def. were a fun live show. Their makeup/outfits also add a nice flavor to their entire "package". It was like fun folk metal, but not really folk...I enjoyed it