Through huge waves of amplification and whilst riding on the angelic wings of singer/guitarist Darcy Nutt’s searing melodies, Uzala craft elegant tapestries of sonic sadness. “Tales of Fire & Blood,” the band’s second LP, is yet another ghoulish orchestration, and its five songs brilliantly display the band’s brand of psychedelic and pagan fuzz rock.
On their first time out (which was simply entitled “Uzala”), Uzala made an eight-track lamentation that managed to even include “Gloomy Sunday,” that favorite amongst suicides. “Uzala” unearthed and exposed a very primordial brand of metal, and at its best, “Uzala” revealed that clean singing need not mean wimpy exercises in heavy metal grandiloquence.
On “Tales of Fire & Blood,” Uzala take a much stranger turn. While “Uzala” at times bordered on the operatic, “Tales of Fire & Blood” is mostly a muddy affair that is kept well rooted in the Earth’s soil. To put it more bluntly, “Tales of Fire & Blood” is recorded funeral dirt.
Still, despite the simplistic character of Uzala’s latest record, the band does manage to experiment with their sound occasionally. These efforts are successful, and “Tales of Fire & Blood” sounds the more epic for their inclusion. For instance, “Tenement of the Lost,” the record’s final track, is a twelve minute ode to drone that deftly captures the album’s obsidian flavor. While “Uzala” wrapped up its allotted time with “Gloomy Sunday” (a song that actually included lyrics), the final denouement on “Tales of Fire & Blood” is an instrumental full of white (or rather black) noise and somber chord interludes that sound like electric wind chimes from Purgatory.
Speaking of death, one cannot escape the Grim Reaper on “Tales of Fire & Blood.” During the opening, which is entitled “Seven Veils,” Nutt culls forth the shrouded and hooded fates who seem to stalk the entire record. While Nutt is busy reciting the ceremony, guitarist Chad Remains busily bends and slurs his lines, thus creating slow, drippy riffs that ooze dangerous portents. “Seven Veils” is one hell of an opener, and more importantly, it immediately lets the listener know that they should have left their happiness at the record store’s door.
“Countess,” the record’s major standout and fourth track, quite explicitly tells the tale of a brooding and malevolent noblewoman who lives upon a hill. Are we talking about Countess Elizabeth Bathory looking down from her vantage point in Castle Čachtice here? Probably, but it’s better to keep some mystery and to even believe that Uzala have their own unique queen blasphemer in mind. Either way, “Countess” is a strong rocker that anchors “Tales of Fire & Blood” down to the streamlined components of noisy doom metal.
The remaining two songs - “Dark Days” and “Burned” - are more than serviceable, and, at best, they help to further darken the world Uzala has spun on “Tales of Fire & Blood.” This is certainly a bleak full-length, and it is even more dour than its very pessimistic predecessor. Uzala are making quite the name for themselves as morose metallers, even within the doom metal underground. “Tales of Fire & Blood” is yet another example of Uzala’s growing maturation and their ever-widening pool of heavy sounds. From acid rock to washed out drone, “Tales of Fire & Blood” represents a sitting atop of its own crude apex with both thumbs turned decidedly down.
1. Seven Veils
2. Dark Days
5. Tenements of the Lost
Words: Benjamin Welton