The incredible nature of The Great Old Ones majestic, sweeping and downright epic black metal was devastatingly apparent on their debut Al Azif - a record that saw them take flight into the musical world and in turn become one of the most talked about bands of 2012. The French quintet are an unassuming group though, and while they were deeply proud of their success, they never let it go to their heads and instead worked quietly towards a follow-up – the wonderful Tekeli-Li. Once again garnering its story from the works and mind of H.P. Lovecraft (this time taking in At the Mountains of Madness), the Bordeaux-based band have created a record that has as much depth and colour as their first album, but one that also stands above and beyond those initial achievements.
Tekeli-Li begins on the gorgeous, spoken word “Je ne suis pas fou” which sets the tone for the following sounds with dark, moody strings and an atmosphere that drips with a knowledge of the ages before “Antarctica” snaps into life on deep, weight-filled guitar work and guttural roars that play off the discordant harmony beneath. Soft moments of beauty open up the song to great expanses of rhythm which pass through the shadows of the track and out into the light and shimmering glare, a technique that continues into “The Elder Things” and further.
“Awakening” treads a doomier path in its beginnings, crawling out of the pitch black to take a hold while steadily moving towards a more complex route to finality. The Great Old Ones are adept at twisting their music into tight corners and then extracting small passages of grace from the darkness and this song is no exception. The ramped up, swirling early stages give way to a gorgeous, choral closing - one which is at odds with where the song started but one which also reflects the band and their motivations to take their listener on an sprawling journey.
“The Ascend,” despite its clumsy title, is a monstrous number which delves ever deeper into the madness of the title with clashing rhythms and guitars, disharmonic moments and curious sections of calm woven into the proceedings. Serene strings create an illusion of calm before “Behind the Mountains” uses the silence to force a break so huge that it almost takes the breath away. Sweeping gestures of truly enchanting guitar work lead the way to the inevitable end and harsh, screamed vocals play off against each other (Benjamin Guerry and Jeff Grimal) echoing the protagonists of the source work while the song stretches towards the climax and fades out into the yawning abyss that is the end.
Tekeli-Li is a record of constant sensation with each listen bringing with it something new to discover. There’s a lot to take in and this isn’t an album that can be gotten through once and then discarded. It’s something to lose yourself in, to explore and to learn the limits of the human mind from. The story this record is based on does not end very well at all, with characters losing their minds and seeing things no human should see. Tekeli-Li is only a small glimpse of that horror, and what lies beneath is more grotesque than we can imagine. The Great Old Ones take on that toll and come through the other side. Intact? We'll find out.
8.5 / 10
The influence of H.P. Lovecraft in popular culture is undeniable, and its presence in the metal genre is highlighted from classic Metallica tracks, to off-kilter acts like Blind Idiot God. ...
Posted June 22, 2019, 3:28 p.m.
The Great Old Ones have announced their upcoming fourth album, the follow-up to 2017's EOD - A Tale of Dark Legacy. The new album follows a Lovecraftian theme, aptly titled ...
Posted April 6, 2014, 7:20 p.m.
The latest from The Great Old Ones, Tekeli-Li, is now streaming online and can be heard here. CDs are available on April 16 and LPs on May 2.
Posted March 26, 2014, 8:19 a.m.
The Great Old Ones have put the song "The Elder Thing" online in advance of Tekeli-li's upcoming release via their bandcamp page, where the track "Antarctica" can also be ...
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