|Review: Kiuas - The New Dark Age|
|The New Dark Age|
Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: December 27, 2009
Reviewed by: Mike Henn
for:The New Dark Age
Rated 3.5/5 (70%) (20 Votes)
I'm a pretty large fan of Kiuas's first two albums. Both The Spirit of Ukko and Reformation did an extraordinary job of seamlessly blending Power Metal with outside influences like Melodeath, Thrash, and even some Black Metal. When I first heard their debut, I was somewhat blinded by something new and shiny, but even now that my phase has worn off, it's still a solid record. The following album was decent as well, although it had its share of clunkers as well. 2008 delivered The New Dark Age to us listeners, and through the benefit of hindsight it has shown me that the genre mixing wasn't the main thing that made Kiuas stand out, it was in fact the only thing.
The New Dark Age sees the once mighty Finns stripped of all the fancy battle armor that once adorned them. Underneath the imposing steel and leather, there is a spindly adolescent with a deep voice. The core of the warrior may not have been very strong, but when fully equipped for battle it was one hell of a force to be reckoned with. Well our warrior decided it was time to come out of his shell and stop pretending he was such a badass, and it was time instead to ride into battle unequipped yet determined. The point is that Kiuas is a fairly weak Heavy Metal band and in fact NEED the occasional blast beat, death grunt, or thrashy riff in order to fully reach their potential. In all honestly, one can only listen to the opening track, "The Decaying Doctrine", and promptly skip off to do something more worthwhile. That song is the blueprint for most of the rest of the album. It's mid-paced, chunky, bottom heavy, and features a good, clean middle range voice screaming over the top. The problem is that this formula wears thin rather quickly. One of the only times the formula is broken is on "To Excel and Ascend". The aforementioned track stills rides on a middle tempo and chugging chords, but it's one of the only times where Ilja Jalkanen lets his voice break the range he lazily sits in for the rest of the album, as he lets out a few low roars. Something incredibly simple like a few lines in a different vocal style reminds me why I fell in love with Kiuas in the first place. It's a shame that he and the rest of the band are suddenly afraid to experiment and let in all the outside ideas again. What we're left with is a fairly bland mid pace Heavy Metal album with a big focus on groove. Stick to The Spirit of Ukko, at least it manages to offer up more than two good tracks.
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