How to survive a Viking invasion

Photo sourced from Turisas Facebook page

If faced with this increasingly likely scenario of a Viking invasion, you will need three things:

1. A suit of armour--preferably home-made--and a helmet. Both will help blend in.

2. Paint. Red and black to be specific. Cover your face in red, and then streak two large black lines in--think King Leonidas.

3. The ability to scream.

Congratulations, you are now initiated into the world of viking metal. Or more specifically, the fan-base for the Finnish folk metal/viking metal band, Turisas. Metalheads themselves are quite distinct, and going to a headbanging metal show is an experience like no other. But these brutes from Haameenlinna take that to an absurd and delightful level. So who are these Scandavian warlords?

Warlord refers to Mathias Nygard, lead singer and fearless leader of Turisas. The biggest contrast for me was sitting down with him sans make-up, a couple hours before the show, and then coming back only to see him cursing, drinking and covered in red and black. This was their first headlining tour (at least in Canada), but the particular venue was way too small to subdue the moshing and overcrowding of their loyal fanbase.

At this point, you may be wondering what folk metal is. It’s like the Irish dancing to Cradle of Filth or Ozzy Osbourne. Most of the band’s solos are done on the electric violin, rather than the guitar, and it made this reviewer harken back to his celtic roots and almost break out his best Michael Flately impression. But I digress. However you describe it, it’s epic. Like Vikings and Gods.

Which brings us back to viking metal. Now, while Turisas is Finnish and most Viking were Danish or Icelandic, after the 16th century – As Mathias explained – everyone pretty much has some viking blood in them. (He described this as well as the differences between Finnish and Norse mythology, among other things in our chat). The band itself is named after an ancient Finnish God of War, and, going even farther back into Norse history, a giant malevolent Octopus. But the band only gets more interesting.

The show itself brought the roof down. Moshers everywhere, hands in the air. Clapping. Screaming. Singing. All in a good night’s work. The performance ended off with an epic, roughly eight minute song. As if that wasn’t enough, after about a minute of the audience chanting for an encore, they returned to play roughly five or six more tunes, including their three most well-known (arguably) hits, which lasted for about another 20 minutes. By the way, according to them, Canada has much better beer than the United States. The chosen ale of the night was Blue Buck (from Victoria)

Fun fact: One of the band’s most well-known tunes is Rasputin. The song was originally a hit in 1978 by German Disco Group Boney M--the brainchild of German producer Frank Farian. Ten years later Frank Farian would gain infamy when he created Milli Vanilli.

Though Mathias isn’t quite sure, Turisas’ new album, Guards of Glory, is slated for release in the summer of this year. One thing that's sure though is that Vikings have reached North America, and are here to stay.

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