Huata: Atavist of Mann

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Huata: Atavist of Mann
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Huata: Atavist of Mann
Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal
Throatruiner Records
February 7th, 2012
Release length: 1:02:10
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Huata is a French group that incorporates Doom, Sludge, and Stoner Metal ideas together. They formed back in 2006, and since then has put out a demo in 2008 titled Heresy, Stoner and Acid, followed by a five song EP through Throatruiner Records titled Open the Gates of Shambhala in 2009. It’s been roughly three years since then, and this four-piece returns with their debut full-length offering, Atavist of Mann. But, does this largely underground sensation deserve the high praise it has been given?

One thing is for certain: Huata want a strong Funeral Doom style production. The audio quality is quite raw, and the music performed easily fits into the Stoner and Sludge Metal categories. However, the guitar distortion and volume levels are through the roof, and it can become obnoxious, as well as hollow. Sometimes the really deep and volumous twanging sound can actually lose the rhythm the band is going for, such as on “Lords of the Flame” and towards the end of “Operation Mistletoe.” But, thankfully, this isn’t the case all the time, really only plaguing small sections, but more times than not it all works out quite well. The bass can be drowned out by them, but ultimately its still there with a pretty deep presence. The drums sound really distant though, and again can be lost in the guitars. The cymbals stick out with the weaker sound filling the music nicely, and the clicks of the bass kick and richer snares mesh in with the music nicely, though depending on how thick the guitar’s performance is, they can be greatly masked and even missed if you’re not paying attention. Even the vocals are a bit further back, they do stick with a vintage Doom Metal approach, using the harmonized cleaner to rougher performances perfectly to give it a niuce hint of nostalgia as a finishing touch.

Atavist of Mann clocks in at just over an hour in length, but is composed of only six songs. Half of them push well past the twelve minute mark, but the rest are around the seven and a half minutes point or less, yet each offer dynamically different experiences. The first are two shorter songs that offer a less atmospheric approach than some of the grim and sinister longer offerings later. “Lords of the Flames” is an enjoyable experience with some mid-tempo material that will have your head banging along to it for the most part, as well as some psychadelic material that appears later on to remind the listener of the ritualistic and occult-driven musical overtones of the band. However, as mentioned, the guitars sound very empty in the last third, even when the chaotic organ and dialogue kick in at the end. It does bleed into “Operation Mistletoe” seamlessly though. Again, the foundation is very Sludge and Stoner Metal inspired, but there are plenty of extended slower sections that come off more like being lost in a trance for extended periods of time as well, essentially carrying on the spirit of the similar sections of the previous track.

“Fall of the 4th” does try to push the Doom Metal focus to the forefront a little more, and many of the passages here work, though aren’t the most impressive until the Stoner/Sludge style riffs kick in once more. There’s some additional Ambience thrown in here and there that acts as bridges, and even well done filler to push the emotion tied to the music foward through lengething sections that keep it sounding rather unique. The only gripe is that, overall, it ends up sounding like one of the lightest tracks to obe found. However, “Thee Imperial Wizard” takes full advantage of the heavier production quality and focuses on an occult themed Doom Metal presence that is pleasantly slow, but still trance enducing with a catchy rhythm in the background to the soul curshing material that eventually kicks in. The climax goes off into a ritualistic performance, featuring chanting, an organ in the background (which isn’t too exclusive to this one), and the instruments setting up a truly unnerving atmosphere that makes the extended conclusion something you simply won’t want to bypass despite its length. Because of all that, this sticks out as one of the most impressive being offered.

But, there’s also the two part section towards the end that tries to pick up where “Thee Imperial Wizard” leaves off. The organ has a stronger role this time, found alongside slower drumming and a subtle bass presence to reestablish that creepy, occultish atmosphere. Additional chanting occurs at the end as it bleeds into “Part 2 – Templars of the Black Sun,” a truly crushing experience that harkens back to the earlier “Lords of the Flame,” though still utilizing the organ in a very minimal fashion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really keep the environmental tone that “The Imperial Wizard” had, and the organ itself seems to be nothing more than one note held for a long period of time, which is just an irritating as hell tone that clashes with the rest of the music while inciting a migraine by the first three minutes of it’s nearly fourteen minute lifespan. Of course, after that point the song caters more to an Ambient crowd than anything, and that’s where the song gets it right. The music has a psychadelic vibe to it with the organ that is pushed with ritualistic drumming as the guitars and bass really weave a trance-enducing environment similar to some passages in the first two songs.

Overall, Atavist of Mann is a good album in many ways, but also has it’s faults. The best are when you can pull a truly occult or sinister tone from the music and the atmosphere, and unfortunately there just aren’t a lot of those on here. “Thee Imperial Wizard” and “Part 1- Testi sum Capri” are fantastic offerings, even “Part 2 – Templars of the Black Sun” has it’s pros. However, the rest are just not as inspiring or moving, but far from bad. The audio quality is great, but sometimes it does become a bit too much, leaving some areas open when there’s plenty of possibility to push the environment to the forefront. All in all, Huata do a great job of standing out from the rest of the Doom and Sludge Metal style bands, making Atavist of Mann an album you definitely need to hear.

01. Lords of the Flame – 7:36
02. Operation Mistletoe – 7:34
03. Thee Imperial Wizard – 15:29
04. Part 1 – Testi sum Capri – 4:56
05. Part 2 – Templars of the Black Sun – 13:55
06. Fall of the 4th – 12:41
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Throatruiner Records.