uada - devoid of lightIn light of AMG’s loving jibes at their album art, I have been commissioned to write a review for Uada‘s Devoid of Light after mentioning to him my opinion of it. Having only first heard it in July but with an April release date I had previously consigned it to Things You Might Have Missed (TYMHM) territory but AMG’s contrition dictated this delayed review. Those familiar with our regular features know that only the best of what we missed will receive a TYMHM: know, then, that Devoid of Light is one of the best black metal albums of 2016.

The first thing that struck me about Uada is that although they are categorically black metal, drawing influence from numerous sources, they’re so bright and energetic. There’s a vibrancy here which is missed entirely by so many of their blackened peers. The musicianship is enthusiastic, agile and infectious as neat ideas are incorporated throughout – I’m not supposed to be feel happy when listening to black metal but I invariably am with Devoid of Light.

“Natus Eclipsim” opens with a ripping Dissection riff, preferring groove above atmosphere and falling far closer to melodic black metal than that found in the second wave. This grooviness is maintained going forward, though the mid-paced, darker feel to the lead in the title track strongly evokes Mgła instead. By comparison, “Our Pale Departures” transitions into a furious whirlwind, blast beats and all, which can only be associated with Norway in the early 90s (see: Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone). The breakdown in “S. N. M.” makes for a great moment to head-bang and throw horns while the mini reprieve in “Black Autumn, White Spring” is almost epic in its cleaner chords. Though influences are shuffled throughout to avoid stagnation, great riffs are afforded the time to be great riffs: new melodies aren’t deployed for the sake of change and instead arrive at times which feel natural. Thus, the 10-minute closer does not feel like 10 minutes.

uada 2016

It’s also a boon that Devoid of Light is shockingly brief. In this day and age of cheap music production which often results in Johnny No-Name’s self-released debut double album, Uada chose to write a short and impactful collection of 5 tracks. As soon as the last is over the beginning recalls. It’s addicting in a way that’s uncommon for black metal and there’s nary a scrap of filler occupying the 34 minutes. The best tracks encircle the rest which makes for an incredibly compelling listen as, given the short length, you’re never far from the best material. “Black Autumn, White Spring” concludes the album as the longest and most expansive track, culminating with a frenzied solo. I’m not a fan of fade-to-black type endings so this injection of something new and exciting fits perfectly.

I really don’t have any criticisms musically. Even the production is good, save the industry standard dynamics. Devoid of Light sounds warm and old-school without actually languishing with low production values. Separate instruments and lines are clearly distinguished and there’s reasonably strong bass in a genre which often disregards this component. Alex over at Metal-Fi bemoaned the drums’ quietness in the mix but to me it evokes Scandy black metal very convincingly.

Devoid of Light isn’t original. It doesn’t push any boundaries and it scarcely even seems American given its plundering of European black metal. But it still feels fresh and singular. Uada are black metal re-energized and they’re so much fun to hear. Never have loving jibes been more loving.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eisenwald
Websites: facebook.com/uada
Releases worldwide: April 8th, 2016

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  • The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland, haven’t you heard?

  • Ernesto Aimar

    Totally agree, nothing new, but definetly one of the best melodic black metal records of the year

  • Reese Burns

    Holy shit, I’m glad you guys wrote this. I would have missed this completely.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    How does it come to pass that a band has the chops to make a 4.5 album then slap 1.5 album cover on it?

    • I don’t mind it too much, though it looks like it could be a Magic: The Gathering card.

    • Monsterth Goatom
      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        lol

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I like the main image but the background is a bit generic. I think this would be a 4.5 cover if it was just the skeletons against plain black.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I think the complete opposite! I find the skelton mother and child kind of comical… which I’m betting wasn’t the idea.

    • Gaëtan Baratin

      Well, most of Death’s album covers were really… *COUGH* Symbolic *COUGH*

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        True, though I would say that Human and ITP where neck and neck for their worst effort…
        That said I love the TSoP, Spiritual Healing and Leprosy covers.

        • Gaëtan Baratin

          Yeah, the TSoP art is really beautiful.

    • Bart the Repairman

      “1.5 album cover”? A matter of taste of course, but for me it’s fucking magnificent. I wanted to write a separate, new comment about it, but I scrolled here and saw yours, so I’ll express my feelings here instead. There’s something very, very apocalyptic with this screaming skull, looking up to the eclipsed sun. Even depiction of dead children, which usually pisses me off as a cheap shocking factor, here seems to be justified by adding more meaning to the despair of the central figure. The whole imagery, lightning, color palette etc. somehow evokes strong feeling of final, irrevocable annihilation in me. Although the embedded track doesn’t amaze me, I hope to see this artwork on the background for a few weeks before our eyes bathe in colors of peacock feathers.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I don’t know…maybe it’s just me but I think it looks silly.
        The Northern Sanctuary back drop I think is the best the sites ever looked… It’s going to be a tough gig for the next RotM

      • ricin_beans

        That skeleton is screaming because her skeleton baby died. AGAIN!

    • Bonescraper

      The cover is AWESOME :O

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I rather like the album cover. I assume there’s a band name and album title somewhere, or is that it in the bottom, right-hand corner?

    • Nope. That’s just Kris Verwimp’s signature.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I see what Alex means about the drums, but I think it works to their advantage, though I am a sucker for the loud, beating-a-stick-against-your-skull drum sound ala Revelation of Doom.

  • This is my favorite picture of Uada.

    • Facepalm unicorning would have been decreed.

      • Do unicorns have palms?

