Ahab: The Giant

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Ahab: The Giant
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Ahab: The Giant
Funeral Doom Metal
Napalm Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 1:01:03
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Ahab is nothing new to the Funeral Doom Metal movement. Back in 2006, the group issued their debut full-length, The Call of the Wretched Sea through Napalm Records. With that, they established themselves as a “Nautik Doom Metal” act due to their fixation with the sea, the literary work Moby Dick, as well as the musical landscapes their material presents. The follow-up, The Divinity of Oceans, dropped roughly three years later, with an EP prior in 2007. Now, anxious fans will find The Giant hitting store shelves in 2012, another three years later. With resounding scores creeping up all around the net, and this work on the mouths of addicts who have yet to even hear it, does The Giant live up to the expectations?

The audio to The Giant is pretty much perfect. The clarity works wonders for the slower pace, but doesn’t remove any of the bite that Ahab brings with them. The guitars have a pretty loud mid-range with a subtle distortion that leaves you feeling an emptiness that easily symbolizes the vast spaces of ocean waters out there. These also play to whatever the mood is meant to be, whether a lighter touch to sun-filled skies and pleasant surf, or deeper and suffocating, aided well by the crushing and dominant bass that appears to turn those calm blue hues into dismal miasmic black. The drumming aids the scenic musical landscapes with crisp cymbal crashes that power through the recording without masking the tight snares and bass kicks you can easily feel bounce through to your spine, sometimes having a nice echo effect present. The vocals end up a wide mixture of approaches, such as a soft whisper that is captured well enough to translate, an enthusiastic or restrained primal growl with a longer echo attached, as well as a clean singing approach for the tamer waters.

Many of the songs really mix up the crushing material with the tamer elements, but largely offer up the group’s signature dismal tone at crawling paces. This becomes essential given the hour plus length of the album, and only being devised into six tracks. “Further South” finds a placid, yet tame terrain that you can unwind with for quite some time before the seas get rocky with crushing guitars that don’t pick up the pace, but become richer, turning that mild day into a soulless assault leagues away from any form of oxygen, suffocating you with the visuals the guttural vocals and chords give off while dragging you deeper into the blackest vents of the ocean floor. But, when you compare “Aeons Elapse” to it, you get a different experience, finding more creepy and unaccepting attitudes to the atmosphere. Right from the start the song crushes your spirit with heavy guitar chords that show a little more technicality and even a catchy rhythm you can bang your head along to in a manner that doesn’t feel like the border of Drone. However, that groove often comes and goes, making way for a chorus that finds plenty of held chords and a clean singing style that is soothing, willing to put you at ease as if you had been given a moment to float away to the cold and grim decor on display. The guitar solo perfect suits the somewhat glorious chorus well, though some notes can sound off here and there.

Surprisingly, the longer tracks really stand out the most. Much like with “Aeons Elapse,” there’s just more quality, consistancy, and even musical imagery incorporated most of the time. “Antarctica the Polymorphess” is not quite as long, but the desolate and cold material really gives off a sense of loneliness that perfectly suits the land the song is about. The clean singing and additional echo effects, as well as the distant background spoken words give the sense of winds that come off delusional against a barren landscape. When they go into guttural territory and the song picks up, things become somber once more, and gives you an overwhelming sense of your own demise towards the end, as if about to fall victim to the rough terrain. “The Giant” is also worth mentioning, but sadly it doesn’t quite have as strong a musical atmosphere as the rest. It’s still a solid offering, but there’s nothing here that really gives you the sense of being out at sea, though the depressing tone of the slow paced Doom Metal is still present when the gutturals are incorporated, causing the music to sound just a little tighter and heavier thanks to the additional bass presence they bring.

The Giant is another release from Ahab that you can’t just casually listen to. Well, you can, but you won’t get the full impact of it that way. This is more than a collection of six quality songs, it’s a soundtrack to slip away to. The Giant easily does capitalize on the open seas concept, but in a manner you need to physically make time to kick back and give your full attention to. The atmospheres range from calm to crushing, and many times you actually get the sense of being lost at sea, or drowning within its darkest depths. If you haven’t heard Ahab yet, than this is a great jump on point to their career, but if you already have, or are currently a fan, than you already know what to expect and intend to buy this recording no matter what is said about it. And you should. Ahab has come a long way in a short amount of time, presenting their third album to become a must for any Metal fan’s collection.

01. Further South – 8:56
02. Aeons Elapse – 12:45
03. Deliuverance – 7:53
04. Antarctica the Polymorphess – 11:46
05. Fathoms Deep Blue – 9:08
06. The Giant – 10:36
Overall Score: 9.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records.