Friday the thirteenth might not be the ideal time to go sailing the seven seas, but nevertheless we cried ahoy and steered our schooner towards the shores of Antwerp to meet up with Captain Ahab and his mateys.
At the very last minute, local band Juneau was added to the bill to open up the stage for tonight. This threesome welcomed us to a short set of heavy, yet atmospheric instrumentals. With purely instrumental metal, it is always tricky not to have it sound like the vocalist accidentally called in sick today and the band just has to make do. You really need to let the music tell the story to captivate your audience. Juneau is a fresh band with just a demo and one release under their belt, so we can excuse them for not being up to the level of say Red Sparowes or Pelican just yet. But the promise is definitely and undeniably there. Especially, in the second half of their admittedly rather short set, they created more than a few moments where they successfully welded their heavy riffing and pounding drums into a more cinematic, storytelling scope that let your imagination drift away on the waves.
It’s been quite a few years since Ahab went to anchor in these parts. Pre-pandemic even, I would say. Earlier this year we had already picked up some sign of life from deep beneath the waves with their latest album ‘The Coral Tombs’. As usual, these German sailors base all of their music on stories from the sea: from Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ in their earliest works to Jules Verne’s equally timeless classic ’20 000 Leagues under the Sea’ for their latest album. This conceptual approach has led them to moniker their style as nautical funeral doom, and effectively Ahab is in a league of their own.
They opened up with the first single of that record ‘Mobilis in Mobili’ whose rumbling, funerary noise will awaken even the most slumbering behemoth at the bottom of the ocean. Then the band sailed right into the eye of the storm that is ‘Like Red Foam’, one of the heftier tracks of their previous album ‘The Boats of the Glenn Carrig’.
Next we got another cut from the Nautilus. The choice fell aptly on ‘Collussus of the Liquid Graves’ whose gargantuan kraken-like riffs definitely go down well in a live situation. Since it had been so long that we crossed paths with them in our lands, they threw in an old favorite like ‘Old Thunder’. ‘The Sea as a Desert’ was the third song they picked from their latest record. A balanced fit and not easy to choose when you play 10 minutes songs and people also clamoring for the old whales.
For the last two songs, they picked two absolute masterpieces from their debut and third album, respectively. With ‘Antarctica’ they revisited the expansive, frozen realm of their icy album ‘The Giant’. Before the band lifted anchor and departed once more towards new horizons, they treated us to a stunning rendition of ‘The Hunt’, which comes as close to funeral doom perfection as you could hope for.
Bon voyage, fellas, and don’t wait so long to land on these shores again.