The Metal Forge
Exploring the various realms of melodic, technical and traditional metal are Finlandï¿½s Kiuas. They formed in 2000 with guitarist Mikko Salovaara, bassist Teemu Tuominen, keyboardist Atte Tanskanen and drummer Markku Nï¿½reneva securing the talents of vocalist Ilja Jalkanen to complete the line-up. They immediately set to work and before long, demos appeared in the form of 2002ï¿½s The Discipline Of Steel and 2003ï¿½s Born Under The Northern Lights paved the way for their debut mini CD released the following year, titled Winter In June and their debut long player, The Spirit Of Ukko from 2005. Continuing their prolific writing and the consecutive releases across the years, the band has just released Reformation, and what a diverse and at times confusing listen it is.
When the thrashy Race With The Falcons fires up, it isnï¿½t long until Jalkanen demonstrates his vocal diversity whilst the song itself is the first of many to deliver some excellent guitar work throughout. Jalkanenï¿½s vocals have a slight Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) snarl to them early on in Through The Ice Age where the keyboards are slightly more prominent before The New Chapter shows a more melodic and accessible side to Kiuas, unlike the generally forgettable Of Ancient Wounds whose only redeeming point of interest is the chaotic keyboard solo.
The brief keyboard lead instrumental backed by acoustic guitars titled Child Of Cimmeria has an almost Jeff Wayne War Of The Worlds soundtrack vibe to it and provides a touch of breathing space to the album before the patchwork quilted Black Winged Goddess sees Kiuas venture into death metal territory amongst other more traditional styles. Such diversity seems to be teetering on the edge on confusion which seems indicative of the entire album at this point. The albumï¿½s most accessible number, Bleeding Strings, is wedged in between the thrashy, power metal bookends of Heart Of The Serpent and Call Of The Horns before the epic yet complex Reformation (Wrath Of The Old Gods) rounds out the album.
Kiuasï¿½ second effort, Reformation, isnï¿½t inherently bad as such and the musicianship and overall performances cannot be faulted. However, it shows a band either struggling with their musical direction or one that likes to dabble in varying genres. Either way, it makes Reformation in an interesting listen, albeit a challenging and often confusing one as well at times.
Simon Milburn 5.7.2006