AHAB – The Giant

The German Doom Metal band AHAB has been flooding the scene with its Nautik Doom Metal (i.e. lyrics based on happenings at sea) since 2004, in which year they put out the demosong “The Stream”, which was also found on the demo EP “The Oath” from 2005. This EP was re-released in 2007 on vinyl. Anno 2006 the band released its debut full-length “The Call Of The Wretched Sea” via Napalm Records. The album served as a soundtrack for Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick” (published in 1851). This album instantly made people aware of this new Funeral Doom band. It was then too that I got to know about this band, when I reviewed the album. See here. To this day, the album remains one of my favourite Doom Metal releases. It’s dark, it’s gloomy, it’s captivating.

Three years later the follow-up came out under the title “The Divinity Of Oceans”. But for a review, a copy didn’t arrive at my place. Then again, one can’t review everything. This release recounting the 1820 demise of the whaleship Essex, a tale that inspired Melville’s classic novel. Still, on this album AHAB mixed its Funeral Doom with Death/Doom and of course atmospheric pieces. That is characteristic for AHAB’s music, mixing clean, melodic parts with brutal Doom stuff. “The Divinity Of Oceans” is also worth checking out. And now, another three years later, as if the band has determined this period between each new album, “The Giant” is available (since the 25th May). This time the band was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s work The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym, a topic suggested by Wandernoth (bass). According to Christian Hector (guitar) “It’s a mixture of a sea-faring documentary, psychedelic fiction, and is also said to be autobiographical to some extent.” Also, Herbrand Larsen from ENSLAVED delivered guest vocals on this album.

“The Giant” was recorded in a real studio this time, something I found surprising as well. Apparently then the previous two albums were recorded at home, so to speak. For this new album, the band will embark on its first headliner-tour with support from ESOTERIC and OPHIS.

Album no. three contains only six tracks, but with a minimum length of 07:52 and a maximum of 12:44, you know you’re Doomed for a good sixty minutes. The journey begins with “Further South”. It begins with a clean, atmospheric intro that sounds very relaxing. Perfect to chill with a beer or anything else you want to drink then. Drums come in, playing in a Jazzy/Bluesy way. And then the song takes off, so to speak. However, the music remains clean and Jazzy with clean vocals. The bass guitar sounds very nice here, warm and organic. Halfway the track the monster breaks out: massive Funeral Doom, like they did on previous albums. It sounds dangerous, voluminous… simply great! And logically the clean vocals make way for growls. What a contrast! After this outbreak the Doom continues in a Jazzy fashion, slow, melodic and melancholic. No singing then henceforth. Very solid stuff to start with.

“Aeons Elapse”, the longest song, also starts with a relaxing intro. Is this the bass only? A very nice sound in any case. And like before the music continues softly. No singing, but whispering, while the guitar adds atmospheric accents. When you least expect it, the awakening occurs: distorted, grooving guitars and sloooooow Doom, a bit like e.g. REVEREND BIZARRE. The singing is more like hurling, added with a clean, weeping touch. I had to think a bit of GOREFEST’s “Soul Survivor” album, even if, indeed, the singing is still very different. But anyway, I’m not too fond of this kind of singing, at least not how it’s done in this song here. The music sound massive, melancholic and depressive. And luckily the relaxing, Jazzy stuff returns, similar to how RICH FORTUNA makes his songs. Halfway the track there is clean, weeping, hymnic chanting with massive Doomed destruction. Of course at a very slooooow pace. When monstrous growls come in, the drums also become more powerful, as do the guitars. The weeping hymns return afterwards and a solo drags this song to its end.

The third track brings “Deliverance”: a clean guitar topped with an electric solo, this combo sounding Jazzy again. Doom sets in around the first minute with a clean, weeping voice, while growls are not that far off, at which point the music sounds darker. Over halfway the instruments do the talking with a very nice melody that returns, together with a solo, in the last moments of the song. Full-on musical power with hymnic singing follows, albeit slowly. This is very nice stuff, I cannot stress it enough. Next stop is “Antarctica The Polymorphess”. This too starts like the others. Backing keyboards (organ?) create the atmosphere. A part where the drums play a nice role. This whole growls in volume and then the buble bursts open, letting out massive, slooooow Doom. The singing is clean and weeping, more than before. A beautiful duet follows halfway, backed by melodic Doom in vein of SWALLOW THE SUN and SATURNUS, for example. A very nice piece of art. After that everything Metal falls silent and a clean guitar sound remains. The Jazzy music continues with clean vocals, a job very well done. Of course terms like melancholic and sad are applicable here. The demonic growling and massive Doom aren’t far off. Before the aforementioned duet returns, the gap is filled with solos.

The last two songs are the ones that don’t start with a clean intro. “Fathoms Deep Blue” has Metal on offer: melodic, melancholic, weeping… Doom! Both music and vocals clearly indicate this. Like before, when the growls come, the music turns darker, more ferocious. Halfway all that crumbles under the softness of clean music. But the monster from the deep rises to the surface and the music becomes more threatening again, yet remaining gloomy and mournful. Ending is done inline with “The Call Of The Wretched Sea”, including growls. “The Giant”, the title track, kicks in with bombastic, massive Doom. Clean, hymnic vocals take turns with growls. The heavy stream of underground sounds is put to a stop by a fully clean piece in the middle, allowing the listener to come to rest. Jazzy music, like before, flows onwards, during which the distorted guitar input grows in volume till the end.

AHAB’s third album, “The Giant”, wasn’t much to my liking when I first heard it. I found it rather bland, boring, and certainly not as good as the previous two. It was like the band was going downhill. But sometimes you have to give an album time to show its secrets, what it has to offer. And earlier this week, it happened. I can only say, despite a few trivial elements, the Germans have done it again. “The Giant” turned out to be a very strong album, mixing Funeral, traditional and Death/Doom, but adding a great slab of melody to counter the massive side of the compositions. I can’t say which of the three albums is the best, because each is different. I thus can only conclude by saying that, at least to me, AHAB released one of the best albums of 2012.

 

Tracklist:

  1. Further South
  2. Aeons Elapse
  3. Deliverance
  4. Antarctica The Polymorphess
  5. Fathoms Deep Blue
  6. The Giant

 

Line-up:
Daniel Droste – growls, clean vocals, guitars
Christian Hector – guitars
Stephan Wandernoth – bass
Cornelius Althammer – drums