Turisas / Centurions Ghost
20 March 2005
Camden Underworld

It`s a Sunday night and with thoughts of work in the morning and with a busy week of shows leaving me a little gig fatigued, I wasn`t expecting to see one of the contenders for set of the year tonight. However, with the riotous Battle Metal from Turisas tonight, that`s exactly what we got.

First up to warm up the crowd were Centurions Ghost. Before a note is struck, the combination of masses of hair, leather pants all round, cut off denims and prominent crucifix gave no doubt that we were in for some real metal.

Opener In Defiance bounded into life like a runaway train with Orange Goblin stoking the engine, before mid way through the breaks were firmly applied and crawling doom ensued. Requiem For The Haunted Heart contained a riff reminiscent of Candlemass, fitting given Messiah himself was in the house. Seeing the bands excited reaction to meeting him after their set verified that bands influence, though there were similar child like reactions from the Rockers Digest team when we met him also.

Misery Serenade was coincidentally both packed with weeping misery and not unlike Serenades era Anathema. Though it`s not all snails pace with From Hallowed Ground They Came hitting mid-tempo.

Benefiting both from a superb sound and the contagious enthusiasm of frontman James Begley, whilst Centurions Ghost have yet to impress me with recorded works, live they were the perfect tonic to the Sunday night blues.

Centurions Ghost set list:
In Defiance / Requiem For The Haunted Heart / Empyrean / Misery Serenade / From Hallowed Ground They Came / The 8th Deadly Sin / Devil`s Disciple

If you`ve never heard them, imagine a square with each corner occupied by Finntroll, Ensiferum, Skyclad and Bal-Sagoth, well Turisas would be jigging about somewhere in the middle. The band`s debut brands their sound fittingly as Battle Metal and if you`ve seen the promo shots of them storming the shore from a boat, clad in furs, that`s pretty much the effect as they flood on to the stage and attack with As Torches Rise.

Six large Finns pack the stage covered in war paint, right in the crowd`s faces and mid way through the song that number swells to eight with the arrival of a violinist and accordion player. Sneaking his way between band members up front, the accordion player looked not unlike a crazed villager on the Zena or Hercules series`.

It`s apparent that this crowd is more than familiar with the Battle Metal album judging by the singing during The Messenger and just as the crowd are with the band, vocalist Warlord announces "We shall drink together, we shall party together" before launching into One More.

On record the band`s sound comes across as one united force and whereas this is echoed live, the advantage of seeing where the individual sounds are coming from gives the band a more organic feel. Warlord in particular adds both a punch and heart to proceedings. Apparently he was on the point of losing his voice tonight, but you would have never guessed.

The vocals of the whole band were in fact particularly impressive. For The Land Of Hope & Glory we are confronted by a chorus of six all right up front bellowing out the songs refrain, with the crowd joining in for cries of "lei-lei-lei!".

As the rest of the band turn their backs to the crowd and huddle round drummer Tude Lehtonen, violinist Olli Vänskä takes centre stage and tells us, "I like solos. Musical masturbation get`s me off!", before shredding through a solo that would have many a guitarist weeping.

After the epic Rex Regi Rebellis, it`s the accordion player`s turn to shine as Warlord invites us to engage in a spot of um-pah dancing to a short instrumental, which sees the dancefloor in uproar. Following on with the riotous Sahti-Waari, with the whole band singing in unison, the crowd look out of breath, but there`s no rest for the wicked when Battle Metal itself arrives. Bassist Hannes Horma looks ready to launch into the crowd on a killing spree he`s so pumped for this one. Quite bizarrely he has a pair of animal legs (maybe fox or rabbit?) hanging from his crotch and it`s good job the campaign against animal fur wasn`t in town as they`d have had a field day with Turisas.

With only one album to date the band seem to be making extra songs up. There`s Weed and Alcohol in My Homeland, which consisted of that line sung repeatedly, was the funniest on offer, before they wrapped up the main set with Among Ancestors.

Everyone here seems to be bearing a huge grin and were not prepared to let the band go. "Why the f**k can we not drink in peace?", asks Warlord as the band return to the stage. His next question, "Who can honestly say they are a fan of disco?", is met with little agreement, until we were presented with a barmy version of Boney M`s Rasputin, which in Turisas` hands made perfect sense.

Warlord admits the band have pretty much run out of songs to play, so it`s back to the Heart Of Turisas demo and fittingly, ‘Til The Last Man Falls is left to wrap up the night.

Those of you heading out to Wacken are in for a treat when Turisas take to the stage and I suggest you start getting into training for your um-pah dancing now!

Turisas set list:
Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus / As Torches Rise / The Messenger / One More / The Land Of Hope & Glory / Violin Solo / Rex Regi Rebellis / Um-Pah Instrumental / Sahti-Waari / Battle Metal / There's Weed & Alcohol In My Homeland / Among Ancestors / Rasputin (Boney M cover) / Till The Last Man Falls

Centurions Ghost