Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Music Review - Ahab - The Call of the Wretched Sea

I love the story Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. It's terrific, dark and entertaining story about one of the most hard lines of work ever, whaling. All the characters are memorable and the monologues of the insane Captain Ahab are some of the best ever written. So a band that makes an album based on this story allready have a pretty good chance of winning me over.

Ahab play a style of music known as Funeral Doom metal. Basically, this is a super slow and super heavy version of death metal, with the deep, guttural vocals, hugely down-tuned guitars playing crushing chords and leads and slow, heavy, and massively echoing drumming. There is honestly nothing special, musically speaking, about Ahab at all; they are the perfect example of generic funeral doom. However, they are also the perfect example of being so good at what they do that nothing groundbreaking or genre-defying is necessary. The music here perfectly conveys the feeling of Moby Dick; dark but not really evil, heavy but not really extreme and very entertaining.

To those not well-versed in the metal world, this record will probably sound extraordinarily extreme, but really, its not that extreme at all. I'd actually almost call this a chilled-out metal album, as its repetitive and long (the songs here range from almost ten minutes to over twelve minutes long, with a short instrumental) structure, combined with the elegant and almost dreamy guitar riffs and leads really make for a relaxing listen, at least to me. There are times when the metal rages furiuously, or at least as furiously as funeral doom can be  raging. The opening track is a good example of the whole album: a very slow, soft opening, a heavy and intense middle section with guttural growling vocals, slow, dirge-like drumming dominating with some mid-paced drumming to be found and very long and simple but effective soloing and leads. Variations on all these are found throughout the album, with deep chanting vocals, keyboards and even ambient all making appearances, some mere cameos and some for longer spans. All of it is very well put together and not a note is out of place; the writing here is simple but top notch and avoids the pitfalls of a lot of funeral doom metal, namely pure boring repetition. The drumming here is a big point here; it's slow, heavy but also very dynamic and engaging, which definitely keeps the music moving and prevents stagnation.

While nothing groundbreaking at all, Ahab have pretty much made the definition of solid but not amazing album. From the mellow opening of Old Thunder to the eerie ambience of Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales to the extremely slow and plodding The Pacific, this is a highly satisfying album that perfectly captures the feel of Melvilles masterpiece novel. Pick up this album for a perfect introduction to funeral doom or just a solid funeral doom album in general, and you won't be disappointed.

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