Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Turisas2013 Album Review

Okay! Today is the North American release of Finnish Folk Metal band Turisas's new album, Turisas2013. Looks like this:

Final Verdict: 4/5
Standout Tracks: Greek Fire, We Ride Together

Turisas2013 presents a slightly new sound for the (commonly deemed) "Battle Metal" group. Changes in the group's lineup, and (especially) the addition of keyboard player Robert Engstrand mean big changes for the overall sound of the music. With this album, Turisas has leaned ever more towards the Power Metal side of their music. Including more pounding double bass, fewer harsh vocals, and even synths!

Turisas has sacrificed their historical, storied approach to albums with this release, instead going with a more upbeat, dancy set of tracks that break quicker to the point of the story. The songs are a tad scattered in subject matter, but with their unity of sound and songwriting they all fit together nicely. With this new approach, Turisas has evolved naturally into a vivid new direction. Though Turisas listeners may at first question the new sound (I did), the album quickly begins to feel... right.

Tracks like "For Your Own Good," "Into The Free," and "The Days Passed" are prime examples of this new sound. All of these fall more into the Power Metal side of their Battle Metal style, featuring faster drums, quicker guitars, and higher, more upbeat vocals from Mathias. "Run Bhang-Eater, Run!" is an interesting song with a folk dance sound resemblant of the band's "Rasputin" cover. (Except with sex. I mean sax. Or both...)

"Greek Fire" is a fantastic example that the old "Battle Metal" isn't gone for good. They blend just enough of their new sound into their old here: heavy riffs; harsh, shouting vocals mixed with long slow ones; and just enough history. "No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea" is about alcohol. (Yep.) It's something in the vein of Alestorm's "Rum" and Korpiklaani's "Vodka," except less self aware (and therefore less fun). However, the final track of Turisas2013, "We Ride Together," I can see quickly becoming a fan favorite. It's an upbeat, inspiring track with a "go forth and conquer" mentality about it. Makes you wanna jump on a horse and charge into battle alongside your warrior brethren.

The album does seem a little short, though. It's only nine tracks long, and the tracks are relatively short for Turisas songs. (The Varangian Way was only eight tracks long, but their length made up for that: if you listened to the whole album, it felt like it was properly paced and didn't necessarily feel too long or short.) Turisas2013 also lacked a powerful finisher. (Yes, the last track is great, but it feels more like a normal track than a resonating finish.)

Overall, I give Turisas's Turisas2013 a strong four out of five. It isn't perfect, by any means. But it's a bold new direction for the group that they've embraced. I believe that Turisas fans new and old alike will come to appreciate what the group is doing. And to Turisas, I encourage you guys to keep doing what you're doing and make the music your heart tells you to!