The Call of the Wretched Sea
posted on 10/2006 By:
What’s On Tap: Another quality foray into the heavy funeral doom genre.
“Yet for ever and for ever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder man, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” - Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
In other words, mankind will continually challenge the harrowing nature of the sea, only to be perpetually punted squarely in the nuts.
Friends, Moby-Dick is absolutely loaded with passages similar to the quote above, and regardless of what sort of symbolism Melville was trying to get across to readers at the time – man vs. nature, man vs. himself, man vs. God, etc. – his phenomenal tale of ol’ Captain Ahab and his pursuit of the albino cetacean that eventually ends in utter misery is the perfect subject for a metal album. I realize it’s been touched on by a number of musical artists over the years, most notably Mastodon, but is there truly a more fitting genre to cover such an ill-omened, ponderously heavy yarn than funeral-fucking-doom? I think not. And Germany’s Ahab have certainly answered the boatswain’s whistle with their debut record…
The Call of the Wretched Sea is a cumberously heavy record. The kind of heavy that leaves one asking, ‘are the members of this band actually whales?’. In terms of scope, it would probably be best compared to the latest Catacombs, in that it does not rely on dooming the listener with ‘sadness’, per say, but instead chooses to pummel you slooooowly into ruinous misery. Daniel Droste’s vocals are deep enough to crack the enamel on your teeth, and sound more like they’ve been belched forth from Old Thunder himself, as opposed to a mere human. And nestled directly alongside his guttural growls are loads of bloody, jiggling, blubbered, fat RIFFS chopped directly off the haunch of ol’ Nessie herself. The killing blow, however, is definitely fired by the thundering rhythm section of session-drummer, Carny Althammer, whose presence on this record is truly massive. Of course a lot of the credit can be thrown towards the excellent production and overall ‘hefty’ sound throughout The Call of the Wretched Sea, but as many of you know, it’s very difficult to play slowly and keep things interesting, and Althammer firmly nails it from start to finish.
Ahab also show they’re unafraid to mingle styles by tossing in generous doses of quieter elements to help offset the heavier passages, giving the whole of the record a nice ‘ebb and flow’ feel, almost as if you were standing directly on the bow of The Pequod with the rest of her doomed crew. Songs such as, “Below the Sun”, “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” all rely on pepperings of melodic, often beautiful lead guitar work, with the latter opening with a particularly slow, mournful lick. The band also uses plenty of clean, often chanted vocals to break up Droste’s glottal bellows, particularly in track five, “The Sermon”, which spotlights a quiet “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”-esque breakdown half-way through, including a long sample drawn from one of the film adaptations of the classic tale. The last two tracks, “The Hunt” and “Ahab’s Oath”, both switch things up by adopting a seriously My Dying Bride feel to the guitar tone, and feature heavy use of pleasant, atmospheric keyboards to add texture and ambience. The last track in particular does a fantastic job of leaving the listener feeling as if they’re being pulled to the blackest depths of the sea, inside the belly of the beast…certainly a fitting closer to an excellent album.
2006 has been a solid year as far as funeral doom is concerned. With high caliber releases such as this and what we’ve already seen from Catacombs, Doom:Vs, and the more blackened funeral releases of Nortt, and Elysian Blaze, you might actually see fans of the genre smiling for a change. And if you count yourself among the few who truly hold the plodding, crushing style of extreme funeral doom close to their hearts, you will not be disappointed with The Call of the Wretched Sea. Seek, purchase, and be mother-fucking DOOOOOMED!!!
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