As Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygard dutifully acknowledged the youngest member of Turisas’s devoted ranks, a 10-year-old boy sat atop his father’s shoulders wearing red and black face paint and holding a plastic axe aloft, it was clear the canny Finn had an eye on the future.
If this band with a happy knack for rolling out rousing marching anthems is to transform its Battle Metal into a global brand then sourcing new followers is a must. As Nygard pointed out there were many familiar faces in the delirious throng but the big question is this: can Turisas transcend their loyal fan base and truly appeal to the masses?
Perhaps a re-release of rousing dance-metal mash-up Rasputin is in order. It’s four years since Turisas released their insanely catchy Boney M cover and the fact that it remains a staple of their energetic encore proves Warlord and co. hit the nail on the head. Many more doors have opened since 2007 and with a renewed push the most unlikely cover in metal could make some serious headway in rock charts the world over.
In addition it’s time to add something different to a stage show which, albeit tried and tested, is suddenly looking just a little tired. The combined fervour of Nygard and violinist Oli Vanska has, traditionally, been more than enough to carry Turisas to a triumphant finale after a sweat-soaked 75-minute set. Yet this is a band made for a bigger production and Spinal Tap-esque gimmickry – the flying Finns may now be forced to gamble a chunk of their limited budget on a fresh identity and hope the fans will follow.
For now they’re relying on word of mouth and the growing popularity of main support Chthonic to draw in the next generation. The Taiwanese quintet come across just a little too contrived to appeal to death metal die-hards but their melodic breaks – and eye candy Doris Yeh – have obvious potential. Those new to Chthonic could well be going back for more.
What Turisas rookies are guaranteed, with or without props, pyrotechnics and a vixen on bass, is metal that makes you jump. It’s anthemic, rousing and occasionally ridiculous but never anything less than the best night out of the week.
Tossing in Stand Up And Fight – the title track from the band’s most accomplished and polished album to date – in amongst classics One More and the magnificent To Holmgard And Beyond proved, beyond doubt, that Turisas have simply honed their skill for creating the perfect singalong metal classic.
The band’s new material is both a creative and historical progression and hints at greater triumphs to come. But it’s doubtful they’ll ever trump the brain-splitting bombast of set closer Battle Metal.
Visually nowhere near as eclectic as past incarnations – with squeeze boxer and Viking vamp Netta Skog joining towering bass player Hannes Horma on the sidelines following this summer’s festival shows – Turisas are at their tightest musically.
The need to tweak their style to complement songs of real substance is there for all to see. Crack that and everyone’s favourite Vikings can be an unstoppable global force for years to come.