Turisas - _Battle Metal_
(Century Media, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
The sight of grown men dressed to the hilt in medieval garb, performing all manner of unsociable acts with flails and longswords was always going to elicit the odd snicker or two. Thankfully however, this Finnish five-piece's music is leap years beyond the tongue-in-cheek façade that’s depicted in the record’s inlay. One could even go as far as to say that if Bal Sagoth had ever possessed any real sort of talent, then _Battle Metal_ is the album that they would ultimately have ended up making. As irony would have it though, it's taken Turisas only one attempt to craft the musical equivalent of "Braveheart", and they have done so with a staggering degree of songwriting maturity. Not that you'd think so at first, though -- the faux-orchestral introduction that kicks off the album is more reminiscent of the soundtrack to "Rocky 3" than it is an anthem to Middle Age warfare, but when the gee-tars kick in on "As Torches Rise", Turisas are all business from there on out.Along with a healthy dollop of Scandinavian folk, references to just about every cornerstone in metal abound throughout the course of this record -- from the bombastic black metal of Dimmu Borgir, to the sweeping grandiosity of Therion, to the progressive epics of Voivod and the traditional power riffage of Iron Maiden. But to their immense credit, Turisas never once sound like simply the sum of their influences. In fact, one of the only gripes that come to mind in reference to _Battle Metal_ is that the somewhat flat production often times does not allow each instrument the necessary breathing space to shine. For a debut effort however, this is a staggering triumph, and although it may not appeal to everyone, it will certainly get enough heads bobbing to justify its existence. As for me -- I'm off to go and buy myself a chainmail vest as soon as time allows.
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