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5 stars TURISAS The Varangian Way

I strongly believe that "The Varangian Way" is one of the best Epic-progressive-metal album I have ever listened. Here you can find powerful guitar riffs and heavy rythms but also majestic melodies, unrepeatable symphonic compositions and, above all, epic themes played by violins, strings combinations, or other typical instruments. Another unique aspect of this album is the link between epic music and a lot of progressive features like frequent tempo changes and magnificent, and often long, instrumental sections. I must underline that each musician who composes the band "Turisas" is a master of his instrument and they all own a great musical technique.

Everyone who loves progressive or epic music must listen "The Varangian way" without any doubt.

Claudio Falconcini, Italy

Report this review (#281101)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Review originally posted at

Finland is a country whose music has reached a huge amount of followers from all over the world, no matter the musical genre, they almost always have success. Now, if we talk about metal, then they may be considered gods, and I am sure they love that word. This band Turisas is a clear example of what some may call "Viking metal", a combination of heavy metal music with orchestral arrangements, folk tendencies and of course, Nordic mythology lyrics. In 2007 they released an album called "The Varangian Way", featuring eight tracks and a total time of 43 minutes.

It opens with "To Holmgard and Beyond", a song which was chosen as the first single and as far as I know, received good critics. And I agree, because it perfectly works as an opener track, the music introduces us to Turisas music. Heavy guitar riffs, great string arrangements, loud vocals (lead and back) and cool lyrics.

"A Portage to the Unknown" starts softly with an accordion, but seconds later it explodes and vocals appear along with the other instruments. Then it slows down and vocals enter again, with a calmer sound, anyway this is only a short passage because later the music explodes once again and the vocals turn heavier and powerful, though in a certain way, they sound catchy, easy to sing. There is an instrumental interlude when the accordion reappears and then the song begins to progress again.

"Cursed Be Iron" starts heavier with loud growling vocals, but wait, they stop all of a sudden and a calm but at the same time tense atmosphere is created, it lasts for a minute, until the power and the growling returns. This formula is repeated once more, until it actually turns heavier than ever, mainly due to the voice, which sounds full of anger. "Fields of Gold" has a totally Viking metal beginning, if you don't know what I am talking about, I am sure that after a couple of listens you will get it, because that sound is very peculiar and particular from these kind of Nordic metal bands. Actually, you could relate this song with some images of battles that you've seen on films or something like that. When the instrumental passages sounds, that remembrance is more evident.

"In the Court of Jarisleif" is a cool song which starts with some celebration-like dance and people cheering as background, it continues like that for some seconds until guitars and drums enter and make a powerful and virtuoso sound. A minute later vocals appear, the structure is still the same and that folkish sound prevails all over the song. Here I liked how they combined that folk sound with the powerful metal one. There is a moment when the song goes faster and faster, and suddenly stops. Great!

"Five Hundred and One" seems to be a nicer track, because it starts with a smooth and delicate piano sound, but then vocals appear like a monster opening the gates to the powerful instruments. The keyboard work is excellent in the whole album, it produces that orchestral sound that adds drama to the story narrated, normally working as background, but being truly essential. Later the keyboards change and give a more symphonic sound to the song.

"The Dnieper Rapids" is another cool track that starts fast and threatens to calm a bit but that does not really happens. The epic sound will take you to past centuries and will make you imagine a story, the characters, their clothes, castles and all that your mind can relate. The growl vocals are not really my cup of tea, but I am aware that they are necessary (not always, for sure). The musicians are very talented, fast and making complex songs.

And finally "Miklagard Overture". Once again those orchestral arrangements will take you to another age, and will give you a sense of power and triumph. After a short introduction, vocals and acoustic guitar appear for a minute before changing direction and turning heavier and powerful, of course. This track is the longest of the album, so as you can imagine, it brings several changes in mood and time, though the structure does not really change.

This is a very good album, I am sure those who really love metal (and specially Nordic metal) will fall in love with "The Varangian Way". I liked it, and you know I am not the keenest man regarding metal, but I would recommend it. My final grade is three stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#425744)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink

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