The black metal genre is well and truly saturated with an endless stream of demos and albums appearing on a daily basis. This is great news for fans of the genre but it also means that there is a lot of very mediocre material to sift through to find the gems.

Let me save you some time…..UADA are one of those gems, standing head and shoulders above most of their peers. I was hooked from the first time I heard their highly regarded ‘Devoid of Light’ debut, and this first impression was cemented by a devastating show at this year’s Inferno Festival. ‘Cult of a Dying Sun’ is their sophomore release and if anything it raises the bar even further in their niche of aggressive yet melodic black metal.

Album opener ‘The Purging Fire’ is a clear statement of intent with blasting drums, rasping vocals and prominent guitar melodies striking a perfect balance. ‘Snakes and Vultures’ continues the theme with hypnotic guitar work before the intensity rises and anguished vocals take centre stage dragging the listener to a desolate wasteland. Clocking in at well over nine minutes this epic builds to a suitably intense finally.

‘Cult of a Dying Sun’ is a little bleaker in its outlook with forlorn, almost mournful growls and howls. A brief interlude mid song works well to create a brooding atmosphere before the barrage continues to the track’s finale. There is a complete change of pace for ‘The Wanderer’, a slow haunting passage which breaks things up nicely before we resume business as usual with ‘Blood Sand Ash’ and ‘Sphere (imprisonment)’ where more catchy melodies weave effortlessly with bilious vocals.

The album is brought to a close with another epic masterpiece, ‘Mirrors’, clocking in at almost ten and a half minutes of aggression, melody and venom before the album is brought to a close with the sound of howling winds.

To put it simply, this is a great album, surely one of my top 10 for the year, and I highly recommend you give it a listen and catch them live at the next available opportunity.

(9/10 Andy Pountney)