Barely a week goes by without someone on the review list opening the Necronomicon and paying homage to the late, great H.P. Lovecraft. Some actually base their whole musical career on his tales of terror and although only 3 albums into theirs French act The Great Old Ones have proven a force of darkness and power in the realm of his fantastic visions. The band have been excellent the 2 times I have seen them and the crawling terror of the 1st couple of albums certainly hit the mark too so naturally I was looking forward to this new tome of darkness.
I am assuming that EOD stands for End Of Days here as the album has a humungous apocalyptic vibe about it. We are told that it “constitutes a sequel of Lovecraft’s only story to be published as a book, The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and probably due to this there is not as much of a narrative to be followed here in context with earlier releases. We do get an opening short spoken part embedded on a slithering canvas of plucked strings and another one as interlude during the dense and long tracks that consist the main body of work. Having not seen lyrics which sound mainly English rather than French or R’lyehian the tale here is somewhat harder to fathom, musically that task seems more obtuse this time around too. There’s no denying that as a back to back spin with last album Tekeli-Li has proven that TGOO have upped the savagery here and in my mind some of the other atmospheres have less of an impact as a result. There’s plenty of swarming passages of blackness, plummeting downward to the cold dark abyss. Maybe it’s inverted and it is the things that dwell in the darkness making the upward journey to consume the earth whole and reclaim as their own but it is this pulverising mass that takes over tracks such as ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’ itself and consume with virulent malevolence. There are doomy interludes to the full-force approach but the huge swaggering ballast kind of swallows any subtler melodies whole and I find this a lesson in might more than atmosphere as a whole. That’s not necessarily a bad thing especially for those looking for a more extreme journey as the plague-like touch of ‘When The Stars Align’ are manifested and control and taint the blood of those that inhabit the decrepit town illustrate but it’s a while before the true atmosphere here unveils itself.
‘The Ritual’ eventually does this with drumming courtesy of Léo Isnard bouncing with reverberating impact and the hungry vocals snarling amidst a musical backbone that allows for more breathing space than full on stifling mode. As it rattles off though the gloomier and moribund melody seems again swamped by adroit blackness and on the whole swallowed up with deathly flourishes and the harder edged abrasive impact of the band playing at full speed. I’m digging hard and finding more of the ‘Nothingness’ suggested by the following spoken word part than anything else here. The album art itself suggest fire and ruination and that is certainly what is being delivered as surely contested by the pulverising ‘In Screams And Flames, a full on orgy of musical depravity. What I have really been searching for finally unveils itself on last number ‘Mare Infinitum’ when the mood is encroached by a beautiful darkness, worshippers chant and a spine chilling melody is imbibed into proceedings. Now I am finally dead yet dreaming and getting more of the tones and atmospherics that I would expect from my musical Lovecraftian journey and I can’t help thinking, even as it rears up and gallops off that the whole album would have worked more for me with more of this sense of more mesmerising bleakness at its helm.
Maybe not an opus magnum then but still a very good and hard hitting album from The Great Old Ones but essentially I’m forced to drop a mark from its predecessor and gnash my teeth with a certain amount of frustration here.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)