@Hammerfest VIII, Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales, 11 March 2016
Silly cabaret act for plastic axe wielders or purveyors of anthemic, heroic metal? Turisas have always divided opinion, and the Finnish Viking road warriors will never win over po-faced rock fans who are turned off by the band’s warpaint and fiddle solos. Yet for those who surrender themselves to the band’s huge, triumphant choruses, and pump their fists to the likes of We Ride Together or Take The Day, the quintet are nothing short of life-affirming.
Hammerfest was always going to be a happy hunting ground for Turisas and the amount of red and black striped faces in the crowd showed that their loyal hordes were in attendance – even the news from ‘Warlord’ Nygård that a new album was a long way off failed to dampen spirits. And how could it, when songs such as The March of the Varangian Guard were aired with such gusto, such unrestrained passion.
Nygård, as usual, was transfixing as a frontman, and never fell into rock star clichés or über-metal bravado, while his cohorts provided a mighty soundtrack worthy of a Game of Thrones battle scene. Indeed, anyone who doubts the band’s well honed songwriting talent should feel the full force of To Holmgard and Beyond through a thunderous soundsystem – it’s an experience not to be missed. That said, neither is seeing a few hundred metallers dancing around to the Finns’ hilarious cover of Boney M’s Rasputin, with a violin mimicking a funk guitar. What was that about being silly again?