H.P. Lovecraft, amongst other similarly influential horror writers, has become something of a worshipped legend in the world of underground extreme metal lately. Countless bands from the black metal and death metal scenes have made it their career to attempt to focus whole albums on particular novellas and short stories, especially those which have now made Lovecraft a household name in horror fiction. However, few bands manage to pull such a creative opportunity off and often wander aimlessly when they should be dedicated to making a conceptual album the best they can. Thankfully, this hasn’t affected France’s The Great Old Ones, who have now created three excellent records based on various pieces of Lovecraftian literature. The band began their spiralling ascent into success via sophomore effort Tekeli-Li, a record which managed to creep its way into many “Album of the Year” lists because of its sheer mesmerism and ever-improving musical creativity. Now with the release of latest effort EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy, the band are once again ready to embark on even greater journeys into the unknown, just like the story the album is based upon.
EOD certainly matches the quality of its predecessor, but in wholly different ways. Firstly, the album isn’t quite as lengthy. Seven songs-two of which are narrative interludes, spanning 44 minutes does not in the slightest sound like the work of an epic record, but thankfully that notion is wrong. From the opening storm of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” to the closing memoriam of “Mare Infinitum”, the band recognise their strengths and mould them into fresher, slightly progressive forms of extreme metal. The band haven’t necessarily become a different monster, rather they have honed the musical and creative success of Tekeli-Li and embarked on a more vicious, albeit more restrained style than one would be used to hearing. “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” for example, is blastbeat-ridden for the first half, yet the rest of the song seems to rely on this expansive, atmospheric universe where brilliant guitar-focused passage give way to a more bombastic performance, all the while maintaining that sense of grandiosity which made TGOO’s past works so successful. “The Ritual” is notably a more progressive, passive number, but one which utilises excessive doom-laden chords and stretches them into haunting atmosphere, whereas closer “Mare Infinitum” invokes more classical musicianship with the inclusion of violin-led passages, whilst at the same time etching black metal influences in the right places.
However, just like Tekeli-Li and, more to the point, many of Lovecraft’s stories, EOD has been designed to be an immersive experience for its audience, and for that reason alone, the album can’t merely be listened to with a song-by-song detailed approach in mind. Rather, it has to be taken in as a whole, an atmospheric conceptual voyage into the writings of Lovecraft and TGOO have matched different tones and emotions to the right songs and instrumental deviations. “The Shadows Over Innsmouth” and “When the Stars Align” feel like galactic, aggressive numbers because of their relation to the moments when a particular character is fearing for their lives. “The Ritual” is slower because it recognises the more historical and ancestral moments of Lovecraft’s characters, and “Mare Infinitum” feels so climactic and open-ended because it does indeed seem like the musical equivalent of a voyage into Lovecraft’s own idea of an unknown, blackened hell. The point here is that TGOO have maintained their coverage of a particular work of horror fiction and honed it to match their own musical style, and have done so flawlessly.
EOD is thus an album made for the purpose of being an utterly immersive experience, and even more importantly, an album which has taken every detail of Lovecraftian fiction and matched it to an engulfing soundscape. The adventurous nature of this album is not necessarily because of its components on their own, rather because of the general impression one gets from the experience of having listened to the album in full. It really is an improvement on TGOO’s musical expansion in that respect, and despite it not being quite as lengthy or indeed as instantly accessible as Tekeli-Li, it still deserves the audience’s attention without distractions.
Released: 27th January, 2017
- Searching for R Olmstead
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth
- When the Stars Align
- The Ritual
- In Screams and Flames
- Mare Infinitum