Sound — 8
The Varangian Way has been three long years in the making, and is that most challenging (for the listener) of formats, a concept album. The concept is all bound up with a group of 11th century Vikings who travelled to the Baltic and then on to the east. I wouldn't have a problem with this at all, but, somewhere along the way, the glorious anarchy that was so prevalent in Battle Metal has been glossed out of the picture. Musically, this album is striving towards Therion in one direction and the symphonic majesty of Dimmu Borgir in another. Unfortunately, it all comes off a bit more like Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Somebody should certainly slap a fine on Warlord Nygrd for overuse of keyboards: far too many of the tracks suffer from overblown pomp. His vocal style for the clean vocals is too reminiscent of Michael Ball, there is nothing of metal left in this sanitised twaddle.
Lyrics — 6
And yet there is still hope in the darkness. There are pale echoes of what Turisas are capable of, and the accordion player Lisko, is still hanging in there. Some of this is extremely catchy, and the folk elements are well done. When Warlord Nygrd drops the need to educate, and switches back to the more metal style of vocals, this becomes a far more listenable album. The problem is that for me, there is no single track which I enjoy in it's entirety, they are all blighted to a greater or lesser degree by this desire to produce something that, frankly, Turisas don't seem to be comfortable with.
Overall Impression — 7
I must admit that this release has grown on me slightly from the first time I heard it, but I am still not as enthusiastic about it as I would have hoped. One of my main concerns is that I can't see much of this being performed live, and Turisas are a band who need to be seen live. This is not so much battle metal as airbrushed metal.