Thursday, March 10, 2011

Turisas - Stand Up And Fight

Stand Up And Fight
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Although debuting with the strong effort in ‘Battle Metal’ (2004), it was with their sophomore effort ‘The Varangian Way’ (2007) that Finnish act Turisas really managed to stand apart from the crowd, and forge a sound that was different enough from others within the for progressive/folk/metal movement. Now, three years after the release of their live D.V.D. ‘A Finnish Summer With Turisas’ (2008), Turisas (Who now comprise of vocalist Mathias D.G. ‘Warlord’ Nygård, guitarist Jussi Wickström, bassist Hannes ‘Hannu’ Horma, violinist Olli Vänskä, accordion player Netta Skog and drummer/percussionist Tuomas ‘Tude’ Lehtonen) are back with their third full-length effort ‘Stand Up And Fight’.
Much like the difference between their first couple of releases, ‘Stand Up And Fight’ represents another departure from their sound of the past, and one that may take a bit of getting used to by some fans.
The opening track ‘The March Of The Varangian Guard’ is obviously a continuation of where the band last left listeners, with the song stylistically treading the similar ground of their familiar sound. But while there are familiarities, you can’t miss the greater prominence of the orchestral elements within the band’s sound, and the overall crisper production values this time around.
It isn’t until the second song ‘Take The Day!’ gets underway that you see just how much Turisas is willing to push their sound, and really put some distance between themselves and fellow leaders within the progressive/folk/metal genre (Such as Finntroll, Eluveitie, Ensiferum and Korpiklaani). On ‘Take The Day!’, Turisas take influences from ‘80’s stadium hard rock, symphonic metal and Viking metal, and blend them altogether to emerge with a sound that’s quite catchy (Especially with Nygård sticking primarily to his clean vocal style), and overall nothing you would generally associate with Turisas, sound wise.
‘Hunting Pirates’ is O.K., but loses its appeal after a few spins with its cheesy sea shanty sing-a-long chorus, while the title track ‘Stand Up And Fight’ (Which is also the first single from the album) just sounds too flat and lifeless to excite much.
The album does pick up with the cinematic/orchestral based ‘βένετοι! - πράσινοι!’ (Which translates from Greek as ‘Venice! - Green!’), while the guitar driven and heavy ‘The Great Escape’ is a true stand out cut on the album.
‘Fear The Fear’ and the epic ‘End Of An Empire’ are further examples of Turisas pushing their sound into new regions with the melodic aspect of their song writing being combined with a greater orchestral accompaniment. But while some of the tracks mentioned before weren’t entirely successful, these two tracks fare much better with repeat listens.
Finishing up the album is ‘The Bosphorus Freezes Over’, which is another cinematic piece with some interesting choral work, but still feels a little short on ideas to keep it interesting throughout its entire running length.
On ‘Stand Up And Fight’, Turisas have tried out some new ideas, which is commendable and welcome. But unfortunately, not all of their ideas work, which leaves the album sounding quite patchy in places.
For me, ‘The Varangian Way’ still stands as Turisas’ strongest effort. But if Turisas continue to develop the ideas heard throughout ‘Stand Up And Fight’, I believe that the Finns still have an even stronger release in them for the future.

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© Justin Donnelly