Monday 3 August 2015

AHAB - The Boats of The Glen Carrig (Album Review)

Release date: August 28th 2015. Label: Napalm Records. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Boats of The Glen Carrig: Tracklisting

The Isle
The Thing That Made Search
Red Foam (The Great Storm)
The Weedmen
To Mourn Job

Band Members:

Daniel Droste: guitars, voices
Christian Hector: guitars
Stephan Wandernoth: bass
Cornelius Althammer: drums


AHAB are back with a breathtaking new album, and one that for my reckoning is already a contender for Album Of The Year.

"The Boats Of The Glen Carrig" based on the William Hope Hodgson novel of the same name from 1907 tells the tale of the ship "Glen Carrig" and it's crew of survivors in the aftermath of a ship wreck and their efforts to survive in what the novel refers to as the "land of lonesomeness"

The opening track "The Isle" starts with beautiful clean guitars with the deep vocals of Daniel Droste lamenting "It's been five days in these boats of The Glen Carrig" as the track builds and swells until the full band join in and it feels like the track and the journey AHAB are about to take you on has started in earnest.

For me that's one of the most special things about this record, the way that AHAB are able to lure you in and immerse you in the story they are telling with their music, so much so that around the 5.25 mark when the pace slows again, I'm sure I can hear the ships timbers creaking and the waves lapping against the sides. The song builds back up impressively and a riff comes in at around 8 minutes, that's so heavy I could listen to it for weeks. (And I have been).

2nd track "The Thing That Made Search" starts in similar fashion with more of those impressive clean vocals over a passage of music that wouldn't be entirely out of place on a Porcupine Tree record. Beautiful vocal harmonies are showcased and the guitars and bass stand out clearly during the opening few minutes as the music gently tails of. Then riffs. So. Many. Riffs. Seamlessly dropping in quieter passages before lurching back into heavier sections, this really is one of the standout tracks on the album.

Up next is "Like Red Foam (The Great Storm)" the first and only track under ten minutes from the album, but that doesn't stop AHAB from showing us everything they're capable of and brilliantly mixes the heavy and clean vocals and thunders along at quite the pace before the next track.

And that next track "The Weedmen" really is something else. 15 minutes of perfect, aquatic doom goodness. As you can probably imagine this isn't the fastest track on the record (though by no means a crawl) it just gives the listener more of an opportunity to think about what's gone before and what's to come as the tale and the album near their conclusion. It is a beautifully written and performed piece of music and a credit to them that 15 minutes just slides past and before we know it we are onto the closing track of the album.

"To Mourn Job" starts again with a clean lone guitar and that voice, before the rest of the band start to build the tension with a hypnotic riff, before stomping on those fuzz pedals and the track kicks into life with a repetitive almost off kilter riff, that if you listen to it loudly enough (and you should) could actually make you seasick.

They keep this up for a good 8 minutes before the track almost returns to the start, with some gentle lone guitars which gradually builds into a well controlled crescendo before another painfully heavy and lurching riff which suddenly tails of into feedback and with that we're done. Job would be proud.

I've lived with this album for a couple of weeks now and have struggled to listen to anything else. It's a perfectly crafted, written and performed record that reminds exactly why I fell in love with music like this in the first place.

Go and check out the video to "Like Red Foam (The Great Storm)" here - and then head over to Napalm Records to pre order a record I firmly believe you need in your life.

Words by Simon Ross Williams

Thanks to Mona and Jon at Napalm Records for the promo. The Boats Of The Glen Carrig will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Napalm Records on August 28th 2015.