F U L L . R E V I E W S
Wow, only three years removed from their debut, and Finland's Kiuas are on a tear, releasing their third heavy metal powerhouse, The New Dark Age, in late 2008, with the emphasis being on heavy. Actually, there are tons of different metal elements on display here, invoking reminiscences of bands such as Nevermore, Brainstorm, Blind Guardian, and Grave Digger. But, there's more to these guys than that, as you'll find death metal blast beats on display, keyboards finding their way into the mix from time to time, some grandiose arrangements around chorus time, slight nods to traditional folk melodies, and gruff vocals/chants mixed into the powerful baritone that is Ilja Jalkanen.
Everything is wrapped up in a pugilistic, domineering, riff-based, face-melting attack that is sure to sate any metalhead's thirst for a neck breaking headbang. What's so damn enjoyable about these guys is, although their music may flirt with the brutality of death metal at times, they are firmly fixated on making heavy, yet accessible songs for the fan not so inclined to travel into worlds populated by Suffocation, Dismember, et al. Also, as stated earlier, there are a number of elements present to appeal to a diverse number of metal devotees from several different genres.
"The Decaying Doctrine", a scathing opener, musically and lyrically speaking, sets the tone perfectly for the album with its heavy riff and lead chorus. The title track is another serious, heavy-handed punch, which is followed by "To Excel and Ascend", which opens with a Middle Eastern folk flair, moving into another bombastic, sing-along chorus, and ending with the a similar movement to its opening. The ballad, "After the Storm", is a beautifully sung duet with female vocalist Anna-Maija Jalkanen, punctuated with a strong harmony laid over an acoustic guitar progression that is as elegant and enticing as the vocals.
If you're a fan of almost any sort of metal, then there's something you'll find appealing here, as Kiuas continue to stoke the coals in their sauna with this release. Really, there isn't a clunker or filler to be found here, each song an island-state unto itself, standing tall, proud, and stoic in the light of The New Dark Age!
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