After The Fall
The cover art for After The Fall—the debut album from Milwaukee’s Ahab’s Ghost—could have been cribbed from a ’70s high-school stoner’s notebook. Mountains spiraling into the sky? Check. A badass goat staring into your very soul? Check. Hell, even the font used for the band’s name is straight out of a tattered copy of Circus. It should come as no surprise, then, that the group counts metal legends like Maiden and Sabbath as its primary influences. Ahab’s Ghost doesn’t reach the lofty peaks of those devil-horned titans, though it does turn in a promising—if sometimes uneven—freshmen effort.
Thundering riffage and pummeling drums are the order of the day for the band, though its most distinctive instrument is vocalist Joe Widen. More Jello Biafra than Ozzy Osbourne, Widen is a capable singer, though he’s far from a conventional metal frontman. That disconnect makes for a somewhat rocky introduction: Openers “Breathing Poison” and “Slag” awkwardly straddle the line between punk and metal, and seem strangely unsure of themselves. The overclocked “Straight To Hell” is an improvement, though the otherwise charming sloppiness found on this and other early tracks is constantly at odds with the album’s too-clean production. Happily, After The Fall takes a dramatic turn for the better in its heavier back half. Riff-monsters like “Heavy Metal Machine” and “Satisfire” are straight-up sludge winners, and the anthemic “Covered In Blood” is equally noteworthy. The frantic final 90 seconds of “Double Blood,” meanwhile, stand as the album’s finest moment.
Unlike other Milwaukee groups that worship at the black altar of metal and/or schlock rock—Northless and Drugs Dragons, for instance—Ahab’s Ghost plays things fairly safe, a tactic that ultimately produces mixed results. After The Fall is a solid effort, but a few more scribbles in its margins wouldn’t hurt.
(Ahab’s Ghost celebrates the release of After The Fall Saturday, March 31 at Quarters.)