Monday, March 28, 2011

New Album: Turisas - Stand Up And Fight

I think the thing that draws me to Turisas is the massive scope of their songs and albums. Don't get me wrong, I love the songs of war, and the power therein derived, but whenever I sit down to hear one of their discs, I can't help but being reminded (as much as one could be) of a group traveling bards, belting out their wares. They tell epic stories, multi-faceted instrumentations, and use several styles of vocals. It's almost like hearing a play unfolding.

The thought of hearing a play coming through your speakers is magnified several times with Turisas' newest release, Stand Up And Fight. For this one the group decided to go into a new direction, incorporating an orchestra, making their usual layered sound into something colossal. Secondly, they've really taken the 'storytelling' aspect of folk/power metal to an almost extreme - gone is the more conventional song structure that was prevalent in Battle Metal, instead long narratives and multiple movements per song are the new norm.

It's a double-edged sword, the new directions and styles they are incorporating. On the one hand, lacking a usual song structure moves the album away from any like-genred acts, for they are truly unique. On the other, some of the songs are really hard to get into, because of a lack of usual progression and a repeating style. Along the same lines, the wealth of sound that the orchestra brings does some amazing things; I don't think I could like "Hunting Pirates" any more, but for some songs it takes away from the power, sounding kind of silly. For songs like "Venetoi! - Prasinoi!" and "The Bosphorus Freezes Over" there is just too much scope and not enough substance.

"Hunting Pirates," "The Great Escape," "Fear The Fear," and the cover of Jethro Tull's "Broadsword" are some great songs - making the album worth it just for these few tracks. "Hunting Pirates" reminds more most of early Turisas, from the Battle Metal era, while "The Great Escape" and "Fear The Fear" could have easily came from The Varangian Way recording sessions. The cover is an added treat, and really one of the best songs on the album. I don't know the Jethro Tull version (the original), but the style flows wonderfully with Turisas folk metal roots. "Broadsword" is the slowest song of the album, almost seeming like power doom, and the most straight-forward, but I think after hearing the varied approach of Stand Up And Fight, having something a little more dull (at least in production) is exactly what I was craving.

I suppose the short and skinny of it is this: while enjoyable, Stand Up And Fight is not what I've come to expect from Turisas. It's too loose, striving too far from the folk and metal roots of its predecessors, trading in the in-your-face war music (battle metal if you will) for something you might need to don your Sunday's best to listen to. Still worth the listen, this is not a negative review, just not an overwhelmingly positive one either. If your a fan, you will still be one after a listen, there is no worry about that.

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