Uzala - Tales of Blood and Fire | Review

Every once in a while there's one of those bands that just about slips through your fingers. But somehow their name lands upon your eyes and you are compelled to investigate. In this case, that band is Uzala. I kept seeing Mike Scheidt (Yob, VHOL, Lumbar) praise Uzala on his Facebook page. Scheidt's taste is to be trusted without question so I went digging. What I found was Tales of Blood and Fire, the second full-length from the Idaho based doom metal band.

The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Darcy Nutt, guitarist Chad Remains, drummer Chuck Watkins (Ephemeros, Graves at Sea) and bassist Nick Phit (Graves at Sea). Phit left the band shortly after recording but his work on the album is great. The duo of Remains and Nutt combine their powers of amp worship and filthy tone resulting in some of the most effecting vibrations I've heard this year. Aided by Watkins timely and muscular percussion, Tales of Blood and Fire turns mountains to dust, musically at least. Contrary to the low, crushing and dirty riffs are Nutt's vocals. Sweet and soulful, clear and dynamic, yet not without power, they cut through the murk and fuzz with conviction. Her voice rings with authenticity and a timeless charm.

For five tracks and almost 45 minutes Uzala roll out a slow-burning doom. Gargantuan riffs thunder through the listener or flow by with equal grace, erupting from a fountain of grime to cascade down and down, scorching a path towards the catacombs of demise. These are tales of blood and fire but also revenge, death and loss. Five aspects to fear yet through Uzala's warm tones and Nutt's siren-like voice, blood, fire and loss sound so inviting.

The album's first four tracks weigh heavy on the listener with dominant tone, meaty riffs and waves of ambience and darkness; that electric hum of the amps permeating the spaces between. Although the final track is a different beast. “Tenement of the Lost” checks in at over 12 minutes and throughout its depressing run time, a low hum of despair drones ever-present. That static hum is both grating and relaxing at once. Past the five minute mark, guitars float in from the ether, mostly displacing the drone. But instead of crushing and monolithic, melody and sorrow are the predominant feelings. Here, Nutt's voice is at its most angelic, making the track tearfully forlorn.

I could go on all day about the purity of Uzala's doom. About how their riffs crash upon the shores ceaselessly like waves of distortion, wearing away the edges to reveal smooth surfaces of groove. And how Nutt's vocals are like the lighthouse standing steadfast against the onslaught. But the bottom line on Tales of Blood and Fire is an essential doom record from a band that won't be slipping through fingers for very long.

Matt Hinch

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Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Ghost Cult Magazine, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @MetalMatt_KofN.