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In the folk metal world, Turisas have always been one of the more fun acts to partake in. Both album recordings and live settings have given this reviewer a good dose of sword-swinging, fist-pumping sensations, placing these Finnish fiends in the upper strata of Holmgard and beyond. And while I must shake my fist at them for taking WAY too fucking to record a follow up to the stellar “The Varangian Way”, I still maintained a vigil of patience until the time came when this sucker would come storming down the hills, pelt-clad and painted of the face and ready to beat my head in in the name of heathenry.
So let’s see if time and tours have been nice to these guys…
Well…what can I say? At first listen, I was not quite sure what to make of “Stand Up and Fight”. It’s not a bad album. It’s just confusing. And very ambitious. I’m sure it would’ve been far easier on the group to play it safe and try to repeat the successive formula of “Battle Metal” and “The Varangian Way”, but instead this listener is treated with a Hollywood-style orchestral soundtrack, replete with swaths of strings, brass, and woodwinds cascading all around like proverbial waterfalls, with occasional moments where they remember that they’re a metal band and act accordingly. The orchestral maneuvers (in the dark) are very rich and well-arranged, easily taking the listener into a mental journey of Middle-Earthian proportions replete with vast wildernesses, shining armor, and romanticized notions of land-and-sea-faring battle superiority, and the heavier, more distorted moments cause a collective fist to rise, readying the armies of listeners at hand to prepare for further fights to come. There are times where this new direction is REALLY cool and a suitable soundtrack to those long, weapons-clad romps through the forest, but there are also moments where you just want to rock out with your knife out (yeah, I got the analogy wrong; keep your mind out the gutter, you crazy, you!) and could do without the at-times overwhelming epic feel the album shoves out. It’s all in how ones looks at it, and it took me a few listens to get a full grasp of what “Stand Up and Fight” had to offer me in order to ensure proper enjoyment, which ended up coming to pass in spades, and even then it’s still something that didn’t/doesn’t strike me as fast as their first two masterworks. Nevertheless, a fun excursion into symphonic folk/power metal is still to be had, where songs like “Take the Day!”, “Hunting Pirates” (SHAME ON YOU! Barbarians, Vikings, and pirates should get along, dammit! We have common foes, after all.) and the title track would send your heathen souls aflame with dreams of conquest, Samhain bonfires and all the grog you can handle.
In the end, “Stand Up and Fight” is a confusing number that took a while to grow on me, but it’s still a part of my record collection I wouldn’t part with for anything. A recommended album to play during for your battle plan writing pleasures, one that will ensure your eventual victory. Blast it and prepare to hail.