The absolute masters, pioneers, forefathers and simultaneously the future, the promise, the chosen are back. Ahab, the best band in a genre they founded and that they alone inhibit. The most successful Nautik Doom band ever. Okay, all of that might seem like a lot of irony but I am sure the Heidelberg, Germany-based quartet will take this with the little twinkle in the eye. Nevertheless, to clarify it – being able to listen to new music from the best German Funeral Doom band ever, is so rewarding! Furthermore, because The Coral Tombs shows the guys from atop of their game. Every single riff, every hit on any part of the drum-kit, everything is simply magical!
Eight years ago, the guys released their last full-length, The Boats on the Glen Carrig which was a real good record, make no mistake about that. However, The Coral Tombs is just better in any aspect and if I really have to wait a decade for each new Ahab record to come along, then I will gladly do so, as they really show how to get older without losing their grip (yes, that’s pointing at you, Swedish grandmasters who have forgotten how to riff it out!) The last four tracks on this magic underwater carpet ride all feature some Progressive Rock lines but they never let this aspect take over and remain deeply rooted in Doom and firm on the heavy sound this genre is known for. Thus it is clear and correct to say that Ahab are one of the few Doom bands that do not lose their teeth!
One thing should be made clear before we talk about the new record in detail: I got no idea, how the guys developed their love for nautical themes and books that have the open sea as their background because it’s surely not a certain close proximity to the sea. Where they live, the open sea is roughly 6 hours away. Probably the affinity came from literature itself, as they also got their name from one of the main characters in Melville’s Moby Dick. This motif is being continued on The Coral Tombs as well, because here Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is the background which becomes clear from the first track already as it features the name of one of the main characters, ”Prof. Arronax’ Descent into the Vast Oceans”. If you still the perfect opener for a playlist devoted to epic sound journeys, this is your track, for it is harsh and full of brute force at the beginning but then after a few moments it develops into such a beautiful track that it gives one the shivers each time one hears it, for sure!
Generally the mix of harsh riffs, wonderful elegant guitar lines, Bluesy elements and a tinge of Prog Rock all under the warm cloak of Funeral Doom is done to utter, breathtaking perfection on The Coral Tombs. There are moments of pure wilderness with blastbeats reigning and cascading upon the audience. Then one witnesses the parts when some humongous heavy riff is laying its dark shadow over us. Furthermore, the songs are enriched with such a wide array of moments to catch your breath, when all the heaviness disperses and some mellow guitar lines take over, with only a few sparse synths underneath them but without the rhythm section support to keep this song afloat. ”Mobilis in Mobili”, “Ægri Somnia” or the aforementioned opener will become staples in Ahab’s live set because they all share these characteristics.
Oh, by the way have I mentioned that they also have two features on this record which are like matches made in heaven? They have Chris from Ultha on the opener delivering some wild but never weird parts and they close the album with Greg Chandler from Esoteric showing why many people believe him to be the best vocalist in the genre. And the best thing about these two features? They are great, yes, but they also show that Ahab’s own singer Daniel can keep up and make a case for himself as one of the most remarkable vocalists that Funeral Doom has to offer.
In short: Ahab are back at being one the best Funeral Doom bands out there. Let the oceans take over and reign supreme, with Ahab behind the steering wild one must not fear to drown, for keeping us afloat the vastness of fear-inducing depths they create songs and soundscapes to keep the audience safe and sane!