Ahab – Live Prey (Napalm)Tuesday, 16th June 2020
Masters at funeral doom and the exploration of the deep blue sea, Ahab since 2004 have been delivering their solemn dark escapades into those pastures that crush souls. They’ve released four studio albums to date – and upon recording their Death Row Fest performance back in 2017 chosen to issue Live Prey, a five-song selection of tracks that focus solely on their debut album The Call of the Wretched Sea. Although current bassist Stephan Wandernoth wasn’t in the band until 2008, he is able to add his touch to these tracks to represent the monumental girth and slow, steady charge that certainly prove these Germans can captivate listeners through raw riffs, deep vocal growls, and arrangements that never come below the 10:34 mark.
The first three songs run in the same order as the original album. “Below the Sun” is a perfect opener that features a stunning, melodic/emotive lead break at the conclusion, as the haunting narrative that sets up “The Pacific” lumbers along through the delayed snare/cymbal hits from drummer Cornelius Althammer and main guitar rhythms courtesy of Daniel Droste and Chris Hector that signal tumultuous aural times lie ahead – circular melodies navigating against the dripping melancholy platform. Unlike conventional doom, Ahab uses their guitar tones in a brutal context, although the clean accents serve as a serene dynamic to lull the listener into that nautical state of mind – the first two minutes of “Old Thunder” the best example before the forceful march and exotic touches take over. Flip flopping the running order from the studio album of the final two songs, “The Hunt” receives a five-minute plus extension from its original 11:13 running time, an ideal closer as the narrative elements regarding Moby Dick the whale and the forthcoming attack to kill by the whaler mirrors the clean to heavy transitions and slow, groove tempo plus haunting, distant vocal approach in segments from Daniel, the piano passage midway through heightening the tension even at its funeral doom pace.
Patience is necessary to fully embrace Ahab, but the rewards are justified. These seafaring musicians have carved out a nice niche through their brand of funeral doom/death and paying tribute to their roots through this live release will remind the listeners of their value.