The German doom metal band Ahab sound absolutely gut-crushing on their new live album Live Prey, which is available now via Napalm Records and whose contents were originally recorded at a show that the band performed at Death Row Fest 2017 in Jena, Germany.
The guitars feel absolutely mountainous in their scope, and the repeating riffs hit with the force of huge waves smacking into the shore with earth-rattling force, to spin off the band’s guiding “nautical” theme. Every element blends into this force, including the cavernous, roared vocals, and the crushing drum and bass.
Live Prey contains songs taken from Ahab’s 2006 album The Call of the Wretched Sea, and on the new live album, the songs appear in an order similar to their ordering on the original 2006 LP. The new live album begins with the chest-thumping, fist-pumping intensity of “Below the Sun,” followed by the more directly forceful, thunderous riff-driven crush of “The Pacific.” That latter track evolves to feature more direct melody in the latter segments, but the soul-crushing nature of the music does not abate.
Significantly, the band expound upon their avalanche of heaviness with an element of somewhat wistfully exploratory melody.
“Old Thunder” feels like a particularly apt showcase of the band’s melodic bent. On that track, the band feature cacophonous but no less crushing onslaughts in which especially poignant, intricate drum patterns really get a chance to shine, as do the wave-like blasts of riffs that close out the song. At various points throughout the crests of the song, there is some real rich melody on the guitars too, and overall, the band forcefully intertwine attention-demanding melodic force with raw power.
The firmly crushing way in which the band proceed through their waves of crushing heaviness feels like if the 2019 thriller The Lighthouse had somehow been transformed into a funeral doom album—a feeling which comes into focus at moments like the opening of “The Hunt,” which actually features an audio sample from what sounds like a movie adaptation of the classic story of Captain Ahab and the great white whale, Moby Dick.
There’s a sense of huge grandiosity, and the sound of this record feels so gargantuan that the grandiosity becomes somewhat psychologically unnerving. Ahab consistently fill up the space of their unnerving performance with some real intense power that confronts listeners.