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Ahab: Live Prey

I am frequently cautious about recommending live albums; I often find them inconsistent, bland, or unnecessary. There are some obvious exceptions to that rule, and this is one of them. Ahab’s Live Prey, the band’s first live album, makes for essential listening, especially if you are already inclined toward Doom, Black Metal, Funeral Doom, or just nautically inspired metal generally.

For those unfamiliar with Ahab, the band formed in late 2004, the same year that Mastodon released their own Moby-Dick inspired album, Leviathan. Unlike Mastodon, however, Ahab put aside their wildest impulses and focused on slower tempos, growled vocals, and minimal, haunting, melodies. The result is what some people call nautical funeral doom, the perfect label for this band. And yet, if you listen to Ahab, you might just put aside the labels and just enjoy the crushing power of superb riffs, haunting melodies, and just right growling. I say “just right” because the more I listen to growled vocals, the more I appreciate the way some vocalists lend their growls to the larger texture of the sound rather than stand above it all. If you want to know what I mean, just listen to “Ahab’s Oath” on this album and notice how the vocals seem to fall right into the middle of things and that they sometimes even fall just below the rest of the band. To me, that use of the vocals gives them a haunting power that adds to the depth of the music.

For those new to Ahab, this album makes for a nice introduction because all of the music is from the band’s first album. I thought that was a smart choice. These songs show off the band’s fascination with Moby-Dick and the sea perfectly. They also give the band a chance to play older stuff from a more seasoned perspective. The result is a strong album that just lets the music work its way out naturally. It also sounds great. The music here is clear and crisp and never sounds plodding or at war with itself.

As I wrote in the first paragraph, this really is essential listening. Ahab is a stellar band that needs much more recognition. Ahab is a strong band and they’ve clearly developed an approach to funeral doom that is engaging, haunting, and powerful. For a taste of the album, check out “Old Thunder” and “The Hunt,” but don’t stop there. This is a voyage you’ll want to experience in its entirety even if the captain is crazy and the whale is impossible to catch.

If you like what you hear, get on YouTube and check out some of the band’s live videos. If only this pandemic would end and we could catch these guys on the road!

Track Listing:
1. Below the Sun
2. The Pacific
3. Old Thunder
4. Ahab’s Oath
5. The Hunt

Added: August 19th 2020
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 549
Language: english

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