Stand Up and Fight is the third full-length album by the Finnish symphonic folk metal band Turisas, released in 2011, four years after their previous offering, the highly regarded The Varangian Way. Sound wise at first listen it would seem that not much has changed within Turisas since the last album, delivering more of the same. That would be just fine, since more of the same is very highly appreciated as far as this band is concerned! However on further listens back to back with The Varangian Way is becomes apparent that prominently Stand Up And Fight is much more of a symphonic metal album than a folk metal album. It is true that Turisas has always delivered folk metal in a highly symphonic way, but here it is to the point that some parts of Stand Up and Fight have a Rhapsody of Fire like quality to them, which results in a metal album of really epic proportions. It still has folk in it, by this time symphonic influence has come to the fore.
Opening the album is The March Of The Varangian Guard. An instant highlight of the album, it’s quickly apparent that Stand Up and Fight is the work of a band at the top of their game and the reprise of the chorus of To Holmgard and Beyond, a song from The Varangian Way, as the bridge of the song is sure to bring smiles to the faces of fans of the previous album, even if it is delivered in spoken word rather than sung this time around. Other than this the album is full of excellent tracks and the quality never takes a dive throughout the albums nine track duration. There are of course more true highlights, not least of these is the album’s title track, which has lyrics that are highly addictive and inspire me to listen to the track many many times. The true gem of the album however has to be the album’s longest track, End Of An Empire, which is where the band get so symphonic and epic than acts such as Rhapsody of Fire ought to be taking notes. Musically epic, the song also has a prominent progressive quality to it, you can hear that there’s a lot going on in this track. Vocalist Mathias Nygård delivers some truly exceptional vocals here that really fit the mood.
Nygård really delivers vocally throughout the album though. Like on The Varangian Way he varies his vocals between cleans and some harsher screams, though these are used sparingly and tastefully throughout. A good thing, because his cleans are really epic and suit Turisas’ music the best but when his screams arrive they really cause some punch in the air moments.
Other really great songs include Hunting Pirates (I can’t help think of Turisas in all their Viking glory chasing down Alestorm in some sort of sea bound chase when listening to this song, though mainly because off the title) and The Great Escape. I think that the only track that doesn’t capture me as much as the rest of the album is its closer, The Bosphorus Freezes Over. Maybe it’s because it has to keep me interested straight away after the epic piece that was End of an Empire but it’s also because the majority of the vocal is spoken word and when it isn’t its choir vocals instead and while the choir vocals work very well throughout the majority of Stand Up and Fight, here they don’t quite do it for me. I enjoy the track to a point, and it uses symphonic elements really well to close the album in a nice epic fashion, but it’s a mid-paced affair that seems almost out of place at times and is the only reason I can’t give the album a perfect score.
Overall though I’m very highly impressed by Stand Up and Fight. It’s actually the first album from Turisas that has really caught my attention but it’s firmly placed the band in high regard with me and I certainly won’t be overlooking them again. A highly recommended album for fans of folk and symphonic metal alike.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)