Germany’s leading funeral doom merchants Ahab have unleashed their fourth album and called it “The Giant”. This is a pretty appropriate title as the album is massive, sprawling itself across an hour and containing only six songs – clearly these boys aren’t on the lookout for a radio hit.
Drawing their inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”, the band have created a rich and epic sounding album full of hypnotic melodies and dynamic twists and turns that, when combined with the band’s trademark heavy doom-laden riffing and guttural vocals, has all the makings of what one may call a watershed release for this band.
Which is all well and good if twelve-minute songs based on 19th century literature are your thing, but if they’re not and you’re not prepared to sit back and let the album’s various musical strands wash over you like a tidal wave then this may be a bit of a slog. Not an album you can put on for a short burst or as background noise it does take a certain amount of dedication to glean everything from it, but once those lush melodies puncture your brain they do stay there. As an example, the near-thirteen-minute ‘Aeons Elapse’ is as beautiful as it is long, beginning with a gently-whispered intro before lurching into full-blown doom heaviness and alternating between the two styles for its duration without ever leading into tedium. As whole songs go it is one of the standout tracks but the main centrepiece is ‘Antarctica the Polymorphess’, during which singer Daniel Droste trades harmonies with Herbrand Larsen of Enslaved for a powerfully effective doom experience.
Full of sweeping melancholy and brutality, “The Giant” isn’t an album for the casual listener. Anybody familiar with the works of My Dying Bride or the even gloomier sounds of Mournful Congregation or Skepticism will find plenty here to satisfy their miserable tastes (in a good way) and although it is very long, Ahab can be proud at creating such a monolithic slab of downbeat doom metal.