“The Varangian Way” (Paganfest Tour Edition) by Turisas

Artist: Turisas
Title: “The Varangian Way” (Paganfest Tour Edition)
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 4/29/2008
Genre: Viking Metal/Folk Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

To celebrate their appearance on the Paganfest Tour the mighty Turisas had chosen to re-release their sophomore album “The Varangian Way” in a “Limited Paganfest Tour Edition”. Since I had missed the album when it was first released in 2007 I felt that this was the perfect chance for me to catch up on the band as I had not yet done so either. I also felt that it would better prepare me for the assault that they would deliver during that tour as it was an event that I was definitely not going to miss in terms of my concert going adventures. Sadly, my CD would not arrive in time for the show so I only had my Rhapsody and YouTube.com outlets to better enrich my Viking Metal background on this particular outfit. Soon after I enjoyed that killer show the CD arrived and I felt that it was really something that was up my alley. “The Varangian Way” is the bands follow up release to their debut “Battle Metal”, and it finds the Finnish Vikings in fantastic form right from the onset of the CD with the rousing “To Holmgard And Beyond”. The track oozes with an adventurous vibe and as it plays you feel as though you are setting sail with the band in search of whatever glory they are aiming for. There is a rousing chorus which you will quickly find your fists in the air for and lucky for you this is only the beginning. “A Portage To The Unknown” makes you feel as though you are speeding through the high seas with its driving double bass drumming from Tude as their Warlord commander Mathias lines out the battle commands that the listener would be smart to follow without question. The release only gets a couple of songs in before you realize just how strong and adventurous its overall spirit is. They deliver a sound that works well with their visual side and nothing about them seems contrived like some other bands that still hold the sword of battle in the air after so many years. Perhaps one of the things that make Turisas so interesting was their use of Folkish instruments like the accordion and violin. They work in perfect melodic harmony with the bass and guitars and don’t seem like “extra” instruments but instead perfectly fitting puzzle pieces. We get a true Folk Metal rocker with “In The Court Of Jarisleif” and this one will have you dancing with furious abandon and starting some celebratory spinning with whomever you find around you. I recommend either putting your beverages aside or chugging them before getting involved with this one. It’s a really fun tune to say the least.

As the album draws closer to its end we find that the last few tracks seem to be tightly connected and with “Five Hundred And One” there are parts where you feel as though you are watching the whole thing play out on a big screen or Broadway stage based on the pauses for relevant dialogue that is kept brief and to the point. It pummels with an expected Metal energy and it doesn’t get boring even when it slows down a bit. The chorus makes you wish you had a pint of ale in your hand to raise that’s for sure. “The Dneiper Rapids” has that feeling like you are racing down such a course and it is brought to bigger life by an angelic choral. The “movie” ends with “Miklagard Overture” as the journey’s leader reflects on the adventures undertaken across the albums previous tracks. Mathias Nygard smartly uses two different vocal styles on the release and while growling through a number of the passages, he can be understood and this works fantastically with his clean melodic tones. As a bonus treat we get two additional tracks in “Battle Metal” and “Rasputin”. The first one comes from their first release and it’s such a great song I don’t think the listeners will mind hearing it again while “Rasputin” is a fun and upbeat number about the famous Russian who is made out to be a playboy in the song. A booklet comes with the release that provides you with the necessary lyrics in order to follow the journey from beginning to end.

DVD: Rasputin (video), Battle Metal (live), To Holmgard and Beyond (live), In the Court of Jarisleif (live), Rasputin (live), Battle Metal (live), Battle Metal (live).
*** As part of the Paganfest Limited Edition we get this excellent DVD companion disc in addition to the audio CD and it begins with the fun video for the bands song “Rasputin”. The humorous video finds the band performing in what appears to be a very calm Russian type club and in walk the band in all their battle regalia. The song is rather clever as well and sure to become a fan favorite (but we have said that already on the CD examination). The rest of the footage features live clips from various festival appearances around the world and while there are six songs presented we find that three of them are different performances of “Battle Metal”. It’s a great song yes, but to see it again and again took something away from the experience for me. The band does come off good in the live sense however, and delivers their goods in a very spirited fashion. The DVD is a great way to warm up to the band visually before a show because they come out as barbarian Viking hordes and by watching this give you a better idea about what you will experience at a show.

I can safely recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys the Viking Metal sound because this one has a little more accessibility to it than some others of its type. The fact that they include a DVD in the special edition makes it a must purchase item especially if you had not picked it up when it was initially released. It’s a fun album that brews over with energy and will find you on your feet and singing aloud. It’s also one that you will play again and again which is never a bad thing.

Track Listing:
1. To Holmgard and Beyond
2. Portage To The Unknown
3. Cursed Be Iron
4. Fields Of Gold
5. In The Court of Jarisleif
6. Five Hundred and One
7. Dnieper Rapids
8. Miklagard Overture
9. Battle Metal – bonus
10. Rasputin – bonus

Official Website: http://www.turisas.com

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