Friday, 23 March 2012

The Great Old Ones - Al Azif

THE GREAT OLD ONES - Al Azif (LADLO Productions - CD 2012)
Only just recently I was listening to the excellent album from Australian band called Memoria, which delivered an astonishing dose of atmospheric and sort of post black metal music and now yet another unknown black metal band attacks my “chamber of annihilation” (hehe) and it’s a French band called The Great Old Ones. The moniker do not ring a bell at all, which is not a surprise really, as the band was only just formed in 2009 and now debuts with a first album, called “Al Azif” through LADLO Productions. Well, just like with Memoria, yet again I didn’t have a clue what to expect from this band, but now I am quite excited about their music. I can actually put both bands in the same box of atmospheric post black metal, but at the same time they do have many differences (like The Great Old Ones do not use any clean vocals), which only proves how vide and interesting this black metal subgenre is.
The Great Old Ones is first and foremost a black metal band and as such they do not want to skip all those ingredients that make black metal the most evil sounding and nasty genre in the world. And so you’ll find here many raw sounding and furiously fast parts, with obligatory fast drumming and shrieking vocals of Benjamin Guerry. Such fragments are present quiet often and I like it, as it gives the music more uncompromising and intense feeling. But since I labelled the music as post black metal, this must mean that The Great Old Ones is not just a standard black metal band and trust me, they’re not. Among all those more classic sounding parts, you’ll spot many things, which will distinguish the band from 99% of the others. First and foremost it’s the song structuring here, which is incredibly rich and multi layered. The band arranges the song in very interesting way, putting an extra attention on long instrumental passages. The guitars may be playing fast parts through few minutes, but they do so in the most interesting way, creating a proper mood and often changing the tempos and style of riffs into calmer, sometimes almost rock sounding ones, which sounds really great (but that’s not as calm as say bands like Alcest do, it’s way rawer). There are some softer parts like the one at the beginning of “The Truth”, which has some more acoustic and melodic playing, but this is the whole beauty of this style. No way is this one dimensional music and as such it may find as many allies as foes, but personally I consider myself as an enthusiast of such playing. I find it as amazing how black metal has evolved through the past two decades, into so many different hybrids and this one – post black metal – belongs to one of the most interesting ones, as hardly anything else can bring so many emotions and be so atmospheric and dark. This is way better than yet another primitive and boring raw black metal.
Think of the likes of Altar of Plagues, Wolves In the Throne Room, Wodensthrone and Krallice… and The Great Old Ones basically in the same league, both quality and style wise. There are six very long tracks (with about 55 minutes in total) and definitely it is not music to listen to in parts… You need to be with it from the start to finish and delve its atmosphere fully. So, it only depends on your whether you like such kind of playing or not. But if I was about to recommend you any new bands, then definitely The Great Old Ones, as well as Memoria I mentioned earlier, would be that kind of band. Check it out.
Final rate: 80/100

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