KIUAS was formed in 2000, with singer Ilja Jalkanen joining the four original members of the band - guitarist Mikko Salovaara, bassist Teemu Tuominen, Drummer Markku Nareneva and Keyboardist Atte Tanskanen. Shortly thereafter, the 5 horsemen started to work on new material. Immediately following the release of 2 EPs, "The Discipline Of Steel" in 2002 and "Born Under The Northern Lights" in 2003, KIUAS participated in the annual Young Metal Gods competition finishing among the top 10 semi-finalists. The EP "Winter In June" was released in March 2004 on Rage Of Achilles Records. After the new material was fully written for the new album, KIUAS was offered a contract with Spinefarm Records. The album was recorded at Tauko Studio and mixed under the supervision of Metal Genius Nino Laurene (THUNDERSTONE, WINTERSUN). In May, 2005 "The Spirit Of Ukko" was finally released in Europe and in North America a few months later.
The opening title track, "The Spirit Of Ukkoï¿½, immediately sets the mood with an extremely heavy brand of Power Metal. Despite the power of the melody I can't help being blown away by the unusual level of aggressiveness displayed from a band of this genre coming from this part of Europe, normally more famous for "happier" Power Metal acts such as STRATOVARIUS and SONATA ARCTICA. The style here is more similar to the Swedes LOST HORIZON or fellow Finns ENSIFERUM, particularly on the hyper blasting second track, "On Winds Of Death We Ride". Next, the very dark and sinister "No More Sleep for Me" reminds us, once again, not to expect any sign of joy from the present selection. And you haven't heard the end of it yet as soon as "Warrior Soul" gets started - it proves to be the heaviest track on the album without any effort whatsoever. "Until We Reach The Shore" kicks-off in a more traditional Power Metal vein, which is going to please the fans of NWOBHM. My favorite song on the album is "Across The Snows", where you can fully appreciate the addition of Scandinavian Folklore in the vein of bands such as ENSIFERUM, AMORPHIS, and MOONSORROW with clear vocals as a bonus. The atmosphere gets so furious and easily reaches the edge of Black Metal towards the end of the track. The acoustic breaks on "Thorns Of A Black Rose" couldn't come at a better time right after the hearing assault we've been enjoying so far on the previous tracks. This gets as close to a ballad as you can ever get with KIUAS. The last track, "And The North Star Cried", appears to be about the conversion of the Scandinavian populations to Christianity, who therefore lost a major part of their Viking cultural heritage.
Holy smokes those five dudes are pissed off and want the whole world to know about it! It seems like KIUAS are using old Scandinavian mythology as their main source of inspiration for the theme of their lyrics. If you're a fan of PRIMAL FEAR, MANOWAR and ACCEPT and have been waiting for a band to take it to the next level, this album will certainly not disappoint you.
9/10 By Luc Ben Hayoun