The Great Old Ones draw dark horrors, dizzying black metal with mind-bending ‘Cosmicism’

Photo by Joel Queyrel

Many corners of black metal lurk with strange, fictional creatures, which is part of what makes the music so intriguing. French beasts The Great Old Ones have reached their arms around Lovecraftian horrors, which also have a massive impact on the heavy metal world (I mean, Metallica have been influenced by the writer’s monsters), and that’s helped their music become so ominous.

We’d be remiss not to point out that it’s accepted that H.P Lovecraft was thought to be a racist piece of shit, which it isn’t too hard to figure out by reading his many stories. So, this is hardly an endorsement of his thoughts and feelings, but one cannot deny his creations have had a huge impact on the literary, fantasy, and horror worlds, and because karma is a motherfucker, the writer died penniless. So, fuck him. But we’ll  concentrate on the music here instead, as there’s no indication the band agrees with the man’s viewpoints. Digging into the band’s sweltering fourth record “Cosmicism,” it’s obvious the Great Old Ones—guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Guerry, guitarists Aurélien Edouard and Alexandre ‘Gart’ Rouleau, bassist Benoit ‘Barby’ Claus, drummer Leo Isnard—immerse themselves in dark mystery and terror, as this album is a journey into the center of mystery that keeps your head spinning the entire time.

“Cosmic Depths” is an introductory track that swims in clean waters as murk gathers overhead, and it’s into “The Omniscient,” a 9:26 crusher that gets that chaos and confusion flowing right away. After it drips from the ceiling, the track rushes to life, chugging and mauling, with a storming fury unable to be contained. The vicious growls and storming madness eventually go cold, as chills go down your spine, and then things slowly ramp up again. The track unleashes tornadic hell, destroying what’s in front of it as wild growls pummel, the music cascades, and everything ends in a blaze of power. “Of Dementia” spirals and causes vertigo, with melody snaking through savage waters. A strong riff arrives as the song’s backbone, with a stabbing breakdown pummeling and sludgy terrain being stomped. Sounds hang in the air as the main riff returns, continually rounding and disappearing into a fog. “Lost Carcosa” is spindly at first before it unleashes a ton of bricks. The playing is smothering and heavy as the pace suddenly switches to something thrashier, with creaky speaking haunting and sending the track into a spacious hell. The playing simmers while the growls lurch along, the sound hovers, and everything splashes into a pool of acoustics.

“A Thousand Young” is the longest track, running 11:43 and starting with a strange alien cloud moving in before the storm tears into the atmosphere. The playing trucks while the growls decimate surroundings, mashing hard and creating an epic sensation, burning in place while char marks are created beneath it. Hypnotic riffs pile on as the vocals gnaw on flesh, repetitive melody lines create hypnosis, and the track slowly bleeds away. “Dreams of the Nuclear Chaos” rupture with strange riffs and a sweltering, mentally disarming assault. Underneath the layers of soot is a weird catchiness that almost feels poppy, but you can barely even put a finger on it. But it’s there. From that point, the music continues its rumble, setting the stage for “Nyarlathotep,” a song based on the horrifying fictional outer god. Slow drumming and a calculated approach allow an ambiance to be formed before things get strangely muddy, and the vocals scrape the inside of your skull. Things get heavier from there as detached speaking haunts before things turn thrashy and crunchy. The song keeps building its pillar toward the skies before cracks form, and the structure falls like powder to the earth. “To a Dreamer” is a bonus track and the closer depending on what edition you have, and it’s a mind scrambler that fills the room with noise. The track is heavy and vicious, smothering with weird speaking as the pace lights up and destroys worlds. Savage cries and mystical melodies loop together as the band pushes their final bursts of energy, bringing the song to a huge, devastating finish.

The Great Old Ones keep shapeshifting each record, warping their black metal power into stranger and more destructive forces. “Cosmicism” is another massive step for the band into the future as they conjure music that recreates black metal’s universe in their own image, making it scarier and more esoteric. This is a record that needs to be visited a few times to be fully absorbed, but once it’s in your head, you’ll be hard pressed to remove those tentacles from your brain ever again.

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To buy the album (North America), go here:

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