AHAB
"The Call of the Wretched Sea"

(Napalm)

01. Below the Sun
02. The Pacific
03. Old Thunder
04. Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
05. The Sermon
06. The Hunt
07. Ahab's Oath

RATING: 8/10

The best doom creates an indefinable feeling of dread and a sinking feeling like no other. It may be shrouded in epic atmosphere or dressed up with lighter instrumentation, but the conclusion is a foregone one: man's ultimate demise. And if it is funeral doom akin to the style played by Germany's AHAB, the end comes a bit quicker.

On "The Call of the Wretched Sea", guitarist Christian Hector, vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Daniel Droste, both of MIDNATTSOL, and bassist/background-vocalist Stephan Adolph have tapped into those aforementioned feelings of foreboding as told through the story of Moby Dick's main character, the despotic Captain Ahab. The result is an album that strikes deep into the heart of darkness, yet not without a measure of class and distinction. An ominous riff and Droste's deep bellow may drive songs like "The Pacific", but sorrowful and melodic leads color the compositions in the most appealing of ways. The same goes for the moments of light picking over which another captivating lead is heard on "Old Thunder", one of many examples of AHAB's mastery of mood changes and the ebbs and flows of human emotions, as represented by Captain Ahab during his treacherous quest. Chants and choral vocal parts further enhance the arrangements at various points along the way.

Finally, the drumming of session musician Corny (yes, that's right) Althammer (LEGACY) is outstanding. Though a steady beat anchors the songs, his accents are expertly utilized and the organic drum mix is thunderous. Quite honestly, it is the best drum sound, particularly on a doom album, that I've heard in a long while.

Let's not kid ourselves though, "The Call of the Wretched Sea" probably will not convert those who do not understand doom's appeal or simply don't get "it". At 67 minutes, those with distaste for the style will find the album to be little more than a cure for insomnia. But this isn't RIGOR SARDONICUS either, so there is at least a chance that the fence sitters may be won over by AHAB's classy dirges. "The Call of the Wretched Sea" is an impressive album from a band that understands the sonic conveyance of mental anguish.

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