Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-li - 2

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Artwork by Jeff Grimal

Just think “At the Mountains of Madness” turned into sound and you have the Tekeli-li album! The Great Old Ones, the band name indicates it, chose H. P. Lovecraft’s fiction as a conceptual background for their musical work. They are a five piece band from Bordeaux/France and formed in 2011.Tekeli-li is their second album following up their debut Al Azif (2012).

The album contains six tracks of which five are genuine songs, the first one is a short introduction with spoken words that leads you directly into a narrative situation and lets you know the following is meant to be a cohesive entity with an underlying concept, namely Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness”, plus it sets a mood of eeriness that won’t leave you throughout the entire album.

Stylistically The Great Old Ones blend black and post metal into dense heavy soundscapes to create atmospheres that perfectly fit the icy Antarctic wastes and the spine-tingling horror of encountering ancient alien species with all its implications of fear, confusion and insanity, exhaustion and sorrow.

There’s a raw, bleak black metal feel throughout, even in the more ambient moments, with stormy churning uproaring riffs and varying dynamics providing a constant presence of a piercing cold and a constant motion and shifting of atmospheres which is even enhanced by a myriad of subtler less spectacular (but thanks to a quality production effective) changes and contradicting, dissonant melodies and rhythms that add a slight but creepy sense of chaos and insanity.

Spoken word parts and acoustic moments are quite rare, but more frequent towards the end of the album in the last and longest track (17:50 min.) "Behind the Mountains" and belong to the the well-conceived structure of the album’s dramatic composition. They add depth and texture and give room for the huge climaxes.

With Tekeli-li The Great Old Ones created a brilliant sonic interpretation of Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. It’s a loving dedication and credit to the author. And so is the album artwork by band member Jeff Grimal (guitar/vocals). He totally catches what makes Tekeli-li unique and distinguishable: the constant swirling motion, the breathtaking flow of exciting events tamed, by a multi-layered and tight structure.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli​-​li - 1

Written by Zamaan Raza.

Artwork by Jeff Grimal

H. P. Lovecraft carved out a niche in horror fiction with his short stories on ancient cosmic terrors. The Great Old Ones, a black metal band from Bordeaux, tap into his Cthulhu mythos with supreme assurance. Their expansive, textured sound evokes a sense of astral majesty, in a stark contrast with the “other” Lovecraft-inspired band, Portal, whose claustrophobic pummelling elicits unease, a creeping dread.

Their second album, Tekeli-li is based on the short story “At the Mountains of Madness,” in which an antarctic expedition discovers an ancient derelict city, apparently once occupied by monstrous visitors from beyond the stars, only to awaken something that had lain dormant for aeons. The Great Old Ones capture a recurring theme in Lovecraft’s short stories, forbidden knowledge - men of science who learn things that are inconceivable to the human mind in form and scale, resulting in remorse and insanity respectively.

Photo by Jo T.

Their excellent debut Al-Azif was relatively lo-fi, and owed almost as much to shoegaze as it did to black metal. Tekeli-li is harsher and much more varied; the third track, “The Elder Things,” for example, is busy in a progressive kind of way, without ever feeling contrived or distracting; the best comparison I can think of is Cormorant’s debut album. “Antarctica” starts with a sludgy, bottom-heavy riff that recalls Celestial-era Isis, seguing into an atonal bees-in-a-bucket type affair that could be Blut Aus Nord. It’s only in the third minute that they begine to sound like themselves, but this time they pack more of a punch, with the drums and bass much higher in the mix. The final two tracks, “The Ascend” and “Behind the Mountains” are closest to being straightforward black metal, but at no point does it feel like the band is running out of ideas.

It is difficult for high-concept bands to maintain their central conceit over more than one album without stagnating (although consistency of style is not necessarily a bad thing --- see Fall of Efrafa). In Tekeli-li, The Great Old Ones have crafted a worthy successor to Al-Azif with a much richer palette.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

General Lee - Raiders of the Evil Eye

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Artwork by Sinpiggyhead

While France might not be particularly well known for its post-hardcore, they have assembled one extremely fine export in General Lee. Their third full-length, Raiders of the Evil Eye, is a passionate, possessive record that goes for the throat from its opening seconds. The focus is unquestionably on the triumvirate of guitars that provide both the engine and texture of General Lee's sound, the disparate tones woven together in a dense, reverberating braid, swooping around each other in counterpoint or drawing tightly together to cinch a sonic knot.

Raiders of the Evil Eye isn't just about manhandling the listener, however; it doesn't just want to take, it wants you to give in. There is a pleading element to "Medusa Howls with the Wolves" that walks the line between begging and coercion, often swinging back and forth between the two. "Alone With Everybody" is the highlight; it's a powerful melancholy track that relies on the echoing distance of the relatively sparse drumming and palpable yearning in the strings to draw the listener in. This is a late-flowering gem.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

For vinyl (and a slightly cheaper digital download) go to the Play the Assassin Bandcamp.