Kiuas - The New Dark Age
Spinefarm Records
Power Metal
10 songs (51:30)
Release year: 2008
Kiuas, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Goat

For a long time, I had a very poor opinion of Power Metal. Compared to the meatier offerings of the more extreme types of Metal, it seemed to lack guts, balls and heart, not to mention that it all sounded the same. Of course, the veil was eventually lifted from my eyes and I realised just how damn good Blind Guardian, Edguy, Children Of Bodom, heck, even Rhapsody could be. Despite this, a lot of new bands on the scene sound as if they’re just ripping Hammerfall off, not to mention the deification of Dream Theater over in Prog-Power land. Is it so hard to play something unique?

Enter Kiuas: a young, hungry Finnish band that has been gaining plaudits in recent years for not following the path of many new Power Metal bands and ripping another established band off. Instead, Kiuas (named after the Finnish word for the stove in saunas) add elements of Melodic Death, Thrash and classic Heavy Metal to create an original style of their own. 2005’s The Spirit Of Ukko, the band’s debut, is often seen as the band’s best for the gritty production and touches of Black Metal that popped up, yet it’s to the band’s new, third album that we look today.

It’s obvious from the start that little has changed from before: the band know where their strength lies, and the guitar riffs are as solid and powerful as ever, the technical skill coming strong and clear. First track The Decaying Doctrine possesses quite possibly the best Power Metal singalong chorus written yet, and the verging-on-harsh vocals of frontman Ilja Jalkanen are as individual as ever as he spits out Finnish Folk tales and general Pagan angst. The backing vocals of guitarist Mikko Salovaara really help propel the epic factor into the stratosphere, and his playing is equally as good.

It might be a cliché, but there really is not a weak moment throughout The New Dark Age, from the Thrashy catchiness of Conqueror, through the suitably anthemic Kiuas War Anthem, the title track that outperforms many a Death Metal band for crunchy, satisfying riffing, to the Flamenco acoustics on To Excel And Ascend… there is far too much awesomeness for this poor reviewer to detail. All members of the band are audible, and both keyboardist Atte Tanskanen and drummer Markku Näreneva (aren’t Finnish names just so, so cool?) excel, the former’s solos and the latter’s diverse beats and blasts being very enjoyable.

Everything that eventually helped to bring me around to Power Metal, the catchiness, the ‘happy’ factor that always helps to get me out of black moods, is all present and correct. Hell, even all-acoustic ballad After The Storm, where Ilja is joined by a female vocalist, is far from the wince-worthy mistake that many a better-known band would produce. This is the best Power Metal that I’ve heard in a while, and Kiuas deserve every plaudit they get. If you were disappointed by the last few Children Of Bodom albums (and who wasn’t to some extent?) then this is well worth a listen for a more overtly Power Metal type of Neoclassically-enhanced sound. It’ll take the new Iced Earth to outdo The New Dark Age in ‘best Power Metal album of 2008’ stakes…

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Kiuas that we have reviewed:
Kiuas - Lustdriven reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Kiuas - The Spirit Of Ukko reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
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