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Now this an album that completely swept me off my feet. I had never heard the name Kiuas before and I really had no idea what kind of music they were playing. The album cover shows Ukko, the mightiest of pagan gods in Finnish mythology and one could perhaps think that the band would be playing folk metal but thatï¿½s not the case. Anyway, I started listening to the first track ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½ and I was impressed already from the first minute. Fast melodic guitar-playing, killer riffs, blast-beats, powerful soundï¿½I was expecting the growls to enter any second now. But to my surprise there never came any growls. Instead the band had a power metal-like vocalist, and a really great one at that. Nice.
Kiuas takes elements from several metal genres. Thereï¿½s a bit of melo-death, a bit of thrash and a small hint of folk influences but the main ingredient here is power metal. I would call Kiuas extreme power metal if anything. They sound a lot more aggressive than 90% of the power metal bands Iï¿½ve heard, while still having a clean vocalist in the ranks. Ilja Jalkanen sings for the most part with a much more aggressive voice than your everyday high-pitched power metal singer. Ranging from powerful normal singing and wailing to the occasional semi-harsh growl. His voice is unique and I canï¿½t recall any other vocalists that sound like he does. However, the vocals are not the only good thing here. The guitar-work is great and thereï¿½s plenty of killer riffs on this album. The guitar and keyboard solos are not bad either and shows that the band is technically very skilled. The drum-work is also very good and itï¿½s cool to hear some blast-beats put in here and there to make things more interesting. I donï¿½t know why power metal bands donï¿½t do that more often. Dragonforce is the only other band I can think of in this genre that has incorporated blast-beats to their music. Even the keyboards are used tastefully and are a perfect compliment to the other instruments. The bass can be heard if you listen closely but thereï¿½s not much else to say about it.
So far so good, the band is technically skilled and they can write great riffs. Can they write and compose good songs then? The answer is positive. Every song on this album is a killer and stand strong on itï¿½s own. If the band for some reason decided to release a single they could just blindfold their eyes and point at the tracklist. The first two songs ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½ and ï¿½On Winds of Death We Rideï¿½ are perfect as album openers. They are probably the fastest of the songs found here and the guitar-work reminded a bit of Children of Bodom. The song ï¿½Warrior Soulï¿½ is really good song as well with one of the catchiest choruses of 2005 so far. One of the best songs of the album. On ï¿½Until We Reach the Shoreï¿½ the singer really gets a chance to shine. The vocals are absolutely killer here. Same thing with the next song called ï¿½Across the Snowsï¿½, which is the most folky song on the album. The middle part and onwards of the song after the solo where the music slows down is absolutely brilliant: a few lines are being sung in Finnish while a simple folky acoustic melody is the only thing being played. Then the whole thing is repeated again with the distorted guitars and drums backing up the vocalist who now is shouting his lungs out. This is followed with some intense drumming and a great melodic riff before the song fades out with the folk instruments coming back in (a kantele perhaps?). It might not sound so cool when describing it but listen to it for yourself and you will hear what I mean. The rest of the tracks follow in the same vein with enough energy to fuel a third world country for years.
Kiuas has managed to create a real masterpiece with ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½. Every song is different from each other and theyï¿½re all very catchy and memorable. Top-notch musicianship and production. Everything rocks. Thereï¿½s not a dull moment to be found on this album. Is there anything bad at all to tell about this album? Well, I couldnï¿½t really find anything that I didnï¿½t like. The album sounded great already on the first listen but it got better and better the more I listened to it. Iï¿½ll have to check in again after a couple of months and see if it still has the same impact on me. Itï¿½s hard to believe that this is their debut album Iï¿½m listening too. Amazing job. Probably the best album of 2005 so far. Iï¿½m already waiting eagerly for their next album. So do yourself a favour and go out and buy this album now. The spirit of Ukko commands you to do so!
Creeping Death 8.5.2005