Sweeping orchestral pieces, brutal guitars, powerful vocals, songs about grand battles, history and folklore, and fun.  If any of these things interest you, go out and pick up “Stand Up and Fight” by Finnish metal band Turisas now.  You will not be disappointed.  By the time you reach the end of the album you’ll realize you have adorned yourself with full armor, carry a broadsword, and have left a trail of destruction in your wake.

Turisas spared no expenses on making “Stand Up and Fight”.  On every song there’s top notch production and music played by a full orchestra.  All the songs are catchy and you will find yourself battle shouting along with Mathias Nygård and Co. on every track.  Turisas have crafted their most fun and most accessible album to date.  And just because the new album is more accessible and carries more “pop sensibility” doesn’t mean that it’s any less metal than their previous albums.

The album starts off where their previous album, “The Varangian Way” left off with the opening track “The March of the Varangian Guard”.  The song starts off with the horn section calling you to attention and Mathias Nygård recounts where they are in the story with his huge and powerful voice.  In the chorus The Varangian Choral Ensemble calls to you to sing along with them into battle with “Guards of glory and of might, Red as blood and black as night, Flies our banner as we march, In the east, for the king of the Greek!”.  Then the song progresses into a sweeping orchestral piece and then into a fun guitar solo.  And all this fun in just under 4 minutes.

Following “The March of the Varangian Guard”, is my favorite song off the album as of now, “Take the Day!”.  It starts up with a crescendo of horns and strings with the drums following and then exploding into awesomeness when the guitars hit.  Then it slows back down into another crescendo with the horns, strings and vocals before exploding once more into the chorus.  The vocals are in top form Mathias Nygård creating a deep atmosphere in the refrain with his great clean vocals and making the explosion into the chorus more powerful with his top notch(and very understandable) harsh vocals.  They mix perfectly with the choir and in the end make for a very entertaining, well thought out, and powerful song.

“Hunting Pirates” does an wonderful job creating a nautical atmosphere with great accordion playing by Netta Skog.  I enjoyed how Turisas were able to use a song about pirates centuries ago to reflect what is going on in the world today without bringing up any modern themes.  Up next is the thematic orchestral metal song, “βένετοι! – πράσινοι!”(“The Greens! The Blues”).  While listening to this song you can close your eyes and feel as if you are at The Colosseum in Rome watching battles or at the Circus Maximus witnessing the fast paced chariot races.

Up next is the feel good hit of the winter, the title track “Stand Up and Fight”.  It’s pretty much a straight forward song(well for Turisas anyways).  It opens at full speed with the orchestra playing a melody that will stick with you long after you hear it.  The music throughout creates an epic feeling of self worthiness and you will find yourself walking around with your chest held high(well, I did anyway, I listen to a lot of my music when I’m walking around the city or working).  The lyrics are fill with positive energy and after hearing this song you will find yourself never waving the white flag.

The next song is “The Great Escape”.  This is a very guitar driven song and shows that Turisas isn’t putting all their weight on the orchestra.  The vocals and drums bounce around fast paced guitar riffs.  The feeling that this song creates fits very well with the title, when I hear it I get a feeling of running, release, escape from imprisonment.

Turisas does something interesting on the song “Fear the Fear”.  Instead of basing the song directly in historical content, they bring in some more modern themes.  It’s like someone of today is looking back at ancient times and stating that their is always someone trying to instill fear into the people for control.  And those who accepted the fear were crushed down and those who fought the fear wrote history or at least died honorably trying.  The next song “End of an Empire” follows this theme with brutal metal parts, grand orchestral passages, and emotional vocals(The Varangian Choral Ensemble really shines on this song) .  Swords and shields may help win the battle, but the heart is the real weapon is the basic theme of this song.  Closing of “Stand Up and Fight” is “The Bosphorus Freezes Over”.  It starts of solemn and somber with great narration by Mathias Nygård contrasted beautiful choral vocals and progresses into a gorgeous, uplifting orchestral metal piece.

In closing, “Stand Up and Fight” is a worthy addition to your record collection.  I can even see people who are not even necessarily into metal getting in this album.  Turisas really pushed the envelope with what can be done with a full orchestra in a metal band and really pushed the envelope with their own sound.  As a bonus for cd collectors such as myself, the limited edition comes with great packaging and a bonus disk with covers of Jethro Tull’s “Broadsword” and a amazing cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaught”.  Also included is a video of Turisas doing an acoustic jam of 3 of their songs, “The March of the Varangian Guard”, “Stand Up and Fight”, and “To Holmgard and Beyond”.

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