Uzala in 2010 released their highly-acclaimed self-titled demo, with only 4 tracks sufficient to get fans of doom metal eagerly await their full length album. This year finally sees the band releasing their first full length album, also self-titled. Among the lineup is Nick, bassist of bands such as Atriarch, another band that has recently caught my attention, and this definitely looks like a promising release by the relatively young band.
Uzala opens with Batholith, and immediately, the listener is greeted with a depressive and heavy atmosphere, with the slow and repetitive guitar riff of Chad and Darcy, and an ominous bassline at the background by Nick, slowly building up the climax and tension present in the air. Before long, the vocals of Darcy comes in and this provides an spine-tingling haunting effect with her light and dreamy vocals amongst a backdrop of the urgent guitar riffs and drumming of Stephen, and this track presents a stark contrast to bands that utilise female vocalists such as Witch Mountain. This is not to say that Darcy is a weak vocalist though, as songs like The Reaping and Death Masque display a different style of singing compared to the previous track, with the latter track seeing her display power in her vocals. Along with Darcy, Chad also alternates lead vocal duties with her, helping to increase the dynamics in the sound of the band in terms of vocal range and musical style, and this is most evident on tracks like Wardrums.
The band also displays their ingenuity in their songwriting, such as the sudden transition from Batholith to The Reaping, which creates a jarring effect in the listener, and this definitely suits the purpose of Uzala well in creating a sense of unease throughout the album. Also, expect nothing more than mid-paced songs at most on the album, with most tracks seeing the band crawl at a snail-pace, taking their own time to spread their message to the listener, and this seems to be done effectively precisely due to the pace that the band goes at. That said though, Fracture presents a slightly different face of the band, with a slightly faster intro pace and Chad taking over vocal duties, a gruff vocal style that sounds almost death metal, and is perhaps one of the most aggressive tracks on the album.
Through the playing style of the band, the various influences that they have utilised in writing the songs also shine through clearly. For example, the sludgy guitar tone and the play on the wah-pedal on tracks like The Reaping and Wardrums show a clear early Black Sabbath sound. A riff on Fracture even almost sounds like it could come off Heaven and Hell and Plague even starts off with the same note as War Pigs. The bass of Nick also has a constant rumbling presence on the album, and this helps in maintaining a heavy sound in the music. The extremely raw and muddy production quality on Uzala also points to the old-school, and is sure to please fans who are sick of modern production jobs. The band has also included re-recorded versions of the songs on their 2010 Uzala demo, so fans of the band can track the growth of the band as well.
Expect no fancy guitar work here, no flamboyant drumming or extravagance on Uzala. Right from the onset of the album, the band’s goal has been to crush the listener under a slab of heavy riffs and atmosphere, and suffice to say, this goal has been achieved.