Monday, June 11, 2012

Embracing the Lightless Depths v. The Giant

Electric Funerals


When the genre is done well, I love funeral doom. The problem with being a fan of this genre is how impossibly difficult it is to determine which albums are worth your money and time. And they take up a lot of time. Listening to a few minutes on Youtube, or even an entire song, you could get a positive impression and make the purchase--only to find that the album as a whole is boring.

Faced with this problem, you have a couple choices. You can read reviews, or you can bet on a proven entity. Both of these choices leave something to be desired, because many funeral doom fans can't tell the good from the bad, and even the best purveyors of the doom will occasionally slip. But a comparative review of albums from two proven entities should give you the best of both worlds.

Profound Lore is a proven entity in every sense. Not only are they consistently great overall, they've also proven to be excellent in the funeral doom genre, with Loss's spectacular Despond and an expected release from the always-impressive Evoken. Likewise, Ahab is unquestionable. The German band set the benchmark for the genre with The Call of the Wretched Sea. Profound Lore has dropped Aldebaran's Embracing the Lightless Depths, and Ahab has returned with The Giant. Which one will prevail?

Aldebaran plays a style similar to what we know from Ahab. The album is sprawling, crawling death-infused doom with eerie, atmospheric leads playing over the top. The record consists of two half-hour dirges and three unsettling, lighter pieces breaking it up. Superficially, it's awesome, and there's no reason it shouldn't work. For some reason, though, it fades into the background. It's not crushing enough, not dynamic enough. They simply don't have the mastery.

Ahab, on the other hand, no longer sounds exactly like Ahab. They've found themselves in the unenviable position of incredibly high expectations, which they came so close to satisfying with The Divinity of Oceans. Rather than trying once again to top their debut, they've wisely chosen to change direction. This time around, they're far more melodic and more dynamic. The melodicism comes from instruments as well as clean vocals. They've even put hooks (!) in funeral doom (see "Antarctica the Polymorphess"). Increasing emphasis on melody and soft/hard or loud/quiet dynamics, they've managed to make the crushing parts that much more effective. It doesn't hurt that the songs only go on as long as they need to (averaging 10 minutes apiece).

The Verdict:
Embracing the Lightless Depths: 2 out of 5
The Giant: 4.5 out of 5

Embracing the Lightless Depths was profoundly disappointing. I find in favor of The Giant. With their evolution, Ahab have proven they have the staying power to be more than a flash in the pan.

Buy Embracing the Lightless Depths

Buy The Giant


  1. Thank you for this post. I look forward to picking up the new Ahab. "The Divinity Of Oceans" was my cherry-popping album for Funeral Doom, and I'm glad it was.

  2. I haven't been able to get into that new Aldebaran album at all, which is totally disappointing, as I remember their last album (Dwellers in Twilight) being quite good. You hit the nail on the head though; the album is good, but good doesn't cut it when you've got bands like Loss, Mournful Congregation and Evoken lurking out there.

    As for Ahab, I remember listening to The Call... back when it came out, but it didn't really grab me enough to make a purchase, let alone keep track of them over the years... perhaps I need to re-evaluate.