To say that Turisas2013 is a strange one is a bit of an understatement. Although I would definitely describe this album as a ‘grower’, it is by no means their best release and I have to admit that upon my first listen, not a single track stood out to me. A few more listens later just to make sure, I did manage to connect with a couple of songs but the fact of the matter is that the album just doesn’t seem to have the energy or pack the same punch as their previous releases.
One of the things I really respect about Turisas is that they do whatever the hell they want. They don’t pander to the masses that are screaming out for another Battle Metal album (never mind the fact that their first three albums have got progressively better!); they just write exactly what they want to and release that. The band has already received some downright ridiculous backlash from calling the album Turisas2013 and their new Toxic Vision costumes, with ‘fans’ saying they are worried about how the album will sound because of this but considering that this has no bearing on the actual music, you have to wonder whether some people care more about the aesthetics than the music itself!
As a clarification – I am not one of those fans. I take each album as it comes, regardless of what it is called or what they are dressed in (both of which I personally love with Turisas2013), so this review really is just about the music.
The album begins with For Your Own Good, which the band have already released for listening on YouTube. The track itself isn’t too bad but it maybe isn’t the right choice to open the album with. It’s a little here-and-there and not quite memorable enough to make the perfect first impression. In fact, it only feels like the album has truly begun when the second track, Ten More Miles kicks in.
Ten More Miles is the standout track of the album and one that I can see going down an absolute treat live, with the chanted lyrics of “Turisas! You can count on us!” simply screaming out for some crowd participation. Instrumentation and structure-wise, the drums in it are foot-tappingly awesome, the energetic bridge/chorus contrasts nicely with the slightly slower-paced verses and the lyrics are a work of art. The track is billed as being made in honour of the fans who told them how much their previous album Stand Up And Fight helped them on a personal level and the subject really shines through and helps make the track one to remember. A truly stunning track.
However once this track is over, the album takes a little bit of a nosedive. Piece By Piece starts off with a truly epic intro but then the track becomes somewhat cluttered and disjointed, with a lot of different ideas within the track that don’t quite link together. The drums seem to clash with the song as a whole and there are riffs and melodies that just don’t seem to fit into the song.
Similarly, fifth track Run Bhang-Eater, Run! is a track that is just overall confusing. It has a lively light-hearted introduction that looks set to be one of those songs that will get the whole room dancing like crazy in a live setting, but then when we get to just after the one-minute mark the tracks loses all momentum and appears to feature the sound-effect of a woman having an orgasm – and there just wasn’t any sort of need for that. The track does pick up a little afterwards with another fun and bouncy line but then it once again runs into a painfully slow section (thankfully without the moans this time!) and the track gradually trails away before fading out into nothing.
Similarly, Greek Fire just doesn’t seem to grab me. The lyrical subject matter is highly interesting but the vocals are lacklustre and the instrumentation is repetitive with nothing massively memorable in it aside from the violin solo, but thankfully the album does pick up a little by the time track seven, The Days Passed, is reached. The track as a whole sounds a little similar to The Heart Of Turisas (the original version of their most famous song Battle Metal), but with a fresher tone and more original sound. The aggression and emotion in frontman Mathias’s vocals really shines through and the violin solo from Olli is one of the best I have ever heard him play!
No Good Story Ever Starts By Drinking Tea is a sarcastic take on those drinking songs that seem to be popular with folk metal crowds at the moment, and it is a truly wonderful and brilliantly hilarious track. I get the impression that some people won’t quite “get” this song and treat it as one of those “SUPER AWESOME DRINKING SONGS” without paying attention to the lyrics – but maybe the band were aiming for this! Also the hilarious little section of the song featuring a chipmunk sample of March Of The Varangian Guard is nothing short of a work of art. Definitely the most fun track of the album.
The album closes with We Ride Together and to say that it is disappointing is somewhat of an understatement. Their previous three albums have finished with hugely epic tracks and this one kind of falls flat on its face in comparison. Whilst Mathias gives a fantastic vocal performance throughout and the track has a nice thick musical texture, it feels like something is missing and by the time it ended, I couldn’t help but want more – it was as if the final track of the album was cut and this should have been the penultimate one. It isn’t necessarily a bad track, just not the right track to end the album with.
Will I be at their upcoming UK tour in October? You bet! Regardless of what I think of Turisas2013, I’ll still be there, dressed head to toe in a handmade costume and covered in red and black paint. I’ll always love their live show and who knows – maybe seeing some of the new material in a live environment will change my mind on the album! But for now, I’m afraid I will have to admit that Turisas2013 just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me. A shame really, considering that this was one of the albums I was most excited to hear this year and Turisas are one of my favourite bands.
My advice? Save your money and just go and see them live instead.