AHAB — The Call of the Wretched Sea (review)

AHAB — The Call of the Wretched Sea album cover Album · 2006 · Funeral Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Ahab are often the entryway into funeral doom metal for newcomers. Their modern clear production and their 'Moby Dick' themes are more attractive than the raw production and weirdness of Skepticism or Esoteric, two primary influences to the genre. Do I wish it was different? I guess so. I love Skepticism and Esoteric much more than Ahab. Is it really that big of a deal? No, because Ahab has its charms as well.

Look at the artwork for 'The Call of the Wretched Sea'. Then, listen to the music. You will realize that the music is as heavy as the leviathan on the cover. The production on this album really makes for a dark, ocean deep atmosphere here. And don't think for an instant that this ocean has a bunch of colorful fish and coral reef formations. This ocean is deep and dark like there's a storm brewing in the sky above the surface, and the only sea animal you might possibly see is Moby Dick though you might not want to lest he see you first and swallow you whole. Ahab play their music here on a low minor key to really boost this tone. But, not all of it is heavy guitar with a lead either. All the songs on this album start out with some atmospheric opener. "Below the Sun" in particular does a fine job of executing the atmospheric opener with an eerie, slow keyboard passage especially since it's the album's opener. Once the metal instruments kick in, it's the guitars that take the lead and evoke the album's melody. The keyboards are still there, but they're more of a background accessory. Like most funeral doom acts, Ahab layer their guitar work on this album having one taking the rhythm role and laying down all the heavy sounding riffs, and the other take the lead with some melodic sounding playing. That lead style isn't maintained throughout the entire album though, and there are lots of instances of the lead guitar sinking down and playing along side the rhythm.

'The Call of the Wretched Sea' has a nice, even flow to it. This isn't only from song to song either, but also how smoothly the songs transition in their variations. The last thing a funeral doom fan wants are songs that barely change at all. Though this album does make a few close calls, like the first section of "Below the Sun" (after the eeire intro) going on until the 4:21 mark, it makes up for it by having subsequent parts that are really interesting like a slightly faster section with a slow, yet very memorable lead. I guess the only thing I could complain about is that this concept album doesn't conclude the 'Moby Dick' tale; it just stops right in the middle of the book with "Ahab's Oath". Hopefully, Ahab can create a fitting conclusion to this tale with another album. To date, though, they haven't returned to the tale or even the dark tone of this album. The two subsequent albums by this band are all lighter sounding, which I hope they don't have if they do return to conclude this tale.

Is it the most likable funeral doom metal release out there? Not really to me. Is it very likable in its own right? Yes. 'The Call of the Wretched Sea' is worth every ounce of praise it's received and, after giving it some thought, I believe it does meet the minimal criteria to be placed in my top tier review rank. This is a very excellent album for funeral doom metal veterans and newcomers alike.
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