Review: AHAB 'The Boats Of The Glen Carrig'

Based on William Hope Hodgson’s 1907 novel about a horrifying shipwreck, The Boats Of The Glen Carrig is Ahab’s fourth studio full length, and after the meandering The Giant, I had high hopes indeed. I’ve been a fan of Ahab since the release of The Divinity Of Oceans, a towering, grim obelisk of a record, and was truly hoping …Glen Carrig wouldn’t be a disappointment. Luckily, Ahab are the boys.

In the great Ahab tradition, The Boats Of The Glen Carrig begins with the delicate lap of lost waves on a forlorn shore. Daniel Droste’s thoroughly German accent gives the clean vocals an unusual gravity, and it immediately becomes apparent that these are not the same murky, silt-ravaged brigands who dredged the great depths on The Call Of The Wretched Sea and …Oceans.

Opening with The Isle, which appears to be particularly close to the writing style posited by Hodgson, it is immediately clear that there’ll be more to these tracks than there was to The Giant; the atmosphere is one of grandeur and space, with less of a binary feel on the quiet/loud sections. Droste’s low rumble of a voice is on cracking form, and despite the obvious weight of the dirty guitars, the record feels like it’s got the roof off; there’s less claustrophobia about the production than there was on …Oceans, and much more life than the slightly flat …Giant.

These are long tracks-not Sleep long, but lengthy, with only middle track (and first single) Red Foam (The Great Storm) being under 10 minutes. Though some may read this, tut, and wave their arms in the air, if you saw the title and thought “I’d wager these chaps get in and out in 3 minutes”, this is incorrect. Part of the beauty of this record, and indeed this band, is that they’re not in any rush, and you’re going to get what they have to offer at the speed they want to serve it to you. No concessions are given to time, and while it is extremely easy for doom and its associative brethren to overstay its welcome, these songs are more like pieces, shape shifting gladly from one feel to another. While previous Ahab material has found a massive riff and flogged it thoroughly, …Glen Carrig wants to shake it up, and even when this phenomenon rears its head, it is aware, and moves on.

I must confess that the sheer force of The Weedmen puts it above the others, though this is a record that you can sit down with for its full duration, only to find at the end that your right leg is wooden, your clothes tattered by a thousand storms, with the foul taste of seawater in your mouth. I will state openly that, as a fan, I was hoping against hope that this would be a champion, and it is. It’s almost too much in one sitting, so vast is the weight and power on display here, but I urge you to equip your finest headphones, adopt the dooming position and join the crew of the Glen Carrig on this adventure.

Secure the fastenings, aye! Brace yourself! There’s more to it than meets the eye!

                                                                                                                              -The Thing That Made Search

Review: John Davidson


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