By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY — 2016 has hardly been a banner year for black metal. While a handful of long-running entities like Rotting Christ, Ulver, Darkthrone, Inquisition, and Destroyer 666 have released albums, next to no bands have broken into popular consciousness on the strength of their debut. Like it was in 2015, when longstanding outfit MGLA dropped their third release Exercises in Futility and suddenly gained tens of thousands of new fans, 2016 saw Finnish outfit Oranssi Pazuzu’s psychedelic and offbeat fourth full-length Värähtelijä break through after years of experience. That said, the album hardly fits within any of black metal’s parameters, instead offering entrancing and hypnotic syncopation and bizarre chord progressions amidst vast spacey sections and croaking vocals.
Despite few bands truly becoming known to metal aficionados worldwide, the underground has been awash with surprisingly strong offerings that should push their creators into the spotlight. Among them are releases by Predatory Light, Sorcier Des Glaces, RID, Bog of the Infidel, Nox Formulae, Gevurah, Illithid, and UADA; the latter of whom dropped Devoid of Light in April via Eisenwald, a German record label that specializes in black metal. It is likely the biggest break-out in the genre this year, and deservedly so; its five tracks are awash with cold, howling vocals, vicious tremolo picking, and massive instrumental freakouts.
Indeed, if you’re a fan of the one-two punch sell, UADA’s would be “RIYL: MGLA, Dissection. It’s a throwback to the second wave of black metal that emerged from Scandinavia, with all the melody, atmosphere, and massive hooks you’ve been yearning for.”
According to guitarist and vocalist Jake Superchi, who helped form the band in 2014, it’s hardly deliberate that their cumulative efforts resulted in such a specific sound. Instead, he and his band mates Robb Bockman (bass), Trevor Matthews (drums), and James Sloan (guitars) got to this point following years of experience in other projects, and are breaking through courtesy of their drive.
“All of us do have some decent experience, of course gaining even more with UADA. James, Trevor, [and] Robb were the picks when I thought of starting a new band. All of our previous bands have been playing together for years. I have personally booked many festivals and shows in town and I knew these three would be right for the next move,” he explains during a brief e-mail interview.
“It may sound a little arrogant to say we are not surprised but as said earlier we came out blazing and hungry with goals and visions. We are careful with our booking and presentation.”
Partially inspired by a global resurgence in the underground of the genre (Superchi says “black metal in 2016 is the best it’s been in 20 years”), UADA has already shared the stage with Mortuary Drape and Inquisition, and have upcoming performances scheduled with Rotting Christ and Marduk.
“We as people are not competitive types, but starting this band we made it our mission to be one of the best black metal bands out there. We will continue to push forward in that direction, we have a mission and music is what drives our lives,” he writes.
“There is a second album in the works, nothing I can speak of yet. We have had some other labels write us recently but our second album will again be released through Eisenwald.”
With a namesake that translates to “Haunted” in Latin, UADA’s thematic presentation is strong. Devoid of Light‘s artwork features the skeleton of an adult clutching their skeleton child amidst a volcanic, scorched earth. The lyrics are awash with references to chaos and darkness; live, the band performs back lit, obscured by a curtain of fog.
“It is a very important part to our show. We back light ourselves and add fog to create a wall and we become shadows in it,” explains Superchi.
“That was how we wanted to present ourselves and our live setting. It was meant to be the anti-image, which has become something in itself.”
He concludes, “We are looking forward to sharing our craft with everyone in Alberta soon.”
UADA perform at Distortion in Calgary with Helleborous, Numenorean, Cell, and Traer on Friday, October 21st. They perform in Edmonton as a part of Black Mourning Light Metal Festival on Saturday, October 22nd.AB, Alberta, Black Mourning Light Festival, Devoid of Light, Distortion, Rendezvous, UADA