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The Call of the Wretched Sea

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(14 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • Descriptors: Epic, subtle, primeval, melodic, bombastic, haunting, and of course, really, really, really heavy.

    This Germanic quartet has managed to create a very expansive, harsh, yet simultaneously beautiful sound, which dovetails perfectly with the album’s theme, which is a musical tribute to Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”. A story of vengeance, obsession, and existential inquiry, which swirls about a half insane captain and his crew, as they hunt the white whale.

    All but three of the songs take their lyrics from the poetic almost Shakespearean soliloquies that Melville penned in Moby Dick. “Of monstrous pictures of whales” is purely instrumental. “The Sermon” makes exquisite use of an extended conversational sample between Ahab and perhaps Ishmael or another deckhand. Two pieces have lyrics written by a band member and outside contributor, which are “good,” but not nearly as beautiful as Melville’s.

    At any rate, it’s usually impossible to decipher what Daniel Droste and Stephen Adolf are growling, but that’s fine with me. Droste’s voice has the timbre of gravely river bottom, which seems to act as yet another wonderful instrument that captures the power and darkness of Melville’s novel. Droste and Adolf do partake in some ominous melodic chanting as well, which also works great for this album! There are also chorale samples that are used sporadically that bring about the same effect.

    The the instrumentation places a heavy emphasis on simple, memorable, and beautiful melodies that are tastefully interspersed among heavy, droning, and dark walls of noise, or menacing synthesizers. The drumming is usually slow and plodding, occasionally making use of bells (maybe kettle bells?). All of these effects lend to a sound which is as vast as the Atlantic. Like the Atlantic, it is both beautiful and destructive; which, quite appropriately, is indicative of a whale of mythic proportions and a madman bent on revenge.

    I highly recommend this album to people who might appreciate melodic, sludgy, and extremely powerful metal. In my experience, this album has tapped into the very soul of Melville’s story by eloquently capturing the mystery, beauty, power, and chaos it conveys.

    Posted on February 24, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is how the band itself defines its sound.
    Funeral Doom is one of the least known metal genres and I thought that its making was almost a lost craft. Because Funeral Doom is very demanding, you can’t save a song with a guitar solo. I thought the last great Funeral Doom recording was Skepticism’s Farmakon. But this young band from Germany has created an outstanding CD, you only need to listen the first track “Below The Sun” to feel the sheer beauty and despair within their music.
    This release was quite a surprise and it’s highly recommended for anyone who likes this sombre but beautiful kind of music.

    Posted on February 24, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I work at a music store. I have heard tons of music this year. This gem is by far, the greatest thing i heard in all of 2006, out of all the music! it is like stepping in an enchanted, dark, bleak, sorrowful dream. It is something that will never become popular because only few can appreciate it, listen to it. It is meant to hide under all the murk that is popular metal. I can only describe it as they do, and that is Nautic Funeral Doom, a beautiful work of art with growls and riffs and soundscapes, and a wonderful concept.

    Posted on February 24, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Before I get started on reviewing this album, I’d like to say first that I do not consider myself a doom metal connoisseur, or even a serious fan of the genre for that matter. I initially approached doom metal from the post rock side of things (Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, Tortoise, Pelican (which I guess is somewhere in between), etc.). Most of the metal I listen to tends to be blistering, balls-out shred. That being said, I decided to make Ahab my first foray into the somber, dreary world of Funeral Doom.

    Most of the reviews I read for this album were glowing. However, as a new-comer to the genre, I was afraid that ‘The Call of the Wretched Sea’ would be little more than an hour of the same two dissonant chords played over and over on ridiculously down-tuned guitars, with some dude growling unintelligible stuff in the background – and I imagined that Funeral Doom fans would probably think that was the greatest thing since Fruit by the Foot: “Dude, did you hear that part at 41:16 on the first track when the guitarist plays a chord that is totally different from the other two? Awesome…”.

    When I finally got to listen to the album, my apprehensions melted away, and were immediately replaced with a fear of the cold, icy, depths of the sea and the human soul. From the moment the album begins, it is apparent that the peaceful ebb and flow will soon give way to tumultuous waves of despair and anguish. I thought there was a surprising amount of emotion and development on this album (just because I didn’t know what to expect). The band lingers on passages long enough to build up tension, but don’t bludgeon the listener to death with the same painfully repetitive patterns. The tracks are quite lengthy – but are effective in creating the colossal structures necessary to convey the concepts of an angry ocean and an angrier whale. There are some really nice atmospheric touches, too, such as the chanted parts.

    Overall, this is an incredible album that manages to hold the listeners interest through each massive movement. Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, you may find ‘The Call of the Wretched Sea’ to be a very rewarding experience. I certainly have.

    Posted on February 24, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I am truly not sure where to begin with this review. After being mentally mangled from a weekend of perpetual listening to this amazing album I have a sudden urge to take to the high seas and throw harpoons at sperm whales, even if it means my annihilation. Never has music so effectively and convincingly illustrated not only a story but also a feeling of elemental terror and the mysterious wrath of nature.

    The Call of the Wretched Sea might as well be the official soundtrack of Melville’s Moby Dick, a story that I was convinced to read after and while listening to this album. Illustrated with surreal precision is the dread of Ahab’s suicide mission to destroy God, his insanity and hatred fueling pagan rituals to damn the souls of his crew with him, the whaling ships deployed into violently churning black seas that so effortlessly crush the breath out of men, the blinding sea salt and the gaping jaws of the white whale.

    The story is weaved together by deep, thunderous soundscapes, slow melodic guitars on top of discordant, crushing, depressive rhythms and harsh, incomprehensible, bellowing, deep vocals which are implemented in such a way as to represent the inner thoughts of the mad Ahab and at times the dark, elemental side of nature, namely the guttural spoutings of Moby Dick. The vocals are used as an instrument rather than as narration, underlying every dreary moment of panic to intensify the mood of abyssal hopelessness that Ishmael must have felt on the madness hijacked Pequod. Perhaps the most ingenious use of vocals I have yet to encounter!

    At some points during the album the oppressive Doom metal melodies are relieved by beautiful interludes interlaced with wind drowned out samples from Moby Dick (1965), Gregorian chanting, and experimental keyboard and guitar work. These little bits of reprieve contrast magically with the fatal sounding, crushing, mystifying rhythms which permeate the album.

    This is easily the best record of 2006.

    Posted on February 24, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now