Friday, August 27, 2010

Kiuas - Spirit of Ukko

Did they really just do that?

Oh yeah, they put blast beats in power metal. This is a band I always have a fun time describing to friends, as they are the only band I can honestly say incorporate virtually every metal subgenre. The blast beats of black metal, the occasional death growl, the power metal choruses, the speed/thrash riffs, they seriously did it all. It is predominately power metal, but all of the other influences are there, and they are there in fucking force. This band has a ton of potential, and I really, really want to give this album an A, but three or four songs don't carry an album. Upon first hearing this, I thought to myself "This is only their first album, they'll mature a bit more and really fucking nail it next time." Unfortunately, the follow up seems to fall flat on it's face pretty quickly.

So they don't really harness all of their potential, but they should most definitely be teaching Ass Kicking 101 at Berkley. Upon looking at this album, and analyzing the cover art, you can gather that Ukko is some sort of powerful being, most likely a mythical god. A little bit of research shows that the initial assumption is indeed correct. So you figure the music has to kick as much ass as the cover right? You would once again be right.

The opening track is an amazing one. It is a truly kickass opener and lets you know really quickly what you've gotten yourself into. This is not Mr. Joe Everyband here at all. Tremolo riffing, epic keys, blast beats.... one of these things is not like the other! One of these things just doesn't belong! But holy shit do they make it work. After the first minute, you get a dose of an almost melodeath riff before thrash drumming and atmospheric keys take over. Then the voice, oh god that voice. The vocals are really love/hate, they tend to be kind of out of key the whole time... all the time, not to mention they don't always harmonize to well, but they somehow sound amazingly good. His clean vocals are pretty bad, but when he's adding a touch of rasp or flat out growling/screaming, it's really good. It all depends on which part of the song you're listening to. The solo is a trip as well, starting off kind of death/thrash-esque, but ending on an epic/power region.... Once the sonic onslaught has surceased, you realize that your ass has just been kicked harder than it has been in a LONG fucking time. Seriously, my description is almost perfect, it seriously is everything good about every respective genre thrown into one six minute aural assault.

Next up is another classic, On Winds of Death We Ride. It starts off kind of mediocre, but after his semi-spoken intro about 30 seconds in, the true song starts. The natural harmonic run followed by the blasts and bombastic key hits, it all just hits you in the face like a jackhammer. The vocalist emphasizes his more extreme style here. I use extreme in the sense that they are harsher than on the previous tracks (or any of the other ones for that matter), and during the chorus, when he screams the title, it is an honest to God COB style black metalish growl that makes you want to murder.

But what's next? Uh oh, it's a throwaway! No Sleep for Me isn't terrible, it's just a huge step down from the opening duo of ass kickage. This song is also the first in which the stupid lyrics really hit you. It didn't matter too much in the first two tracks, but now it really bothers me because the music isn't as compelling, so naturally you pay more attention to the lyrics.

Destructive drum solo? Speed/thrash riff? Blast beats accompanied with low death growl and artificial harmonics? Power metal keys? ALL IN THE FIRST THIRTY SECONDS? Oh yeah baby, it's Warrior Soul. Hands down the best song on the entire fucking album. Catchy vocal lines, scattered drum solos, blazing fast harmonized dueling guitar solos, this one has even more mayhem than the first track, which up to the point I heard this song... I thought was untouchable. There isn't much to say about this, the best things usually need the least amount of explanation....

Uh oh, throwaway number two?..... yep. Until We Reach the Shore is.... well, crappy. I've no problem with slower songs, but it just doesn't work really well with this one. Kind of a typical 80's NWOBHM riff to start off, mid paced thrash riffs with sporadic harmonics (ala the infamous playing style of Zakk Wylde). Parts of this song honestly remind me of Sonic the Hedgehog. Boring chorus, just not up to the caliber of the other three ass kickers so far.

Across the Snows, one of their oldest songs. I must admit, I love the opening, what with the folk melodies, acoustics, building up into a twisted pile of metal wreckage (aka awesomeness). But as a whole, the song just doesn't seem to measure up to the ridiculously high expectations the first half of the album gave me.

As a matter of fact, neither do the last two songs. So I won't even go into detail on them, just know that they are more of the style laid out, but slower and less cool.

On the whole, an amazing album at first, but Kiuas's unfortunate inability to keep their songwriting consistent really kills it at the end. I tried to keep this review as positive as a could, because I absolutely love this band, but from an objective standpoint, this album ends up with this score.

RATING - 71%

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