Written by: AP on 19/02/2021 13:37:22

The popularity of atmospheric or ambient black metal has been surging throughout the last decade or so, with the effect that there is now inevitably a high degree of saturation in the genre. Yet in spite of being one of the newer entrants, Uada (who hail from the cradle of this scene: the Pacific Northwest) have already managed to establish themselves amongst the genre’s royalty, thanks in no small part to their 2018 sophomore album “Cult of a Dying Sun”. That record helped expose Uada to a wider audience by way of introducing a hook-oriented approach to writing atmospheric black metal, one that balances the cascading drones and monolithic walls of sound that have come to epitomise the genre with more traditional leads as we know them from classic forms of metal. And on this latest offering “Djinn”, which derives its name from the demons and spirits of Arabian and Islamic mythology, the group builds further upon that signature sound to deliver one of the most lavishly melodic black metal albums of recent years — straight up the alley of those who hold all of Dissection, Mgła and Wolves in the Throne Room close to their heart.

Frontman Jake Superchi and his sidekick James Sloan seem to have a cornucopia of guitar melodies at their disposal, a bottomless chest of riffs, leads and solos that are stumbling over one another to leave a lasting impression and render the one hour that “Djinn” lasts a captivating experience throughout. It is not often one comes across soundscapes as opulent as these, and hearing them makes you appreciate the fact that Uada chooses to have such a liberal view on black metal. It allows them to utilise ideas and constructs that are quite atypical of the genre, the titular opening track providing a good example of this. It merely teeters on the precipice of atmospheric black metal whilst drawing inspiration from a variety of different sources, ranging from classic heavy metal licks in the beginning of the song, through dark folk nuances and Gregorian chanting in the middle, to elegiac doom metal in the bridge — before the circle closes with a reprise of that fantastic intro lead. The track is an excellent showcase for how adept Uada is at blending together a potpourri of influences and transitioning between them completely seamlessly, and this theme repeats itself throughout the album.

Whether one is awestruck by the bombastic, frostbitten intro in the style of Immortal and the subsequent passages of mournful, Swallow the Sun-esque doom metal in “The Great Mirage”, or lost in the sheer vastness of “No Place Here”, which recalls the contemplative and melancholy grandeur of Wolves in the Throne room and emerges as the most traditional piece here as far as atmospheric black metal goes — it is impossible to grow even remotely bored with the album. This is an impressive feat, considering that the shortest track on “Djinn” clocks in at just under seven minutes, while the longest closes at fourteen, but even the lengthiest compositions here, “In the Absence of Matter” and “Between Two Worlds”, have so many elements and nuances to explore that one inevitably finds oneself listening intently from their beginning to their end. And, as already mentioned earlier in this review, Uada are not shy about deploying hooks to anchor your attention, like the unforgettable guitar lead that enters just before the two-minute mark in “In the Absence of Matter” or the wintry tremolo melody in the vein of Dissection that flows through the spellbinding closer “Between Two Worlds”, in which Superchi’s savaging growls and the magnificent crescendo especially make a haunting impression.

2020 was a year that produced myriad excellent metal albums, yet “Djinn” nonetheless stands as one of the very finest. Nothing about the record is that groundbreaking, but Uada’s foraging for their inspiration in so many different genres, not to mention their penchant for combining these influences into a distinct style that is theirs alone renders it an almost impossibly consistent and solid piece of atmospheric black metal. At just seven years old, Uada is still a young band but if “Djinn” represents the standard one can expect from the quartet on future endeavours as well, they will soon get to be regarded as a torchbearer for the genre.


Download: Djinn, No Place Here, In the Absence of Matter, Between Two Worlds
For the fans of: Dissection, Mgła, Thulcandra, Wolves in the Throne Room
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.09.2020
Eisenwald Records

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