Review Summary: The battle is lost, the warriors are fallen and the war horns cry defeat
With their last underwhelming album in mind one wouldn’t think that Turisas could move in any direction but up. Well, they have done it again. “Turisas2013” is the band’s biggest disappointment to date. Not only are the melodies lacking and the instrumentation uninspired, the effect of the orchestration has gone from an ironic cool to laughable pretentiousness. On top of that Mr. Warlord Nygård continues to push the envelope with his exploration of clean vocal utilization. At this point it seems fitting to underline that yours truly is a fan of harsh vocals and absolutely loved Turisas’ debut. If you feel that Turisas has been a sinking ship since “Battle Metal”, it is safe to say that the band hits rock bottom with this album. The Finnish instigators of battle metal should think hard about laying down their swords for good. The battle of 2013 is this warrior outfit’s most definite loss so far.
Back in 2004, Turisas arrived as an invigorating wind from the north. Their debut was as refreshing as it was brimful with the naiveté of a hungry newcomer band. At the time, Turisas sounded like the bastard child of Ensiferum and Bal Sagoth. The orchestration was epic, the melodies were instant earworms and the band exuded a youthful will to fight their way up and forth. Three years later the follow-up, “The Varangian Way”, picked up the fight, but already then some signs of retreat were evident. In some ways Turisas brought their successful debut formula further. “To Holmgard and Beyond” is still one of the band’s absolute finest moments. On the other hand, “The Varangian Way” was a lot more inconsistent than its predecessor and signaled a trend which would later become the band’s calling card. 2010’s “Stand up and Fight” was the first real disappointment from Turisas. The title track is the only one worth remembering, while the rest of the album is a sheer display of predictability, in the sense that it merely repeats the band’s earlier endeavors. With their first three albums Turisas went from epic playfulness to stale pompousness.
This brings us till this year’s album, unimaginatively dubbed “Turisas2013”. Production- and style-wise there is not much to talk about. As expected the band picks up where they left off with “Stand up and Fight”. The bombastic orchestrations have never been more downplayed on any of Turisas’ albums. Not that it really matters, since the predicablity is ever pressing when the orchestrations takes precedence. The album kicks off with “For your own Good”, a track reminiscent of the previous album’s title track. As an opener the song works okay, and it is also the best track on the album. The second track is more annoying than epic, with run of the mill guitar riffs, uninspired melody and a weird sounding chorus. Next out is “Piece by Piece”, which is the second and last song displaying anything close to the quality of Turisas’ two first albums. With these songs out of the way there is not much more to write home about on “Turisas2013”. “Into the fire” is Turisas’ take on ompa folk metal, “Run Bhang-eater Run” sounds like Turisas trying to score a French movie, while the four last tracks are nothing but highly predicable folk metal drivel.
To sum up, Turisas has made their worst album to date. Somehow this did not come as a surprise, if taking into account the tendency of their last album. For us who was amazed by the debut and the epic standards of tracks like “Battle Metal” and “Rex Regi Rebellis”, the playfulness of “Land of Hope and Glory” or the catchy atmosphere of “As Torches Rise” and “One More”, “Turisas2013” has nothing to offer. It is as if Warlord Nygård and his companions have lost their heart somewhere along the path. The once so mighty warlords appear pale today in comparison to their prior accomplishments. The development on “Turisas2013” might be symptomatic of a band trying to develop beyond their initial formula. This might not necessarily have been such a terrible thing had not the quality decreased exponentially with each album release. If Turisas shall have any hope of regaining their former glory, they have to return to their initial formula or at least recover the inspirational playfulness that characterized their debut. Either way change has to be implemented. As Turisas stands today, they appear weak and vulnerable. I wouldn’t be surprised if some new battle metalers would dethrone the Finnish warlords with a single cutting edge album. Nothgard are viable candidates in that respect. I would also suggest Turisas fans to check out Starkill’s “New Infernal Rebirth” on Youtube. Now that is how epic extreme metal is done.