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Monday, May 26, 2014

Comradery of Battle Metal and Memorial Day

Memorial Day: a day we all know by name, but the meaning of which, for me, I have rarely thought about. Of course it means remembering fallen and surviving soldiers in this Union of States, USA: what they have fought for or pushed papers for. However, it also makes me think of what I have been paying attention to for quite a while, which is folk metal music. Seemingly unrelated, but it really is related. 

Turisas - The Land of Hope and Glory
Far away, where sunshine never fades
There lies this land, the greatest of tales

A strong golden gate now slowly moves aside
In walks a man, exhausted by the tide

Finally, I have reached my destiny
I've crossed the western sea for the land of hope and glory
In front of me stands the glorious grand city
A feeling that I can breathe, and be free

Surrounding golden walls, finest marble covers the halls
Silver-plated streets that glimmer and shine
Statues, monuments and fountains filled with wine
And trees nearly touching the sky

In the Land of Hope and Glory

I head to the greatest hall,
Take a deep breath and open the door
Is this the Land of Hope and Glory?
Sitting on a golden throne,
An ape holding a scepter of bone
It utters: "The die is cast."

Surrounding golden walls...

Echoing from the homeland

Kaikuen laulu raikaa takaa ulapan
Kotimaan rannat kutsuu poikaa Pohjolan

Hoist the sails, it's time to leave these lands behind
Rain or hail won't stop me, I have made up my mind

Surrounded by dark emptiness
The sea is cold and merciless
All alone, I'm heading home

Over the vast sea, wide and so deep
Ahti I greet thee, I'm heading home!
The wind is rising, cold and biting
Ilmarinen I greet thee
Northern shores - I'm home

No surrounding golden walls, no marble covered halls
No silver-plated streets that glimmer and shine
No statues, monuments nor fountains filled with wine
Only trees touching the sky

Far away, where sunshine never fades
lyrics from, edited by me

I am currently listening to Battle Metal by Turisas. This band is all about the historical settings of warfare and melody, taking us into a moment in time when fighting for your rights was the highest priority in one's life. They are largely influenced by Varangian (viking) folk music and history of the 1000s -1200s AD¹ and have even come to earn the reputation as "The Battle Metal Band". If you have never seen these guys play live, please do yourself a favor and SEE THEM LIVE! They do play some of the most prominent instruments you will hear in their music, including the accordion and violin. As if the badass violinist, accordionists, warcry vocals and Viking influence doesn't make this band amazing enough, their former guitarist, Georg Laakso, in 2005 suffered a spinal chord injury and half leg amputation caused by a car accident, and even before that had miraculously survived being stabbed 6 times in the back by a complete stranger without serious injury²: could any stronger of a man had founded such an influential metal phenomenon that is Pagan Battle Metal band Turisas? I think not. 
I'm listening to these powerful riffs and singing the lyrics that are about discovering magical new lands and preparing for battle, then suddenly it occurs to me that Memorial Day should have much more meaning for me than the hotdog-grilling excuse to loaf-about we have turned it into in North America.
The worldwide folk movement that seems to be happening right now is about more than just music: people are re-discovering their culture, their homeland's values, music, language, patriotism, and national pride. Embracing our heritage means reflection, respect, and research as we look to our grandfathers and grandmothers to remember life before technology and this newfound naïveness. With this we come to realize the importance of the support of ancestors who fought, risking their lives and the welfare of their families, bleeding in fields, losing eyes and limbs to stand their own, and for what? So they could keep their farms and grocery stores and families safe.
We are so self-involved in modern day that we overlook a simple day like today. Apart from Native Americans and First Nation peoples, we all came from somewhere more than America. We all have ancestors from Europe, Scandinavia, South America... one could even argue going all the way back to the Pangaea/Africa world model, that the most distant and common forefathers with whom we are all consanguineous have protected that which they value, and sought what they lacked. Man’s motive for fighting wars has changed very little over the course of time.
Memorial Day now means something very different to me. I am not a civilian of some small European town trying to defend their bread shop, but many distant relations to me most certainly were. Today I’m not just thinking of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, coworkers, and others who have contributed to the independence of us in the USA, I’m thinking of all of humanity who have fought for what they felt was right. I don’t view the USA as superior to other countries of the world. I respect and want to pay tribute to all humans who have died in war, survived war, and wish wellness to those who are suffering, struggling, and fighting as I write this.
Whether Memorial Day to you means a day to catch up on, say, Game of Thrones, or if it means an excuse to give your brothers or sisters a call, take advantage of it! For me, today is a day to reflect on the human condition, and to re-evaluate and reconnect with my patriotism. Of course it is also an excuse to blast all my power metal, folk metal, and battle themed music just like any other day, but now it is finally starting to be about connecting, thinking, and remembering those who have sacrificed so much for people who, much like me, never really truly appreciated it. 

Turisas, battle metal, pagan battle metal, memorial day, memorial day metal music, music for memorial day, historical significance of memorial day, nationalism, patriotism, viking music, viking history, viking metal, folk metal, 

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