Album Review: The Boats of Glen Carrig by Ahab
Posted by RiffRaff
For as much as I love doom metal one sect of the genre I’ve never really been able to get into is funeral doom, bar an exception or two. It’s just a style that has to be particularly fresh and engaging for me to be able to sit through at attention as 10 plus minute long songs plod along. So forgive me for remaining ignorant to the thunderous majesty know as Ahab for over a decade. Self-proclaimed as nautical doom metal these Germans stay true to their Melville-ian namesake and produce dirges which require patience and a hearty pair of sea legs to really appreciate the payoff of a gorgeous, well-crafted world. Slow and sludgy Ahab’s new album, The Boats of Glen Carrig, looks to be the bands most accomplished record to date. Going back and checking out their earlier releases as reference points (Holy Shit! The Call of the Wretched Sea is a beast!) it also sounds as if the band is pushing their sound into uncharted territory. That may or may not be a good thing depending on how slow you like your doom metal.
The most immediate thing that drew me into The Boats of Glen Carrig is how incredibly lush the guitar and drum tones sound during the many melancholic and psychedelic clean sections bringing to mind the like parts of bands like Isis, Ghost Brigade, and Opeth. Beautiful in their own right, this organic touch allows you to really feel the sludge generously dripping from gargantuan bouts of death doom; all accentuated with vocals that are either hauntingly ethereal or rib crushing brutal. This attention to the contrasts makes the five elegies on this album not only engaging, but also hit like a cannonball to the gut.
And what is doom metal without its riffs? Ahab produce a bevy of them, each just as claustrophobic as the last. Compared to their previous offerings, I hear that Ahab has kicked up the tempo of many of their riffs a little bit and there are more sections dedicated to exploring a groove orientated riff instead of a slow, atmosphere building toll. Not to say the death knells are non-existent, just not something that is relied on as heavily. I could see how this could possibly turn existing fans off, however this shift does make a much more accessible and enjoyable listen to those like myself who are borderline on funeral doom.
While four of the five tracks on the album exceed the ten minute mark, there is plenty of substance to warrant their length. This is a very well realized record. In fact, it’s title and theme are based around a novel about a shipwreck survivor by William Hope Hodgson of the same name. I’ve never read it, but this record has inspired me to add it to my overflowing ‘to read’ pile. Fans of doom and sludge should not pass this record without checking it out, as someone who’s generally not into this style, it made a believer out of me. It’s like listening to an Elder One rise from the ocean. 4.5 out of 5
P.S.- The attached official video is, in my opinion, not the most representative track from the album despite being a kick ass song. The video itself doesn’t really capture the feel of the song much either. It also features some torture scenes. Regardless of the good intentions expressed at the end of the video, it just didn’t appeal to me. Don’t let the video sway you from checking out the record.