Battle Metal is the debut full-length album by the Finnish folk metal band Turisas. It was released on July 26, 2004 by Century Media.
Turisas was formed in 1997, but didn’t have a recording contract until November 2003, having been signed by Century Media. Thus, Battle Metal is a collection of songs written over a period of six years. The band began pre-production and recorded a demo in early 2003, after Mathias Nygård, the band’s singer and songwriter had completed his one-year military service. Turisas had originally planned to enter a studio later that year, but decided to postpone upon learning that only three and a half weeks of recording time would be available to them. By autumn, Nygård was offered up to five weeks of recording time at the Sound Suite Studio in Marseille, France with Terje Refsnes, a notable producer. Actual recording began in November at the Steeltrack Studio in Parola, Finland, with the violin parts by Olli Vänskä, followed by accordion by Riku Ylitalo. After Tude Lehtonen had completed the drum parts, the band left for France to continue recording through December.
The band had remained at the Sound Suite Studio for thirty days, but was unable to finish the recording, still missing the vocals, choirs, as well as some acoustic instruments and percussions and returned to Finland. Most of these was recorded at the Steeltrack Studio in January – February 2004, while Nygård went back to Marseille to complete the vocals; Battle Metal was finally finished on March 31.
“Victoriae & triumphi dominus” (“Lord of Victiory and Triumph”) is an instrumental intro, leading to the opening track, “As Torches Rise”, meant to capture a battlefield’s atmosphere of darkness and despair. “Battle Metal” is a remake of “The Heart of Turisas” from the eponymous 2001 demo with subdued growling. “The Land of Hope and Glory” delves into the themes of nostalgia and homecoming, combining folky sounds with a bombastic chorus. “The Messenger”, one of the band’s oldest songs, explores the topics of fate and religion. “One More” is based around a violin theme, which was first featured in the song “Terra Tavestorum”, appearing on the 1999 demo of the same name. Set in a tavern, the song’s mood is reminiscent of the absent friends. Its folky tunes are reminiscent of the Romani music and are complemented by a big, orchestrated chorus. “Midnight Sunrise”, an older song as well, contrasts the myths of various evil creatures living in dark places, unable to handle sunlight, and coming out at night to prey with the phenomenon of the midnight sun. “Among Ancestors” is a choir-driven song, describing a battlefield on which the warring soldiers are missed by their loved ones. “Sahti-waari”, which can be roughly translated as “Old Man Ale”, is a homage to the traditional homebrewed beer from the Häme region of Finland. Vaari, the Finnish word for grandfather, is not about any particular character. Rather, it is a celebration of the old traditions and their recent reemergence in the form of neopaganism. The lyrics in “Prologue for R.R.R.” are taken from the opening for the historical novel The Surgeon’s Stories: Times of Gustaf Adolf by Zacharias Topelius, a Fennoswede author. “Rex regi rebellis” (“The King is Rebellious Towards the King” in Latin) is dedicated to the Thirty Years’ War and the Finnish cavalry Hakkapeliitta, the topics that have fascinated Mathias Nygård since childhood. The title again comes from The Surgeon’s Stories; the lyrics in Swedish are by Topelius as well, taken from “Finska rytteriets marsch i trettioåriga kriget”. “Katuman kaiku” (“The Echoe of Lake Katuma”) is an instrumental outro. Katumajärvi is a lake in the Häme region, which was targeted by the Second Swedish Crusade to subjugate and Christianise the local Pagan tribes. According to a legend, when the invaders left, the locals jumped into the lake to wash away their baptism and continued to practice the old beliefs and traditions for many years to come, with some surviving into the 19th century.
Recorded At – Sound Suite Studio
Recorded At – Steeltrack Studios
Mastered At – DMS, Marl
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Magic Arts Publishing
Copyright (c) – Century Media Records Ltd.
Pressed By – Sonopress Arvato – 51133604
Accordion – Riku Ylitalo
Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Electric], Choir – Georg Laakso
Choir – Saku Teräväinen, Sami Aarnio, Teemu Lehtonen, Winsef Boncamper
Cover – Niklas Sundin
Drums, Djembe, Udu, Percussion [Electric], Congas, Bongos, Choir – Tude Lehtonen
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Double Bass, Choir – Jussi Wickström
Lyrics By – Mathias Nygård
Mastered By – Ulf Horbelt
Music By – Antti Ventola (tracks: 5, 8, 9), Jussi Wickström (tracks: 11), Mathias Nygård
Orchestrated By – Antti Ventola
Photography By – Ossi Laakso
Producer, Recorded By, Mixed By – Terje Refsnes
Synthesizer, Piano, Vibraphone, Organ [Hammond], Choir, Orchestra – Antti Ventola
Violin – Olli Vänskä
Vocals [Female] – Emmanuelle Zoldan
Vocals, Recorded By [Alto Vocals, Soprano Vocals, Sopranino], Programmed By, Percussion [Additional, Shaman Drum, Shakers], Tambourine, Choir, Orchestra, Producer, Arranged By [All Arrangements], Orchestrated By – Mathias Nygård