The Pitch: "On their sophomore full-length, UADA expand their scope and range of hypnotic craft. Balancing sharp riffs with spectral melodies in a manifold of haunting yet distinctive black metal dirges. A sharp spear in the heart of the brightest star." FFO: Au-Dessus, The Spirit, Hoth
What I Like: I've made this point a number of times, but I really want to drive it home; in an age where literally anyone can put out music for mass consumption, it pays have a recognizable stamp on your sound. Fellow Portlanders UADA have done this from the very beginning. Throw on any track from their incredible debut, Devoid of Light, and it won't take more than a few seconds to name the artist. Their particular approach to mournful-yet-imposing tremolos and mixing of black and death vocals made them a fast favorite in 2016, and they remain true to these foundations on Cult of a Dying Sun.
It's a simple formula, really; one that has been in use since the early days of the genre. But just a few subtle, stylistic brushstrokes turn it into something special. I've heard some complain that UADA's approach is too polished, but the production is part of their signature. There's room for both modern and raw methods in black metal; one doesn't have to exclude the other. In the end, everything about this album, as with their live sets, feels meticulously and professionally crafted to deliver a very specific vision. Furthermore, this release expands on past ideas with some new dynamics that mesh nicely with their overall aesthetic.
Critiques: It's funny, because I was just this weekend making the same case for the brevity of my reviews: Thomas Jefferson once said, "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” This applies to music as well. I see many bands go for a substantially longer runtime on their sophomore outing...and the results don't always reflect an improvement. Devoid of Light was in part excellent due to its airtight 34 minute length. That nearly doubles on Cult of a Dying Sun. This is not a problem in and of itself. If it truly takes an hour or more to succinctly make your point (Opeth, etc.), that's perfectly fine. Unfortunately, on many of the tracks here I find myself thinking, "Yeah, you could have said that in about half the time." Take even one of my favorites, "Snakes & Vultures": it's almost 10 minutes long, but the actual ideas within would have been much better served in 5. Contrast this with the concisely focused "The Purging Fire."
The Verdict: UADA continue to impress with an infectious signature sound that has evolved without losing its finest qualities. My one recommendation is that they challenge themselves to improve their concept-to-track length ratio. Either trim the fat or deliver compositions more worthy of the extended time. That aside, there's a reason that I named this band as poised for greatness. Preorder below. Physical copies are available via Big Cartel.
Flight's Fav's: The Purging Fire, Snakes & Vultures, Blood Sand Ash
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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