19 September 2007
Turisas’ ascendancy continues in the UK and a packed out Islington Academy were ready to greet them as the Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus intro sounded. Pushing forward to gain a decent view, their was no let up with a powerful three song opening of As Torches Rise, an incredibly bouncy To Holmgard & Beyond and One More. Warlord Nygård took time before the latter to dedicate the song to those who have fallen along the way, in reference to Turisas’ former guitarist Georg Laakso, who had to retire his role through serious injury. Pints were raised high in the chorus and those lacking drinks raised fists.
Turisas could have taken the easy route with their second album and put out an album full of crowd pleasers like To Holmgard & Beyond. However, an album which on first listen seemed a little disappointing has revealed itself to have great depth. The progressive nature of The Dnieper Rapids, which was up next, is a case in point. Unfortunately, something happened just prior to Turisas’ arrival on stage which took the edge of the live performance of this song for myself. Testing the equipment, a short blast of backing tapes with huge keyboards and massive backing vocals escaped through the P.A. Since keyboard player Antti Ventola’s departure, Turisas have being using such backing tapes liberally. Hearing this snippet actually made you consider how much of the sound was actually live at times.
Leaving that though aside, it was then time to lighten the mood with Warlord leading the crowd through a rendition of Happy Birthday for an embarrassed looking member of the Turisas roadcrew.
In The Court of Jarisleif quickly proves Turisas can play their instruments and particular Janne "Lisko" Mäkinen on the accordion and Olli Vänskä on violin, who drive this song. The Russian folk nature of this jig had Warlord grabbing guitarist Jussi Wickström by the arm and spinning him round the stage with similar bouts of dancing breaking out at the front of the stage. Quite painful when you crash into someone wearing chainmail in the crowd!
Although I remembered, and expected, Olli Vänskä’s “F**k guitar solos” chant from the Download festival, I had forgotten his tongue in cheek dig at Herman Li from Dragonforce. It was therefore somewhat amusing to us, and Herman, that Rockers Digest had invited him along to join us at this show when Vänskä pointed out “Your national hero Herman Li is here tonight and I still say f**k guitar solos!”.
Vänskä’s solo melted into first album epic Rex Regi Rebellis, before it was time for a disco with Turisas’ latest single, and Boney M cover, Rasputin. If that song raised the temperature, Battle Metal pushed it over the edge. So much so in fact that on its conclusion, half the crowd were heading for the door thinking proceedings have ended. Heals were quickly turned when the Miklagard Overture commenced. Again, this was another song which relied heavily on the backing tracks, but there was no denying the shiver down the spine of a crowd of raised fists screaming “Konstantinopolis!” as the song, much like The Varangian Way, brought tonight’s journey to an end.
Turisas set list:
Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus (intro) / As Torches Rise / To Holmgard & Beyond / One More / The Dnieper Rapids / In The Court of Jarisleif / A Portage To the Unknown / Violin solo / Rex Regi Rebellis / Rasputin / Battle Metal / Miklagard Overture