Review Summary: Solid first effort from the Finnish band.
Turisas are a 5 piece folk metal band hailing from the town of Hämeenlinna in the south of Finland. By fusing a wide variety of instruments and sounds they create a very symphonic, yet occasionally fierce sound in this clever marriage of genres that they call “Battle Metal”. Listening to this, the similarities with other Scandinavian folk/pagan metal bands becomes immediately apparent. The use of accordions is reminiscent of Finntroll and using choirs for backing vocals seems to be a growing trend in modern metal.
- Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygård: vocals, alto, soprano and sopranino recorders, programming, additional percussion
- Tude Lehtonen:drums/percussion (djembe, udu, congas, bongos, electric percussion)
- Antti Ventola: synthesizers, piano, vibraphone, Hammond organ
- Jussi Wickström: electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, double bass
- Georg Laakso: electric and acoustic guitar
Album opener Victoriae & Truimphi Dominus
starts with a very nice instrumental involving horns, violins and choral vocals, amongst more common instruments. The vocals in this intro are actually extremely eerie, with the beautiful female shrieks working delightfully against the deeper, rougher vocals of the men. This track definitely invokes an anticipation of what’s to come, and sets the rest of the album off brilliantly. In comparison to this intro, most tracks are much heavier, although structured just as well. Eponymous track Battle Metal
is absolutely stunning, definitely one of the best on the album. The horns and violins especially deserve praise on this track as they are phenomenal. The chanted chorus is as good as any you will hear, and I can tell you from experience that this track is exceptional live.
Other standout tracks on this album are the catchy One More
and the one true epic Rex Regi Rebellis
. The former has in my opinion has the best chorus on the album and a beautiful introduction involving a marriage of horns and strings. The latter being an all encompassing collection of everything that is good about the album, wonderfully crafted into seven minutes and ten seconds of pure folky metallic bliss. The album is structured expertly by producers Terje Refsnes and vocalist Mathias Nygård, with a flexible track listing that allows short burst of the heavier, metal biased tracks, separated by more instrumentally focussed folksy tracks. This allows the casual listener a little respite between the heavier sections, which makes this a good album to start with if you are new to metal. The production is also spot on, allowing the raw feeling of the music to reign free whilst also controlling and layering the many instruments very well.
The musicianship displayed by the band deserves mention. Technicality is a typical attribute of folk metal, but Turisas are one of the more skillful bands out there. The violins are the high point of the album, excelling frequently. This is especially noticeable on the slower, more instrumentally focussed tracks such as Sahti-Waari
which also makes great use of the flute and the accordion, and has a particularly folksy guitar structures. In fact the only instrument not utilized to its full potential would be the keyboards, whose major problem is over usage. Frequently throughout this album, the keyboards dominate the other instruments instead of working in tandem, which is frustrating, but bearable.
Another strength of the album is the vocal strengths of warlord Nygård. His voice seems almost perfect for the style that Turisas have implemented, pulling off angry, raspy vocals just as skilfully as softer, cleaner ones. However it is the narratorial style vocals that he occasionally adopts that make the vocals great. These vocals can first be heard about 3 minutes in on As Torches Rise
and he also chooses to use them in Prologue To R.R.R
which is a brilliant track if you are at all interested in Finnish folklore. Another nice touch is the female backing vocals that are occasionally evident, the best example of these would be in Midnight Sunrise
Overall this album is a must get for fans of the genre, and should definitely be checked out by fans of either metal or folk music, as there is definitely something for both here. The majestic instrumentation and crisp vocals are intertwined nicely, and the songs, although a little repetitive towards the back end of the album, are all of a high standard.
Rex Regi Rebellis
Overall 3.5 Great