Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stand up and fight!

Now, I'm not normally into a lot of metal. Led Zeppelin is certainly one of my favorite bands and apparently is classified as metal. I lived with a guy who was into metal in college, and his even-more-metal friends were always around so I learned some about it. I like Dream Theater recreationally and some other metal bands, but I have never gone out to seek metal of my own to experience.

I stumbled upon the Finnish Turisas completely by accident; Danny was looking for some images to compare the escurae varani with and I was trying to find a picture of the Varangian Guard, the historical inspiration for the praesental army of Miles. Well, this image to the left here came up and I wondered what the hell it could possibly be. After doing a little research I discovered that it was the cover of an album of symphonic metal that was all about the Varangian Guard. I knew that I had to at least give it a listen; if it was terrible it would pass unremarked and unmourned into the internet and no one need ever know. It wasn't terrible.

I actually quite like the album and have discovered a love for the band that made it. The folks that make up Turisas (or at least the person who wrote the lyrics) are clearly educated and interested in the medieval world, at least in passing. I read on youtube that someone's history teacher made fun of this album... but if it can inspire young and inquiring minds to discover things about the middle ages, why mock it? No one expects a piece of music to be 100% or even 40% accurate in terms of historical events.

Sure, the Varangian Guard fight some pirates in one song and typical 1700s accordion music starts up in the background. But there's also real Greek and references to real historical places: the Golden Horn, the Bosphorous, even a song about the Greens and the Blues, the infamous sports teams-cum-political parties.

The music itself is definitely metal, but it has a strong element of orchestral symphonics to temper it. The lead singer has a voice that speaks of the darkest Finnish nights, a deep basso with that slight twinge of Wartooth-esque accent to it. There's very few speed solos with the drums (is that what they're called? I don't know, but I'm not really into them) and the grumbly metal-voice general takes second place to the dulcet tones of the lead singer.

Where the album is most effective is, I find, in a song called Fear the Fear where the band breaks the fourth wall to address the audience and deride them (you!) for finding escape in movies, television, and stories while being unwilling to stand up for what you know is right in your everyday life.

I recommend at least a listen, even if you aren't favorably inclined to metal.

1 comment:

  1. i was lucky enough to catch these guys live last November when they played a Fest in Leeds, and they're even better on stage. If you haven't yet, try and catch a track called 'One More'. As to their historical (in)accuracies, they did feature in my History and heritage dissertation more than once...