Monday, July 02, 2012

Review: Ahab - The Giant

Ahab, the nautical funeral doom metal group from Germany, first hit with their debut full-length album The Call of the Wretched Sea (reviewed here) in 2006. The album got rave reviews and it still stands as a landmark in doom metal history, having aged well over the last half decade. Now, six years later the band have unleashed their third studio effort, The Giant, which sports album artwork radically different than their previous two releases... but does the sound remain the same?

Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: May 25th, 2012
  1. Further South
  2. Aeons Elapse
  3. Deliverance (Shouting at the Dead)
  4. Antarctica the Polymorphess
  5. Fathoms Deep Below
  6. The Giant
Total Playtime: 1 hour, 00 minutes, 59 seconds




Rating: 9.0/10






Ahab, the nautical funeral doom metal group from Germany, first hit with their debut full-length album The Call of the Wretched Sea (reviewed here) in 2006. The album got rave reviews and it still stands as a landmark in doom metal history, having aged well over the last half decade. Now, six years later the band have unleashed their third studio effort, The Giant, which sports album artwork radically different than their previous two releases... but does the sound remain the same?

Even before listening to the album, The Giant looks radically different from any previous album associated with Ahab. What is shown is a psychedellic graphic art design laid over a white background, versus earlier albums which had older, historical romantic-movement era paintings; which were generally clad in brown monochromatic overtones. The new art style foreshadows a new turn for Ahab, but it also keeps dark vibes afloat that  is a precise description of what is found within the content present.

After about three minutes of a softly flanged acoustic introduction that is accompanied by gentle cymbal taps, "Further South" shows off a melodious, forlorn set of clean vocals that were barely touched on the experimental second album, The Divinity of Oceans. The entirety of The Giant incorporates this new found singing style, Daniel Droste gives a powerful and emotional performance all around and still uses deep growls throughout the material as well. Both singing styles sound sharpened and perfected, the clean singing is ghostly, forlorn and melancholic while the menacing growls keep heaviness flowing.


Ahab undoubtedly have ensured that they possess their own unique style of funeral doom metal, not only with the instrument sounds, but also bringing with them lyrics that aren't heart jerking or tear inducing. Instead they create an incredible atmosphere, using the drawn out clean wailing to their advantage, grim descriptions and well placed vocal change-up segments.  The following comes from the second track, "Aeons Further":

"I feel gray and leafless
My roots concealed in morass
Dreary water lies intense and black
Skeleton arms waving to and fro
Crying to the silent waters of mercy
In the shrill and piercing accents
Of the most acute agony and despair"


How could it get much more evil than that?

"From the strange vessel a smell, a stench
Such as the whole world has no name for - no concept of - hellish - utterly suffocating
Shall I ever forget the horror?"


That is how. The above excerpt coming from the third track, "Deliverance (Shouting at the Dead)". But now that the lyrics and vocals have been accounted for, what does the embodiment sound like? The audio quality is crisp and reinforces the slowness and depth present. Both guitars offer up a slightly distorted tone, which leaves them sounding distant and hollow at times. There are fluid, medium fret solos scattered pleasantly throughout the tracks to keep inflicting that signature Ahab style, usually backed with deep, slow power chord progressions. The drumming keeps everything tight with mixes of light and hard cymbal crashes depending on the mood of the song, but they don't consume the heavy snare hits and thunderous bass kicks used throughout.There is also an echo present within both vocal and drum tracks, which just paints an even clearer picture of the unforgiving ocean.

Being comprised of only six songs and storming in at over an hour long, The Giant finds success in its longer songs, such as "Aeons Elapse", "The Giant", and "Further South". These tracks flow the easiest between harsh elements and calm overtones, combining the two effortlessly and also lyrically creating an intense atmosphere. Though with that being said, all of the tracks present have tons of variety to offer. "Deliverance (Shouting at the Dead)" is yet another honorable mention and it's the shortest song on the album.

From start to finish, The Giant is a well rounded and polished album that well deserves an in-depth look. All members have demonstrated considerable effort and passion for their respective elements and even progressed with their skills and styles, but the band have not gone in a completely opposite direction by any means. The new vocal style and alternating clean/growl sections definitely works in favor of Ahab, and they have yet again given a one-of-a-kind performance. Highly recommended to anyone swimming in the sea of mediocre funeral doom metal, come aboard and find something refreshing, relaxing, and heavy.

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