The farewell gig at Nosturi was epic and you, our fans and friends, made this experience and all past years incredible.
We couldn't have done this without you!
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To celebrate the arrival of Kiuasï¿½ (Kee-Wass) latest opus, ï¿½The New Dark Ageï¿½ Spinefarm UK have also re-released their first two albums with bonus tracks meaning that fans can be fully prepared when the band arrives on these shores with Firewind later this year. The 2005 debut ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½ opens with the title track and with its high speed riffing and double kick drums you brace yourself for a vocal onslaught of black metal rasping or growling death. It comes therefore as a pleasant surprise to discover that vocalist Ilja Jalkanen possesses an expressive metal baritone. His range is emotionas well as musical and compliments the bandï¿½s wide variety of moods and influences. Spearheaded by the impressive compositional talents of guitar maestro Mikko Salovaara (who unleashes killer solos featuring a devastating sweep picking technique) their music contains elements of classic and extreme metal, folk and even jazz. During the eight tracks on ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½ Kiuas set out their store in convincing style. The inclusion as a bonus of the debut EP track, the dark and stormy ï¿½Winter In Juneï¿½ gives the re-issue a sense of completeness. If the debut provides a good ï¿½shock and aweï¿½ opening barrage then ï¿½Reformationï¿½ forcefully drives home the message. All the influences are still there but this time with brass knobs on! Production is handled by Finnish powerhouse producer Nino Laurenne (with Aksu Hanttu and Ossi Tuomela) and represents a palpable evolution in both sound quality and playing (Mikkoï¿½s getting really quite scarily impressive at this point!) The range of instrumentation involved in the compositions includes flute, strings and even a ï¿½black massï¿½! The ï¿½Battle Metalï¿½ elements of their sound are still in place as demonstrated handsomely on the title track ï¿½Reformation (Wrath of the Old Gods)ï¿½ which actually closes the album, but more developed ï¿½progressiveï¿½ elements are finding their way in. Tracks like ï¿½Race With the Falconsï¿½, ï¿½The New Chapterï¿½ and ï¿½Bleeding Stringsï¿½ all demonstrate this increasing maturity admirably. ï¿½Child of Cimmeriaï¿½ beguiles with a deliciously layered acoustic section before plunging into ferociously articulate extreme riffing. The bonus track offered is a cover of Jethro Tullï¿½s ï¿½Hunting Girlï¿½ demonstrating both Kiusï¿½ progressive roots and aspirations. ï¿½Reformationï¿½ as well as being a stonking metal album confirms that Kiuas is a band in the pursuit of excellence in all departments of their musical endeavours, itï¿½s heavy as you please but crafted with taste and consummate skill. This brings us to Kiuas latest offering ï¿½The New Dark Ageï¿½. This is frankly an album of bewildering excellence! The musical themes and influences continue to develop to include middle eastern flavoured sections in ï¿½To Excel and Ascendï¿½ and a fully acoustic number ï¿½After The Stormï¿½ where Ilja is joined on vocals by Anna-Maija Jalkanen (note the surname!) complete with a jazz tinged acoustic solo. Nino Laurenne once again takes the lead in the production which is even warmer and more ï¿½musicalï¿½ than on ï¿½Reformationï¿½. Whilst the album still contains all the hard and furious elements which hitherto defined the Kiuas sound, every track has such a variety of moods and flavours that as a band they have much more in common with the likes of Evergrey and latter day Amorphis than say, Children of Bodom or Turisas, which would be the easy comparisons to assume. Keyboard player Atte Tanskanen must also be singled out for his contribution, never less than excellent up until now, this time his playing comes more to the fore as demonstrated by his classically fluid piano on ï¿½The Summoningï¿½. The regular release ends with ï¿½The Wandererï¿½s Lamentationï¿½, a wonderfully balanced musical ï¿½debateï¿½ between contemplative balladry and epic metal conviction. Itï¿½ serves as an apt musical allegory for the bandï¿½s artistic journey to date and what might be to come; ï¿½Songs give me power to cross the seas, to reach the divine frontiersï¿½ï¿½ I am quite sure that word of their prowess will spread far and wide and deservedly so. The UK release is topped off with the orchestral and epic ï¿½Towards Hidden Sanctumï¿½ and an enhanced video of ï¿½Conquerorï¿½. If you like your metal challenging, intelligent, heavy and yet melodic then invest some of your time and hard earned cash in Kiuas, my new favourite band. Brilliant!