Last year, KIUAS exploded onto the scene with the awesome “The Spirit Of Ukko,” an album which brought out the Power in the Extreme Power Metal made popular by so many Finnish bands and gave it a unique spin. Less than a year later, they’re back with their sophomore offering. They’re still playing the same style, they’re still on Spinefarm, and they still have the same line up—does “Reformation” have the same impact as “The Spirit Of Ukko”? Unfortunately, no.
And, just as unfortunately, it’s nothing I can actually put my finger on. Somewhere along the way, an intangible was lost. The songs, while on the surface much the same as the first release, just aren’t as rewarding, they don’t stick with the listener the way those on “The Spirit Of Ukko” did. The band’s just as energetic, just as passionate. They’re even committing more—vocalist Ilja Jalkanen goes further into the extreme ranges of his repertoire (especially on “Black Winged Goddess”!), while guitarist Mikko Salovaara is a bit flashier and keyboardist Atte Tanskaren plays a more important role on this album than the previous.
The main problem seems to be that the songs themselves are uneven. Not on the whole, but within each song itself. Some parts of the songs are just better than others. Look at the opener, “Race With The Falcons:” the introduction goes a bit longer than necessary, but the meat of the song is fairly strong, even if some of the segues are weak. It’s symptomatic of the album as a whole; all the songs have some strong parts and some weak parts, resulting in a choppy flow to the album and cutting down on the its memorable nature, which I mentioned above.
But this review is far too negative. It’s still a good album with enjoyable songs (except maybe “Heart Of The Serpent.” It does nothing for me) and I’m sure it sounds fantastic live. Perhaps the best explanation is that this sounds like a debut album, with some misfires. It seems odd, since “The Spirit Of Ukko” was such a polished product. Fans of the debut album should definitely pick this up, but be forewarned that it just isn’t as good.
The Japanese Version has a cover of JETHRO TULL’s “Hunting Girl” as a bonus track.
(Online December 3, 2006)