Turisas w/ support @ 02 Academy Islington, London

Astrohenge, Revoker and Turisas
02 Academy Islington, London
10th October 2013

After a series of botched attempts to stay all the way throughout a Turisas gig, this would be my third attempt at seeing the Finnish supergroup live in London. Arriving at the O2 Academy Islington late, and wandering up to a sparsely populated floor, I realised I had missed first supporting act Astrohenge. I didn’t particularly want to see either support, to be honest, and actually feel a little bit sorry for groups who need to support a group as highly anticipated as this warpainted northern rabble. The sea of red-and-black faces, plastic Viking helmets and synthetic furs lounging around with beer cups firmly clasped in hand was testament to the fact that everyone was here for one reason, and that any other supporters could get on with it.

Revoker, a band with a frontman whose accent was confusingly Welsh, were up before that, however. They weren’t terrible, either, and had I been less eager to see Turisas I might have fully been able to enjoy them! Aggressive and dangerously charged deathy-thrash is their game, with standard tracks like the brawling Stay Down and the shouty Great Pretender proving enough of a hook to get the crowd fist-pumping, even if no pits were started. For a Welsh band sitting in the shadow of the gargantuan Bullet For My Valentine, their track record is impressive enough: they’ve worked with Skindred and have been previously signed to Roadrunner Records. Well worth a listen in the future- and their ‘just good music’ vibe was certainly an omen of things to come from our headliners…. [3/5]

Turisas– with a fashionably long wait- hit us next, after anguished cries of ‘Battle Metal!?’ echoed around the room for half an hour. Opening the set tonight was a track from their latest album (the oddly named Turisas2013) For Your Own Good. A powerful song in its own right, the sound was impeccable and Turisas’ entrance met with a swelling crowd – however, it was clear that the songs from their latest album aren’t their strongest or most well received in the flesh. Musically, songs from Turisas2013 sound great- solid, catchy, jumpy and more hard-rock than metal- but seeing the band live leaves little doubt that their real power is behind the grittier, harsher songs of previous albums. A Portage to the Unknown followed, bombastic, crushing and ridiculous like the Turisas we know and love, and the place went crazy for the anthemic To Holmgard and Beyond, which induced the most intense jumping I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. But new releases Ten More Miles and Piece by Piece, whilst good songs, lacked the same energy. Picking up the pace from the new album, and a song that I had hoped would be performed live as it truly is a ‘live song’, was Greek Fire, undoubtedly Turisas2013’s most ‘metal’ track, rising and falling in a roaring crescendo and sparking a whirl of flying bodies across the floor. Another odd one, which didn’t get the reception I was hoping for, was No Good Story Ever Stars With Drinking Tea, a fun little drinking jig that translated well on stage; penultimately, ‘We Ride Together’ was a soaring, feel-good tune and was the last of the new tracks to be showcased. However, matched with the epic As Torches Rise and One More, there was no contest as to what was most preferred.

The setlist for the night provided a varied crowd with a range of songs to choose from- old school fans like me and new converts both got a healthy mix- and with Turisas as energetic on stage as ever, Mathias gliding around the stage and throwing punches to the air, the show was of little fault. Telling, however, was that the lulls in the night (if you could call them that when the crowd was still chanting and singing) were from the new album. [4/5]

Jon Geirson

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