The Giant

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Germany's Ahab warned fans to prepare for imminent musical growth as they neared the release of third album, The Giant, but no one could be sure just how far the formerly steadfast funeral doom ensemble would waver from their predetermined course. The answer -- "not too far" -- at least comes swiftly (not a word typically associated with this lumbering crew), when the meditative gentility and frankly not overly confident melodic vocals of opener "Further South" duly give way to most of the familiar, heavier-than-God ingredients one has come to expect from this Teutonic behemoth. No, the true novelty here lies in Ahab's increasing willingness to rise out of those deepest ocean troughs, as often they wallow in it; there to swim amidst the more delicate ocean life in tranquil waters. So in keeping with the band's long-favored seafaring themes, let's just say that reliably protracted voyages such as "Aeons Elapse," "Antartica (The Polymorphess)," and the title track repeatedly surge and wane between these diametrically opposed forces of metallic turbulence and atmospheric serenity. Like titanic waves rolling across the ocean surface, thousands of leagues from the nearest shores, they crest with tsunami-esque power and then dip, more often than crash, into equally restrained troughs, taking whatever vocal intonation best suits them (sung, whispered, crooned, shouted, growled, roared, etc.) along for the ride. That Ahab is able to navigate those drastic transitions with relative ease (the aforementioned strained melodic vocals notwithstanding) is the true measure of The Giant's evolutionary success; that they produced enough quality material that something as stupendous as "Time's Like Molten Lead" has to be sidelined as a bonus track says even more. In sum, while a few purists may understandably refuse to depart from funeral doom's safest ports on what amounts to Ahab's most daring expedition yet, they will risk renouncing the prospect of amazing adventures exploring new horizons and the inconceivable riches resulting therein. With or without them, Ahab's will clearly set sail again and again into uncharted waters with their future albums.

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