THE GREAT OLD ONES - Tekeli-Li (Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions - CD 2014)
The Great Old Ones’ debut CD titled “Al Azif” was according to me one of the finest debuts on the French extreme metal scene in years and I have really enjoyed this album. I’m guessing that the fact that the band is so heavily influenced by the myths and horrific stories of H.P. Lovecraft have also something to do with it, as I really liked it. Of course there’s also this thing someone called post black metal is something I am really intrigued by and several bands, which play this kind of music are really amazing for me and The Great Old Ones is one of them. “Al Azif” was already released in 2012, but this year (2014) Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions has announced the release of the second album “Tekeli-Li”, what obviously was a great news for me. And one day the album arrived! By the way, there are few versions of this record; including the vinyl and really fantastically looking box, which contains the book with "At the Mountains of Madness" novel… Wow, that must be something fantastic to have!
I must admit that I’m not the biggest expert in the field of the horror stories of Lovecraft. I have read several novels like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror” or “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. But I think I can say that I like the whole concept, ideas and myths created by Lovecraft more than the actual novels of his – which are cool, but maybe not my favourites. Maybe I also like his mythology and the whole concept so much just because it is so utterly eerie, with great ideas and that it influenced the metal scene so hugely… So, I cannot call myself the biggest fan and expert of Lovecraftian horror, but definitely I am interested in it and have some knowledge and fascination about it. For its uniqueness. The Great Old Ones’ albums are all about Lovecraft. “Tekeli-Li” word is connected with a shoggoth from the Cthulhu myths – which are the creatures created by the Elder Ones. They used to build underwater cities and are known to endlessly repeat "Tekeli-Li", a cry that their old masters used. And they’re described in "At the Mountains of Madness" novel, so now you can see the connection and may have a small idea about the concept of the album.
When describing the musical style of The Great Old Ones on “Tekeli-Li” I would be very careful. Sure, it is an album with music, which is deeply rooted and influenced by all these post-something kind of bands. But I feel like the term black metal, even combined with the word post, can be slightly misleading and dangerous. Sure, there are many moments on “Tekeli-Li”, which are sounding like black metal, but when taken as the whole you may realize that The Great Old Ones has not so much in common with the pure and traditional meaning of black metal. And if any blackened bands have influenced The Great Old Ones and sound similar, then they would not be the classic hordes from Norway like Burzum or Darkthrone, but rather more modern and unconventional bands like Altar of Plagues, Fen, Winterfylleth or Wolves In the Throne Room. I am writing this just to make sure there’s no confusion and more so, if you start to listen to The Great Old Ones thinking it is classic black metal band, then “Tekeli-Li” will strongly disappoint you. But let’s forget about all these categorisations, let’s open the minds and listen to some truly amazing music, as in my opinion this is what the French band has recorded. Something amazing.
There are many, many moments of pure genius on “Tekeli-Li”. Yes. I don’t bother myself with fake promises of something totally original and unheard before, because originality is not a factor, which would make the music sound good. I guess that the real experts of the post (black) metal, post hard-core, rock or whatever may say that The Great Old Ones didn’t come up with anything extraordinary. Well, I couldn’t care less. For me “Tekeli-Li” sounds great just as it is. And when I compare it to the awesome debut CD “Al Azif” then I can only point out the progression in the band’s music and sound, that they’re getting better and better. “Tekeli-Li” with its 55 minutes of music is totally involving and possessing record. It is also not the easiest one, but this challenge is very sought after. The music, with its specific riffs, vocals, instru-mental passages and the whole possessing atmosphere has many textures, many layers, which you discover with each next listen. There are moments of calmness and a lot of ferocious and angry parts. The Great Old Ones can play slow, or bring some broken riffs and rhythms, only to start playing blasts a minute later. And it all works fantastically. And that atmosphere, which I mentioned above is something what is the most intriguing. All in all I feel like “Tekeli-Li” is not an album, which can bore you. I love the way they build the tension, the structures of the songs… and finally I just love the moments – which are quite many, actually – when The Great Old Ones plays fuckin fast. I mean if you listen to the riffing and all arrangements in such song as “The Ascend” – it is perfect! And the over 17 minutes long “Behind the Mountains” feels almost like a journey… a journey into something unknown and menacing. Yes, definitely the whole album is a great experience and I have been spinning this CD several times a day for the past week and I still have not enough. Sadly I will need to take it out of my stereo finally, as there are more albums waiting for their turn. Definitely though I will be coming back to “Tekeli-Li” frequently. A great and very recommended album, indeed.
Standout tracks: “The Elder Thins”, “The Ascend”, “Behind the Mountains”
Final rate: 89/100