June 3, 2018

UADA - Cult of A Dying Sun - Review + Album Stream.

UADA - Cult of a Dying Sun.

Review by Trevor Proctor.

Since the release of their debut album, ‘Devoid of Light,’ in April 2016 UADA has battled and overcame a number of issues, from a cancelled festival appearance to changes in membership to having to record their latest album, ‘Cult of a Dying Sun,’ a number of times before reaching satisfaction with it. Yet, nothing seems capable of slowing this band’s justified rise to prominence and with ‘Cult of a Dying Sun’ just released their meteoric rise is set to continue. 
From Portland in Oregon UADA was formed in 2014 and played their debut show at Famine Fest II on the 24th of January 2015. From here onward the band played several live shows including a support slot on a billing with Antaeus and Demoncy in April 2015, an opening slot for Negura Bunget in October 2015 and a high profile appearance at North Western Circle Festival in May 2015, a billing they shared with the likes of Inquisition, Demoncy and Weregoat.
These, and other, live appearances steadily built the band’s reputation but it was on the release of their debut album, ‘Devoid of Light,’ that things really started to escalate. Recorded in winter and spring 2015, ‘Devoid of Light’ was released in in April 2016 and immediately brought UADA widespread critical acclaim, including a number of high placings on 2016 year end lists, including number 9 on my top 25 album listing

Pic by Peter Beste.
UADA toured extensively in support of their debut, sharing line ups and tours with some truly exceptional bands and amassing an army of fans worldwide in the process. 
They embarked on a ten date tour of the U.S.’ White Coast in April 2016 which included a support slot for Absu. A support slot for Taake and a three date mini tour with Inquisition also took place during 2016, along with an appearance at the Metal Threat Festival in July and a support slot for none other than Mortuary Drape in September. 
Numerous other live appearances took place during the year with a host of high profile bands and events and a further seven date tour with Helleborus during October. The unfortunate cancellation of the Canadian Festival Messe Des Morts in November 2016 saw the band being left with significant debt due to their inability to sell merchandise at the festival. However, they were able to clear this debt very quickly by selling the merchandise online, a significant testimony to the bands’ support at the time. 
The gigs and tours continued as did UADA’s rise to prominence, including a 27 date U.S. tour supporting Inquisition in September 2017. UADA made their European debut at the Hell over Hammaburg Festival in March 2017 with other European shows following before they reached the point where they embarked on an extensive 27 date European tour in March and April 2018 – for any band to do so merely a year after their European debut illustrates both their rise in popularity and work ethic.

The name UADA means haunted in Latin and the band formed as a four piece comprising Jake Superchi on guitar and vocals, James Sloan on guitars, Trevor Matthews on drums and Mick Beck performing bass. 
However, since the release of Devoid of Light the band has endured a few changes in membership. Bass player, Mick Beck was replaced by Robb Bockman in 2016 and Trevor Matthews was replaced by Brent Boutte in 2017. Further to these changes Robb Bockman was replaced by Edward Halpin on bass in 2018 and Brent Boutte was replaced by Josiah Babcock on drums, also in 2018 – Edward Halpin performed bass on Cult of a Dying Sun but Josiah Babcock joined the band after the album had been recorded. 
Despite these changes in personnel the core writing for UADA’s music remains the partnership of Jake Superchi and James Sloan. The guitars and vocals on Cult of a Dying Sun were recorded by Robb Bockman at The Maleficarum, Portland, Oregon and the drums were recorded by Shane Howard at Sawn and Quartered in Denver, Colorado. Mixing and mastering were carried out by Arthur Rizk. As with Devoid of Light Kris Verwimp designed the cover artwork with Misanthropic Art also designing the mirror artwork featured on Cult of a Dying Sun, all band photography was done by Peter Beste

Two years can be seem like a long time between albums these days but when we consider the above touring schedule and those significant personnel changes it’s certainly a case that UADA hasn’t been resting on its laurels. Throw in the fact that in a recent interview with Zero Tolerance magazine Jake Superchi revealed the album had been “written for a few years now, and we had to record it and scrap it a few times…” and we’re fortunate to have this tour de force in our hands at all.

Photo credit Eisenwald/Boutte' Photography & Design.
UADA plays up-tempo and energetic Black Metal with a fine balance between melody and rawness and on Devoid of Light they formed quite a discernible and distinct sound - the good news is that within seconds of listening to album opener, ‘The Purging Fire,’ it’s easily identified as UADA. Straight from the off the tempo bristles with energy and showcases the style of music we’ve come to love from the band. 
It’s noticeable that the production is slightly enhanced compared to their debut, yet the sound still manages to sound appropriately raw at the relevant moments. Another noticeable change is the duration – Devoid of Light lasted 34 minutes and with Cult of a Dying Sun they have taken the ambitious and rewarding step of upping duration to 56 minutes. 
UADA also took the gamble of using longer song duration on this album with five tracks lasting close to eight minutes or longer in comparison to Devoid of Light which only had one track over eight minutes long – the unbelievably good ‘Black Autumn, White Spring.’ Longer track lengths is a gamble that has definitely paid off as none of the longer tracks seems drawn out to me in any way, in fact they help the band expand their sound further through improved song structure and a natural progression in soundscape from the tracks featured on their debut. 

The Sloan/Superchi partnership on guitars is as tight as ever with exemplary searing solos throughout the album and in typical UADA style Jake Superchi’s vocal switches from death-like growls to higher pitched screams across the album’s duration, bringing a variation to their sound that prevents any track from sounding too similar. 
Again they have straddled the balance between melodic and harsh elements in a fashion that prevents their music from ever sounding too melodic – the beating heart of their music remains as acerbic Black Metal. Track four, ‘The Wanderer,’ is an instrumental that brings UADA into previously uncharted territory as this is the mellowest track they have ever released yet it sits perfectly amidst the sheer power of the other tracks on the album. Haunting yet beautiful this acoustic-led instrumental shows a level of confidence in their song writing not previously heard coupled with a willingness to stray a little from their normal style. 

Herein lies the beauty of Cult of a Dying Sun - Devoid of Light was a sublime album and UADA could have played it safe by sticking to shorter track lengths and also to their initial sound but on Cult of a Dying Sun they have taken a number of risks to enhance and evolve their sound – risks that have definitely paid off and show their ambition and talent in equal measure. On Cult of a Dying Sun UADA has taken the tried and tested formula from their debut and improved it by adding other elements to embrace a more comprehensive sound. 

I was fortunate to see UADA live in Belgium during their Snakes and Vultures over Europe tour earlier this year and can confirm the band is every bit as good on stage as they are in the studio – the power and energy behind this band on stage is second to none with the new members combining perfectly with the experienced Superchi/Sloan partnership. 
Make no mistake about it; UADA is one of the most important bands of recent times – when we combine song writing as good as this with their hard working ethic and ability on stage we can see they are easily one of the hardest working bands currently in existence - the members of UADA have worked their asses of and thoroughly deserve the rapid rise to prominence they continue to enjoy.

Difficult second album? Not a chance, UADA has taken the positive elements from their debut and enhanced and improved them further.

An exceptional album 9.5/10.

01 - The Purging Fire
02 - Snakes & Vultures
03 - Cult of a Dying Sun
04 - The Wanderer
05 - Blood Sand Ash
06 - Sphere (Imprisonment)
07 - Mirrors.

Cult of a Dying Sun by UADA is currently available on CD, cassette and vinyl along with other merchandise from Eisenwald.

Cult of a Dying Sun is also available on digital formats via the UADA Bandcamp page.

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