TURISAS have returned to paint your town red and black again!
Armed with a more organic and natural sound that is a direct reflection of their infamous live shows, new album Turisa2013 is different from Stand Up And Fight (2011) and The Varangian Way (2007) in that it’s not a concept album – a very liberating change for the Finnish heroes of battle metal. That said, while the band were able to focus on individual songs rather than an all-encompassing concept, the results aren’t any less meaningful.
“I don't like a lot of the recent developments in the world, but even less how little people seem to care,” says Mathias Nygård, the band’s frontman, lyricist and principal songwriter. “More than one of the songs deals with 2013 and the world today, and this is what the title is representing. Some of the songs are more philosophical ponderings on life in general, whereas others – such as ‘Run Bhang-Eater, Run!’ – are just plain-out fun songs inspired by a couple of crazy drug stories out of One Thousand And One Nights. All of the lyrics are very personal and some of them even autobiographical this time.”
The freedom of not being restricted by a concept also allowed for no limits musically, and on Turisas2013 the band deliberately aimed for a more organic sound. “When it comes to the production, it's just the opposite of the polished and massive Stand Up And Fight,” says Nygård. “It's raw and dry and in your face, but still maintaining that TURISAS-largeness. People attest that we are a great live band, and we wanted the album to be based more around that than orchestral massiveness. It's our most varied record to date and, even if some of the songs sound very different, I think the common thread is that every single one has a lot of energy to it.”
Given the series of lineup changes that the band has undergone since the release of Stand Up And Fight, it was only logical to go with an album title that would reflect TURISAS in the here-and-now, so after playing around with different options they decided to go for the simple and unambiguous Turisas2013. “We did not want a title track for the album, as those tracks tend to get overemphasized a bit and for a long time we were trying to come up with a striking title that would somehow represent every single one of the songs,” explains Nygård. “It wasn't until the very last minute Actually, when listening to the final mixes on the plane to China, that I looked at the playlist title and it kind of hit me. We've never wanted to do the same album twice and felt that evolution is an essential part of our band – and that's exactly what Turisas2013 stands for. It's not supposed to be the TURISAS of 1998, but this is what TURISAS is today: the 2013 lineup, the 2013 songs, the 2013 sound. The album title is the perfect combination of self-titled with a touch of Black Sabbath’s Vol.4 and Van Halen’s 1984.”
Getting to this point was a natural progression, but not without a fair share of changes. In 2011 TURISAS toured Europe with Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, and also on Heidenfest 2011 with Finntroll and Alestorm, then doing their own headlining runs throughout the U.K., Spain and Portugal including stops at a number of summer festivals. In 2012 they played the Australian Soundwave Festivals and headlined the North American “Pagan Fest: America Part III” above Alestorm and Ex-Deo. Then, while still finalizing Turisas2013, the band hit the road again, doing their “Guards Of Glory” headlining run throughout North and Latin America in early 2013. Their extensive touring solidified their status as one of metal and rock’s best live bands, but the band also had to pay a price by leaving three of their members behind.
Robert Engstrand (keyboards) joined the band in September 2011, while Jaakko Jakku (drums) and Jesper Anastasiadis (bass) were added to the lineup in November 2012. “Having a new drummer in the band changed the whole groove, and additionally Turisas2013 is the first album we recorded with a keyboard player for a long, long time, which resulted in a lot more keys and synths, screaming organs, and some really cool analogue synth stuff that's completely new to TURISAS’ sound,” says Nygård. “Robert, Jaakko and Jesper brought in a lot of new and fresh talent, which has been very inspirational. All three of them are professional, trained musicians and have a very broad background in music. Having such a tight band was the main inspiration to make an album that would be more about the band playing live together.”
The mix and mastering was done in London at Orgone Studios with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano [Ghost B.C., Cathedral, Ulver, Primordial] - getting him on board wasn’t an obvious choice, and it took TURISAS a while to figure out the right partner in sound. “In all the steps of recording the album, we've been very careful not to lose the feeling of a real band playing the songs. All editing has been minimal and everything has been recorded in longer takes,” continues Nygård. “We wanted to achieve a very organic album for literally everything from the drum sound to orchestra reverb. At some point it was much easier naming people who we definitely did not want to mix the album than who to actually ask for the job. When Jaime Gomez came up it felt right, because it was also a bit of a wildcard as his other stuff sounded great and very organic but our music was quite different to anything he did before. The excitement of seeing what would come out of such an interesting combo was one of the main reasons that drove us to work with him.”
Once again, Mathias Nygård handled the production duties on Turisas2013, with the majority of the album recorded by Nygård and guitarist Jussi Wickström in a remote house outside of Helsinki, Finalnd. Nygård explains why and how they took a slightly different approach for the production of the new album: “We wanted to blur out the line between a traditional pre-production phase followed by an intensive tracking phase done in a commercial studio, and instead have a setup where anything we tracked even at a very early demo-stage could be used on the album. Sometimes the very best takes are the first ones recorded, and it can be very hard to capture the same spontaneity later. In September 2012 we rented an old house outside of Helsinki where we set up all our recording gear and started working on the album more intensively. At first I lived there by myself for a few months finalizing the songs. In December Jussi moved in with me. For the next couple of months we recorded a good amount of the album material by ourselves and at the same time arranging on