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Uada - Djinn Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 September 2020, 10:54 AM

Portland, Oregon based black metal band UADA burst onto the scene in 2014 and have made a pretty big name for themselves, considering the style they play.  “Djinn” will please most fans of the band and should keep their moonlight burning bright but it is quite a bit different than the previous album “Cult Of A Dying Sun.”  Where as that album was focused on providing a seamless and solid outlook on melodic black metal, “Djinn” sees the band expanding upon their established sound even further.  I could understand if someone called this prog—it isn’t technically proficient or anything  but it does push the sound of melodic black metal and even their own boundaries.  What’s more prog than pushing yourself beyond your usual confines?  To top it off, I even hear some elements of post in a lot of the songs, particularity in how a lot of melodies seem to come at the listener in lush, layered waves.

There are also a few surprises on the album.  The opening, and title track, “Djinn,” sounds like some sort of surfer style rock song on steroids. The riffs are groove but the melodic bass and backing drums mix with them in such a way that it has a sort of “happy” vibe to it.  I actually enjoy the way it sounds and love how it turns into full on melodic black metal.  The song’s middle portion is akin to their older style but it is a nice bridge to the next section that brings in some stunning melodic lead work for that post vibe I was talking about earlier.

The Great Mirage,” is one huge ball of melodic electric waves but soon progresses into rage and fury—the drums certainly help with this.  This track echoes something the album does so well—the songs moving from piece to piece, section to section, movement to movement in a very organic way.  There are times were perhaps there is too much going on but it gets to these points smoothly enough.  The melody lines behind the blackened vocals boost up the atmosphere for the song, giving it a very epic feel without being too corny.  And that guitar solo towards the songs end?  Wow!!  It doesn’t sound like anything I would normally hear in this style but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work just the same.

No Place Here,” begins with the more traditional MBM sound—furious riffs, hammering drums, and a tempo that slams you against the wall.  The overall sound of the song is much more sorrowful and methodical—and as a doom metal fan, that sort of atmosphere really speaks to me.   The first ten minutes are ace but once the sound bites kick in, the song seems to just drag on somewhat.  It isn’t a terrible last few minutes to an otherwise great song but the filtered vocals don’t mix well with the guitars and it just sounds messy and convoluted.

The bass stands out in “The Absence of Matter,” and rides alongside the melodic guitars for a powerful punch that combines that old NWOBHM with more extreme visions.  The riffs around two minutes into the song are very strong and provide a nice base for the clean vocals to play off of.  The last minute and a half laces the band’s new sound with blackened groove for a stellar ending to a great song. “Forestless,” is more of a wondering song, as it drifts in and out of various styles.  The beginning is a sleepy and hazy experience that then becomes incredibly chaotic.  For the next few minutes, the song continues at break neck speed, everything out for guns and glory.  The song finds its more melodic footing again in the last half around the four and a half minute mark that honors the minutes before while ever surging forward.

Between Two Worlds,” is another song that needs to lose a couple minutes but by god it is such a great song.  The beginning is a raw display of just black metal magic—heavy, mysterious, and dangerous.  By the two minute mark, the song has opened up with a sort of melodic gallop like an extreme IRON MAIDEN.  The vocals in the later half are just monstrous. The album isn’t without some small problems.  I m speaking mostly of the song lengths—a couple of them are way too long for this style.  I normally love long form songs and structures but, to me, UADA isn’t a band that needs have thirteen minute long songs.

With that being said, there is a lot to like on this album.  I didn’t review their previous albums but I would give “Devoid of Light” a seven, “Cult…” an eight.  “Djinn,” gets a nine because there is a clear established progression in quality of their albums and that is always a good thing.  If they can keep expanding their sound while trimming some of the excess, then I suspect the next album will be their masterpiece.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Djinn
2. The Great Mirage
3. No Place Here
4. In The Absence of Matter
5. Forestless
6. Between Two Worlds
James Sloan – Guitars
Jake Superchi – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Nate Verschoor – Bass
Josiah Babcock - Drums
Record Label: Eisenwald


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Edited 06 December 2022

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