Turisas - "Turisas2013" (CD)
"Turisas2013" track listing:
1. For Your Own Good (4:34)
2. Ten More Miles (4:16)
3. Piece by Piece (5:37)
4. Into the Free (3:50)
5. Run Bhang-Eater, Run! (4:43)
6. Greek Fire (4:51)
7. The Days Passed (4:33)
8. No Good Story Ever Starts with Drinking Tea (2:51)
9. We Ride Together (6:33)
Reviewed by CROMCarl on August 29, 2013
I distinctly remember my random conversation with Olli on 70,000 Tons of Metal this past January. After calling him over with “Olli, what the hell is going on with the album,” what ensued was one of the most engaging and candid conversations I’ve ever had with a musician. Vanska went on to tell me that “Mathias is down in the room recording some stuff for it right now.” In a similar fashion with what precipitated the release of "Stones Grow Her Name" from fellow Finns Sonata Arctica, Turisas sent out the feelers that the new release was going to be more varied and "deliberately aimed for a more organic sound." If there was one expectation that I had, it was that this album would be light years away from “Battle Metal,” and that was fine. However, in stark difference to Sonata Arctica (who pulled off a winner), I would have preferred Turisas just incorporate a banjo. The silly “Turisas2013” title was foretelling, as the band has presented an album that feels half there.
When “For Your Own Good” was revealed, it came across much less shocking than the “varied” album led on by Mathias. Even through the very thin production, the song really isn't that farfetched from the band's previous release “Stand Up & Fight.” After that “Ten More Miles,” “Piece By Piece,” and “Into the Free” follow much the same trend, evoking a similar slightly odd, but very cool melodies as with “Take the Day” and “The Great Escape," but far less inspiring. Four songs deep... and I am still searching for that "varied" sound. Sure, the songs aren't overly exciting (sounding more like tracks from the "Stand Up & Fight" cutting floor), the sound is stripped down and production sounds weak, but it still feels like a Turisas album. However, I was hoping for something a little more redefining and less disappointing.
Suddenly, “Run Bhang-Eater, Run!” blasts forth with a fit of psychotic polka. A bit strange, but still not that shocking. A whole lot stranger material exists with bands like Kontrust and Russkaja. But like a broken record, it still wasn’t varied as anticipated, absent the polka, though the orgasmic female moans immediately made me chuckle thinking back to what Olli had said on the cruise. “Greek Fire” is disjointed with a confusing direction and one of the most pointless choruses I have heard in years.
"The Days Passed" begins with better promise – a mid-paced bass beat with Mathias’ stellar vox – which picks up some intensity with a switch to his grittier style. The melody is outstanding, however, the keyboard sounds just a little bit better than what a 10 year old would play on tiny Casio unit. The track is resurrected slightly by one of Jussi Wickstrom’s more interesting guitar solos. "No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea” is a definite candidate for best song title of the year, but plays like a hot mess – complete with a brief, but alarming, Chipmunk rendition of "The March of the Varangian Guard." In time, I am sure this track will be kick ass in a live or karaoke setting, especially when inebriated. “We Ride Together” brings everything back to the start as a brilliant charging anthem that would easily have been the best if not plagued an ugly thin guitar sound and atrociously weak backing vocals.
Overall, both the sound and production are weak, leaving the guitars sounding thin and non-existent. What should be a mighty blow to the gut is more of a slap in the face. With “Stand Up & Fight,” I felt the criticisms of a weak sound were misplaced, as the cinematic nature had made the album trailblazing and one of the band's best. “Turisas2013” will only find Turisas facing harsher and more valid criticism. One portion has half the feel of “Stand Up & Fight,” while the rest comes across rather silly, comical, and pointless. But is half a release that is half there enough? Turisas may have merely tinkered its way to fan polarization. Diehards of “Battle Mettle” and “The Varangian Way” will find this uninspiring and detestable, but casual or new listeners may find some enjoyment in its oddities.
Highs: Half of the release has a "Stand Up & Fight" feel.
Lows: Thin guitar sound, along with strangely produced and sometimes pointless song direction.
Bottom line: "Turisas2013" is a mix of "Stand Up & Fight" castoffs and some silly and pointless experimentation.
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