I'm pretty selective about funeral doom; some of it rings my bell and some of it doesn't, and I certainly need to be in the mood for it. But AHAB is the one band that has kicked my ass for two albums in a row now; "The Call of The Wretched Sea" and new disc "The Divinity of Oceans". When a doom album is this good, there is no waiting around for the right mood to arrive. The German band's "Nautic Funeral Doom Metal" is breathtaking in its beauty and suffocating in its heaviness.Funeral doom is slow, it is plodding, the songs are long, and it requires the listener to pay more attention for a longer period of time than the typical metal fan may be used to. That AHAB makes its marathon slow burners so damn enthralling with a kind of subdued energy that pulls you down into the watery abyss attests to the band's dedication to its craft. The key is that there is so much more at work here than just huge, crushing riffs, elephant-stroll pacing, and ungodly, cavernous growls (even if all of those elements are present and extremely well done). Much like its predecessor, what makes these songs come to "life" (in the bleakest, most morose sense of the word) are the beautiful melodies (often created from simple, yet gorgeous lead guitar lines), the frequent use of mid-range clean vocals that put a chill in the bones, whether the patterns approach a chant or simply waft through the air and then hang like a thick mist. What is also impressive is how the seemingly subtle, yet earth shaking, arrangement turns can make the simplest riff seem awe-inspiring. I can only assume that this is what being flattened by a steamroller feels like. It is more than just juxtaposing the darkness of a ten-ton riff with the weightlessness of a lightly picked guitar string too, or the terror of a bellowing vocal with soothing clean singing. It is the creation of mental images with sound that is so striking, made even more gripping when reading along with lyrics "inspired…by the books 'In the Heart of the Sea' by Nathaniel Philbrick and 'The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex' by Owen Chase, the latter of which inspired author Herman Melville's legendary work, 'Moby Dick'." The horrifying story of a shipwrecked crew after a failed whale hunt is about as "doom" as it gets and AHAB's ability to make you feel as though you're suspended in freezing cold water, gasping for air and witnessing events that no mortal should ever witness is the reason that "The Divinity of Oceans" makes most funeral doom releases pale in comparison. I'm having trouble breathing just writing about it.
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