Ahab - _The Giant_
(Napalm Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss. I got into Ahab way too late.It has not been since I started writing for this publication that I have come across so much great funeral doom. Last year we were given Mournful Congregation and the year end placing _Paragon of Dissonance_ by Esoteric. This year we are graced with the newest release from everyone's favorite nautical downers, Ahab. I recently cursed myself for not hearing Ahab sooner, as the band has spent a great deal of time on the side of critical praise. With two previous releases dealing with the ultimate doom of sea travel, Ahab returns with a something different, though still weighed down by the sea drenched clothing._The Giant_ is based on Edgar Allan Poe's 1838 novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket". Just like the band's obsession with "Moby Dick", Ahab has moved onto Melville's influences by breathing life into a forgotten piece of seafaring literature. Poe's novel deals with Arthur Gordon Pym and his travels south towards the uncharted waters of Antarctica. During their expedition, the ship's crew encounters various hardships, including death and destruction leading to a weird as fuck ending with white shrouded figures. This sounds like a perfect place to start for funeral doom. Ahab's conceptual structure strengthens _The Giant_, as the source material is a pretty damn awesome way to start an album. It is a grand narrative set to the tempo of eternity. _The Giant_ becomes memorable with two distinct types of vocals and interesting constructions within the framework of funeral doom. Though things are slowed to a crawl, there will still be time for harmonic guitar leads. Just because this ship is sinking does not mean we can't go out in style._The Giant_ becomes a struggle to survive, with various pieces of debris and undercurrent threatening to engulf the listener. As dark and distressful as this album can be, _The Giant_ is a home run in the metal ballgame.While I just sang the praises regarding the music, I am now going to criticize the artwork. Fucking hell. The last two covers from Ahab were straight lifts from classical paintings. This was fine, as it fit the narrative of the music. _The Giant_'s cover does not fit the music. At all. Rather than take one of Albert Edward Sterne's illustrations or even mimic the title page, the band gives us a hand-drawn doodle which confuses more than amazes. I think the artwork would be great maybe for a poster or even a shirt, but compared to the grand scale of the music, and previous covers, it does not work. At all. Small criticism. I am always available for freelance design. Besides some minor and idiosyncratic problems with the record, _The Giant_ is one of the year's most pleasing doom records. The band's odyssey through the moldy pages of romantic literature is astounding and something I hope they never wane in their interest. When I think of maritime gloom, I think of Ahab.
(article published 7/15/2012)
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