I was quite surprised, almost shocked, to find the review of this album missing. The debut album of Kiuas had even been chosen 8th all-round best album to be released this year. And it was even chosen as best heavy / power metal of the year at this site. So I guess that explains somewhat how I felt when noticing this review was missing. Also, I think that not much more would actually need to be said about the rating of this album, when you notice the place it's at in the album of the year voting. Anyway, such a precious album could hardly be missing from any metalheadï¿½s collection in my honest opinion. After releasing three EPs, of which one released under a label, theyï¿½ve now released what was to become one of the most groundbreaking albums of the year under Finlandï¿½s largest label Spinefarm Records.
Beginning the album is one and a half minute of fast riffs, tremolo picking and harmonic screams before the vocals begin. From the first minute they do, you get drawn into the music and, at least in my case, they make you want to hear more and more. This is really no problem, as Kiuas have provided us with at least 40 minutes of their melodic metal. Though the guitar riffing can be easily recognized in the heavy / power metal scene, Kiuas really manages to give it its own twist. Packed with lyrical concepts as paganism, which I find interesting to begin with, this album was a thrill ride from the first minute. The first song is immediately the title song and it preludes the album in a magnificent way. A catchy chorus, clean vocals mixed with screams every now and then, screaming guitar riffs, perfect drum work. It all adds up to a perfect start. When I was listening to the album for the first time it took some time before I really got to know the songs. There are just so many little melodic details to notice with one listen. Anyway, as the chorus of the first song still echoes in my head, the second song kicks off. This is one of the rawer songs on the album. Itï¿½s title is introduced with a slow and creepy, almost spoken intro; ï¿½On Wings of Death we Rideï¿½. Again speed is one of the main concepts of the song, the melodies are performed at such a high technical level, no wonder the guitarist Mikko Salovaara got nominated for best player of the year at the Finnish Metal Awards. All in all, this song follows perfectly in the footsteps of the title song, and with great solo work it makes way for the third song of the album. ï¿½No More Sleep For Meï¿½ is up next, and this is probably the song I like the least on the album, though its quality should not be underestimated, not in the least. It is somewhat slower than the two previous songs, but again manages to mix all the instruments and the vocals perfectly together. The latter one is especially exceptional in this song. A marvellous mix between clean vocals and more towards the screams and lightly grunted.
The next three songs are again simply amazing. Starting my magic trio is "Warrior Soul". Beginning with a short heavy part it slowly makes way for the first verse, which is as good as it can get. Nearly every sentence is followed by a few melodic parts on guitar and keys, which make it a joy to listen to. With its chorus being one of the most catchy on the album, and with great lyrics, this is a perfect song, though I cannot really pick a favourite song on this album, theyï¿½re all extremely good. Second of my personal ï¿½magic trioï¿½ is the next song ï¿½Until we Reach The Shoreï¿½. A verse which is a little slower than heard so far on this album makes way for one of the best choruses on this marvellous debut. Again speed, melodies and heavy riffing is what this song is all about. Last of the three is ï¿½Across the Snowsï¿½, which starts with a 40 seconds long clean guitar intro. Where the intro is slow and emotional, the part following flies around the ears in mach 3 speed. Another clean part in the middle of the song adds an additional facet to Kiuasï¿½ diamond titled ï¿½The Spirit of Ukkoï¿½. ï¿½Thorns of a Black Roseï¿½ slowly builds off the power and speed Iï¿½ve heard so far, but surely not unwelcome. With a little slower main riff and chorus, but with extraordinary melodies and lyrics, this song is yet another perfect addition to this debut album. To add a little touch of progressive metal just before it ends you have the final song on the album ï¿½And The North Star Criedï¿½. With a slow intro building up with a lot of epic parts to the main riff, which feels as comfortable as everything Iï¿½ve heard so far. Itï¿½s just another great song, which doesnï¿½t have anything bad you could say about it.
To conclude this review, though it could almost be perceived as a tribute; I think Kiuas ï¿½ The Spirit of Ukko indeed deserves all the positions in this yearï¿½s charts it has earned, I wouldnï¿½t be surprised if it would end up higher in the charts. This debut album surely is the best of the year in my opinion and I think in a couple of years weï¿½ll see Kiuas with a fan base quite a bit larger than it is today.