Album Review: Ahab – Live Prey

Funeral Doom Heavyweights Ahab Announce New Live Album

Album Review: Ahab - Live Prey
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Nautical funeral doom is most definitely an acquired taste but that is the style of German outfit Ahab, whose entire philosophy has been focused on exploring the deep dark sea since their formation in 2004. With four albums under their belt, the Germans are not prolific by any means, but this type of music cannot be delivered quickly in any manner. Their last long player was 2015’s ‘The Boats of Glen Carrig’, which was a superbly constructed album. Live, their net casts wide and far, captivating audiences with their sheer structural colossus. It was certainly that way at Damnation Festival in 2014. Caught in their mesmerising beams, I simply allowed the experience to immerse me into their world and for over an hour I was transformed, sinking deep into the darkened depths of their mix of gentle, calmness which is mixed with crushingly heavy slabs of punishing doom.

Funeral Doom Heavyweights Ahab Announce New Live Album

This new release captures the band performing five tracks from their debut album ‘The Call of the Wretched Sea’ recorded at Death Row Fest 2017 in Jena, Germany. The tracks were recorded by the festival's in-house sound engineer, who handed the band their footage on a USB-stick after their gig. Released in 2006, ‘The Call of the Wretched Sea’ contained a mere seven tracks but ran to close to 70 minutes in length and was cited by critics as an exemplar of funeral doom. Slow synthesiser melodies, down tuned guitars with echoing percussion and deep, guttural, and sinister vocals are key elements.

‘The Call of the Wretched Sea! Live Prey’ begins with the behemoth ‘Below the Sun’, a pounding, monstrous song which immediately demonstrates the sheer intensity of the band both live and on record. The lumbering, glacial movements of ‘The Pacific’ follows, the shortest track on this release at just under 11 minutes, ‘The Pacific’ ebbs and flows, crushing segments filled with slow groove, enormous riffing and haunting melodies, the solemnity haunting and oppressive, Ahab’s melancholic approach extends the elements to doom to their limits.

If you want a song that summarises funeral doom, then the massive ‘Old Thunder’ may just be that song. A soaring, rising blackened doom anthem, the unearthly roars of Daniel Droste hover about the gargantuan almost sludgy feel as the song creeps ever forward, step by step. As well as frighteningly surreal roars, there are echoing baritone calls which linger over the pulverising riffing and crashing percussion. It is astonishingly heavy and brutally slow. After ‘Ahab’s Oath’ has passed, a mere 12:37 in time, it’s the almost 17-minute long magnum opus ‘The Hunt’ which brings this herculean effort to a fitting end. Seeping atmosphere, emotion and a tenderness that is oft overlooked, Ahab have provided a fine snapshot of time, and an album that sits comfortably in collections of doom, dark and black metal. Live Prey is the ultimate live record by the undisputed sailors of slow heaviness! An indispensable must-have album that belongs in every well-sorted Doom, Black Metal, and especially AHAB record collection.

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