Review Summary: you'ada listen to their old stuff.
Chances are you've already heard everything Djinn
has to offer a hundred times over by now. This is good news if you're diehard a melodic black metal aficionado who chomps at the bit for the likes of Wode or Mgla, but if you approach Uada's third incarnation expecting the unexpected, then you best expect elsewhere. Yes, the riffs are gorgeous, and yes, the songwriting is as smooth as Bruce Willis’ head, but if you're deadset on jamming out to Uada, you'ada to listen their old stuff instead. Both Cult of a Dying Sun
and Devoid of Light
saw this pacific-northwest quartet do it rougher, angrier and grittier than what we get with their latest instalment of a shadowy figure floating in a strange place, and much of the tooth that made their bite so sharp in the past has been filed into a patrician grin here. It's all rather troublesome from a listener's standpoint, largely due to the fact that the album, on paper, is a brilliant display of contemporary melo-death-isms and ironclad melo-black making sweet, sweet love to one another, with tight musicianship, dynamic pacing, and easy-going grandiose taking the fore without relent. Much like the aforementioned namedrop's Servants of the Countercosmos
and Age of Excuse
, its a recipe for a 9th-inning homerun, but the harsh reality of the experience is ultimately about as flavourful as the night-old White Claw on your countertop. Yeah, it's even worse at room temperature, and to degrade the experience further, the production borders on unpleasantly sibilant. Flat-chested, compressed, and every other offhand buzzword that spits in the face of burly-man's metal underscores the timbre of Djinn
at high volume, so much so that whatever saving grace their sexy-ass riffs had is whisked away like a chihuahua in a hurricane. At least their last albums had reference-volume listenability working in their favour, not to mention some wonderfully charming sing-along one-liners like "snakes and vultures"
to posit earworms that beckon a good revisit. Unfortunately Djinn
doesn't boast the same pedestrian charm that proper Urban Outfitter jean jacket rockers guzzle like craft lager, instead opting to scribble "charted" right out of the Oxford dictionary and pen their own name in its place. Remember Dissection? At least their pioneering vision of melodious boogaloo came with a real-life murder plot. Since then, Uada has proven that a good salute shouldn't come without three variations on the same album cover and a soft-shelled millennial controversy to complement their own but-wait-there’s-more brand of melodious boogaloo. Imagine a band making a public statement about an equatorial venue being too hot to permit a performance in one's beloved leather jacket, as if the ability to shred a 6-string was entirely dependant on shouldering some tanned cowhide. Now imagine that very same band decided to follow-up with the release of an album that eschews any excuse for such pretentious posturing on the performative viability of tropical weather patterns, unsurprisingly, by releasing a full hour of anything-but-innovative music. For the lack of better words, welcome to 2020: the year of unrequited expectations and synchronous disappointments.
's capsized voyage isn't quite as bad it's been pegged here. This is no spilled-oats-in-a-chicken coop situation, despite the thrashing it well deserves, and instead finds salvation in the fact these guys are masters of their craft. Quite so, there's no doubt that Uada has been busy making some the most palatable melodic black metal on the scene since Devoid Of Light
came out four years ago, and three albums in, they've honed their skills to a bleeding edge. Tracks like the long-drawn "No Place Here" and "Between Two Worlds" prove the point with enchanting passages that part the cheeks of rapturous riffing and spellbinding crescendo alike, conjuring an occultist's confidence in their songwriting chops. Meanwhile, the (slightly) more concise ferocity of tunes like "In The Absence Of Matter" and "Forestless" highlight the notion that these Oregonians are simply too skilled to be held back by unsalted production values and tepid creative vision. Rather, in refining the ideas of their jingle-oriented forefathers and forging them like cubic zirconias, Uada have managed to take melodic
extreme metal to a veritable apex where its hard to imagine these particular chord combinations being executed in any more a captivating manner. Troublesome be it as it may, that captivating nature of Djinn
is both a sullen letdown and a rousing triumph depending on what angle it's viewed from. In one breath, it's undoubtedly derivative, but on the next, its the kind of derivative that makes you question if such a thing even matters so long as the passion burns hot. Fans of the band should (in theory) love it, and folks who've enjoyed them from a comfortable distance should at least find enough heat here to make it worth cataloguing. Sure, the hops on tap might not be as tart this time around, but they’re still batch-brewed by serious swamis of the scene, and whatever that's worth, on the whole Djinn
serves itself as a rather fun albeit unessential ride through the flaming horizons and pearlescent nightscapes of melodic black metal.