Ahab – “Live Prey” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Ever since forming the band in 2004, Ahab have been exploring the oceans in creating their very own subgenre, ‘Nautic Funeral Doom’. Inspired by wretched tales of castaway cannibalism as starkly depicted in Théodore Géricault’s “Le Radeau de la Méduse”, William Hope Hodgson’s shipwrecked horror novel “The Boats of the “Glen Carrig””, and of course Herbert Melville’s classic “Moby Dick”, Ahab have plodded their way through 4 full length studio albums prior to this first ever live release recorded at the Death Row Fest 2017 in Jena, Germany. Trudging out massive, droning riffs from the twin guitars of Christian Hector and Daniel Droste, whose guttural growls complete the grimness of the wholesale misery laced by macabre melodic chimes, the effect is nothing short of abyssal. Indeed, even if there are only 5 tracks to “Live Prey”, the average length is 12 1/2 minutes during which time the crushing effect of the music is nothing short of trance inducing, especially when stormy atmospheric effects and trippy, prog guitar and synth sounds are added. It’s little wonder that in between these musical giants, there is a somber silence from the probably stupefied audience! Crashing in malevolently on ‘The Pacific’, the slow dense riffs are brilliantly complemented by deathly sweet melodies as Droste’s hollow growls do the damage superbly, slowly soaking into your very being as you succumb to its eternal embrace. With wailing winds, ‘Old Thunder’ opens through soothing, if melancholic chimes before gradually building in darkness and intensity until the explosion of droning power chords and heavy, ominous vocal sounds cuts and slashes you savagely while continuing to stifle your very soul. Closing with ‘The Hunt’, Captain Ahab’s curses are brilliantly offset by serene melodies as Cornelius Althammer’s pounding drums meld with twisting riffs and ghostly choral vocals before the inevitable destruction of pig gutturals, trippy keys and sheer droning power from those super charged guitars completes the sonic destruction. It’s like a vivid onstage re-creation of being ship wrecked on a dark and stormy night, so prepare yourself for an experience like no other before!