In a world where some music has become stagnant and boring, with fewer bands really exploring their sound and with more albums that not only sound the same, but have nothing meaning to say either, Turisas are a breath of fresh air. The Finnish folk metal six-piece are not only truly epic, a word that is thrown about so much now that it has almost lost all meaning (but is a perfectly label for Turisas‘ music), creating music to rouse the spirit, they are also among the elite few who still have something to say with their music. Stand Up and Fight continues to develop the themes of 2007’s concept album The Varangian Way, while not actually being a sequel.
Turisas has updated their image for this album which accompanies their developing sound, adding a post-apocalyptic element to their current Viking theme. Don’t worry though, they still wear their iconic red and black warpaint. The lyrics focus primarily on the 11th century Byzantine Empire, written so as to have a universal appeal and be concurrently applicable to the modern world, something that their updated image has allowed them to do.
The album impresses with a return to the kind of hooks that made Turisas‘ début Battle Metal so popular (especially in the UK). However, this is no Battle Metal 2, presenting a better complete album, featuring more story telling and better flow between tracks than their début. While the choruses are not as huge as those prominent on the anthems of Battle Metal, this is to be expected with the greater devotion placed on perfecting an overall album that is Turisas‘ overall goal. It is the music that makes the hooks in Stand Up and Fight particularly impressive, and with real string and horn sections used for the first time they really make an impression.
Their typical style is even more bombastic with the inclusion of these real string and horn sections. The composition is grandiose, beautiful and sprawling throughout, full of melody and capable of inspiring both joy and sorrow, sounding almost like a film score. The imagery is wonderful and is something that was almost completely missing from Battle Metal. The most important element of this album is the instrumentation, and here it stands out in a way that Turisas have not previously managed. In addition to all of this, the album is superbly produced and Mathias‘ vocals are better than they have ever been before, which makes Stand Up And Fight the most aesthetically pleasing album Turisas‘ have ever made.
While ‘Take the Day!’ and ‘Stand Up and Fight’ are both particularly noteworthy anthems, with mighty choruses and rousing instrumentation, ‘βένετοι! – πράσινοι!’ is less vocal focused and brilliantly atmospheric, demonstrating Turisas‘ increasingly impressive repertoire. That said, some tracks seem to be going somewhere then takes an unexpected turn causing a lose of momentum, such as in the otherwise very good ‘Fear the Fear’.
However, the Finns haven’t simply added different types of song to their stock, but have also expanded upon their mainstay anthemic tracks, with ‘Hunting Pirates’ being an obvious example. This track features the kind of sound and chorus one might expect from Alestorm! Likewise, the bonus tracks ‘Supernaut’ and ‘Broadsword’ (covers of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull respectively) flaunt Turisas‘ ability to blend their signature style with vastly different tracks to create something new and very much their own.
Fans may find Stand Up And Fight a little hit and miss at first, but this is one of those albums that gets better the more you hear it. This hit/miss impression is partly due to the hybrid nature of the tracks, though this ensures that there is something for every Turisas fan. Once embraced the album’s variety works in such a way that the album doesn’t feel disconnected and beauty really shines through.