Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Uzala - Tales of Blood & Fire (album review)

Cover artwork by Tony Roberts.
If female-fronted occult-inspired doom rock was "a thing" people did in a non-organic, put-it-together-because-it's-popular-right-now kind of way then you might find fault with a hefty armful of the best bands going at the moment.  But even if bands slopped their sound together in such a shallow way, you would have to at least credit Uzala for getting it dead right.  Well I don't know about you, but bands slopping their sounds together based on what's popular at the moment is not the world I live in but Uzala must still be credited with doing what they do and doing it just right.  What's more is, "occult" may be a kind of dirty word in some circles and far be it from me to mis-label a band because I'm not sure the word applies here and yet there is a mystical vibe to the affair.  From the slightly middle eastern inflection on opening track "Seven Veils" to the wall of static which gives birth to "Tenement of the Lost" or the evilly ceremonial vibe to the doomus in extremis number "Dark Days" and beyond, Uzala certainly put out a vibe of accessing hidden ancient mystery knowledge and revealing little glimpses of it in how they operate.  Some bands are right on the surface with occult references, on stage costumes and forced atmosphere (and those are all cool things, mind you), Uzala's sonic witches brew comes from a deeper place.  You might even say that it's the listener's job to fill in the blanks left open so expertly by the band.

Opening track, "Seven Veils" is some straightforward doom, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.  The big main riff practically drags and scrapes against the ground it's so slow and heavy, when it does so it sparks the deep, sorrowful voice of Darcy Nutt into life.  It isn't until the second half of the song however that it develops its own unique character, when wailing howls greet sounds of wandering guitar and the swirling wah-saturated bass of Nick Phit.  The effect is wind-like with an Arabian desert-specific atmosphere.  There, the music seems to go through a stargate or sandstorm as the 12-minute "Tenement of the Lost" piles up with layer upon layer of droney noise.  After some five and a half minutes of this melodic guitar and voice begins to emerge from the cacophony.

"Dark Days" reveals a band fluent in epic doom, further slangin' gigantic slow riffs and soaring vocals like back alley crack dealers.  By this point, the experience of 'Tales of Blood & Fire' is fully immersive, this is the point where the listener fills in the blanks.  I can't help but picture a prehistoric village set upon by black robed witches as the sun falls beyond the western horizon, and the howling winds blow out the communal fires.  Eyes pitched in shadow, the witches only smile from atop the surrounding hills as the villagers stampede in all directions, panicked.  "Countess" is more energetic than you'd expect from an 11-minute song.  A rolling double-tracked vocal during the verse creates a strong head of steam as Chuck Watkins's drums bang, crash and explode like a ship tossed at sea.  The instrumental middle section of this song is the most suggestive passage of all.  The instrumental sections on this album never really seem improvised, they seem well orchestrated, and whether or not that actually is the case, main songwriters / guitarists Chad Remains and Ms. Nutt are uncommonly in tune with their own compositions.  It's moments like this that may not stand out in the memory after listening, but just make it all come together as the album plays out.  When the chorus crashes back in, it's a nearly religious experience, one could only imagine the sway the band holds over the audience on stage.

This album comes with one simple caveat: listen with headphones turned LOUD.  This is not background music and when treated as such, or anything resembling background music, 'Tales of Blood & Fire' loses most of its drug-like power.  Remember that, kids!  'Tales of Blood & Fire' is available on all popular formats at the moment from their bandcamp page, the band has got vinyl LP's, CD's, cassette tapes and digital downloads ready to roll out at a moment's notice.  I picked up the album on CD for $10, prices vary from format to format.  The regular download will run you $6, the same as the tape so I suggest grabbing a copy of the tape, there are only 100 of these things in the whole world and you grandchildren just may thank you for it in the end.  Nah, probably not, but it's an excellent deal regardless because it comes with the download anyway.  Win-win.

Highlights include: "Seven Veils" and "Burned"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 43:33

From: Boise, Idaho / Portland, Oregon

Genre: Doom, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Alunah, Arc of Ascent, Black Skies, In The Company of Serpents, Jex Thoth, Kings Destroy, SubRosa, Windhand

Release Date: October 15, 2013

Uzala on facebook

1 comment:

  1. Web page news feed fire review to be structured in series that one could quickly search within and you may bill as a result of web pages should you have several websites that you will be yanking by . Once in the event that you find attractive a page through the fast peek tile you'll be able to simply click the item in addition to move inside whole version of the document.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...