Turisas, Download Second Stage, June 12 2011

There’s quite a buzz around battle metal right now and for the uninitiated Turisas’s rain-sodden set was a glorious introduction to the ways of heavy rock Viking style.

Frontman Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygard might have announced his entrance in comical fashion – flying arse over tit on the drenched second stage – but that was the first and last slip up where these fantastic Finns were concerned. 

Crowd interaction has always been a big part of the Turisas experience and if Nygard’s insistence on dividing the masses into a vocal fight worked a treat it did take some time. Ultimately a long, long time. And there was surely an argument for slipping an extra tune into the mix.

Fortunately the classic were rolled out in some style with Battle Metal, To Holmgard And Beyond and Rasputin all gaining wild acclaim from those braving the elements.

It’s unlikely Nygard’s brethren crossing the North Sea on their long boats all those years ago would have experienced anything quite as brutal as the prolonged downpour which soaked fans already spattered with GWAR’s fake blood.

But just as the spoils of war were worth many an arduous voyage so a spell in the rain was a small price to pay for the entertainment on offer.

This was a set which had the die-hards wrapt and persuaded the new converts to support a band for now and a band for the future. Accordion player Netta Skog is worth investing a significant amount of time and money on alone – Vikings have never been this sexy.

If you like your rock hard, fast and entertaining with enough fist-pumping anthems to rouse an army then you can’t afford to miss Turisas on their UK tour this autumn. This truncated Castle Donington set had the fans present calling for more – even in the apocalyptic conditions. And that says it all.

Simon Rushworth