The sea scares the shit out of us. It’s too big and too damn watery for our liking and with funeral doom merchants Ahab inspired this time by Jules Verne’s masterpiece 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, we’re getting the bends just thinking about the crushing weight of funeral doom riffs that await our latest journey with these nautical-obsessed nutters.
Being their first full-length offering in eight long years, expectations were understandably high for Ahab‘s 5th album and The Coral Tombs not only doesn’t disappoint, it could very well be the finest album in Ahab‘s career to date! Now, fans know that this is quite the statement – especially given the quality of debut album The Call of the Wretched Sea (and, in all honesty, everything they’ve ever released) – and, it’s fair to say, these able-bodied seamen are nowhere near as ‘heavy’ as they were back in 2006. Which means one thing. Progression, damn it, progression!
Ahab deal in sounds as vast as the oceans and they’re not afraid to experiment and surprise those expecting nothing but an oppressive funeral dirge that goes nowhere….slowly. Case in point is opener “Prof. Arronax’ Descent into the Vast Oceans” that hits like a tsunami with its blackened shrieks and rolling waves of percussive blast-beats before descending into relatively tranquil waters.
This is still Ahab we’re talking about though and it’s comforting to absorb the likes of “Colossus Of The Liquid Graves”, which could quite happily be lifted from Ahab‘s aforementioned debut, which offers the perfect balance between their sounds of old and their newer, more expansive direction. Tricky waters successfully navigated!
Any notion that minimalism may have tempered Ahab‘s suffocating power are further waived by the likes of “Mobilis in Mobili”, which weaves its own siren-like magic during both its quieter moments of introspection and when beautifully timed funeral doom riffs (and this is resolutely ‘doom’) crash back in.
As mentioned, expectations were high for The Coral Tombs but, in reality, this is far better an album than any of us probably anticipated. Ladies and gentleman (and Jules Verne) we already have a shoe-in for a million ‘Album of the Year’ lists come the end of 2023. 9/10
Ahab‘s The Coral Tombs was released on January 13th, 2023 via Napalm Records