Atavist of Mann
After my first encounter with the excellent stoner/doom metal like Electric Wizard‘s Black Masses in 2010, my craving for similar music began, with a frantic search for bands that play in the similar style of the aforementioned. But being new to this sub-genre, most of the search end up in vain, until chancing upon French stoner/doom metal band Huata, and Atavist of Mann is the band’s debut full length album, five years after the band’s formation in 2006.
The fuzzy guitar tone, the dense and ritualistic atmosphere and the blasphemous, occult themes are all immediately familiar as the album begins with Lords of the Flame, and all similarities to the aforementioned Electric Wizard are immediately audible and for the first time since Black Masses, this craving was finally satisfied. The band bides their time in building up the climax, with the band for the most part of the album going at a painfully slow pace, and with tracks lasting up to 15 minutes to allow the band to slowly crush all hopes. That, combined with the heavy tone of the guitar and the rumbling bass of Benjamin, results in a crushing, oppressive atmosphere that lasts the entirety of the album. Of course, there is also the keyboards that are present that at times create a haunting mood, and other times helping to shroud the music in a cloud of mystery. The strained vocals of Ronan provides a sense of hopelessness and desperation in the listener as well.
On top of the standard stoner/doom metal sound, Huata has also included some sludge and drone elements, making clever and full utilisation of both the guitars and the bass to further expand on the listening experience of Atavist of Mann, and these are certainly welcome, giving a more dynamic sound to the album. For example, the droning sections on songs like Thee Imperial Wizard keeps the listener constantly on the edge, with the feeling of unease further exacerbated through the vertigo-inducing droning guitar segment that is present on the track. To further emphasise the themes on the album, spoken samples also constantly rear their ugly head, ensuring an experience that is as unpleasant as possible. The ritualistic elements are also shown through the chants on songs like Thee Imperial Wizard.
That is not to say that there are no catchy moments on the album, as songs like Operation Mistletoe have a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the music, with the infectious grooves instantly getting the listener to unwittingly bob one’s head to the music, though moments such as these are few, with the band preferring to leave the listener in a constant state of tension instead. To fully appreciate Atavist of Mann though, it is recommended that one blasts this album through good speakers in order for the full impact and scale of the album to shine through.