WORDS: Tim Redman
Do you like riffs? Enormous long slow pounding riffs that work their way inside your skull and hold you down until you drown in them. Riffs that conjure little more than a sense of haunting despair when you hear them. If so you’re no doubt already familiar with AHAB and the bands inescapable rise to the top of the funeral doom genre. With three masterful records already under their belts the pessimistic Germans have just put the finishing touches to their upcoming album The Boats of the Glen Carrig based off the 1907 William Hope Hodgeson book of the same name.
The book is described as “survival and adventure story with elements of psychedelic horror in the form of weird weed monsters and dangerous snail-like creatures”. Hardly a departure from AHAB’s traditional lyrical material and arguably a perfect story to set the bands style of nautical doom against.
Opener The Isle begins slowly, setting the scene for what is to come. The mournful clean vocals of singer Daniel Droste are used well here alongside a gentle drumbeat before the first riff kicks in and begins building the momentum that AHAB use so well. Deep guttural vocals take over and as the song progresses you can almost feel yourself sinking. The song is broken up with short quieter instrumentals before kicking back in with a vengeance and building to a massive grinding conclusion.
The second track on the album, The Thing That Made Search, continues in much the same way. Another acoustic interlude leads into the song before a roar and the pounding beat of a drum signal the start of a crushing riff-laden track with only a brief respite in the later part of the song.
The Red Foam (The Great Storm) is the shortest track on the album and the only one under the ten minute mark. For the first time the clean vocals reappear, this time laden over the guitars, and the contrast between them and the harsh vocals works incredibly well. Compared to the other tracks this one seems positively fast with a nice guitar solo in the middle of the song and a roar to finish.
The last two tracks on the album are both long giving the band time to complete their concept. The Weedmen begins heavily with riffs and harsh vocals ushering in an air of despair, before letting up for the clean chorus to cut through. This pattern repeats throughout the song again using the beautiful contrast in the two styles of vocals to its maximum effect and creating an incredible atmosphere. To Mourn Job is the closing track on the album and again a slower clean introduction builds into weighty riff laden doom before changing back and back again. Even as the final track it leaves the listener amazed at how well the two conflicting styles are pulled off and interwoven.
Fans of the band know exactly what they can expect here. AHAB have yet again proven that they deserve their status as heavyweights in the funeral doom genre with this album giving an air of inescapable despair that is hard to match musically. Packed with riffs, laden atmosphere and crafted by a band who very clearly know exactly what they’re doing there is little more that can be said.
The Boats of the Glen Carrig is set for release on August 28th via Napalm Records