For black metal, the genre has had a long standing relationship with the occult. Themes that centre on hell, Satan and misanthropic horror aren’t uncommon. It’s therefore incredibly fitting that THE GREAT OLD ONES focus their themes entirely on the works of HP Lovecraft. 2017 sees the arrival of album number three, EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy, but does this new offering create a soundscape that accurately represents the morbid visions of Lovecraft‘s work?
Serving as an audio sequel to Lovecraft‘s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, which focuses on the mythos of the old ones and forms part of the now culturally iconic Cthulhu Mythos, from the offset THE GREAT OLD ONES have a strong theme of darkness and horror running throughout the record. Instantly, the influence of Lovecraft‘s work is heard through introductory track Searching For R Olmstead, a 26 second foray into a soundscape of horror. From there, the album roars into life through The Shadow Over Innsmouth which barrages the listener with blastbeats from Léo Isnard. Standing at a mighty nine minutes and twenty five seconds, the track itself is monolith in size, scope and scale. For the most part, the listener is exposed to the traditional black metal sound; ferocious riffing, copious amounts of blastbeats and venomous snarls from dual vocalists Benjamin Guerry and Jeff Grimal. However, it’s when THE GREAT OLD ONES utilise melody that the impact of their journey into the abyss truly hits home. Melancholic riffing and haunting melodies ensnare you, and the sheer weight will consume you.
Serving as one of the shortest tracks on the album, When The Stars Align offers blistering speed for a large portion of the track’s duration. It’s typical black metal and it’s been heard aplenty throughout the genre but it’s the closing sequence that truly helps the track stand on it’s own two feet. Boasting drumming that is intoxicatingly catchy and fused with operatic elements, dread and ominous looming doom is built up consistently that washes over you like an oceanic wave. The soundscape is absolutely enormous and it’s hard to be swept up and carried adrift.
The Ritual creeps in with ritualistic drumming, akin to that of what we saw with ROTTING CHRIST last year, and combined with a solitary haunting riff the atmosphere is suffocating. As each element of THE GREAT OLD ONES‘ sound is introduced, the atmosphere intensifies. The solitary pound of the riffs fused with demonic shrieks really enforces the sense of dread here and makes for a welcome change of the pace to the blistering first half of the record. The pacing here doesn’t feel out of place and climatically builds as the listener descends further into Lovecraft and THE GREAT OLD ONES‘ nightmares. In fact, probably the strongest aspect to EOD: A Tale Of Dark Legacy is the record’s ability to maintain such a haunting and barren atmosphere. The spoken words element behind Wanderings serves as a fitting opening to In Screams and Flames that whips the speed of the band’s sound up several notches as the listener is barraged with another dose of blastbeats and tremolo riffing. The balance of pace is key for black metal to keep your attention and in this record, THE GREAT OLD ONES do more than a formidable job of maintaining your undivided attention.
By the time the emphatic finale of Mare Infinitum subsides into silence, it’s clear that with EOD: A Tale Of Dark Legacy has more than delivered on creating an atmosphere that replicates and continues the nightmarish visions of Lovecraft himself. This is a record packed with dread, horror and fear for the ancient powers of the mythos. Musically, the black metal style on show here is done by the book and given the sheer importance of the subject matter, the style only bodes to enhance the band’s impact in delivering their tale. THE GREAT OLD ONES have delivered a record that will suffocate you as you traverse the nightmarish plains of Lovecraft‘s world.
EOD: A Tale Of Dark Legacy is set for release on January 27th via Season of Mist.
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