It’s been about eight years since Uzeda last released an album, and nearly twenty since they first formed. Yet having been a band for so long, and spending almost half the time inactive and concentrating on other projects, hasn’t contributed to any diminishing of their quality or softening of their metallic menace. An anomaly in the post-hardcore scene since the beginning, Italy’s best female-fronted skronk punk band have always been quite adept at making noise with dueling frequencies. And on their new full-length Stella, that piercing treble and plate-shifting bass are right where they left them on Different Section Wires, only possibly even more extreme than before.
Having spent some time creating a similarly loud, only somewhat more open sound with Bellini, vocalist Giovanna Cacciola and drummer Agostino Tilotta have brought a few tricks back with them on Stella, namely restraint. That restraint isn’t overwhelming, it’s really just enough to keep you from blacking out from the sheer impact of the Steve Albini engineered concrete skull punch, but it makes a considerable difference on the groove laden “Camilo,” which, although steadily rolling, climaxes with Cacciola screaming with more intensity than most males in the indie rock game. Just afterward, “Steam Rain & Other Stuff” provides a laid back drone, which builds up into fluid, open riffs that maintain an edge without resorting to violent fits.
Uzeda were never about hooks, and most of Stella still doesn’t concern itself with any idea of radio friendliness. Rather, their music is accessible in a way that defies any traditional concept of catchiness. Choruses are almost nonexistent; Cacciola’s vocals are mostly howled or spoken, rather than sung. Taking this into consideration, though, songs like “What I Meant When I Called Your Name” still come off as both sexy and thoroughly rocking. The climactic riffs in “This Heat” (maybe named after the band?) almost approximate a chorus, and break up the song into separate bursts of intensity and spaciousness. And “From the Book of Skies” even has a catchy series of riffs, but still remains ultimately brutal.
While most of their peers folded, Uzeda gathered strength by merely taking time off. Few bands of Uzeda’s ilk have been doing it for as long, and with as much consistency. It’s as if no time passed at all between this album and their last, and they have only sharpened their edges over time, rather than watch them rust with age.
Shellac – At Action Park
Jesus Lizard – Lash
Bellini – Small Stones
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.