Reviews The Great Old Ones Al Azif

The Great Old Ones

Al Azif

The Great Old Ones hail from Bordeaux, France, and fuse a deep love and interest in the H.P. Lovecraft universe with the extremity of blackened metal. Forming in 2009 as a solo project, Benjamin Guerry soon added four other musicians to the fold and the band of today began to work towards their debut, Al Azif; an unyielding and assured beginning to the mythos of The Great Old Ones. Taking their name from the deities of Lovecraft’s work, The Great Old Ones are ancient gods and Al Azif is the sound of fury and might and a collective with a wonder for this world created so many years past.

Title track “Al Azif” cuts with abstract flourishes and a tone that at times is reminiscent of Altar of Plagues – but don’t be mistaken, The Great Old Ones have a definite and unique creation here. The style is epic in the truest sense of the word, with a maelstrom of densely layered textures giving way to the light of sweeping melody that transports to hidden depths and outer-reaches. Serene moments lie in union with bursts of aggression and harshly orthodox vocals sit over washes of gorgeous progression. The Great Old Ones have constructed a sublime harmony between swathes of post-metal influenced sound and the ruthless attack of true black metal with this first full length.

Al Azif explodes with gorgeous and shimmering guitar melodies; the trifecta of guitarists breathe life into each second and the twin vocals of Guerry and Jeff Grimal (both also on guitar, along with Xavier Godart) pulse with a heady confidence whilst cutting through sways of sweet despair, expanding into spaces created by pounding rhythms and abstract guitar lines. Glances of fury seep into the crashes of Léo Isnard’s drums, the tightly controlled beats laying a foundation of crushing pace during “Visions of R’lyeh.” Ambient textures encompass on “Rue d’Auseil,” a track of opposing forces; the tranquility of the initial stages is soon put to rest by the sheer force of sound, yet look hard enough and a gentleness can be found in the moving and hushed passages. “The Truth” flickers with touches of iridescent splendor and majesty bestowed from the depths of Lovecraft’s dense storytelling.

Ending our time with Al Azif and The Great Old Ones, “My Love For The Stars (Cthulhu Fhtagn)” splits open the elemental skies with wrath and passion. Relentless and severely beautiful this track binds together all that makes Al Azif such a delight to experience. Tenderly struck bass notes (Sébastien Lalanne) soak the desolate atmosphere whilst continually climbing sequences of guitar ring out across the waste. Screams permeate the desecrated cosmos and a slow fade into the swirling chasm of anguish is highlighted by symphonic structures and a slight hint of coarse feedback. Imposing and magnificent, The Great Old Ones are a powerful force in the realm of black metal. Extraordinary.

9.0 / 10Cheryl
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