Inspiration from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft is nothing new in metal circles.
But this French black metal crew take it to a whole new level, devoting everything from their band name, to their image and all of their musical output to the original master of darkness and the worlds he created.
The album starts with a short intro piece that feels like a welcome into an upcoming nightmare. Billed as ‘ambient’ black metal, right from the get go I would go closer to calling this progressive black metal album, and yes, I said prog and BM in the same sentence.
At this point you should be interested if you are a fan of either genre, because the mixing of both here is brilliant. Beginning proper with ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ The Great Old Ones waste no time proving their dark credentials. It is in the heart of this very first track that the prog beast shows its hand, sweeping and swaying, holding you in its darkened embrace from around the three minute mark until its final death knell a little over six minutes later.
This here is the key. Most of the tracks have an epic run time on this album, but none of them feel overly lengthy while demanding your full attention at all times. ‘The Ritual’ is a great example, opening with a tribal drum beat before an ethereal guitar tone comes slowly over the top, then keyboards begin and you are lost in the song as it ebbs and flows along gracefully. Closer ‘Mare Infintium’ is mesmerising, like being finally and completely enveloped by Lovecraft’s magic and his darkness and forebodings.
The only real gripe is that the vocals are so deeply buried with in the mix, sometimes making it hard to follow what is going on while the instruments sound so well produced. If you have ever wanted to hear Lovecraft put to music in a way that matched his darkened prose, though, here it is.
1. Searching For R. Olmstead
2. The Shadow Over Innsmouth
3. When the Stars Align
4. The Ritual
6. In Screams and Flames
7. Mare Infinitum