Sound: As the warm, beautiful waves of Yet Another Raft Of The Medusa' wash over you, you begin to notice that Ahab have developed what appear to be feelings. Growing on what was mostly a thunderous pummelling of evil on their debut The Call Of The Wretched Sea', they've magnified the speckles of emotion by a factor of 10 and created a funeral doom album which is reminiscent of the sound of a Scandinavian doom band, at least more so than one of their native Germany. In fact small portions of The Divinity Of Oceans' don't sound like funeral doom at all; the guitar tones have been cleaned up, stopping Daniel Droste's growls from weaving into their echoing riffs and there's even an instance in Gnawing Bones' featuring pretty quick double-bass pedalling from the living breathing pun magnet that is Corny Althammer.
Whilst the production doesn't allow for the crunchiest of the crunch from the guitars, the heaviness still resides over all. Ahab's songwriting style often allows vibe-mongering lead melodies to peek through from beneath the foundation of rhythm guitars and Stephan Wandernoth's bass but as expected it is when the band come together in unison to riff like kings that things get truly down and dirty. They build monumental towers of melancholy and atmosphere through rich harmony before utterly decimating it with a monstrous riff like the one in Tombstone Carousal', and it succeeds as a formula. // 8
Lyrics: The main element which really helps the black cloud of grief that hangs over the album is the inclusion of clean vocals as a significant portion of all vocal parts (where Call..' only had the occasional moment). Droste's humble yet operatic voice perfectly complements the increasingly integral clean guitar passages and gives the heavy parts a wider variety of moods. I'd even go as far as to say the man's singing works so well that his growls seem weak in comparison, although that can also be attributed to the aforementioned mixing job. The lyrics remain near-indistinguishable despite this, though it is safe to assume that the album is heavily inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick'. The artwork (a painting by French romanticist Thodore Gricault') and the closing Nickerson's Theme' do seem to suggest the focus this time is not on the big, badass whale himself but instead some pretty tragic real events that inspired the novel. With this in mind, the sorrow found in the music digs much deeper. // 8
Overall Impression: The Divinity Of Oceans' is definitely a progression for the band; not so much a change of style but a change of perspective, a different angle. Whether or not it's an improvement on The Call Of The Wretched Sea' is difficult to say but despite its low tempos and length of over an hour, it does not feel like that long at all. It's a grower, and even between the beginning and end of writing this review I've come to realise that the funeral' tag is equally fitting here, through both typical genre descriptors and the overwhelmingly gloomy power the songs wield. They're certainly making their way now but I would not be surprised if Ahab became many people's gateway into funeral doom metal, as their sound relates to the Swallow The Suns of the world just as much as the Skepticisms. In any case The Divinity Of Oceans' is a great piece of work and is commendable in just about every department. // 9
- Duncan Geddes aka duncang (c) 2009