Released: 2012, Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
With Al Azif comes the debut full length album from French Ambient Black Metal band The Great Old Ones. Hailing from Bordeaux and comprising of 5 piece line up which includes 3 guitarists, the sheer wall of sound created by this band and rich array of interweaving guitar melodies creates something really intriguing and something out of the ordinary. The album is based around the story of the Necronomicon written of course by H. P. Lovecraft and this theme I think helps bring even more atmosphere to an already epic sounding album.
As well as having the faster more aggressive Black Metal segments to the music at times, the feel of the album also has a somewhat relaxed and atmospheric pace to it, making it one of those good albums to put on during a darkened evening and lose yourself to and reminds me in places of other great atmospheric Black Metal bands such as Wolves In The Throne Room. The production on the album is really great as well, the music is really allowed to breathe nicely and it really compliments the ebb and flow song writing style of the band whereby each song is more of a stage in the journey of the album’s story rather than being its own stand-alone entity. Whilst each instrument within the band has its own part to play, for this album they really seem to come together more as one cohesive and harmonious unit, fusing and morphing each melody line into a guitar chorus of darkness and doom.
On tracks like Visions Of R’yleh you can hear amongst the chaos of the blast beats and screaming Black Metal vocals that if you delve further into the mix then the guitars are creating almost harmonic choral melodies with each chord and lead riff that’s played and it makes for a really amazing listening experience. Jonas is another stand out track that has a really beautifully dark and doomy outro to it and blends Doom Metal style riffs that would normally be played over a slow drum beat with the faster Black Metal blast beats to create a really interesting song structure. The flow is then brought right down to a close with the intro of Rue d’Auseil which incorporates sombre string lines providing the low bass segment to the higher end melodic arpeggio guitar lines before exploding into a mid-paced heavy Black Metal segment and all the elements of light and dark come together to create a slow dirge that could quite literally summon Cthulhu himself.
The two closing tracks The Truth and My Love For The Stars (Cthulhu Fhtagn) really are like a slow funeral march for the end of the world and bring the album to an almighty and epic conclusion. The first track sounds very much like the kind of material you’d hear on Anathema’s Silent Enigma album as the vocals, guitar lines and overall slow, melancholic feel are very similar, whereas the closing track has a much more raw and darker Black Metal feel to it.
Overall this is a really great album to listen through to and if you choose to purchase a copy it will really be one that once you’ve started listening to it you’ll want to carry on through until the end. Each song on the album is not so much an individual entity as it is a step further and further into the bleak and dark unknown before the final plunge into the depths. For a debut album this is something really very impressive and I can’t wait to hear more from these guys, rest assured I think The GREAT Old Ones really do live up to their name with this release!
Review by Joffie Lovett