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HELLFEST INTERVIEW WITH AHAB | FESTIVALPHOTO
 

HELLFEST INTERVIEW WITH AHAB

According to Hellfest’s depitcion, AHAB are “the kings of funeral doom, a strange and interesting genre that is able to create something so fantastic and captivating with a sedated tempo”. Couldn’t find any better description, but you better watch these guys live to understand the aims of their music and the paths you can be lead to thanks to their deadly, atmospheric vibe. Created in Germany around 2004, the actual members are Daniel Droste (guitar, vocals), Chris Hector (guitar), Stephan Wandernorth (drums) and Cornelius Althammer (bass). Today they have three albums running and a fourth to be released next month. We had a chat with Daniel Droste and Chris Hector hours before the venue to get to know them better, for they’re not a common band at all.

Festivalphoto: To those who don’t know much about Ahab, can you give us a quick introduction to the band?

Ahab: We are a German band of Nautic, Funeral Doom Metal, that title because all our lyrics are based on the sea. The name of the band comes from Captain Ahab, the main character of the novel Moby Dick. We’ve been playing for eleven years now and we are soon releasing our fourth album, called The Boats of the Glenn Carrig, which will be available in August this year. It is also based on a novel but we add our own message in it.

Festivalphoto: Tell me what the sea means to you. Your music seems to offer a deep journey into the water mysteries, but you depict it with melancholy, anguish and beauty. Which are your experiences with the sea?

Ahab: Well, basically child memories in the sea are very precious to us, and it always shows beauty but danger; the sea is mysterious and a good source of adventures. Real seamen call the sea “la mére” like if the sea was a female, beauty, strong and unpredictable.

Festivalphoto: We know you are not full time musicians. May I ask what do you make for a living? Would you ever switch to full time dedication to music?

Ahab: (Daniel Droste) I’m a therapist. (Christian Hector) I’m a comic and book writer for kids. No, we wouldn’t switch to full time dedication. We want to fully develop ourselves in other aspects of our life, focusing only on music is very tough, not our way definitely.

Festivalphoto: Well that’s very brave of you. You show a lot of personality by doing that.

Ahab: Thanks for the compliment. The nice thing of being part time musicians is that you don’t fall into topics like drugs or alcohol, and you are not on the road almost three quarters of a year. We have time for ourselves and music is more like a way of expression to us.

Festivalphoto: You are a band that must be listened all the way through to understand your process. The Giant is an album with hints of bluesy, softer songs even with a prog feeling and moving away from gutturals. Did you want to move a bit a part from the first works?

Ahab: I guess it was just a natural development. The aim was to create a funeral doom band, we didn’t want to focus whether on being extreme or soft, we’ve just evolved through a natural process.

Festivalphoto: Yeah, it is good not to get stuck in on type of specific music, better move on.

Ahab: Yeah, it is boring to always do the same thing. Many bands don’t like to do the same thing for years and they take risks, it is the same for us.

Festivalphoto: Many bands would like to move on but they go with the market flow and the fans needs.

Ahab: That’s not a problem to us because we are not full time musicians. We can risk on doing different stuff, our aim is to express ourselves, not doing what people wants. We set the start from funeral doom metal, but from there we move on.

Festivalphoto: do you expect to continue basing your lyrics only on nautical literature?

Ahab: Yes indeed. That’s a strong statement.

Festivalphoto: Well that’s great, you can introduce your fans to new sources of literature.

Ahab: Yeah, that’s a big compliment for us. Yesterday someone came to me saying he had bought a hard cover book version of The Boats of the Glenn Carrig and that proved we are doing a nice job and influencing our fans through our music and guiding them to other ways of expression.

Festivalphoto: Regarding the new album, tell me a bit about the creation process.

Ahab: We recorded all instruments in a “live” session except the bass drums. It was all easy and pretty fast, we had a great time.

Festivalphoto: not throwing any of the songs today?

Ahab: Noooo (laughs) we cannot, and we have not much time since all our songs are pretty long.

Festivalphoto: Damn it! We will have to wait then. Tell me a bit about your musical influences, which bands have hit you most in order to get where you are right now?

Ahab: We love all the dark death scene of the nineties. (Chris Hector) All Entombed stuff is great, Tirany, Esoteric, Shape of Despair… many of them! Kongh, a Swedish sludgy band is very good too. I don’t consider it a basic influence to me but I found them very fresh by then. Obviously Sabbath too, my father had some records I listened to when I was pretty young and it was my first doom stuff.

Festivalphoto: Thank you guys, it’s been great talking to you. We’ll enjoy of you out there in a couple hours.

Ahab: Thanks for your time, see you.


And the gig time came. The crowd was expectant for not many people knew what would happen. It was like a dream, they brought us to another world. This band has a breath taking presence on stage for no one expects they will perform in such a way.

Every song interlude had marine sounds and quotes of Moby Dick’s book, you could feel all the time you were lost in the sea, given to its will. The music flows like a white, hot magma willing to devour you. It was just four songs, but enough to drive us to a trance-mind state, one drum bit less and you would fall into cardiac arrest!
The Divinity of Ocean’s stroke the audience with powerful, slow riffs and suddenly sadness and despair became the most beautiful thing ever. Ahab has a great blending power for they nail any pace they choose. Daniel’s voice dribbled between the hardest guttural tones and the softer, gravest whisper. Like he was depicting the humours of Captain Ahab in his inner struggle, or the awakening and ease of a storm.

Their last anthem, The Hunt, summoned the crowd to levitate. One must admire the technical cleanness of this band, for playing slowly is way more difficult than playing fast. I must say Ahab is not appealing to everyone, but if it really penetrates you, you’ll have a one of a kind experience.

Writer: Beatriz Yoldi
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