Finnish "battle metal" titans Turisas will deliver their eclectic sophomore effort, The Varangian Way on July 17, 2007. A conceptually based, metal-musical set in the 9th-11th centuries that chronicles the journey of the "Varangians" by river through East Europe. Does it work? Read on…
Musically and culturally, the band compliments the lyrical themes with interesting and relevant musical passages that express the range of the bands diversity. Metal, Folk and Classical are woven together seamlessly to satisfy those looking for more of a musical challenge. Many members of this band come from a non-metal musical background and even though a latent interest in the medium exists… musical skill and an open mind helps create something "more pure" in interpretation-- and that holds true even if the whole thing is a corporate scam. At times, some of the symphonic element found throughout the recording can sound a little to close to Dimmu Borgir; especially, when played over double bass, but that is the most noticeable time (3:56- "Five Hundred And One") where the band lacks its own personal identity. Rhythmically speaking, they offer so much more. When the band transposes some of those tricky folk melodies (think, Polka-Prog) in the song "Court of Jarisleif" into full metal epics, that's where the reward is sweetest and most notable. Never does the progressive instrumentation feel like its showboating; everything is done with purpose. Again, those non-metal backgrounds help take them higher. It's also worth mentioning that vocalist Warlord pretty much creates the "theatrical breakdown" in the song 'Five Hundred and One'. It's here where he is in full recitation mode over a lone keyboard and you can almost see the curtain come down when he is finished to segue the arrival of the next section. Does it go too far? Hmmm. It probably depends on your mood. But what is certain is that competing interests are always set in opposition to each other in this sort of twisted mental/musical chess match drama.
In terms of production value this is huge. Although not a sound-a-like, Death Cult Armageddon comes to mind due to its similar use of expansive royalty. No low-budget black metal production found here. Every color-filled sound is well developed and easily attainable from a variety of eq settings.
The bands visual theatrics could provide the biggest challenge to some; maybe even more than the music itself. The look could be described as a cross between Gwar and Manowar. It walks a fine line between novelty and supplemental appeal and only time will tell how the whole image fares. At the very least it causes one to question and inevitably, test any assumptions through repeat listening because for some… it wont be settled after the first pass through.
The only thing missing from this adventure… A free case of ale and a complimentary copy of Clan of the Cave Bear!!
1. To Holmgard And Beyond
2. A Portage To The Unknown
3. Cursed Be Iron
4. Fields Of Gold
5. In The Court Of Jarisleif
6. Five Hundred and One
7. The Dnieper Rapids
8. Miklagard Overture