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Review: Turisas, Newcastle University Students' Union

Finland's battle metal maniacs Turisas have invaded the North East again. Simon Rushworth went along to witness the warriors in action

****
Mathias 'Warlord' Nygard, of Finnish band Turisas
Mathias 'Warlord' Nygard, of Finnish band Turisas

Turisas, Newcastle University Students’ Union

The people of Finland were still celebrating one of their finest sporting victories when the nation’s premier Battle Metal standard bearers took to the stage in their own valiant quest for glory.

Visibly buzzing in the aftermath of their ice hockey team’s historic Olympic triumph against host nation Russia, frontman Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygaard and his merry band of Viking warriors ensured the celebrations would last long into the Newcastle night.

Turisas might choose Ulfberht swords over hockey sticks but their pride in victory transcends the stage. As a tribute to Finnish excellence this grand show was perfectly fitting.

If most gigs require a bedding-in period to create the ultimate atmosphere then the Turisas effect is immediate. Two songs in and those committed followers packing the front rows were already in raptures, pumping their fists and screaming along to symphonic anthems with brazen arena pretensions.

Support act Starkill had clearly played their part in stirring the emotions with the US quintet in fine form on their first visit to Newcastle. Yet set alongside Turisas’ finely-tuned stagecraft and songwriting expertise the willing quintet looked like a band with plenty to learn.

Veterans of several Download festival turns, numerous UK and European headline tours and four stints in the studio producing a critically acclaimed back catalogue, Nygard and co are reaching their peak.

If the dubious Battle Metal image can detract from compelling musicianship then those in the know truly appreciate Turisas as the complete package: talented, imaginative, entertaining and ambitious.

Brave enough to play their biggest anthem mid-set and assured enough to give epic tune Miklagard Overture room to breathe, the setlist screamed supreme confidence.

Rex Regi Rebellis, from 2004’s Battle Metal debut, reminded the legions of Turisas die-hards that the band’s less commercial back catalogue comfortably stands the test of time. For the cynics there will never be cause to pay good money to watch six men daubed in red and black war paint, wearing leather and furs and pumping out impassioned pleas for unity and glory. Yet get past the gimmicks and Turisas can be the next Rammstein.

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