Lovecraftian lore, like many other dark elements, has become a vital component in heavy metal over the years. Songs and records have been based on H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of horrors, including a few tracks by Metallica, and it works just perfectly to create a sense of charnel wonder in the genre. There even are bands that base their entire existence around Lovecraft, and we have one of the better ones today.
French death and black metal squad The Great Old Ones, who take their name from the mysterious deities now at rest who once ruled the Earth (the vaunted Cthulhu is included in that group), are one of the more fascinating and crushing on the earth. They’re back with an excellent, mind-warping new record “EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy” that further unfurls Lovecraft’s creations and weaves them into their mesmerizing mix of black and death metal. EOD, of course, stands for Esoteric Order of Dagon, a fictional cult in the Cthulhu mythos, and the eight songs on here wrap their tentacles around you and pull you into an outer space hellscape. This, their first record for Season of Mist, might be the first opportunity many people have to hear the band, and if so, get ready for a heavy experience you can’t really relate to anything else. Your mind and body will go for a journey, likely ending right at the heart of Innsmouth.
The Great Old Ones first unfurled their mission to celebrate Lovecraft’s creations in 2009, putting out their first record “Al Azif” three years later in 2012. They started to gain momentum in 2014 on their excellent second album “Tekeli-li,” and since that time they’ve awakened Season of Mist to their massive wares. The band—guitarists/vocalists Benjamin Guerry and Jeff Grimal, guitarist Xavier Godart, bassist Sébastien Lalanne, and drummer Léo Isnard—put a strange, yet alluring touch to their music. What they do is heavy and brutal and can turn your bones to dust. But they also capture the imagination and transport you to these dark times, where unimaginable horrors await, things that would make you expire in your meat suit if you ever were to encounter them.
“Searching for R Olmstead (introduction)” is a quick beginning cut, 26 seconds with a narrator noting, “I’m finally here,” referring to Innsmouth, and then it’s into “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” a track that’s deadly right off the bat. Savage growls and a steamrolling pace launch, while melodies and atmosphere roll in the chaotic scene. The song continues to slither along, as the vocals scathe and the song finds another level of terror. Wrenching punishment swims with fiery playing, as air rushes into the room and sweeps away the horrors. “When the Stars Align” has a steady black metal-style riff, and that’s amplified by a blistering pace and vocals that rip apart any sense of serenity. Spacious playing adds more adventure, and even though the song goes calm for a stretch, that’s overrun by gruesome heaviness, chilling choral calls, and a final dose of bruising. “The Ritual” runs 9:31, with rhythmic drumming leading into the ceremony and sounds spilling over that. The song is torn apart eventually, with a storming fury mixed with moody playing, twisting up emotions. Later, a terrifying assault is carried out, again delving into black metal seas, while the back end rushes with vicious vocals and a thundering pace that’s eventually washed away.
“Wanderings” is another brief track, the breather at the center point, with our narrator saying, “My soul wanders into nothingness.” “In Screams and Flames” is a death eruption right away, with the band thrashing heavily and the leads cutting through stone. The melodies ride high but eventually wash into the background, almost as if they’re disappearing into a watery grave. Crushing drums awake the beast, as the song is ground into dust, and spacey madness spill out from the other side. “Mare Infinitum” is the longest track at 10:55, and its bed of eerie noises chills the flesh before the power ignites, and the band delivers a slow-driving thrashing. Everything later is pushed into a tornado of noise, causing hypnosis and panic, and out of that comes vicious crunch, more black metal-style guitars, and the final threads slowly falling to the ground. Closer “My Love for the Stars (Cthulu Fhtagn)” is a fittingly odd ending, with acoustic guitars, clean singing, and echoey, ghostly apparitions. Pianos drip in, smearing the lights, while wordless calls spread, organs give a gothic glow, and the track ends suddenly, almost as if swallowed whole by a great monster.
I was predisposed to pay attention to the Great Old Ones when I first learned of them several years back based simply on my adoration of Lovecraft tales, and it was a huge plus when it turned out their music is destructive and massive. “EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy” keeps the screws turning and continues to expose the late author’s horrific work in their twisted and cataclysmic music. The Great Old Ones are an entity that exists in a strange place where few others inhabit, and they’re the unquestioned rulers of that realm of existence.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thegreatoldones
To buy the album, go here (North American store): http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/
Or here (International): http://shop.season-of-mist.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/