|In what amounts to a monumental wake of despair, Germany's nautic doom pioneers Ahab have unleashed the third and final instalment of what they refer to as their "Nantucket Saga", The Divinity Of Oceans. The adventure that began with The Oath EP in 2005 and continued through The Call Of The Wretched Sea in 2007 has come to its logical and bitter end. Not that this is the end of Ahab, but rather the final necessary step before starting a new chapter. Inspired this time out by the books In The Heart Of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and The Wreck Of The Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase - the latter of which inspired author Herman Melville's legendary work, Moby Dick - Ahab tells the tale of the Essex crew and the failed whale hunt which saw the ship end up at the bottom of the sea and doomed its crew to the horrors of cannibalism and an uncertain fate. Like the books, the songs on The Divinity Of Oceans capture the essence of a horrific turn of events while paying respect to the unwilling participants. Taking measure of the music, it's fair to say Ahab have done the work of Philbrick and Chase justice.
No question, Ahab offer up their own unique brand of doom metal. The typical Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus comparisons used when describing the genre do not apply on The Divinity Of Oceans - nor have they ever where Ahab is concerned - as the album sets a brooding juggernaut pace that makes a much stronger impact than one might expect. Each song is an epic unto itself, the music is bombastic in spite of what being doom metal is supposedly all about, and Droste's vocals have taken the band in a direction no one would have expected upon diving into The Call Of The Wretched Sea. Calling doom metal "unpredictable" is a stretch at the best of times, but the term certainly applies on The Divinity Of Oceans.
Formed in 2004 by vocalist/guitarist Daniel Droste and guitarist Christian Hector, Ahab's line-up on The Divinity Of Oceans is rounded out by Dead Eyed Sleeper members Cornelius Althammer (drums) and Stephan Wandernoth (bass), with Althammer pulling double duty as recording engineer and producer. In Hector's estimation it is "the best line-up we ever had in this band". Engineer Markus Stock (The Vision Bleak, Empyrium), whom Droste and Hector worked with previously on Midnattsol's 2008 album, Nordlys, was on board to mix and master the album at Klangschmiede Studio E, and the results are startling. Hector's initial descriptions of the songs for The Divinity Of Oceans as being akin to "Carcass in slo-mo" and "Morbid Angel going beyond the slowness of Blessed Are The Sick" are warranted, and his claims that the album might remind people of Devin Townsend gone doom metal hold water by the bucketful. Indeed, on an atmospheric level - particularly where Droste's clean vocals are concerned - The Divinity Of Oceans may even be seen as the dark and doom-ridden bookend to Townsend's epic Terria album from 2001. High praise, perhaps, but well earned.
That said, the greatest strength of Ahab's new album is its ability to appeal to metal fans unaccustomed to or simply uninterested in doom metal. The ultimate achievement for any artist, and one that bodes well for the future no matter how dark it gets.
Welcome to The Divinity Of Oceans, the soundtrack for lost souls.