Your first thought upon having listened to Turisas2013 in its entirety for the first time, might very well be, “what the bloody hell just happened?” Then again, if you’re familiar with the Finnish folk metal band, chances are that it’s a feeling you have come to expect when listening to a Turisas album for the first time. I know I have, and I’m still flabbergasted whenever I first lay ears on what Mathias “Warlord “ Nygård and his band have in store for us. The only thing is, with Turisas2013 it started sooner than normal, with the announcement of the album title, which is, we can fairly say, crap. When the band released For Your Own Good as a streaming track in advance, however, I was quite ready and set for disappointment.
For Your Own Good is Turisas2013’s opening track, and although it has started to grow on me, it’s still a weirdly fragmented song. It has some good ideas and some nice melodies, but it feels stitched together from too many ideas, and therefore, feels disjointed. Luckily, the album picks up after that, and we are treated to a gloriously weird album, which is as engrossing in its epic-ness as it is off-putting in strangeness. Turisas has never been a normal band in that they create a mould for themselves to follow, but rather evolves from album to album. This new work is only the next step in that journey, and needless to say, the vast amount of people who loved Battle Metal back in 2004 will once again find themselves scratching their heads.
For those who persevere and are able to enjoy the more orchestral and musical approach the band took on The Varangian Way and Stand Up and Fight, however, there is a lot to like on Turisas2013. From the straightforward marching song Ten More Miles to the oddly progressive Piece by Piece and into the both hauntingly catchy and very poppy Into the Free, there are no two songs alike on this album, and there is a lot of crazy stuff going on this time. There’s the strangely Jewish sounding Run Bhang-Eater Run! with its crazy flutes and its porn saxophone in the middle (including female moaning) if you want your music bonkers. Just as weird is the upbeat drinking song No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea, with what sounds like the Smurfs chanting a line from the 2011 song The March Of The Varangian Guard. If you want weird, we have it for you right here.
With Greek Fire (and the aforementioned Into the Free), there’s also still some really heavy metal to enjoy. Turisas may have become softer over the years, but here they prove they can still be heavy as fuck when they want to. We Ride Together is the closing track to this very varied album, and it’s one of those songs the Finnish band does best, with a galloping rhythm, epic choirs and some really effective orchestration. It’s one of those songs that make you go for the repeat button as soon as it’s finished.
In the end, the only real complaint I have about Turisas2013, is that it’s a tad too short with a mere nine songs and clocking in little over forty-one minutes. It is, however, a ridiculously varied album that strikes a surprisingly good balance between the angry metal of old and the new, more melodic approach, and that same balance can be found this time between epic, serious material and the band fooling around. It’s odd where it can be, and great when greatness is needed. Turisas2013 is definitely not for everyone, and is in many ways a “love it or hate it” record. I, for one, love it.
Label: Century Media
- For Your Own Good (4:34)
- Ten More Miles (4:16)
- Piece by Piece (5:37)
- Into The Free (3:50)
- Run Bhang-Eater, Run! (4:43)
- Greek Fire (4:51)
- The Days Passed (4:33)
- No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea (2:51)
- We Ride Together (6:33)
- Mathias “Warlord” Nygård – vocals, percussion
- Jussi Wickström – guitar
- Jesper Anastasiadis – bass guitar
- Jaakko Jakku – drums, percussion
- Olli Vänskä – violin
- Robert Engstrand – keyboard
Review by Ralph Plug