It’s a thing of true joy when bands do unexpected things or further explore smaller nuances of albums past and actually stick the landing. And while Uhtcearu’s direction on third full length, Madness & Creation, is more subtle than Lord Dying’s recent about face, it is a bit of a different look. This time out melodic black metal takes a backseat to the band’s progressive side as well as a more straightforward black metal approach and as a result we’ve got ourselves a different, more well rounded, and stronger version of Uhtcearu.
Debut The Plight Of Wanderers hit the ground running with the kind of black metal that garnered many comparisons to older, more seasoned vets and even several statements that they were filling the sizable shoes left in some of these same band’s absence. It was abrasive yet thoughtful, melodic yet adventurous but for the most part it was just a fantastic debut from a band with tons of promise. Follow up For Darkness To Subside carried on with this approach but added hints of death metal, went even further on the melodic side, and toyed with their fusion of black metal and cerebral rock – see “Dawn of the Morning Sun” and Tower of Silence.” Forceful and more deliberate, this album was a killer sophomore effort that brick by brick built on their debut.
Two years on, Madness & Creation isn’t just the next chapter, it is a coming alive party in the sense of thought provoking songwriting and overall sound and feel this album conveys. Opener “Rise” merges King Crimson-esque interludes with their lively approach to full-steam-ahead metal. Later, the adventurous “Unforsaken” sandwiches majestic guitar work and anthemic classic rock vibes between walls of jarring black metal, all of which offer up the penultimate Uhtcearu track – this is the one you’d mention when saying “hey listen to this one to see how far X band has come.” It’s also here that the band feels the most effortless, as if the transitions just flow from hand to instrument or mouth to microphone completely unguided as if they’re nothing more than extensions of each band member’s minds.
Before we get too far; if black metal is why you came have no fear, my ‘more extreme than extreme’ pals. “Fervent Return” is of the fire and brimstone from the pulpit sort while the back half of “Black Dreams” is arguably some of the best straightforward black metal this band has ever put to tape. But, the all-in extreme award goes to “Death At Hand” for its heady stew of black, thrash, and death. I mean, the only thing they don’t do is doom but bets are on that they could AND could do it with gusto.
Even though Madness & Creation isn’t as immediate as For Darkness To Subside or as singularly focused as The Plight Of Wanderers, over the course of a few listening sessions it clicks that this is the new definition of Uhtcearu and the yard stick to which they will be measured by henceforth. By widening their base further into the land of progressive metal and straightforward black metal they’ve created an album that is extremely memorable and exciting to experience. Stick the landing they’ve certainly done, hats off to them for a freaking joy of an album.
Madness & Creation is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Uhtcearu, including upcoming “Aphotic Realms” North American tour dates, visit their official website and Facebook page.