Throughout their decade long career, German doomsters Ahab have consistently displayed a fascination with both all things nautical and literary: previous albums have been based on works such as Herman Melville’s epic ‘Moby Dick (with the band, of course, taking their name from the novel’s psychotic lead human character) and Edgar Allen Poe’s sublime ‘The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket’.
The band’s fourth album takes this combined interest to its next logical step, based as it is on the 1907 opus by William Hope Hodgson – a novel which has been described elsewhere as “a survival and adventure story with elements of psychedelic horror in the form of weird weed monsters and dangerous snail-like creatures.” In fact, just as the band have inspired their fans to discover the fictional worlds which they themselves explore, ‘The Boats…’ was actually inspired by a reciprocative post on their Facebook page, as guitarist Christian Hector explains: “I was thinking of ‘Das Boot’ (‘The Boat’) at first, but we didn’t think it would fit Ahab at this point of our career. We were looking at several books, including ‘Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit’ (‘The Discovery Of Slowness’) and thought it would fit perfectly in terms of doom, just not in terms of our nautical theme.”
The result is an extremely (and suitably) dark and murky album dredged from the darkest, dankest, most inaccessible depths of the ocean from which its story takes its influence. “Monolithic” is a word which is over-used, and indeed abused, when it comes to reviewing doom metal albums, but it sometimes one which is difficult to avoid employing. And it most definitely applies in terms of ‘The Boats…’, with its huge, heavier-than-concrete slabs of sound.
It’s also an album which sucks and eddies around you like a spring tide on the ebb and wane, drawing you into its density and pulling you, inexorably and irresistibly, under its waves of forbidding warmth, yet at the same time raising you up on its surge of elegiac levity. This is because Ahab succeed where many other doom bands fail, by introducing piercing stabs of light which punctuate the gloom and melancholy of the album’s more depressive and nihilstic moments with breaths of freshness and originality.
The Isle / The Thing That Made Search / Red Foam (The Great Storm) / The Weedmen / To Mourn Job / The Light In The Weed (Mary Madison)
Recommended listening: Red Foam (The Great Storm)
‘The Boats Of The Glen Carrig’ is out now on Napalm Records.