Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ahab: The Call of the Wretched Sea

Funeral doom is a very odd genre. Extremely slow, the music sometimes does not resemble metal at all. Riffs ebb and flow over the course of minutes sometimes. Adding to this is the fact that most songs are 10 minutes in length or longer. It's not an easy genre to get into because the listener has to be patient and really pay attention. Funeral doom is most certainly not background music. It requires the listener to become engrossed into it. Once one does though, it is hard to deny the beauty in the sounds. All one really needs is a gateway into the world of funeral doom. Once this is found, it becomes easier to understand the complexities of the music.

My gateway was Ahab.

This is the German funeral doom band's first full-length release and what a release it is. The Call of the Wretched Sea is a slow, lumbering masterpiece of an album for this genre and is quite possibly one of the best representatives of the genre thus far. Telling the story of Moby Dick, Ahab manages to capture the extreme feelings of doom the tale is known for. The music even begins to convince the listener that he is on the Pequod hunting the massive beast himself.

The down-tuned guitar riffs are slow and swirling giving the feel of being out on the water. The drumming is surprisingly complex for such a slow-moving album. The melodies are often created through the use of a synthesizer. The vocals are typically deep and guttural, fitting in well with the speed of the music and the subject matter of the lyrics. Occasionally clean, chanted vocals find their way into the melodies and break up the morose feeling of the album for a little while. The songs are all long, except for the fourth track "Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales". This track however isn't a song so much as a brief intermission to catch one's breath prior to the crushing weight of the second half of the album.

Lyrically, as mentioned earlier, this album tells the story of Moby Dick as told through the eyes of Captain Ahab. Many of the lyrical passages are borrowed directly from the story itself. This gives the album a more authentic feel.

The production is a little muddy, making the individual instruments and the vocals a little difficult to hear. This further adds to the doomy atmosphere of the music as it causes the listener to feel as if he is drowning in the murky sound.

This album is heavy as hell. It leaves the listener feeling drained of energy and crushed under a massive weight. The ending feels as though the listener has been plunged into the depths of the sea. An amazing and bleak album, The Call of the Wretched Sea begs to be heard again and again so that every excruciating detail can be found. Here's hoping for a quality follow-up album by this band.

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