Most bands underestimate the number of elements, nuances, and atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. Many fall short of delivering an acceptable effort in order to grasp the genius of the American author, not coming anywhere near the horror and deepness of his fiction. The Great Old Ones are not one of those bands. Led by the very competent Benjamin Guerry (guitars, vocals), the Frenchmen show once again why they are one of the few who can truly illustrate Lovecraftian horror in the form of music with ‘Cosmicism’, their fourth journey to the depths of R’lyeh.
While not short on the pompousness that often accompanies the post-metal wave of sound, ‘Cosmicism’ is perhaps the Great Old Ones’ album that most successfully manages to bond Lovecraft’s ideas of religion, inner struggle, and insanity in ways that make us reflect on our insignificant passage in the world and the amplitude of what lies beyond. ‘EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy’ (2017) was a mammoth and it remains as their best album music-wise, but there is a palpable sense of maturity in this new endeavor.
The intro “Cosmic Depths” couldn’t be a better fit – atmospheric and name-wise – to start the album, showcasing the monumental experience that is to come. By the time “The Omniscient” kicks in, you are so deep in the darkness and somberness of the piece that you feel Cthulhu’s own tentacles reeling you deeper and deeper into the cold emptiness.
The whimsical, intricate nature of the background elements throughout the record is one of the main reasons that there’s so much power and density here, even if at times the instrumental parts are slow. Songs like “Of Dementia” and “Lost Carcosa” offer a tidal wave of riffs and chugging guitar lines by the trio Guerry/Edouard/Rouleau while the secondary noises such as chilling choirs intertwine to form a brutal and chaotic (yet consistent and rhythmical) wall of sound.
As it is with every black metal band, the speed and aggressiveness are also present, mainly in more “in your face” tracks like “Dreams of the Nuclear Chaos”. This interesting mix between the raw and the ethereal is one of the album’s strongest points. The denser, more layered tracks are the main approach here, though, a strategy that stretches all the way to the final portion of the album, namely the opus “A Thousand Young” and the killer closer “Nyarlathotep”.
Balanced, destructive and truly inspiring, ‘Cosmicism’ shows The Great Old Ones at their peak in terms of songwriting and rock-solid in the instrumental parts. The growls, the haunting elements, the three guitars and the overall aura that surrounds the album are all pieces of the same cataclysmic puzzle. Being a tribute to Lovecraft’s genius work or as a full-on black metal record, this excels in every way possible.
The intensity in which they play, the horrors that they tell and the roads that lead to the final product all make for a strong case that The Great Old Ones are one of the most refreshing and awesome acts out there. So let yourself fall into the Cthulhu Mythos, make an offering to the Elder Gods and enjoy one of the great albums of 2019 so far.
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”