Kiuas - Lustdriven
Spinefarm Records
Power Metal
10 songs (48:46)
Release year: 2010
Kiuas, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Goat

It’s always hard to admit yourself disappointed by a band you’ve grown to love, and even harder to admit when the disappointment is tempered somewhat. What exactly makes an album good, great, and amazing is different to different people, and the exact moments that decide which is which is impossible to describe. So, deciding where exactly Finnish Power Metal gods Kiuas’ fourth full-length sits in the quality spectrum is extremely hard, even before you’ve listened as many times as I have. It doesn’t help that the band are moving away from their previous formula, that of mixing various types of Metal together in a Thrashing, Death-infused, even Blackened melange of Power Metal-driven goodness. Instead, the rather daftly-titled Lustdriven backs away from the multicultural mayhem of before, and takes steps towards more typical Power Metal territory, with an increased number of ballads and acoustic guitars, and reduced riffage. Yes, the kickass band who put the Power into Power Metal have toned it down rather, which certainly annoyed and disappointed me, and as many listens as I give Lustdriven it’s not an as easy to love as the band’s past catalogue.

In some ways the Finns are approaching self-parody. Opening track Kiuassault roars in, full of lyrics about how awesome the band are over a melodic yet crunchy bit of metal that reminded me of Children Of Bodom in some ways, technical and precise with near-virtuoso keyboards bleeping away in the background. Big guitar solo, big keyboard solo, the boxes are ticked and it’s so far so good, although you could just as easily be disappointed that the band have taken no steps forward whatsoever. It’s a glass half full/half empty situation, not helped by the Melodeath tint to following track Cry Little Angel, vocalist Ilja’s varying styles coming too thick and fast to be really effective. The track’s saved by the varying rhythm guitar layering and the chorus which comes straight from the Power Metal playbook, effective yet far from original.

You could argue that Kiuas were only ever good at regurgitating their influences, yet the band’s skill is obvious enough to prove that nonsense – the orchestral-backed Of Love, Lust And Human Nature is professional and more enjoyable than anything I’ve ever heard from the overrated likes of Sonata Arctica. The rather kickass Aftermath took me right back to the technical heaviness of Reformation and caused much headbanging, being probably the album highlight with its speed and extended soloing – “still undefeated!” the band seem to collectively roar, and it’s hard not to agree as you throw the horns. But oh god, why on earth ruin the adrenaline with Lights Are Many, a rather lame ballad that doesn’t even approach the Folk intensity promised? It starts like the worst commercial ‘acoustic session’ bullshit before redeeming itself somewhat with metal guitars and piano trills, but is a long long way from the likes of Warrior Soul and No More Sleep For Me.

Even worst is that Kiuas commit this sin twice, Summer’s End featuring acoustic guitars that just go on and bloody on without end. Yep, another ballad, and although it takes on a vaguely enjoyable campfire ‘hey-ho!’ quality towards the end, it’s too little, too late; this sort of thing should only ever be allowed onto Metal albums as a bonus track. Elsewhere, The Visionary starts like Nightwish, orchestral flourishes meeting speedy riffage in a well-balanced Power Metal vocal-driven performance, and Heart And Will is an enjoyably melodic little number, rather like a less manic Dragonforce with the ability to write songs surgically grafted on. I had fears for The Quickening with its guitarless opening, which the band sort of assuage by turning things up and going for a kind of 80s metal vibe with the vocal-and-piano-heavy style. None of these live up to expectations, however, and it would be hard to see that you’ve listened to much of substance at all were it not for the closing Winter’s Sting, which uses the acoustic elements well and returns to the band’s more typical crunch with hints of proggy experimentation woven frustratingly in.

My biggest issue here is probably a personal one – I got into Kiuas as a riff-driven Power Metal band that avoided the usual pitfalls of the genre, and for them to suddenly drop part if not most of what made them unique will obviously cause a fair amount of trauma. Yet when all is said and done, Lustdriven is a perfectly capable Power Metal album that deserves to find the band many more fans and fame. The riffs are crunchy, the solos are spinechilling, the songwriting is mostly great... it’s just a pity that Lustdriven is inferior to the band’s first three albums in every way you look at it. Personally speaking, this is a disappointment, and although it will doubtless find its way back to my playlist now and then, Kiuas have become just another Power Metal band for me.

Killing Songs :
Kiuassault, Of Love Lust And Human Nature, Aftermath, The Visionary, Heart And Will, Winter’s Sting
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Kiuas that we have reviewed:
Kiuas - The Spirit Of Ukko reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Kiuas - The New Dark Age reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
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