Ahab - The Boats of the Glen Carrig
Nautical German doom merchants Ahab have returned with their fourth long player and their stock continually rising. 2012's The Giant was a monstrous success of an album. Through that album and their stunningly tight live shows, The Boats of the Glen Carrig carries a weight of expectation.
For anyone that has heard Ahab before, you know what you are going to get. With weighty expectations come the weightiest of riffs. Opener The Isle, is an opening track of the most epic of proportions. The crescendo of the track hits like a battering ram with its bludgeoning guitar motif.
Most of the tracks here build to humongous crescendo's. Ahab are masters at this. In stark contrast, most of the tracks open in relatively calm waters; the tone that the band create in their trudging, harmonic pace shows that Ahab are not a one trick pony. One of the greatest things about the way Ahab structure their songs is the traverse between the calm and the cacophony. To Mourn Job, the album closer, navigates it's way to some beautiful solo guitar work, with a more than vigorous doomy pace. With that in mind, the band take you straight back to the lulling tempo before unleashing a sinister and towering end to their latest, magnificent opus.
With the tracks that bookend the album being quite similar in heir make up, the albums centrepiece; Red Foam (The Great Storm), is a far more urgent piece. The shortest track here and the only one in single figures, the track opens with a pacier riff that keeps the same stormy tempo throughout. Daniel Droste's growled vocals are something to behold, here, and throughout. Like Ahab move in earth shaking fashion between the mild and the monstrous musically, Droste's shift between growled vocals and cleaner, aching vocals is more subtle but still earth shatteringly great. Again, this ability as a band to move between different courses available keeps Ahab from being just another doom band.
The album's undoubted highlight is the gargantuan penultimate track; The Weedmen. Droste's growled vocals scrape the very depths of the ocean in their delivery, and musically the track is as orthodox as you could be on the doom front; veering more towards the funeral doom genre than anything else for the opening few minutes of the 15 minute plus composition. It is here where the despairing vocals also shine the brightest. The range of Droste's vocal delivery is superb.
As a whole, The Boats of the Glen Carrig is vast and expansive on every level. The drumming is meticulously delivered, the guitars are crushing and delicate in equal measure and the depth of the bass helps create a masterpiece. It builds excellently on the music created on 2012's The Giant. There is ambience, heaviness, fear, panic and heartbreak woven into the whole fabric of the album. If a word association game exists for metal albums, you'd struggle to stray from epic where Ahab's latest release is concerned. This is cliche you may say, but it's true. Epic is the best word to use. What a record.
Words: Dom Walsh