Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Ahab - The Call of the Wretched Sea

Hailing from Germany and referring to themselves as "Nautik Funeral Doom" metal, Ahab managed to land themselves into the lap of Napalm Records two years after they formed. With The Calling of the Wretched Sea being their first full length release, it provides a rich and immersing experience into one of metal's vastly unexplored sub genres.

Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Release Date: September 29th, 2006

  1. Below the Sun
  2. The Pacific
  3. Old Thunder
  4. Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
  5. The Sermon
  6. The Hunt
  7. Ahab's Oath
Total Playtime:  1 hour, 07 minutes, 38 seconds



Rating: 8.0/10





Hailing from Germany and referring to themselves as "Nautik Funeral Doom" metal, Ahab managed to land themselves into the lap of Napalm Records two years after they formed. With The Calling of the Wretched Sea being their first full length release, it provides a rich and immersing experience into one of metal's vastly unexplored sub genres.

Close your eyes and imagine seeing an ethereal, decrepit ship floating in the middle of the ocean, made all the more ghostly by the fog. Now imagine being on that ship, and something massive from beneath rams your boat so hard that you and your crew fall off and are left to your doom in the frigid, unforgiving ocean. "Below the Sun" will grab the listener by the ankles and submerge them even further into the depths of the sea. A repeating and hypnotic dream-like guitar chimes in and teams up with a slow, chugging bass to set the desolate mood. The composition of the music overall seems to roll like a tide, with the drums helping signal the swell of the wave, crashing a symbol as it comes back down and returns to normal, and growing more
chaotic as the waves become rougher, and then dying down to nothing at the calm of the storm.


So what separates Ahab from other funeral doom musicians? They are one of the very few bands who have lyrical themes pertaining to the ocean, and the only one (that I know of) that uses abundant referencing to Moby Dick. The lyrical attributes to this material don't contribute much if you fail to pay attention or follow along, as the vocals are incredibly deep and just as slow as the instruments themselves. Taking lyrics into account, what is present is a grim tale that takes the listener on a hunt for one of the most monstrous ocean-dwelling beasts ever written about, most in the perspective of Ahab himself, along with the long lost use of some Old English words such as "ye", giving an authentic feel to the reference of the time period when Ahab's story was written about in Herman Melville's novel.

Though the music is fresh, some tracks sound a bit redundant and especially for an album the length of this one. Tracks "The Hunt" and "Ahab's Oath" are re-recordings from the band's first demo and they hold firm against their earlier versions, though the demo version of "The Hunt" was quite superior to the re-recorded track that is available on this album. No doubt the audio quality here is much better, but the demo version allows the listener to hear the vocals better, as if they are a bit too layered or set too low on this full length release. The occasional use of synthesizers and pianos goes quite a long way, giving a change of pace to the ever droning vocals and bass, as stated earlier in this review that some of the tracks do get a bit too repetitive.

Depressive, immersing, and fresh. Ahab manage to explore waters uncharted in metal and leave a big, muddy footprint in the sands of time. Slothful bass riffs coupled with high fret, one note guitars give eerie depth to most tracks and do eventually meet with full chord riffs. From start to finish, not one part of this album is upbeat and nothing penetrates the atmospheric veil of loneliness and abandon. Pianos and synths are somewhat scarce but well used, and the incredibly deep vocals themselves are used more as an instrument than a tool for clear storytelling which is just as well since the lyrics do have room for improvement. Overall, The Call of the Wretched Sea is a solid attempt for a debut album.

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