Singles & EPs
German doom and sludge metal trio Ahab are so infatuated with oceans, they had a sticker placed on The Call of the Wretched Sea, their 2006 debut long-player that described their music to inquisitive punters as "Nautik Funeral Doom." Even their name drew inspiration from sea-faring tales, taking obvious inspiration from Herman Melville's classic tale of the obsessed captain of the Pequod who pursued a great white whale. Each recording since has carried a nautical theme in its title, down through 2015's The Boats of Glen Carrig.
Ahab were founded in 2004 in Esslingen by musicians from Midnattsol and Penetralia: guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Daniel Droste, guitarist Christian Hector, and Endzeit's Stephan Adolph on bass and backing vocals. Sharing a collective obsession with the ocean and its tales of adventure and destruction, they issued a twelve-and-a-half minute A-side only debut single titled "The Stream" at the end of the year. They followed in April of 2005 with The Oath, a four song demo -- three of them were over ten minutes long -- with Droste and Hector doing the drum programming. Their labyrinthine, nearly powerful, almost glacial funeral dirges treated with punishing sonics caught the ears of punters and music journos across the globe, and eventually the attention of Napalm Records, which signed them late that year.
In 2006 they released The Call of the Wretched Sea with drums by provided by guest Ekranoplan's Cornelius Althammer. He stayed for the touring that followed and was asked to join as a permanent member. The critical response from the extreme music community was not only abundant, it was rapid. Several sources praised them natural successors to doom progenitors Skepticism and Esoteric, while others claimed them as the 21st century personification of funeral doom metal. The set marked Adolph's final recorded outing with Ahab. He remained on support for touring and shows into early 2008 before leaving music altogether for a time. He eventually resurfaced as the guitarist for Stillborn and Midnattsol.
Before entering the studio to commence work on their sophomore album, Ahab hired Dead Eyed Sleeper guitarist Stephan Wandernoth as permanent bassist. Their second long-player, The Divinity of Oceans, arrived in 2009. It was a concept offering about the real life travails of Captain Pollard and the crew of The Essex, a whaling ship. Damaged by a storm four days after leaving a Nantucket Island port, further tragedy struck with the attack of a massive sperm whale that rammed into, and ultimately sunk the ship, leaving its survivors scrambling to gather remaining provisions and escape with only the three remaining life boats. Given wider distribution, the album garnered the positive acclaim from many critics who remarked about both progressive and neo-psych tendencies in Droste's playing and the band's masterful use of negative space as a springboard for ideas. Ahab mounted successful support tours of Europe and Australia.
The Giant arrived in 2012. Produced, mixed, recorded, and mastered by Jens Siefert, the band enlisted the other Dead Eyed Sleeper guitarist Peter Eifflaender to create a three-axe front line. The set proved their most popular and controversial. Far more atmospheric than earlier work, the songs took longer to unfold as the band were unusually experimental in incorporating elements of prog, jazz, ambient music, and some clean vocals (courtesy of Enslaved's Herbrand Larsen) into more strategically arranged melodic songs. That said, despite shaking the formula, Ahab's requisite doom heaviness remained. World tours followed over the next two years as Ahab became a major player in international doom and prog metal circles. They won over a new legion of fans who had been seduced by The Giant, the group's most lyrical, moody outing to date.
In 2015 the band released their fourth studio long-player, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, a concept album built around the 1907 horror novel of the same name penned by William Hope Hodgson about shipwreck survivors who encounter strange creatures while trying to get home. Produced by Ahab, with Siefert recording and mixing, the five-song offering juxtaposed even more melodic dirgey elegies with their most overdriven guitar and bass sounds to date. That said, it was regarded critically as an extension of the progressions on The Giant, yet managed to more fully integrate their experimental side into a holistic working M.O. The ensuing support tours took them to the main stage of Roadburn and virtually every other major metal festival on the planet. Digital streams and sales pushed the band's profile to an entirely new level, landing them on most metal charts. Ahab's individual members all took long breaks in the aftermath of two-and-a-half years of touring, most concentrating on other projects. In 2017, Ahab performed The Call of the Wretched Sea in its entirety at Jena's Death Row Fest in Germany to celebrate its tenth anniversary (without knowing their label Napalm was recording the show). Since named one of the Top 100 Doom Metal recordings of all time by Decibel, the label approached the band about releasing it, but it took until the summer of 2020 to make it happen. Co-produced by Althammer and Stefan Braunschmidt, and released as Live Prey, the record's sound reflected Ahab's musical development filtered through the original's album's aggression and power. Live Prey registered on the metal charts a week after release. ~ Thom Jurek