“The Boats of the Glen Carrig”

By Dr. Abner Mality

The American author William Hope Hodgson was an unsung hero of the horror genre. He specialized in spooky tales of the sea and was a powerful influence on later writers such as H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. One of his more potent tales was “The Boats of the Glen Carrig”, which follows the adventures of lifeboat survivors who encounter islands full of weird monsters and other uncanny threats.

Who better to translate that tale to sound than Ahab, the German masters of nautical funeral doom? These slow motion savants have made a mighty splash in the doom ocean with their colossal albums like “Call of the Wretched Sea” and “The Divinity of Oceans”. Their last effort “The Giant” saw them listing to port a bit as they pursued a more post-metal style. But the marriage between Ahab and Hodgson’s eerie story seems natural and fitting.I’m a little confused because my promo has five massive songs on it, but the press sheet refers to seven, including a cover of Alan Parsons Project’s “A Turn of A Friendly Card”. Some sort of mess up? Nevertheless, the five tunes still provide more than an hour of ponderous aquatic doom.

There has always been a soothing quality to Ahab and that continues here. “The Isle” and “The Thing Which Made Search” start as calmly and gently as a tropical breeze, with  laid back clean vocals and relaxed sound. As you might imagine, the doom then comes crushing in, with those super growly vocals that are some of the lowest in the business. As incredibly heavy and thick as the doom is, I still don’t feel a lot of darkness or morbidity to it. This is an Ahab trademark.

“The Great Storm” (Red Foam) surprises by being relatively brief and quite pacey compared to most Ahab material. It’s a more driving, potent kind of doom. “The Weedmen” is a 15 minute epic with some of the most turgid riffs and grinding vocals this band has ever done, but mixed with more of that laid back and smooth post-metal feel. The last song I’ve got is “To Mourn Job” and this follows in the patterns of “The Isle” and “The Thing That Made Search’. It is somewhat anticlimactic, which makes me think once more I didn’t get the whole thing.

I think the best Ahab effort will always be “Call of the Wretched Sea”, an absolute funeral doom classic. “The Boats of the Glen Carrig” is not to be dismissed, though, and it tells a fascinating story of the sea. Land lubbers and experienced salts alike are encouraged to investigate further.