Album Review: Cult of a Dying Sun by Uada
Uada is a band I’ve had my eye on for quite while now… Their 2016 debut, Devoid of Light, caught mine as well as pretty much the entire underground metal communities attention with some of the best black metal thats been released in recent history. It’s melodic, its violent, it’s brutal and its sweet. Uada took an interesting approach to black metal with some genuine musicianship mixed with straightforward black metal that we all love. They by no means reinvented the satanic wheel, but they did it right. When they released the title track from their new record, Cult of a Dying Sun as a single, I was STOKED. I mean I could not wait to dig into this record. And what I found buried under there was… something special.
Now, let me just get this out of the way… and this is by no means to offend anyone or any bands in particular (I guess), but I have pretty much zero tolerance for pretentious American hipster black metal. I mean it just leaves me with the worst taste in mouth. The only taste I want in my mouth whilst indulging in Lucifer’s music is Norwegian blood!! No, seriously though, American black metal kind of makes no sense to me.. while Im no commie and completely get down with true American metal… black metal should be left strictly to our brothers and sisters across the pond and down to the depths of the frozen tundras and pits of ashen bone. I just feel like it comes from a more genuine place and remain true to its evil roots that way. Could you imagine a Danish ZZ Top cover band? I mean that’d probably be awesome but you catch my drift. BUT the thing is that probably shouldn’t matter; music is music. No matter where it comes from. If it sounds good and comes from the soul (wether light or dark), its patriotically origins should be a moot point. Alas, I have set aside my bias for Uada. Hailing from Portland, the hipster pool of the USA, didn’t necessarily help their cause in my book… neither did their “anonymous identities” …. Can’t think of another band that pulled that one off recently? Yawn. MY POINT THOUGH, as much as the odds were stacked up against me liking them, I love them. Uada’s first record captivated me, this one reinvigorated me. It reignited my interest and acceptance for American black (ish) metal and serves as an undeniably powerful sequel to the Uada legacy. I say sequel because it is just that, a continuation of where Devoid of Light left off. So, rather than reestablish themselves with a new sound or different concept… the wandered further down the darkened path to the total eclipse of death, took what made Devoid of Light “shine,” and more or less amplified it; making this a death defying black metal experience.
Im a sucker for opening tracks… if it doesn’t interest me, I have a REALLY hard time giving the rest of the album an honest chance. On the flip side, if an album has a kick-fuckin’-face opener and the rest is just full of missed uppercuts and failed flying kicks (thats my scientific way of saying “lame songs”), I stand a WAY better chance at liking the record. I don’t know exactly why. But for me the opener is the bands chance to establish WHAT’S UP..and UADA LET YOU KNOW WHAT’S UP. The Purging Fire wastes literally zero time hurling you into the backend apocalypse with a ripping traditional black metal riff and fired up drum rolls. Ripping its way through devilish chord progressions and vocals of fury, complete with a little bass and drum rhythmic breakdown, this is an opening track done right. Show some love to the bass right off the bat? I like you. I’m in. Sold. Going into the rest of it with a better attitude. See what I mean about the opening track hype? Anyway on to the next one…
Forget “opening” track, that was a “warm-up” track. Uada was just making sure we were ready to take on Snakes & Vultures. I guess you have to purge in fire before you wrestle with snakes and vultures. Good look, Uada. Makes goddamn sense. Anyway, the ten minute second track and is exactly what you would expect, which is not what you would expect.. you feel me? Immediately noticeable is the change in tempo, reduction of the blast, emphasis on the grove. The drums carry this tune all the way through to the end through its various tempo changes(certianly not devoid of blast beats, just different) and the vocals drifting in and out of growling echoes and chanting shrieks.. bad ass. Then the distorted guitar fills the air in an instrumental section.. creeping and lurking its way across the landscape built by the erupting, relentless drums. If this is any indication for how the rest of the record is gonna go, goddamn am I digging it. The only thing I would say about this track is it might be just a tad too long.. or too short. Its a weird thing where its not long enough to be their 10-15 min EPIC (well get to that shortly), but not short enough to be catchy and risks the listener getting bored. But, the next title track, hits the nail on the head and the nail in the coffin. Released as a single earlier, and having already heard it a number of times, I knew what to expect. But, in the context of the record it makes a lot more sense and I can see why they chose to realize this one as the single. From the deliciously evil guitar interlude through the rips and roars (this ones a heavy motherfucker) , their always intriguing chord progressions and black metal anthemic riffs, vocals from the gutter, to the ending cymbal clash. This is the most representative track of the record. We even get a slow instrumental interlude and dare I say some progressive metal vibes at the end? All wrapped up into 8 minutes? Very well done.
Im sure Uada anticipated you’d need to catch your breath after those 3 tunes forming a trident of fire and souls and hurling it through one ear and out the other… that’s why the next track, “The Wanderer,” is a phenomenal transcendent instrumental intermission. That was the most syllables I've ever used. But it is.. this is the perfect time to do whatever you need to do (you know what im saying) momentarily vibe out and prepare yourself for the rest of the record… and you’ll need it. After Uada is done showcasing their musicianship and their care to atmosphere, which is in my humble opinion, what makes this type of music so rich and special and what separates the good from the bad in this world… they hit you with “Blood Sand Ash.”
Coming off the foothills laid down by The Wanderer, Uada hits some deviously twangy acoustic chords over their signature drums, setting the listener up for war when the songs kicks. And it kicks. And it pretty much stays kicking for the next seven-odd minutes. Throw some groovy guitar in there every now and then and Uada are just reminding you of who’s record you’re listening to.. and what journey your about to go on.
All uphill from here as we dwindle down to the final two of this record.. Clocking in at eight minutes flat and heavy on the atmosphere “Spheres (Imprisonment)” proves itself to be the record’s most interesting track (for my money, at least). Opening with a different sound that I cant even tell you how they made and leading with an extraordinarily different vocal quality (don’t worry, it’s definitely not clean singing) I see Uada trying to pull the listener into this prison of doom they’ve been journeying too. The drums continue to cry war, the bass is thick and dirty, and the track comes complete pulling you into a spiraling pit of mirrors… see what I did.. because the closing track, the encore of the record, is “Mirrors.” And man has trusting the mirror never been easier. Unless, of course, you’re a vampire and have no reflection, then I guess, touché? Just shy of eleven minutes, the epilogue pulls the record full circle. Through the darkness and depths and mountains and light they’ve created.. just to reflect on it as they trudge forward. Is it a cliff hanger? More like a promise of revenge. They’ll be back. And I cant wait to see where they take us next… Bravo, Uada.
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