Opening for Turisas tonight are UK black metallers Abgott. Having been on the scene since the late 90s, I admit to not being overly familiar with their material. Although the band purport traditional back metal idioms with clichéd corpse-paint, silly pseudonyms and a plethora of blast-beats throughout most songs, their music also pertains to a death-thrash vibe during particular passages. Transcending the formulaic compositions of most self-proclaimed black metal acts, Abgott's take on an increasingly stale metal subgenre is an interesting one. They are also talented musicians - most notably guitarist Thanatos with some stunning lead work. The Rock City crowd remain largely static during the early part of their set, although small mosh pits ensue mid-way as frontman Agamoth encourages audience members to punch the air and show their horns. An astonishingly good cover of Megadeth's 'Holy Wars...The Punishment Due' provides a set highlight and is an apt nod towards their thrash influences. Overall, a good solid performance.
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Saturday 15th September 2007
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
The buzz of anticipation in Rock City's main hall before Turisas take to the stage is electric. Every instrument soundchecked receives deafening cheers and the crowd start chanting the band's name long before they even appear. Originally scheduled to take place in the much smaller basement room, tonight's show was switched to the main hall after larger than expected ticket sales, which in itself is indicative of Turisas' fast rising popularity in the UK over the last year or so. When the majestic tones of 'Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus' resonate grandiosely through the PA speakers, Turisas walk out on stage to commence with 'As Torches Rise', and the hyped up crowd explode with enthusiasm as fans hold their toy weaponry aloft while others begin jig pits, moshing and general pandemonium. Next up is 'To Holmgard and Beyond', the opening track from stunning new album 'The Varangian Way', then frontman Mathias 'Warlord' Nygård introduces 'One More' as a drinking song, supping beer and spitting it into the crowd as Turisas' clan of loyal supporters go crazier still. The band are both individually and collectively dynamic performers. Janne 'Lisko' Mäkinen wields his accordion with a manic expression, while guitarist Jussi Wickström, bassist Hannes 'Hanu' Horma, and drummer Tuomas 'Tude' Lehtonen add the metal backbone to Turisas' sound with a flawless display of musicianship and energetic stage presence. Olli Vänskä entertains the crowd mid-set with his usual solo spot for which certain audience members have anticipated by holding up laminated A4 sheets bearing the violinist's now immortal words "fuck the guitar solo", which is also chanted by the audience as they pre-empt his routine. And then there's Nygård, the charismatic frontman whose distinctive growled vocals and impassioned clean singing impress throughout. Apart from an ever so slightly muddy sound overall, Turisas' diverse range of instruments are mixed into a commensurate whole through the PA, including the accompanying orchestrations/choirs on backing tracks. The band's vocal harmonies are also effective such as on the melodically sublime 'A Portage to the Unknown'. 'Rasputin', their inventive cover of the Boney M 'classic' engenders perhaps the largest mosh pit of the evening, before Nygård announces the final number as "a song beginning with 'B'" to which virtually every person present in Rock City enthusiastically chants "Battle Metal" in unison before they play the perpetual fan favourite as yet more crowd pandemonium ensues. Turisas then leave the stage, and return a couple of minutes later to ubiquitous cheers for a couple of encore songs. Nygård thanks the crowd for their enthusiasm in making it such a great start to the tour and amusingly comments on a large portion of fans' attire - "we came to Nottingham and thought that everyone wore green hats...but everyone wears war paint!". The final song is 'Miklagard Overture', preceded by Nygård informing Rock City that "the journey ends here" which is symbolic of both the Varangian's story and the band's set. The metal scene and, quite frankly, the music business in general, needs bands like Turisas, for they not only have an abundance of skilfully composed, original songs, but also an incredibly entertaining live show that invokes an almost carnival-like atmosphere. The talented Finns have proved themselves beyond a 'novelty' band as the media often unfairly labels them, and they're surely bound for much bigger success with such a rapidly growing fanbase. Turisas are pure carnivalesque brilliance!
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