You know a few more releases like this one, and I'm going to have to start rethinking that whole "power metal is the most stagnant genre of metal" thing. Seriously, Kiuas' debut EP "Winter in June" is one of the more unique-sounding releases to fall under the banner of "power metal" in several years. It's only four songs, and is the first official release by the Finnish quintet, but if this is any indication of things to come hell yeah.
Power death? If such a phrase exists (and if it doesn't, consider it valid from this point forth), it definitely applies to Kiuas. "Winter in June" covers the ground somewhere between Angel Dust and Arch Enemy; it is extremely heavy and extremely melodic, with nigh-symphonic keyboards and lots of vocal harmonies, but also lots of crunchy guitar riffs and thunderously brutal percussion. Ilja Jalkanen is capable of an excellent Dirk Thurisch impersonation and then guitarist Mikko Salovaara turns around and emits the sort of death growl that would impress all but the most hardened of extreme metal fans. Salovaara's guitarwork also sounds excellent at both ends of the spectrum; for the most part, he and bassist Teemu Tuominen give the music a very Falconer sound, albeit with an increased brutality.
What makes this EP so good to me, though, is that it is encompassed by power metal musicians who are not afraid to push the envelope. I've lost count of the number of people who love bands like Stratovarius or Blind Guardian, but can't stand anything with "cookie monster vocals." Likewise, most power metal is little more than "faerie metal" to those who dwell in the depths of the underground extreme music movement. So it is brutally glorious indeed to find a group of musicians who embrace both seemingly-discordant musical styles, and meld them into one sonic stew.
Every song is good, and the melodic nature of this music gives each track a memorable quality that many brutal death metal albums lack. "Warrior Soul" is especially diverse, and "Across the Snows" is more than a little folky, with acoustic guitars flutes, and Finnish lyrics very Amorphis, very Einherjer, and very good.
My only regret is that this is but four songs I know that "Winter in June" was just released, but I am already avidly looking forward to some sort of full-length Kiuas endeavor. It is unfortunate that I only have four songs to represent this band, and it is just not enough to raise them to the same level as most of my other favorite metal bands. But if future Kiuas music is anything like "Winter in June" well, it would certainly be pretty wicked. Or triumphant. Take your pick.