        • They do. Very small ones.

        • Kronos

          The homologous portion of the forelimb would be the metacarpal, which is the first long bone after the wrist of the horse, which many people (wrongly, from an anatomical perspective) call the knee. That’s where first forward-protruding bend in the forelimb happens. Most of the horse forelimb is actually just one really long finger, and the hoof is an extreme version of a fingernail.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Was that a yes or a no?

          • Kronos

            I guess it depends on how you want to define a palm. I’d say no.

          • [not a Dr]

            You are obviously not familiar with Equestria. Princess Twilight Sparkle does have palms when she looks into the magic mirror and sees a wereunicorn version of herself that attends highschool.

          • Kronos

            I will confess my ignorance on this matter.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Real life unicorns do not have palms ;)
          But you can always draw one with palms but only in the front legs.

  • Dr. Wvrm

    This album is fantastic, big ups Cuervo.

  • Definitely one of the best BM records of the year. Hands down.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Definitely look forward to seeing this in the ROTM for April.

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    How’s this holding up to the Hyperion record? Man, I’m excited about this.

    • Reese Burns

      From what I’ve heard, I prefer this one

    • John

      Holding up well. That being said, I loved Seraphical Euphony, and it’s still in rotation, so we’ll have to see if this is still getting played in November.

      • John

        That being said I just started listening to it after the review, so again, maybe too soon to tell.

    • mtlman1990

      That album is on another level.

    • Gaëtan Baratin

      Well, I listened to this record three or four times since yesterday. I really like it, however the way the whole thing sounds is a bit off-putting for me. It sounds a bit flat, especially the drums. Maybe it’s meant to be like this (trve kvlt experience)…

      Nevertheless, I love the way they start off two of their tracks with almost happy-sounding chords before unleashing Ragnarök.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Even though I’m not a BM fan, that song (and video) were both really good. Probably won’t buy the album, but lots of respect for this band.

  • Diego Molero

    I feel like I’m missing something, upon first listen of the embedded track this sounds average to me. But will give this a further and proper listen, hopefully it will click.

    • I listened to the album and felt the same way

    • I’d say it’s a good/very good album, but not an amazing one. Its not very demanding, but it has the nuances that grows, without the album showing any signs of deterioration.

  • Poop King

    I saw these guys open for Inquisition, they were fucking A-MAZING

    • Speaking of Inquisition, the embedded song has a flair of Inversion Of Ethereal White Stars (from Obscure Verses for the Multiverse), but the similarities stops there.

    • brklyner

      Agree, saw them opening for Krallice and Pale Chalice in PDX and they put on a really tight show. Hoods, lots of fog and little time wasted on tuning or transitions.

      • Major Zim

        I was right next to you apparently! They always kill. I can’t wait until they’re big enough to headline. It’s unfair to them an the bands that follow them that they have to go on first. What an act to follow!

    • Blueberry Balls

      Dude Inquisition is tits on a frog!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So…

    • Bart the Repairman

      Yeah, now I actually can upvote you twice:D

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So, is this what happened?

    • themetalbeernerd

      new favorite meme ever. Holy shit.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Well, thanks…

    • De2013

      Just showed this to my wife. Enjoyed it as well. Epic stuff.
      I expect this to appear in some year’s end lists.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I expect the album to appear on some year’s end list, for sure…

  • Vincas Stonys

    So good

  • hallowed

    Great release. Good to see it getting some love around here.

  • Mark Z

    When I first heard this it was a pleasant surprise to hear the guy from Ceremonial Castings on vocals. The guy has a lot of personality in his rasp, so much that I actually identified him by his voice alone before even looking at the credits. Have to agree this is definitely one of the better black metal releases of the year, very gripping stuff and nice riffs.

  • De2013

    Isn’t this also on bandcamp? Or isn’t legit?

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    Before I clicked on the link to read the review I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t get a 4.5 the reviewer is smoking crack.” So good job of staying off the pipe. ;-)

  • autonamed

    Especially the blastbeats sound like Mglas Darkside helped them out in the studio.
    But clearly a ROTM fav – and the cover will make a marvelous site background.

  • Blueberry Balls

    This is a great release indeed.

  • Blueberry Balls

    yuppers.

  • SegaGenitals

    Eh. Jammed it. Nodded off. Woke up and played Hyperion followed by Moonsorrow.

  • Treble Yell

    Whelp, I know what I’m buying when I get home.

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    I was at first turned off by the overall sound, but then “even the production is good, save the industry standard dynamics. Devoid of Light sounds warm and old-school without actually languishing with low production values” ended up being a great point.

    And then I was turned off anyway for the same reasons I don’t like bands like Immortal. Definite props for sounding like genuine old school black metal and being American though. The only other US bands I can think of that really nail the great overseas metal styles are Daylight Dies and Wilderun.

  • Alex Benedict

    speaking of TYMHM: Hope for the Dying – Legacy

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    They might be known as the facepalm band. But the album wrocks!

  • jersey devil

    Great stuff. The songs have multiple movements, and I hear a number of bands that I love, often within the same song, including Mgla, Winterfylleth, and Agalloch (some of the desolate wails at least). At first listen, some of these transitions in the songs threw me, especially the first 2 songs, but after a few listens I think they work really well. The reason, I realized, is that each section of a song is given space to develop. There is a wonderful diversity both within and among these songs. Outstanding.

  • NDG

    Sick drone footage in the clip.

  • De2013

    Epic album!

    Cover reminds me of AMG’s epic euro song contest live tweets