Monday, December 31, 2012

Ahab: The Giant

When I first heard of this band it brought to mind Mastodon's opus about Moby Dick and made me think they just stuck to a limited range of nautical songs. But after seeing this recommended on some end of the year lists decided to give it a try. This has been a good year for funeral doom which seems to be turning the tables on Black metal for being the most innovative sub genre in metal. Ahab helps further this by offering a broad variety in vocal selections and most well produced and preformed guitar sounds.

"Further south " opens the album and alternates between an Emerson Lake and Palmer type croon on the verse to a deep boomy growl on the builds, this is done in a much more effective fashion than say Opeth, because it's not so good cop/ bad cop in it's call and response. I think some of this has to do with how the clean vocals are introduced as the song gently unfolds it only makes sense for them to hover in on the accent to the chord change. So there's some attention to detail in the songwriting for sure.

"Aeon'Lapse " has a similar morose intro section though even darker , with whispered vocals. It gets heavier sooner, but in a much more sludge like manner, with the vocals taking on more of a Neurosis like howl.About four and a half minutes in when the melodic break down occurs the guitars really get interesting. These have have chops and aren't afraid to show them off. This leads into shift in the chord progression and melody drone in the vein of Jesu. They aren't afraid to pick up the pace from the normal creeping malaise into a mammoth chug. at 9:45 the guitar solo takes on a very Frank Zappa like phrasing and intonation, which exceeds my expectation for this band from the second song.

"Deliverance" Is more standard doom fare in the last three minutes it transitions into an almost southern rock type rick before going into a more melancholy Pallbearer styled part. But this songs doesn't really live up to the bar the band set on the first two as every thing happens in the last three minutes.

"Antarctica the Polymorphess " sees the return of the subdued wandering intro, though part of their formula the guitar work during these passages makes them forgivable. When the big heavy riff lumbers out like a monster the introductory contrast is better appreciated. I think its in their more experimental moments when Ahab tampers with the genre cliches rather than indulges them is where they shine from the darkness. the mournful clean vocals following the more typical growls turn this song around, as well as the drumming which has a knack for switching gears, where their peers might drone into plodding. When the melody shifts to a more introspective tone and the guitar backs off into a twinkle it sets up the stage for the heavy to pound in.

"Fathoms Deep Below" deviates from the typical opening most of the song have had with pounding accent that carry an uplifting resonance strange on an album of this nature. It leads into a hopeful baritone droned vocal melody before descending into vocals deep below. The eerie twilight zone of a middle section,adds to the creepiness. where one of the odd things about this album is some times they experiment their way right out of the funeral home and into sludge, this section adds the flowers to the grave.

The title track takes giant stomps into an almost Alice in Chains or Katatonia like verse, with a double tracked vocal melody coating the chug before swaying into a very passionate chorus which has a goth yearning to it, think My Dying Bride without the keyboards. This vibe returns in more of a bridge where the chords are allowed to ring out and give things some space before contracting in on the growls and power chords.The melodic wandering in the second half of the song, sets up the build rather unexpectedly, but the build is more sludge than doom though I suppose it could be compared to maybe Electric Wizard.

The closer is a really odd way to end the album that i'm not really sure how I feel about the choice to use it here, thought to their credit it does make time crawl like molten lead, the bottom dropping out into a faint whisper made me think the song was over unless the speakers were cranked to he the faint resolve. The death metal section wakes you up a little and before you run out to weight it against your Incantation albums, death metal is the closest term of speech.

While the first half of the album is the strongest and I would prefer a little less of the sludge at time which can often fall into the well we have heard that before , its still over all a really good album so I will round it up to an eight and see how it stands the test of time.

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