Uada – Crepuscule Natura (Eisenwald)Monday, 25th September 2023
When it comes to workhorse bands in the black metal scene, it’s hard to out hustle Portland’s Uada. Constantly touring with diverse packages, these fellows have managed to grow their following exponentially. They’ve also managed to settle into their brand of melodic black metal comfortably, with Cult of a Dying Sun and Djinn both harnessing similar long form song structures and overflowing melodies. This isn’t to say either of those releases were disappointing – far from it – but if seeking a band who take a lot of creative risks, Uada won’t satiate that desire. If high quality and reliable melodic black metal is what’s desired, however, one can bank on Uada’s latest Crepuscule Natura to deliver just that.
Despite some turmoil – most notably the ousting of long running guitarist James Sloan – the band has continued their relentless touring, coupled with this record’s release. The aforementioned resulting fourth full-length Crepuscule Natura is a lushly melodious slice of black metal that’s up to their established standards. Overflowing with guitar melodies, layered with grunts and croaking vocalizations, “The Abyss Gazing Back” begins on familiar footing. A nearly 8 minute jaunt, the song gains momentum through a guitar gallop mid-song, before adding in a hard rock inspired lead that triggers further catchy repeated melodies.
The title track is a little harder edged from the start, dishing out a drum pummeling amongst a smattering of delectable riffage, before a slow weeping lead enters to deviate the pace, before intensifying to match the song’s beginning level. A more consistently fast and heavy offering is provided in “The Dark (Winter),” which harkens back to early Uada with a more consistent frostiness in the guitar work and overall atmosphere. A semi-syrupy lead kicks off “Retraversing the Void” before breaking out mid-speed tremolos, of which are a primary driver of the song, along with more fretboard melodicism.
In true Uada style, the final track is a 12 minute trek that at times is on the repetitive side of the coin, though still manages to draw the listener in more than a few times with captivating lead guitar morsels that are the real heart of the band’s sound. Having listened to Crepuscule Natura many times in preparation for this review, the deeper into the details we traversed, the instances where a lead or melody seemingly being played on a loop began leaning on the side of tediousness. Everything is well composed and performed, and Crepuscule Natura is mostly thoroughly enjoyable, but it would score higher for this scribe if these tendencies were fewer. The album is a significantly shorter one than previous outings, however, so there’s some restraint shown in that area.
For the connoisseur of melodic black metal, Uada’s latest is a definite worthy addition to the rotation. Their melody first approach is consistent and functional for what they’re out to accomplish, and Crepuscule Natura is steadfast and reliable. No doubt there are some worthy additions to Uada’s powerful live show here, which continues to be the band’s greatest strength. As it comes to other examples of melodic black metal in 2023, there are more interesting releases from the likes of Tryglav, Thulcandra, Frozen Dawn, and Sodomisery, though are all unique in their own way. Those not yet swooned by Uada likely won’t be convinced by Crepuscule Natura, but those privy to their style will no doubt find plenty to crank up while gazing into the starry night.