Review Summary: an ode to space
On their split with Bitcho, French-based Huata continue to expand their brand of sludgy, overpoweringly-atmospheric metal seasoned with flavors of psychaedelica. The sound of the first two songs on Split
are easily comparable to heavyweights like Sleep or Electric Wizard, with their French lineage adding a European tinge. This precipitates in a looseness that the tracks embody. Far from mechanical, “the retaliator” embodies an organic spectrum of depth and color that parallels the striking album art and makes me wonder if somewhere beneath the noisiness there exists an adept drone band. Their command of arrangement and empty space is one part disconcerting and two parts awe-striking, and it’s with this talent that the two new Huata tracks easily outshine Bitcho’s one. What separates this split from the simple flavor-of-the-month appeal that so often plagues this brand of sludge metal is the complexity of arrangements that add dimensions and layers beyond what one expects.
Similarly, space and nature aren’t topics often ignored by metal bands heavy on the atmosphere. Some feel that acts like Alcest or Krallice are still busy beating this dead trope, but Huata proves that the horse still has some life. Where “10050 cielo drive” shines is not as a single track, but as a perfect complement to the celestial grandeur of the split. It oscillates slowly back and forth, reminiscent of more conventional sludge artists like Neurosis, and adds a mid-tempo, percussion-heavy track to counter the vacuity of the previous songs. Most of “10050 cielo drive” is less spacious, but never suffocating. It’s a shame, then, that the second half of the track features some incantations that are questionably cheesy.
Still, the best moments of the split are the drawn-out sections of “hercolobus” that really accentuate what Huata are able to accomplish with such minor changes in tone or tempo. It bodes well that the year’s first memorable metal release arrives via such unexpected names, and sets ridiculously high standards for the next atmospheric sludge metal act I stumble upon.