Monday, September 3, 2012

Uzala - Uzala

Review by Adrian Tan.

Cover art by Darcy Nutt

Doom metal is a genre that find bands fall too easily into a pigeonhole. Ideas and approaches become constricted. All too often, the music becomes simply all too predictable. Once in many moons, however, a band like UZALA would emerge from the void to break that mould.

This four-piece from Idaho, plays an eclectic brand of doom with an avantgarde spin. Eschewing the plodding and downtuned riffing style associated with typical doom metal acts, they’ve instead opted for mixed tempos, warm fuzzy guitar tones with subtle amounts of ‘wah-wah’ pedal effects and feedback that are more familiar with psychedelic and stoner rock. Alongside the mesmerizing vocals of Darcy Nutt (on most of the tracks), the end result is nothing short of mind-bending.

The intentions of the band is declared with an opening salvo in “Batholith” that starts with a mournful guitar piece that quickly picks up in tempo as the full band crashes in a chaotic crescendo. If this does not jolt the listener into heeding the warning signs to abandon all expectancy and stereotype, then the jarring transition into the second track “The Reaping” certainly will.

All through the record, the band explores a plethora of styles ranging from Eastern tinged folk (“Ice Castle”) to thrash (“Fracture”) to death/black metal (“Wardrums”) without actually losing the doom metal underpinnings. The undoubted highlight of the album would be the track “Cataract” that finds a piece of psychedelic chorus bookended between mournful doom passages. The powerful and haunting vocal delivery on the song, crystallizes the manic feeling of one’s mind spiralling out of control.

The lack of cohesiveness as an overall record may be of complaint to some. However, I do feel that its schizophrenic nature is intentional in creating tension and unease within the listener and in this, it is greatly successful. If I were to pick a fault, it would be the feeling that the myriad of musical ideas were much too crammed and not fully fleshed out. But again, that would indeed be nitpicking.

At the end of the day, this is an extremely solid debut and well worth picking up. If nothing at all, this will certainly open up your horizons on what is possible within doom metal. Perhaps there is life in that well-flogged horse after-all.


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