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.