Review Summary: Lustdriven has proven that Kiuas still has what it takes to compete as one of the finer power metal acts out there.
There has been so much speculation over the years debating the exact genre in which Kiuas performs. Well I’m putting this debate to rest. Does it really matter? Do they really care what genre they're thrown into? As long as it's something that pleases your ears, I’m sure that's all that really matters. That doesn't mean Kiuas hasn't progressed though.
Lustdriven is Kiuas' 4th release in just six years since the critically acclaimed debut The Spirit of Ukko in 2005, which was more focused on pure power metal. 2006's Reformation show's off a little bit of their technical side (Markku’s best work), while still maintaining their roots. 2008's The New Dark Age is just an overall heavier album than anything they've released, and in my opinion is a little rawer, missing the folk influences from the first two releases.
Now where do we stand with Lustdriven?
Kiuassault - I like what they did here with the title of the track. Like Kiuas' previous albums Lustdriven starts off with a blast. Certainly one of Kiuas' fastest songs... it's just full throttle power metal in your face. The keys are prominent, but mesh very well with the shredding throughout. The highlights are certainly the vocal hooks in the chorus and Mikko's powerful guitar work in the solo and as the song closes.
Cry Little Angel - Another song with great speed (at times) and a very catchy chorus. Not as powerful as the opening track, but what makes this song catchy is all changes in speed. What some might call as a "filler" song, I would chalk up as quite the underdog on the album.
Of Love, Lust and Human Nature - This is certainly something Kiuas fans haven't quite heard before and it can go either way as far as falling in love or hating what they've done here. Symphonic elements are present, as it sets the mood for an emotional ride the rest of the album. The keys are also worth mentioning, setting almost a creepy-like layer to the music. You will see that Ilja has really progressed with his vocals and it really shows here.
Aftermath - Easily the heaviest track (not so much on speed) on Lustdriven and probably a fan favorite from the first listen. That I can admit. But there are a couple things present that make me think otherwise and I'm probably a loner on this. While the solo's (yes, two) are outstanding, Aftermath comes off as being a little on the cheesy side. I'm referring to stricly the lyrics. The end of the song just seems a little too repetitive as well. Other than that, the song is brilliant.
Lights Are Many - The first ballad off of Lustdriven. One thing I’ve learned from Kiuas is to never discredit the ballads, even if at first listen they just don't tickle your fancy. They just grow on you with every listen. Lights Are Many follows the track of emotion within the album. Ilja's vocals really shine once again. Not to mention there is a near one minute piano solo that will just blow you away.
The Visionary - I don't even want to ruin the experience of this. Everything about The Visionary is flawless. Kiuas really executed on the creation of this song, and it shows. The symphonic elements are present again (with a nice breakdown in the middle too) and give the song such a triumphant feel throughout. When the solo hits, it will give you that feeling you only get with a couple songs where you just get goose bumps and your jaw drops in amazement. Without a doubt, this is one of the better songs.
Heart and Will - Starts off fast and quite powerful, but as the song progresses you realize that it's just perhaps another filler. That is until you reach the solo. Great work again by Mikko, certainly giving this song some life.
The Quickening - Another ballad? Cuh' mon! Actually, The Quickening is quite good and has a lot of similarities as Lights Are Many. My favorite part of the song is the first 15 seconds. I just think it sucks you in right from the beginning. Though, one of my least favorite tracks on Lustdriven, I find myself singing the chorus randomly days after a listen.
Summer's End - The only acoustic track on Lustdriven and a brilliant one at that. Summer's End is filled with lots of emotion and has a depressing feel to it, but is overcome with a triumphant solo and chant towards the second half of the song. Beautiful would be the best word to describe this song and I would like to see more material like this in the future.
Winter's Sting - One thing Kiuas has been known for in their existence is finishing their albums strong. Lustdriven is not the exception. The acoustic strings played by Mikko throughout really pull you in and give the song a little folk edge. Atte's keys during the chorus and as the song closes are quite refreshing. It seems like with Winter's Sting they took everything good on Lustdriven and balled it into one powerful song, and it worked.
Lustdriven has proven that Kiuas still has what it takes to compete as one of the finer power metal acts out there. It's just a shame this is Ilja's last recording with Kiuas since his departure in October 2010. However, he went out with a bang as he easily provided his best performance vocally on Lustdriven. No matter if you are a fan of just one or two of their releases, I think it's worth your time to invest in checking out this as it offers the best mix of Kiuas' material since their creation.
Ilja Jalkanen : Vocals
Mikko Salovaara : Guitars
Teemu Tuominen : Bass
Markku Näreneva : Drums
Atte Tanskanen : Keyboards