The Great Old Ones
Al Azif

Cthulhu mythos and Lovecraftian fiction have long been a part of metal, but in my experience it’s generally been in the realms of cavernous doom or gnarly, undulating death metal and typically a more nasty, disturbing musical representation of the subject matter. But here come France’s The Great Old Ones, and in typically elite French black metal fashion, render the subject matter with more elegantly discordant hues that have more in common with Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega and even more post black bands like Alcest and Les Discrets.

At the throbbing heart of The Great Old Ones‘ sound is lengthy songs that balance of ambient, shimmery, eloquent and often beautiful black or grey metal and a bursts of atonal slithering black metal like their nastier, twisted country mates. And it comes together perfectly to form one of the more striking new French black metal bands I’ve heard since the country erupted a decade or so ago. While the subject matter is often linked with nastier, more filthy music, The Great Old Ones are still able to convey the mood of slithering tendrils and monstrous otherworldly beings , albeit with a more hypnotic and atmospheric delivery. Though still haunting and oppressive, Al Azif (the original Arabic name for the Necromonicon) manages to add an air of swaying, ethereal majesty to the undulating, pulsing aura.

And boy is the end result impressive. Al Azif is a truly mesmerizing effort that instantly catapults The Great Old Ones into French black metal’s upper echelons. The six songs all range from 6-10 minutes and each offer up commanding and varied mood that require active, attentive listening. From the opening doomy throes and subsequent Blut Aus Nord styled atonal gallop of the opener “Al Azif” through the demented shifting beauty of “Rue D’ Auseil” to the sprawling 10 minute closer “My Love for the Stars (Cthulhu Fhtagn)” , the album has a dreamy but still paranoid presence of gorgeous celestial enormity colliding with unspeakable , unnameable horrors. Distant screams and shrieks tell the tale of a descent into madness as the music weaves and shimmers with the gaze of a thousand eyes. The oft use ambient segues only serves to build a beautiful tension as you wait for the next spiraling riff into insanity.

Like many of their peers, Al-Azif isn’t so much an album, so more of a ritual or sonic incantation. The crisp but still, distant and suitably ethereal production lends itself to the overall majestic but horror filled aura, so do you self a favor and get Al Azif and join Jonas Markham’s journey as he sinks deeper into the mouth of madness.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
May 7th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: Timmy

    Yes! Great release! Good job for locating it so quickly, Erik! This one will turn some heads if it gets the exposure. Could be a top 10 of the year for me, and I’m not even a big fan of the current French scene, generally speaking.


  2. Commented by: Stiffy

    This seems like my thing. I need to get this.


  3. Commented by: Cal

    Thanks for the review – really enjoying this album.


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    fiiiiiiiinally getting around to this aside from the one or two tracks Gordeth played me on turntable, this is fantastic. I love how majestic and surprisingly beautiful this is at times – reminds me of similar work from Wodensthrone or Blut Aus Nord (as you mentioned). Late entry to top 20 for me.


  5. Commented by: E. Thomas

    yeah- had to revisit this and it will sneak on to mine too


  6. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Got the new one, Tekeli-li for review in the mail today


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