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Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Review

General Information:

Artist: Ahab
Album: The Call of the Wretched Sea
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Funeral Doom
Released: 2006
Length: 67 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Deviant Records, Napalm Records

Track List:

01. Below the Sun
02. The Pacific
03. Old Thunder
04. Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
05. The Sermon
06. The Hunt
07. Ahab’s Oath

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Cover

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Cover

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Review

The Call of the Wretched Sea is the debut album of German funeral doom metal band Ahab. By combining one of the most niche subgenres in heavy metal with their interpretation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Ahab create a gripping atmosphere which holds ones imagination as they take you on a voyage of murky obsession.

The atmosphere really is the key to The Call of the Wretched Sea and this even extends to the vocal performance of Daniel Droste, who performs death growls at a staggeringly slow pace that, at times, gives the impression that his voice is part of the soundscape rather than a focal point of the music as you would expect in most other forms of music. This is of course detrimental to the lyrical aspect that they are praised for because if you want any chance of comprehending them then you will need to have the lyrics in front of you when listening to The Call of the Wretched Sea.

Ahab have their sound expertly crafted, that much should be self-evident to any listener early into the album, but their song-writing still leaves something to be desired. This album is 67 minutes long and there isn’t nearly enough variety to justify so much material, especially when five of the songs are upwards of ten minutes long and mostly rely on the same simple approach to playing – the lack of melody or memorable riffs blurs everything into one overly long song. The only exceptions are Old Thunder, which delves into the somewhat more up-tempo territory of the death-doom hybrid genre and the second is the interlude Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales which leads directly into The Sermon to create a two part song with the drastic change in sound being half the reason it stands out as much as it does.

There are some other sections sprinkled throughout the album in an attempt to diversify their sound and the first example of this is the highly memorable ambient introduction to Below the Sun that is followed by a thunderous shift to metal as ushered in by drummer Cornelius Althammer. The Sermon contains an extended break in the middle of the song that conjures a compelling stormy sea setting that departs entirely from metal. By using recordings of wind interwoven with minimalist clear guitar playing and a spoken word performance that sounds like it has come from an ancient recording Ahab effectively demonstrate what they are capable of doing outside of the realm of metal.

A better balance of these elements, as well as cutting down the overall length of The Call of the Wretched Sea, would have gone a long way but if you want a metal album that truly does bring atmosphere to the forefront then this is an ideal starting point.

Performers:

Daniel Droste: Vocals, Electric guitar
Christian Hector: Guitar
Stephan Adolph: Bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Cornelius Althammer: Drums

External Links:

Ahab Homepage
Ahab on Wikipedia
The Call of the Wretched Sea on Wikipedia

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Gojira Magma Review

General Information:

Artist: Gojira
Album: Magma
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Groove Metal
Released: 2016
Length: 44 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Roadrunner Records

Track List:

01. The Shooting Star
02. Silvera
03. The Cell
04. Stranded
05. Yellowstone
06. Magma
07. Pray
08. Only Pain
09. Low Lands
10. Liberation

Gojira Magma Cover

Gojira Magma Cover

Gojira Magma Review

Magma is the sixth album by French heavy metal band Gojira. By their own standard, Gojira are far more subdued and concise on Magma than all of their predecessors with much of this being down to a conscious decision “to be a little punchier sometimes*”. The unfortunate passing of Joe and Mario Duplantier’s mother will also have undoubtedly had an effect on the mood of the album too.

Those familiar with the band will expect Mario Duplantier to unleash a percussive barrage at the start of The Shooting Star but instead the song breaks into a simple nu metal-esque guitar riff, rock drumming and monotonous chanting wrapped up in reverb. To their credit this well-worn style is done with a unique flare and as the first song it sends a message to long-time fans that Magma is going to have something different about it.

This isn’t to say that long-time fans will be alienated because the next three songs, Silvera, The Cell and Stranded leap right back into the groove metal sound that Gojira fans are listening out for, complete with the shouted vocals that are sometimes mixed with this new monotonous speak-singing style, but the death metal influence has all but evaporated.

Gojira tradition dictates that there should be a short instrumental track in the middle of the album and this time it comes in the form of Yellowstone, a 79 second garage rock jam doused in distortion that is, to put it politely, unfocused. Maybe the band was testing the waters or maybe they needed a new way to express themselves but in the end it comes up short. In contrast the acoustic song, Liberation, is a peaceful instrumental that is as stripped back as it gets with only a simple percussive beat to accompany the guitar. It isn’t how you’d expect the album to end but it is pleasant and quite possibly the most honest expression of some of the feelings in the band.

Between introducing a flute on Pray, flirting with new genres and taking a lighter approach to their own style Gojira are still far from a full-on metamorphosis like some bands have undergone. For this reason there is plenty here to appease the core fans while still being able to cast a wider net without overtly changing. Only time will tell if the band embraces these new characteristics or reverts back to their traditional sound.

Performers:

Joe Duplantier: Vocals, guitar, flute
Christian Andreu: Guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie: Bass
Mario Duplantier: Drums

External Links:

Gojira Homepage
Gojira on Wikipedia
Magma on Wikipedia

* http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/gojiras-joseph-duplantier-says-next-album-will-feature-some-pantera-ish-kind-of-riffs/ “We want [the riffs] to be a little punchier sometimes”

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Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

General Information:

Artist: Darkspace
Album: Darkspace III I
Genre(s): Ambient, Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Black Metal, Dark Ambient
Released: 2014
Length: 64 minutes
Language(s): N/A
Label(s): Avantgarde Music

Track List:

01. Dark 4.18
02. Dark 4.19
03. Dark 4.20

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

Darkspace III I is the fourth album by Swiss black metallers Darkspace. Aside from every album having similar cover art work and following the same numerical sequence for song titles, they also repeat the same challenging run time with overly long songs blended together by using dark ambient segments. On the surface this description makes Darkspace sound as though they’re following the same rigid pattern as their older output, which begs the question of what’s new?

