W/ Revoker, Astrohenge
@ O2 Academy Islington, London
9th October 2013
Review by Caitlin Smith
Photography by Michelle Murphy
Finnish folk metallers Turisas invite you once again to stand up and fight with them once again. Never too long from British soil, this band have always been able to pull a crowd, and entering the venue, I can see that this was going to be no exception. As usual the room is awash with red and black stripes painted like battle lines across faces, proudly proclaiming their allegiance for the night.
There are many gigs where the support bands don’t always seem to make a lot of sense, and this was a prime example of perhaps a slightly miss-thought lineup. There’s no continuity between the sounds, nothing that links any of them together.
Opening as the biggest contrast of the night are instrumental quartet Astrohenge (2.5/5). Their name recalls images of stoned hippies and obsessive spiritualists grasping for looks into other plains or levels of being, or just looking to fall back into the soft spaced area of the mind. Although Astrohenge have their moments of down-tuned chords and passing urges to inspect their shoes, this is often broken by moves into thrash sections.
I have always had some respect for bands that make the leap into music without the aid of vocals. With no voice to latch onto, the music cannot falter if it intends to hook an audience at their level. There is no level of respect though that can save a bands performance and unfortunately for these guys, they were just downright boring.
Welsh band Revoker (2/5) is a balls out assault on the senses. Mixing metalcore with groove metal, they seemed to appeal to the crowd’s heavier taste.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything from this band, with the release of their last album back in 2011. Despite this, their performance is still tight and precise.
This band has seen some big support slots since being signed to Roadrunner, and they seem more than comfortable on the big stage.
Some people may call it elitism, but I’m slowly losing my tolerance for bands that aren’t doing anything new. The problem is, once again, there was nothing fresh or appealing to their sound.
It’s easy to hear this band’s potential pushing in at brief, fleeting moments, before they fall back into generic modern metal riffs.
There are a lot of people out there with the same sound, the same look and the same energy, but better. With so many of the greats going under, there just doesn’t seem to be that much room for generic metal anymore.
There are not many folk metal bands that appeal to me; their jovial jigging often seems to grate against the aggressive backing, but Turisas (4/5) have managed to tame that straining balance.
Perhaps if the clean, polished recordings may not appeal to may in the metal community, but it would be difficult for even the dingiest of souls to avoided cracking a smile when they play live.
With fellow country mates Finntroll also pulling out such high quality pieces of folk infused debauchery, perhaps it’s the country’s unique strands of melody that fit in so perfectly with the heavy backing, or perhaps it’s the bands ceaseless cheer that almost forces you to enjoy their epic tales of Vikings, long past Battles and of course, drinking.
Over the last couple of years the band have been plagued by lineup changes, the biggest loss of course being accordionist Netta Skog who appears to have been irreplaceable, when 5 years on they have failed to find a substitute.
With the accordion such an integral part of the sound of this band, their latest album left me feeling like there was a gapping hole that neither the efforts of the keyboard or the violin are able to fill. Having seen this band 3 times before, I was worried that I’d feel the same way about this gig.
Luckily it was quickly obvious that the band were as on form as always. Mixing new and old favorites alike.
The one thing Turisas always seem to do well is judge the crowd. They have always managed to pull a young crowd, but many of the people there tonight barely looked old enough to drink, and its obvious that their newest album appeals to a broadly younger audience than much of their old work.
Songs like Ten Miles More were greeted with enthusiasm and rampant pogoing whereas classics like ‘Battle Metal’ were met with a slightly confused look from the younger faces, but roars of approval sound from further back in the audience.
Perhaps some people are getting bored of the same songs at every show, but a Turisas show just wouldn’t be the same without ‘To Holmgarde and Beyond’, ‘Battle Metal’, ‘Standup and Fight’ and of course the immortal ‘Rasputin’.
The show also saw the reappearance of the track inspired by Finnish drinking songs, but this time ‘One More’ was given a very British update interspersing it with our own drinking hymn, ‘Lets get fucking wankered.’
Turisas may be a few soldiers down, but this has not stopped them marching out with pride, commanding the stage with furious passion and pride.
Their call to arms is loud, commanding and enticing. Perhaps I have seen this band 3 times in the past 5 years, but if they toured again tomorrow, I’d probably still be considering heading over again.
Despite all the problems the band has had over the last few years, my drinking horn continues to stay firmly raised in honor. These Vikings live to fight another day.