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UADA Crepuscule Natura

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, September 11, 2023 @ 10:21 AM


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UADA
Crepuscule Natura

Eisenwald




Hooded menaces UADA (Latin for "haunted") are back with their fourth album of sprawling Pacific Northwestern - or Cascadian, if you will - black metal that harks back somewhat to their 2016 debut Devoid Of Light in its tidier, but no less epic presentation.

The massive Cult Of The Dying Sun from 2018 and 2020's Djinn both clocked in at nearly an hour. Crepuscule Natura pares its run time back to about 42 minutes over five songs, ranging from the 6:38 title track to the monumental closing number "Through The Wax And Through The Wane" that tops 12 minutes. So still plenty of the sprawl noted above, and lots to chew through, but slightly easier to digest when all is said and done.

The process of completing Crepuscule Natura was a bit fraught. Originally initially intended for release in 2022, the first take of the album was scrapped because the band was unhappy with the mix. Betwixt and between drummer Elijah Losch and longstanding lead guitarist James Sloan left UADA, making frontman/guitarist Jake Superchi the lone original member.

Trevor McClain has since come onboard as the band's sixth drummer, with Kevin Bedra joining on lead guitar. While their input likely was minimal - if indeed there was any at all - in the finished product, they at least ensured the band was ready to roll for its tour with GHOST BATH and CLOAK that got underway a week before Crepuscule Natura was released in earnest. So perfect timing there.

Regardless, the extra effort, for the most part, seems to have been worth it in the end. If anything, the overall sound is maybe a bit too clean and shrill - given the wave after wave of the signature black metal trem guitar. But it does allow the layers of croaky, shrieky vocals to complement each other instead of drowning the other out and provides separation for the guitar harmonies that often find Superchi and - I'll assume - Sloan playing the licks with alternating tones, one high and one more mid-range, which makes for a fuller, more muscular presentation.

The blazing "The Abyss Gazing Back" kicks Crepuscule Natura off with authority. The title track adds some surprisingly catchy, punchy hooks to its otherwise full-on black metal fury, as does "The Dark (Winter)", which is also flavored with hints of folk metal that I'm a little surprised UADA did not make more frequent use of since it makes for such a natural enhancement.

Instead, the band takes an almost NWOBHM/power metal turn on "Retraversing The Void" with its ample guitar harmonies, crunching hooks, assertive soloing and melodic swells often evoking something more "Phantom of The Opera"-era IRON MAIDEN than say, Pacific Northwest contemporaries WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM or AGALLOCH. But it works better than you might think and makes for a nice surprise - and it's here where the more crystalline mix really pays dividends.

Despite the considerable length of the songs, the album really doesn't bog down in the sort of atmospherics and vast expanses one often finds in black metal of the "Cascadian" ilk. UADA largely keeps things moving right along, maintaining a brisk/blasty pace throughout and injecting both abundant melodies and surging riffs/meaty hooks to maximize engagement and minimize wasted space. The songs don't really feel "long", save for "Through The Wax" which does overextend itself.

Though the beginning and end sections benefit from Superchi's scabrous vocals, the beefy rhythmic accompaniment and ritualistic tone, the midsection largely ambles around in slow circles, repeating the same guitar motif. As is, "Through The Wax" may have been better positioned at the album's midpoint, sandwiched by two more consistently aggressive songs on either side. But as the album's closer, it easily could have lost four minutes of aimlessness and made for a more resounding, or at least compelling, finale.

3.5 Out Of 5.0


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