CD The New Dark Age [602517722163] (CD 1329863),
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The New Dark Age [602517722163]

  • 1. Decaying Doctrine, The
    2. Conqueror
    3. Kiuas War Anthem
    4. New Dark Age, The
    5. To Excel And Ascend
    6. Black Rose Withered
    7. After The Storm
    8. Of Sacrifice, Loss And Reward
    9. Summoning, The
    10. Wanderer's Lamentation, The
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 7221

  • Credits

    Taking their name from a stove employed to heat saunas (huh?), Finland's Kiuas convey similar notions of perplexity with their third album, The New Dark Age, which despite its title's implicit threat of hellfire and brimstone, stays well away from the more extreme strains of Scando-metal (black, death), and delves instead into an uncommonly experimental brand of power metal. What's more, whereas most power metal bands seem content to rip off Iron Maiden at twice the normal speed (and with half of the creativity), Kiuas consistently challenge themselves and their listeners to shake things up -- even while staying in touch with that genre's more commercial sensitivities, via frequently conspicuous hooks, anthemic choruses, and ultra-flashy guitar and synthesizer solos. Most notably, Kiuas grooves like few of their countrymen can (or care to, at least), forging surprisingly syncopated riffs into strong fare like the title cut, "The Decaying Doctrine," and "The Summoning," and suggesting theirs is a far less insular outlook than much of their homegrown competition. More compelling evidence of this can be found in album standout "To Excel and Ascend," which repeatedly shuffles its metallic foundation with acoustic guitars inspired by Indian ragas, while clashing waves of harsh growling against Ilja Jalkanen's predominantly melodic vocalizing (gruff croaks are also used to good effect on the aptly named "Kiuas War Anthem" and the nod to Gothenburg death metal, "Of Sacrifice, Loss and Reward"). Closing epic "The Wanderer's Lamentation" features a similarly impressive array of soft/hard sounds and moods, as well as discreet nods to Finland's ever popular folk music; but these are then taken a little bit too far on the somewhat flat, all-acoustic "After the Storm," featuring oddly nasal vocals. Also not quite up to snuff, the classic metal building blocks of "Conqueror" and "Black Rose Withered" are so devoid of surprises, they feel positively quaint compared to the above -- although they may help to convert straightforward power metal fans to Kiuas' idiosyncrasies. Needless to say, though, it's the band's far more prevalent compositional risk-taking that makes The New Dark Age a recommended entry point into Finnish heavy metal -- somewhere between the extreme black and Viking metal marauders, and the power metal and AOR softies. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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