Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review: Kiuas, "Samooja: Pyhiinvaellus"


Kiuas was one of my favorite mid-2000s discoveries. They had a sound that was really all their own at the time -- a blend of power, folk, and death metal, with occasional forays into thrashier territory or blackened realms (though there's really none of the more extreme end here). They released four great albums on Spinefarm Records, including two fantastic ones in their debut for the label Spirit of Ukko and their 2008 album The New Dark Age, then after 2010's Lustdriven, they disappeared.

I was surprised a few months back to see an unfamiliar song from them pop up as a recommendation from Spotify, and I immediately clicked on it to find that they had released a new EP, Samooja: Pyhiinvaellus, which translates to Samoa: Pilgrimage. I was thrilled to hear new music from them again.

What's hot?

While all three of the full songs on the album are very strong, the star for me is "Through Purgatory," which really captures the feel of the band that I loved on Spirit of Ukko. It opens with an acoustic intro that puts me right in mind of that album, and singer Ilja Jalkanen delivers those distinctive vocals that I loved. Then we hit the big dramatic heavy chorus that showcases the band's power. "From the Anchorage" and "The Pilgrimage" are both solid efforts as well, highlighting the dramatic flair that the band is known for and both have memorable melodies and big sing-along choruses. The latter also gives us a verse in Jalkanen's native tongue.

What's not?

Well, there are only four songs here, and one of them, "The Mariner's Poem," is really just an intro piece. Can I have a whole album please?

The verdict

After 14 years away, Kiuas still has it. In the time they've been gone, more and more bands have started to try to create that alchemy of styles that I first heard on Spirit of Ukko, but Kiuas remains one of the strongest examples and still has quite a lot that sets them apart from the competition. Here's hoping they're back for good.

Check out: "Through Purgatory," "The Pilgrimage," "From the Anchorage"
Consider: "The Mariner's Poem" 

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