Perhaps the most obvious change is in the recording quality because while Darkspace still insist on overloading the listener on high-density distortion, it doesn’t bare the same intensity of their earlier output and with Dark 4.19, their sound is refined to a significantly more accessible style that relies on simple and repetitive guitar riffs between the prevalent buzz-saw guitar and muffled blasting drum sections that can often go on for minutes at a time, which Dark 4.18 will acquaint you with soon enough.

All three band members are credited for vocal duties but this is by far the most irrelevant part of the album because not only are they so sparsely arranged throughout these monstrously long songs, they are also completely unintelligible and buried under a mountain of distortion so it’s impossible to make anything of them. The only exception to this is the use of a small sample from the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact on Dark 4.20

It’s also worth noting that this album is effectively a singular song broken down into three parts which are then stitched back together through the use of dark ambiance. In spite of the ambition and overall length of Darkspace III I, it would be a far cry to call this progressive metal due to the sheer repetition (if nothing else) and if it was to be cut down then you could easily have an album at half the length and twice the replay value.

In short it’s best to say that this is business as usual for Darkspace. Existing fans will probably be delighted by it and for everyone else it’s going to be a question of being able to put time aside to listen to it uninterrupted.

Performers:

Zorgh: Bass, vocals
Zhaaral: Guitar, vocals
Worth: Guitar, vocals

External Links:

Darkspace Homepage
Darkspace on Wikipedia
Darkspace III I on Wikipedia

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Sabaton Heroes Review

General Information:

Artist: Sabaton
Album: Heroes
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Traditional Metal
Released: 2014
Length: 37 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Nuclear Blast

Track List:

01. Night Witches
02. No Bullets Fly
03. Smoking Snakes
04. Inmate 4859
05. To Hell and Back
06. The Ballad of Bull
07. Resist and Bite
08. Soldier of 3 Armies
09. Far from the Fame
10. Hearts of Iron

Sabaton Heroes Cover

Sabaton Heroes Cover

Sabaton Heroes Review

Heroes is the 7th studio album by Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton. Following the announcement on 31st March 2012 that 4 members had simultaneously departed the band, lead vocalist, primary songwriter and now keyboardist Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström were saddled with the arduous task of reforming the line-up. With 3 new band members being brought into the fold it would be difficult to guess what would happen after such a heavy blow was dealt.

Heroes sees the sound of Sabaton moving away from the realm of power metal and drawing closer to traditional metal with their secret weapon, the voice of Joakim Brodén, being made the focal point of every song. His powerful and charismatic performance commands the listeners’ attention while bassist Pär Sundström and guitarists Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund all double up as backing vocalists to add a real anthemic quality with their gang vocal delivery.

Long-time Sabaton fans will be familiar with the lyrical content largely revolving around military history and Heroes is no exception although a slightly different approach is taken because each song is used to sing the praises soldiers who exemplified humanity, bravery and valour while often facing dire circumstances in historical battles.

The lyrics take on a central role in songs that are heavily informed by pop song structure and length so they can appear to be direct and nondescript. This is a hindrance from a storytelling perspective because they don’t always delve deep enough to explain the situation that these people find themselves in so if you aren’t familiar with them or the battle in question then you won’t be able to appreciate what Sabaton are trying to convey. However if you spend a few minutes researching the subject matter you will be able to apply your own knowledge to the lyrics and fill in the gaps yourself to bring greater meaning to the songs.

Aside from some lyrical short comings there is also a notable deficit between the guitar riffs played during the verse/chorus sections and the lead guitar parts that burst into life during the bridge on songs like Night Witches, Smoking Snakes and Far from the Fame. These moments are often accompanied by more exciting drum parts courtesy of Hannes van Dahl and there seems to be a recurring theme of their skills being downplayed in favour of the aforementioned focus on anthemic choruses.

The first 3 songs establish exactly what Heroes is about and while many of the others follow suit, Inmate 4859 takes on a much slower and darker tone to tell the story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish soldier who infiltrated Auschwitz as a prisoner to gather intelligence on the camp and the holocaust before escaping to report his findings.

To Hell and Back features the tasteful use of a (synthesised) flute and some minor folk influences without crossing over into folk metal while the power ballad, The Ballad of Bull, features a piano, choral singing and a string section that frames Joakim Brodén’s voice in an entirely different setting and works to great effect. This is easily one of the biggest highlights of Heroes and the total change of pace breaks up the albums flow without losing any of the power or conviction found in the other songs.

The emphasis on hooks and simple arrangements shows that these songs were written with a live audience in mind because that same essence of power and engagement found at a concert is captured on Heroes although a healthier balance between this and more moments that would have shown off the skills of the new band members would have yielded some more exciting (and varied) results overall.

Performers:

Joakim Brodén: Lead vocals, keyboards
Pär Sundström: Bass, backing vocals
Chris Rörland: Guitar, backing vocals
Thobbe Englund: Guitar, backing vocals
Hannes van Dahl: Drums

External Links:

Sabaton Homepage
Sabaton on Wikipedia
Heroes on Wikipedia