August 9, 2012 by Beldrac
Ahab – The Giant
Genre: Doom Metal
I apologise in advance for the numerous nautical and whaling terms and superfluous descriptions that are bound to crowd the text like whalers crowding Nantucket harbour in the 18th century. Ahab created a big splash when they released “The Call of the Wretched Sea”, an album based on Herman Melville’s epic Moby Dick. Their next album followed Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner which certainly (nearly) lived up to the absolute brilliance of aforementioned. This time around Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket gets harpooned by the mighty German merchants of epic Nautical Funeral Doom.
Last time out Ahab lightened the atmosphere a bit with varying tempos and vocal styles, but with “The Giant” they’ve combined the atmospheres and soundscapes of “The Divinity of Oceans” with the bone crushing heaviness of the mighty white whale whipping the Pequod to pieces. The product in short is spectacular but I’m still not sure if I could possibly give this a perfect score which in my book, is reserved for the very best only. The album is melodic at times through some of the guitar play and cleaner vocals, it’s these moments keep the listener from being overwhelmed by tidal waves of deep distorting guitars, the drums slowly pounding rhythmically to set the tempo for the mighty captain growling menacingly from the bridge into the ocean spray.
These same moments oft sweep the ship onwards like a sudden wind over a still ocean, when you’ve been all but drifting on a silent sea with naught but your bloody trade on your mind. I’d say the vocals are more varied than ever before bridging from gruff growls to more melodic cleaner stuff, but without compromising on the power. Overall I should probably add that if you don’t completely immerse yourself in the album it might not seem that great or very heavy and wouldn’t compare to “The Call of the Wretched Sea” in that regard. The themes and moods are lighter here (no surprise right, Moby Dick’s very dark) and having never read this Poe work, I can’t comment on how much of the album actually is based on it. This album is somehow more solemn yet one could easily escape from it to take a few breaths when it becomes overbearing. It’s epic as an epic voyage on a ship to “Antarctica” would be.
This song, “Antarctica (The Polymorphess)” is probably my favourite on the album, the melody reaches a higher range of notes than most of the rest but eventually gets pulled down again into the “Fathoms Deep Below.” The title track is also excellent and really, discussing individual merit would be pointless. I’m not going to tell you how good and clear the production, performance, songwriting, art or anything like that is either, the fact* stands that if you’re a fan of Doom Metal, you must absolutely not let this one pass. If you don’t know Ahab yet, prepare yourself for a long voyage over thundering waves of haunting tones that’ll steer you off to very gloomy and dark places. That is if you like dark places of course.
As this relatively mild but at times snapping cold season draws to a close, I can only say that this is likely to be i.m.o the album of the year come December.
*Based on 99% of reviews on the web that agree that this album is great.