Treehouse of Death
Why are Finnish metallers Kiuas able to remain the band that I�m ready to listen to any time my power metal battery needs some fresh recharging? First, the guys have an exceptionally recognizable sound sparkling with peculiar sprightly tunes that act like indispensable pick-me-ups at the gloomiest moments of your life. Second, they are not your model power metal clone that follows rigorously the well-established rules of the game fearing to cross the prohibited boundaries of some more extreme metal realms. And third, they enjoy working on the song arrangements making every single instrumental or vocal move a true dainty that you want to taste again and again.
Based on what was said above, it�s no wonder I�m falling deeper and deeper in love with the band�s newest creation called The New Dark Age getting my kicks every time I play it. The riffs are plural, diverse and massive enough to nip any scruples of suspicion right in the bud. The guitar and keyboard solos invigorate and refresh like Charcot�s douche filling your essence with the warm currents of bliss. The vocal performance by Ilja Jalkanen doesn�t let you feel frustrated or bored for a damn second, for the man, like a dexterous chameleon, echoes the mood of the music ideally, using the harshness and mellowness of his range half-and-half. The rhythm section, a solid reinforcement to the main instrumental body, don�t cease to give you mighty headers banging out of the bass and drums deadly rock breakers and sledge-hammers.
The songs are instantly captivating and don�t take up much time to get into. As compared to the band�s previous release Reformation, the new material is more consistent and traditional and just occasionally transcends the territories of other adjacent sub-genres, which is expressed by killer growling insets, monstrous shredding and a bit of symphonic/progressive licks thrown in here and there. However, I wish the guys would resort to the help of death metal elements more frequently in their future work since it does lots of good to their aggressively tinged power metal.
One of the most memorable moments on this record is the title track, a fascinating mid-tempo journey through the musical barkhans of enigmatic Arabian tunes swarming with hypnotizing death and clean vocals and outstanding crunchy riffing and enchanting soloing. Another nice surprise is an all acoustic ballad piece After The Storm, which is nothing else but an incredibly marvelous marriage between male and female voxes decorated with silvery dreamy roulades of rhythm and solo guitars. By the highest standards, ballads are the band�s strongest point. Suffice it to remember gorgeous Bleeding Strings from Reformation to make sure this is true. Yet it doesn�t mean that the guys are not able to write equally imposing fast pieces, which is confirmed by the most direct proof on the album that are such powerhouse rockers as The Decaying Doctrine and Of Sacrifice, Loss and Reward. But my favorite track on the album is The Wanderer�s Lamentation, a grandeur combination of balladesque and heavy merits contrasting each other against the fabulous melodic background. Excellent finale!
Even though The New Dark Age didn�t amaze me the way Reformation did in 29006, I still consider it a very solid offering from the guys rife with lots of elements that are sure the best under the band�s belt for the time being. The fact that I find no other band in the genre Kiuas could be vaguely compared with is a big plus for them too, for at least a bit of uniqueness is, to my mind, a must have for any metal band in the contemporary scene. The addition of death metal parts makes the band interesting to a much wider circle of metalheads. No wonder, that even some of the most formidable opponents of power metal reckon Kiuas good enough to be included in their own metal libraries.