|Review: Kiuas - The Spirit of Ukko|
|The Spirit of Ukko|
Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2005
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: October 9, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:The Spirit of Ukko
Rated 3.4/5 (68%) (15 Votes)
The longer you subject yourself to something, the harder it can be to analyse. This makes it all the more arduous trying to dissect Kiuas' fabulous debut "The Spirit of Ukko", as it just doesn't want to leave my stereo. Incidentally, I've had this since it came out, yet just like so many others, it was safely placed onto my 'future listening' pile, only to be practically ignored and forgotten under the weight of so many worthy additions to my collection. It wasn't until I reviewed their live show at this year's Bloodstock festivities that I gave this another go, and frankly, it's one of the best decisions I've made all year.
A frightfully original debut from the tempestuous Finns, "The Spirit of Ukko" even sits atop the originality ladder in terms of genre, with an unsullied, fresh take on the power metal convention, taking their cues from one of their country's more fruitful success stories: Children of Bodom. Ok, so the impact Bodom made on the metal world isn't as slight as it once was, but what makes Kiuas so notable is their confluence of ferocious blast beats, shimmering synths, ear-splitting leads and upfront, clean male vocals. There is a lot of "Something Wild" to be heard wandering through their Celtic-flavoured forest of metal folklore, along with a smattering of Requiem and "Imaginations From The Other Side" period Blind Guardian; a varied pot of gold indeed. Vocalist Ilja Jalkanen has a superb timbre, sounding like a more confident R D Liapakis at times, a placated Journi Nikula at others.
While the genre is a constant call-back, the structure of the album is so unique that you often forget how many restrictions power metal has; for one, Kiuas aren't afraid to crank up the crunch when necessary, blasting out some truly dirty riffs and blazing harmonies with fervent moxie and ballsy conviction. I often put the question to many of our readers as to whoever decided it was a good idea to place blast beats in power metal ought to be castrated for their foolishness, but Kiuas actually pull it off, basically because they defy all classification and simply don't give a shit, making an album full of heart, sincerity and heavy metal passion. The classic Finnvox sound is stamped all over this release, giving it a naturally healthy, professional sheen, and with songs like the blistering title track, and the ridiculously metal "Warrior Soul", the debut from Finland's best kept secret is simply one of the finest I've heard for a long time, and if you're fearing a season without warmth this winter, grab yourself a copy, sit by the hearth, and regale yourself in the fanciful world of Kiuas. Highly recommended.
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