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Classic revisited

AHAB : The Divinity of Ocean

Let's be straight: I do not like this album. I gave it so many spins, I can at least say that it had its chance...

Géricault's masterpiece - Le Radeau de la Méduse ('the raft of the Medusa' – the "Medusa" being the name of a ship)- is a political allegory, an anatomical exercise as well as the artistic manifesto of Romanticism in painting. Le Radeau de la Méduse is a sensitive work, emotional and tragic... It reports a human experience of universal span (the sinking of the said ship and the fight for the life of its few survivors): It is a human drama - fear, despair, death, cold, starvation, cannibalism - that goes beyond time and culture. Everyone understands and shudders.
AHAB chose to transcribe in music this episode of the marine history; they chose to use Gericault's painting as illustration for the album's cover: a bad choice in my opinion. It is too famous, too institutional, almost bourgeois. AHAB belongs to the deepest underground. The underground mustn't flirt with institutions. The result is tepid at best. It repels more often. Personally, this choice of cover repelled me although I recognize the aesthetic interest of the picture. But let's move on: what about music itself? Dramatic, tormented, full of fear and angst? Epic perhaps? Evocative at least?

Alas!! Really none of that! Where darkness would have been needed, where the piercing cry of man, alone in the vastness of the nocturnal ocean, should have been heard, only sorrowful lamentations echo. AHAB's music is a pain in the ass on this disc! Slow, slow, desperately soft, nothing standing out. Everything is smoothed in the monotony of the structures. Devoid of any true emotions, devoid of the intensity of the extreme human experience it claims to transcribe, 'The Divinity of Ocean', by dint of sentimentality, gives birth to a sea of oil softly moved by languid undulations where I wished I would have seen gigantic threatening waves rising before me.

AHAB was an extreme Death Doom band of the best kind, it has mutated into a sort of romantic Death Doom, tinged with a melancholy that sounds artificial. The clear voice of Daniel Droste is really poor and brings no shivers, though, his Death growls admittedly remain some of the most remarkable within the genre. There remains some interesting guitar patterns and some proud bursts of Doom Metal like on 'Gnawing Bones' and 'O Father Sea' especially; but along 67 minutes of music, this quite unsatisfying and, ultimately, I tend to find this second full-length of the German band irrelevant.

However, if we consider 'The Divinity of Ocean' regardless of the painting and the story it miserably fails to tell us, then I can grant the album an oddity of its own and original mellow moods. Put the whole of it back in the context, including that of the band's past history, it is nothing but a deception.

Reviewer's rating: 5.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Yet Another Raft of the Medusa (Pollard's Weakness)
2. The Divinity of Oceans
3. O Father Sea
4. Redemption Lost
5. Tombstone Carousal
6. Gnawing Bones (Coffin's Lot)
7. Nickerson's Theme

Duration : Approx. 67 minutes.

Visit the AHAB bandpage.

Reviewed on 23-12-2009 by Bertrand marchal
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