Doom veterans AHAB are back with their The Boats of The Glenn Carrig. It’s always a strange and slightly intimidating notion to review a new album by a veteran band, perhaps one whose music accompanied you while growing up. Such is the case here, as AHAB has been operating for more than ten years. All that being said, it is the task of the reviewer to review and so he has. So, what is The Boats of The Glenn Carig like? To draw on the cliche, imagine the full weight of that mythical prey Moby Dick crashing you on you wholly, drowning you in the dark, abyssal waters from which it came. This album bears the same punch and deceptive calm before the blow, the cool mirror of water before your world crashes down on you. And crash it does.
This is what this album is like: guitars lull you in with a promise of calm but also a threat of bone chilling cold. “The Isle” is a fantastic opening track: it opens with heart wrenching clean vocals and peaceful melodies. By the time the inexplicably heavy vocals come in, you are already entranced. All that is left is for the rest of the track, slow, ponderous and ruthlessly intelligent to masticate you in a slow grind. It is dotted with just enough calm passages to allow you a breath of air but not one that is long enough for you to forget where you are. In general, the entire album enjoys something which is quite rare among doom albums: a constant sense of location.
It’s always clear to us where we stand within the complete piece. This is achieved not only be repeating hooks that hint towards the overall track but also by clever pauses and tempo switches that allow you to reflect on and ingest the music that has come before them. One such example can be found near the end of “Like Red Foam (The Great Storm)”. The already deep vocals drop a few octaves lower, while the guitar screeches to a halt, sending overtones all over the place like so much road dust. This gives you a moment to catch your breath and think about the already massive amount of music you’ve listened to, right before the amazing crescendo of the track sends you reeling once again.
Not only are the separate structures of the tracks beautifully constructed but also the way the entire album works as its own structure. This is what confers that sense of location which we referenced earlier. The last three tracks are a great example of that: “The Weedmen” sets the final triplet off, with a more thrash sound introduced among its continuous riffs. “To Mourn Job”, one of the best named tracks and all around a strong candidate for best track on the album, hearkens back to the beginning of the album but goes even lower when it comes to vocals and overall timbre.
Lastly, “The Light in the Weed (Mary Madison)” is an almost completely quiet track that nevertheless succeeds in delivering a worthy and loud closing passage to to the entire album. It’s beautiful for more than its own sound. It’s beautiful because it somehow assists us in stomaching all that we’ve been through with the album, the journey inherent in this type of music. AHAB have succeeded in creating a complex and heavy album but one which doesn’t “hate” its listener, instead caring about its message and how it is presented. In a genre that is known for its obscurity and abrasiveness, that is a welcome change of pace.
AHAB – The Boats of The Glen Carrig gets…