AHAB - The Boats of the Glen Carrig

«The Boats of the Glen Carrig»
Napalm Records
28 Août 2015


Bands that create their own sub-genres do not cease to wow me in this day and age- refusing to settle for a pre-established rule of thumb is a great way to raise the bar and keep a scene interesting, and in the case of funeral doom, I will say it’s not exactly the simplest feat to actually overcome the pull of your instinct to mimic your influences, according to what I’ve been hearing for the past nine years. When you come up to me and make me question this well-intentioned (and deep-seated) skepticism, I am forced to take notice of the very real fact that you are a noteworthy fascination.

AHAB are qualified as a «nautic doom» unit. «The Boats of the Glen Carrig» is inspired by the novel of the same name by William Hope Hodgson, published in 1907. The theme of this album is thus oriented towards sea monsters and the psychedelic dangers residing in the deep. So far into reading the latter description, I must say I was threateningly close to a deep-throated and sufficiently loud chuckle- and decided to discard the urge in order to focus on the music, and boy am I glad I re-oriented my attention span for a spell.

The meat of their approach to this sub-genre can be pinpointed in the very real fact that it does create an ambience that begs to differ from what I have previously heard in this region of the metal landscape in the last decade- I hadn’t heard this band before, and was much less aware of their approach to instrumentation. It consists of extremely roomy, down-played, and sufficiently unsettling down-tempo passages of stringwork that are accurately tailor-made to support the vocalist’s haunting melodies of self-flagellation; I would listen to this man weep all the way to Thursday without ever growing exhausted of his style and range. He does make us feel he is staring into space on a large boat in the middle of the endless black. The fact that those sections of the songs aren’t overcharged with heavy instrumentation- it serves the purpose of creating a valley where raw emotion begins to build to a crescendo where the stout and sheer aggression of the electric guitar can begin to pour in with a legit effectiveness for a truly poignant impact, because a sense of momentum is definitely up in the air already.

The intricacies of the contrast between the lush subtleties of the elaborate evolutions of the melodies present in the midst of those lengthy tracks and the truly primal and instinctive slabs of searing, escalating pain of the giant hooks scattered throughout- it makes for a perfect balance that truly gets one to understand this tableau in all its feverish glory. It works just as well within a long-winded (but deeply and traumatizingly breath-taking from top to bottom) fifteen minute epic as it slays its way right into your list of essentials in a more compact format (read: «Red Foam (The Great Storm)») where the direct and chemically-induced mesh of both aspects of the sound seems to shine even more strikingly as we begin to discover the wonders of what happens when AHAB starts to sound more accessible while retaining a positively startling know-how in terms of the elaboration of progressive melo-doom epics that breathe a little easier and secure your need to dive back in again for the sheer pleasure of the immediate familiarity that reminds me of how OPETH used to be simply marvelous in the realms of this specific craft whenever they let their hair down and favored some level of simplicity without losing their core identity. Granted, this one record, for the band we have here, is mostly about elaborate tracks- they never over-stay their welcome, but I would like to see them laddies take notice of the fact that they can do both formats and actually reap stunning revelations from a direct mish-mash of all the traits of their personalities within a shorter song duration.

That being said, I will gladly come back to this full-length time and time again with an intensifying hunger for more discoveries within each number. This is a grower, for both the initiated and the naysayers of the funeral doom genre. It comes with the types of twists you will not be able to overlook without coming across as a petty snob that doesn’t know their shit quite enough.