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Stand Up and Fight review

Turisas  - Stand Up and Fight (Album)


Full Sails Ahead

Currently touring with Cradle of Filth, Turisas is set to release another album of bombastic pagan metal. With a lineup of musicians playing accordion, violin, keyboard and the typical metal instruments, Turisas seems more like a classical ensemble than the melodic death/thrash/pagan style that characterizes their native Finland. Nowhere does this comparison ring more true than their latest recording Stand Up and Fight.

Resounding horns kick the album off in a heroic fashion on “The March of the Varangian Guard.” Not only linked in title, the rolling chug of guitars, epic chorus lines and marching drum beats also link this track to the dynamic music of the preceding album The Varangian Way. Said track is one of the album’s heaviest numbers, briefly stripping away most instruments for a vocal solo. Here, Mathias D.G. "Warlord" Nygård's vocals resemble a skald (ancient Scandinavian poet). Even during such a quiet moment, the band keeps the action flowing through militarist drums.

Without these drums, other tracks rely on gentle cymbal hits and fantasy-laden keyboards during softer, narrative-based moments. None of the speed metal riffing of Turisas’s Finnish metal kin make an appearance. Mid-paced riffing, glorious choruses, black metal vocal tones and pounding drums (no blasts) create a massive dynamic when transitioned from the subtle narrations. The loudness of their keyboards tends to drown out the folk instruments, again, linking this album more to Western European classical music than folk.

“Hunting Pirates” fittingly highlights accordions, lending this track a note pirate-ale-hall authenticity. Take a closer listen and you’ll hear the violin, but again, the keyboards stand out most and obscure the other instruments. “The Great Escape” is the only track containing the type of medieval riff one expect to hear from a pagan metal band. The mid tempo guitar parts and classical leanings have more in common with Manowar and Virgin Steele than Ensiferum and Isengard.

Turisas’s take on Viking/folk metal is definitely unique, and their live performance is next to none. Many of these bands harp to death the medieval riff and feature little or no ethnic instrumentation, while some focus almost entirely on woodsy instruments. Turisas features all of these styles, but the classical sound of the keys dominates. Stand Up and Fight will instill a strong sense of power and might upon its listener, but lacks the amount of metal to make it a masterpiece.

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by Darren Cowan, on February 25, 2011
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