(We welcome guest contributor Didrik Mešiček, who makes his first NCS appearance with the following review of a new album by Portland-based Uada which is set for release by Eisenwald on September 8th.)
I didn’t know I liked Uada up until this spring. Sure, it was vaguely alluring, with a sense of a woodland ritual and thus I had respect for the band, but their music never truly grabbed me. However, I got to see them live in March and while the sound was actually really bad, it was still very enjoyable.
In the following weeks, having listened to the setlist a few more times, I realised I absolutely adore their melodic and ritualistic black metal sound, and that means this album could not be released at a better time for me. Crepuscule Natura will be released on the 8th of September on the Eisenwald label, almost exactly three years after their previous album, Djinn.
Uada is not doing anything Uada haven’t done before with this record, and that will delight most of their fans as their fairly unique black metal sound is still recognisable, and the album begins with a vacant tone that quickly shifts to that melodic and dancey rhythm the band is well-known for. “The Abyss Gazing Back” is a really solid opener to the record and, at nearly eight minutes in length, it once again shows that the band understand the sound’s need to develop so that it forms cohesive and elaborate pieces.
It’s fair to say I’m quite happy with the instrumentals in the beginning of this record, but the vocals leave me wanting a bit more. One of the things that made me fall in love with certain Uada tracks are those incredible, haunting high screams Jake Superchi manages to squeeze out of his throat, which somehow feel like I’m being transcended to another plane of existence. If you have no idea what I’m waffling about, “The Purging Fire” from Cult of a Dying Sun is a good example. In comparison, the vocals on Crepuscule Natura just seem to have taken a back seat and let the guitars and drums take the more frontal roles.
“The Dark (Winter)” is possibly the most Uada title one could think of, and on an album with “crepuscule” in the name as well (in case you’re unaware, that’s a fancy word for dusk) that should give you a good enough idea of what to expect from their sound. There’s allure in the band’s darkness, however it’s a seductive forest witch who’ll use you as the sacrifice in her ritual but you’d be happy to come again tomorrow. This track shows that well as the guitars begin playful and inviting, yet with a distorted sound that hides corruption behind it.
The bleak journey continues in “Retraversing the Void,” which is the song I actually heard live already in March before the single was even released, and because the live sound mixing was really poor and generally too loud I can’t tell you what it was like. Listening to it now I can see why it was included in the setlist as it does have a pretty typical catchy Uada riff, but the vocals again leave me just a bit cold and the overall sound of this album somehow verges more on cosmic, whereas on earlier releases I’ve always described it as more of a woodland ritual, although this may be something that only makes sense to me.
Crepuscule Natura is a fairly short album for the band’s standards, despite the fifth and final track, “Through the Wax and Through the Wane,” lasting 12 minutes. The record stops at just under 42 minutes, which along with the aforementioned vocals sort of makes me think this album suffers from a bit of a lack of inspiration. While the album is cohesive throughout, it never really reaches its peak, but it is strongest in its opening tracks, much like on their last two albums.
This was definitely an album I had high expectations for, and maybe that’s why they weren’t completely fulfilled. It’s definitely not a bad album by any means, but I don’t think it’s quite up there with Djinn or Cult of a Dying Sun, which are modern black metal classics. However, if you’re already a Uada fan, you’ll likely enjoy this and definitely won’t stay still while listening to it, and especially not when hearing the band perform live.
Oh, and I do want to note that I find the album art (which you can also get on shirts, of course) absolutely beautiful in its shades of purple, and that alone makes me want to get this album.