It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know that panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes…
Perhaps it is this quote, from The Call of Cthulhu, that explains why there are so many references and flirts with Lovecraftian spawns and names within the world of metal music. What H.P. Lovecraft himself would have said if he would have known that his legacy would be recited endlessly in a organic subculture of noisemakers. Would he be excited? Would he be flattered? Or would he stick his fingers into his ears? After hearing Al Azif by french THE GREAT OLD ONES, I would say that he would go somewhat for the first two and keep his fingers away from his hearing organs. The whole album is an orgy in Lovecraft-rhetoric/references accompanied by non-conservative post-black metal. Similar attempts from other artists have had a tendency of easily becoming melancholic and lengthy, but from the very beginning of the title track Al Azif we are invited to a quite pleasantly dark territory of TGOO. Starting slow but heavy the song becomes organic and takes you through more doom-like sections into imposing atmospheric black metal domains. The sound is fluctuating a bit from time to time, which makes it feel like when you are at a outdoor concert and the wind is blowing away some of the frequencies, and you just want to come closer towards the source of the music. The guitars sounds very metallic and treble, but thanks to the heavy base the aura of TGOO remains heavy and dark. Jonas is a strong song, beginning with a simple, powerful riff which is diversified by the help of trembling melodies on top that in turn channels the listener onward into a more amorphous sound. Apart from the conventional instruments, the use of violins (or string bass?) in Rue d'Auseil is well-placed, and are emphatically played with a mournful feeling, which is a strong contrast to the discordant guitars later on in the song. Delightful. In some bands, the vocals are the major focus point in the songs, but in Al Azif they are more like garnish on top on the music, and the lead role is played by the many-sided guitars. The Truth, a personal favorite, as many different edges shifting through more atmospheric black metal, heavy passages, towards more soft and free flowing ALCEST-hints. The only negative remark about Al Azif is that the songs can become a bit tiresome after a while, since they all are very long and most of the time a bit slow, and that is perhaps more obvious in the final track My Love for the Stars (Cthulhu Fhtagn). However, it doesn't become annoying, just relaxing and meditative. Al Azif is basically a sincere album that grows on you, and in a world of quick fixes and fast kicks, it is quite nice to now and then sit down, tune on, and drop inwards into yourself. If you do it in company of TGOO you're good to go.
01 - Al Azif
02 - Visions Of R'lyeh
03 - Jonas
04 - Rue D'Auseil
05 - The Truth
06 - My Love For The Stars (Cthulhu Fhtagn)