A Finnish Summer With Turisas
posted on 3/2009 By:
"Happy metal" is such a dubious concept. But if it’s humanly possible to listen to Turisas and not be inspired to thrust one’s fist in the air, to move and to smile gleefully whilst doing it, then I’d be surprised. This bunch of fur-clad Vikings espouses a massively epic brand of symphonic pagan metal that is simply and irresistibly fun.
By and large, the DVD home video is also a dubious concept, mostly a "for the fans" endeavor. With as many of these as I’ve purchased through the years, I’ve grown both weary and wary of their very existence—for every Iron Maiden’s Early Years (quite possibly the best music home video ever released) there’s a slew of boring treks through endless bus/dressing room footage and pointless interviews as released by a band that ultimately didn’t have anything to say. Thankfully, the members of Turisas have plenty to say and plenty to play, and what they have to say and play is interesting, endearing, and highly enjoyable. Filmed across the summer of 2008 as the band toured their native Finland, A Finnish Summer is comprised of an hour-long documentary and an eighty-minute-long concert, the latter of which is spliced together from festival appearances throughout the tour. The different origins of the concert footage doesn’t make for a bad viewing experience, as long as you’re not concerned with the shift in crowd-size and time of day between each individual song. The recording quality is great, with multiple camera shots, chyrons introducing each track, and a professional sound-mixing job. The documentary half of A Finnish Summer covers the history of the band, from their beginnings in a small town north of Helsinki all the way through to the tour itself, and the only downside of it is that it’s narrated by the cheesiest possible announcer. (Think PBS documentary here...) In addition to the walk down memory lane, there’s also a lengthy segment wherein the band discusses the traditional festivities around the mid-summer solstice—a Finnish holiday that occurs during the tour and the celebration of which involves feasting, drinking and sitting in a sauna and beating yourself and each other with tree branches. There’s even an explanation of the inner workings of a Finnish outhouse. (Not only is A Finnish Summer enjoyable, kids—it’s educational, as well.) The interviews are predominantly conducted in English, although drummer Tude mostly sticks to Finnish. For the roughly 6.5 billion of you who don’t speak Finnish, subtitles are provided.
A Finnish Summer is one of the better DVDs I’ve run across, and I recommend it not only to fans of the band but also to open-minded listeners wanting to get a feel for what "battle metal" is all about. I enjoyed both halves of it, the documentary and the show. Perhaps not surprisingly, the men and woman of Turisas aren’t blood-thirsty Viking raiders, but instead are just your average smart-ass long-haired beer-drinking metal-heads, the kind of people that I’d love to hang out with, except for that part about being in the sauna and beating each other with branches.
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