Review Summary: WHALE AHEAD!
Being at sea is one of the most humbling experiences that a human can face. One can only feel insignificant when alone, with the vast, endless ocean around them. They are helpless, at it's will, and rarely does it show mercy. The sea is harsh and cruel, but at the same time beautiful and mysterious, and so for ages it has drawn men into it, many of which never returned. This romantic vision of the ocean has fascinated many artists and musicians, who often tried to replicate the sea's beauty through their work. However, few were as successful as the German funeral doom band, Ahab, whose first album, Call Of The Wretched Sea
, is one of the most riveting musical accounts of nautical adventure ever recorded.
Ahab’s debut album is certainly a very ambitious venture, as the band decides to retell the story of Moby Dick
through the album. This is the tale of Captain Ahab, a man determined to hunt and kill the mammoth whale, Moby Dick. Surprisingly, the young and inexperienced Ahab’s version of this story transcends those of other mature bands, such as Mastodon, as Ahab has an astounding ability to control the mood of their music. No other album can make the listener feel like they are at sea, desperately fighting a colossus, as well as Call Of The Wretched Sea
. The sprawling, immense compositions filled with slow, grinding melodies and fearsome, growled vocals truly make one feel overwhelmed and helpless, much like a sailor fighting for his life against the murderous whale. The array of pounding drums and triturating guitars creates a wall of sound that all but destroys the listener.
But, just like the cruel seas are also beautiful, this savage and ruthless record is strangely captivating. While there is almost always a crushing, trudging guitar, a second guitarist often plays an enticing melody over the cacophony and chaos below. There are occasional acoustic breaks, where a sole clean guitar plays mournful melodies. But even during these rare calm moments, the listener waits for the music to once again explode into a pulverizing madness, much like a sailor awaits a storm during a brief lull.
Call Of The Wretched Sea
, however, does not only make the listener feel like they are at sea, but it makes them feel like they are on Captain Ahab’s boat. The lyrics frequently quote Herman Melville’s classic, and the original segments are written in a style reminiscent of the American author’s and the vocalist’s growling truly sounds like a fierce whale, anguished and in pain, but still trying to destroy its hunter. This, along with the fantastic watercolor album art, gives the album a much-needed serious tone.
From the first ominous keyboard melody to the last strong, pummeling chord, Call Of The Wretched Sea
enthralls the listener. Even though on the surface, it is something ugly and monstrous, this album has an irresistible charm that makes it impossible to stop listening. This, me laddy, is a hunt that you will wish to experience many, many times.