TURISAS — Turisas2013 (review)

TURISAS — Turisas2013 album cover Album · 2013 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Turisas2013 (2013) is the fourth full-length album by Finnish metal act Turisas. It’s possibly the all time winner for the worst named album award and certainly raised my eyebrows when it was first announced. But Turisas have certainly made their mark by this stage in their career so while the title may be cheesy as hell and incite some sniggering it's not really a reason to dismiss the release.

Turisas have however, in my opinion at least, always been a love them or hate them kind of band. Originally a folk metal act who made their name with the albums Battle Metal (2004) and The Varangian Way (2007), they began to change their sound towards a more dominant symphonic metal approach with their previous release Stand Up and Fight (2011), further spiced with folk, power and progressive metal elements. Despite being a fan of folk metal Stand Up and Fight was the release that won me over to Turisas.

Turisas2013 continues down roughly the same path, although it would be very easy to consider this the album that Turisas lost the plot on, not only because of that title. It's certainly their quirkiest bunch of songs they've ever put to record, but also their most grand and varied. It's difficult to really put a precise genre on a release like this but I guess at the end of the day symphonic metal still suffices although I've half a mind of brand this as avant-garde and be done with it.

I've given Turisas2013 several listens now and it's certainly proved a difficult listen. Musically the band, who have gone through some line-up changes since Stand Up and Fight, are superb, as is the clean singing of Warlord Mathias Nygård (I have never been that impressed with his growls and that remains true of Turisas2013). Overall Turisas2013 reminds me of ideas hinted at on Stand Up and Fight, in particular a song called End of an Empire; theatrics being an element that quickly stands out. This isn't a description that applies to all of Turisas2013, but certainly stronger portion of it than on its predecessor.

Power metal plays a fairly large role in several songs, such as Piece by Piece. I'm also tempted to say it's these moments when the album seems it's most focused but that's difficult because then you also have a song like Run Bhang-Eater, Run! This is actually the main folk metal contribution to Turisas2013 but it's also got some power metal. It's easily the strangest song. I'm afraid that I have to admit to not being anything close to an expert on the folk music of different cultures and countries but to hazard a guess I'd say the folk in Run Bhang-Eater, Run! is influenced by a Balkan or perhaps Arabic country. There are also some sex moans. It's certainly a different and interesting track for Turisas, but those sex moans do make it incredibly awkward to listen to.

"Random" would be a good way to describe Turisas2013. This isn't an album that seems to have been made with any intent for it to be anything in particular. You even have a track like No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea, which is pretty much a drinking song. I'd be more inclined to expect something like this from an act like Alestorm, but for Turisas it sees them going into some unexpected 'hard to take them seriously' territory, so I'd say eyebrows can safely be raised for more than just the album's title.

There are still shades of the Turisas that impressed me so much with Stand Up and Fight on Turisas2013, such as the song Ten More Miles, but overall this is such a perplexing album that even after several listens I still can't make up my mind whether I actually like it or not. I know I certainly don't love it the way I loved Stand Up and Fight however. I know I don't hate it either. But do I like it? Maybe I'll make up my mind on that one day but for now I'm going to leave Turisas2013 with a three and a half stars range rating; the music and clean vocals are praiseworthy enough to have earned that however ultimately the only thing this album succeeded in doing is to leave me wonder what the hell I just listened to. No album has ever done that before, so I guess this is one unique achievement that Turisas2013 has earned.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/turisas-turisas2013-t3314.html)
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