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Stand Up And Fight

Century Media (2011)
Rating: 8/10

Well, blow me down. It’s time for yet another Turisas album. Like Alestorm, a certain publication that may or may not rhyme with Kettle Spammer have declared them as spearheading a true / folk / pineapple movement of metal. Which is why they completely ignored 2004’s Battle Metal, but whatever, it’s been four years since The Varangian Way which left me slightly cold, but what can the facepainted Scandinavians cook up this time?

Links to the sophomore album are evident in the opening ‘The March Of The Varangian Guard’, and the low choral male vocals that ring in the chorus are trademark Turisas, and even if you’re slightly into them, you’ll love Stand Up And Fight, even if ‘Hunting Pirates’ is horrendously gimmicky and token and stands out from the rest of the record like a sore thumb. This is compounded by the fact that the band have stated that their third album leans more towards historical accuracy in the lyrics.

So, yes. It’s one of those albums that is almost a concept album, but isn’t. The lyrics are the most important part, and while Turisas have never been the strongest songwriters, the title track has a storming riff and bounce to it, and ‘Venetoi! – Prasinoi!’ has a gigantic classical bombast to it which would thunder along with any of the “heavier” classical composers. The emphasis is on creating an atmosphere as well as an unrelentingly hooky song, and at times the catch of ‘The Great Escape’ will stick in your head for hours after you’ve heard it.

The clean vocals are a giant improvement on Stand Up And Fight, the chorus of ‘Fear The Fear’ and the titanic penultimate track have more than a dash of pseudo-prog in the vein of later Savatage. Perhaps it’s tackling the grandiose idea that both have done, and for a change, Turisas have exceeded my expectations and created something of a masterpiece, as ‘End Of An Empire’ roars “We are slaughtered, we burn, in the name of our faith” in a captivating juxtaposition against more choral vocals. The spoken finale over the mournful ‘The Bosphorus Freezes Over’ is like an epitaph to the rage and maelstrom that precedes it, almost like the closing credits of a film.

The best thing they’ve done to date, seeing as I’ll happily sit through this time and again and never once listened all the way through Battle Metal in one sitting. Turisas have stepped their game up massively with Stand Up And Fight, putting every other pagan on the back foot to try and top this.

Alex Mullings

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