The Great Old Ones   

Al Azif

Les Acteurs de L'ombre 2012

France's black metal homage to the lord of arcane lore H.P. Lovecraft comes under the guise of The Great Old Ones.  A superficial glance across their album Al Azif draws direct comparisons to Wolves In The Throne Room, but there is so much more going on.  The title track begins with lumbering melodic riffs that are cyclopean in scale.  These become pierced by shards of disharmony and bring to mind shoegazers Year Of No Light.  But this only lasts for the first moment or so before a torrent of blasting black metal is unleashed, like streams of so many grotesque alien invaders descending on the world.  Atmospheric passages rise within this maelstrom only to disappear once again.  Visions of R'lyeh is more hyper black metal riffing with a mood of sorrow permeating the song.  At the 4:06 mark fragile shoegaze riffs and melodies summon feelings of an icy stillness.  A set of blackened riffs drifts over the top of this darkening the mood yet leaving the feeling unchanged.  The riffs that open Jonas are huge and plodding, like the footsteps of Cyclopean elder gods.  Speedy black metal blasts surge past those riffs.  There is a melodic overtone which is actually found on the whole album which lends a dreamlike quality to all the songs but is exceptionally noticeable here.  The track drops into a web of angular riffs and delicate guitar notes before once again racing into a whirlwind of black metal.  My Love For the Stars brings the album to its climax with alternate segments of intense black metal and fragile guitar passages and trilling melodies that conjure comparisons to a more straightforward Irepress.  On Al Azif essentially The Great Old Ones take the framework laid by bands such as Wolves In The Throne Room and marry it to post-doom shoegaze in order to cast a pall of gloom across their album.  This has the musical effect of mirroring the epic atmospheres of Lovecraft's literary work.  Don't listen to long to this abyss because it will listen back.