Review Summary: That is not dead which can eternal lie; And with strange aeons even death may die.“It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter”
The description of a Shoggoth, in the words of Howard Philips Lovecraft himself. These Shoggoths, creatures appearing in the Lovecraft-mythos, often as servitors or captives to powerful cults and entities, are known to endlessly repeat "Tekeli-li", a cry that their old masters used. They first appeared in the book “At the Mountains of Madness”, released in 1931. And now, almost 80 years later, this book serves as the main source of inspiration for sophomore album of The Great Old Ones
, a Black Metal band reigning from Bordeaux, France.
Back in 2012 The Great Old Ones
released Al Azif (The Arabic word for Necronomicon). Al Azif was an album strongly rooted into the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft and the lyrical content of the six songs here strongly reflected that, being easily the highlight of the entire album. Sadly Al Azif suffered from two problems, the first was a lack of identity, sharing many common elements with fellow French artists like Year Of No Light
and even Deathspell Omega
. And a second problem was the lack of focus, or a clear vision, both lyrically and instrumentally. But despite these flaws the band showed great promise and potential for the future, the only question was if they would be able to live up to this potential.
So, did they"
Tekeli-Li totally shatters these doubts, not only did they improve upon every aspect of Al Azif, they also released one of the better concept albums thus far. This time around the band focused solely on “At the Mountains of Madness” for inspiration, the band transformed the adventure of William Dyer into a black metal album of enormous grandeur.
By focusing themselves solely on “At the Mountains of Madness” and writing an entire album around this book has managed to craft a very focused and dense album this time around. From the artic wind, the French spoken word passages and even the acoustic interludes, everything feels like it belongs there and it all contributes to the unshakeable atmosphere. One that not even the most drastic of tempo/dynamic changes can ruin. The dark and brooding, mysterious atmosphere from Al Azif is back, but even more engaging than before.
While Tekeli-Li is still not the most original album in its genre, its new found focus and increased emphasis on experimentation do help on bringing forth the bands own identity. The better production also helps on breaking the striking resemblance to Year Of No Light
. While the similarities to others in its genre are still there, the band has made sure that this time around, they will stand out and be remembered.
The album also becomes progressively better, saving the best it has to offer to the very last. The album ends with the song “Behind the Mountains”, a song that twice as long as everything the band has ever write. But despite its eighteen minute runtime, it showcases everything the band has to offer in a spectacular fashion. And when ending, it will leave you entranced and wanting for more.
Tekeli-Li is a prime example of the evolution every band should make, they improved on every aspect, wile not forgetting what made them great to begin with. The Great Old Ones created a wonderful album with Tekeli-Li, one that honored the source material and used it as far more than a gimmick. They proved they are up for the job to differentiate themselves from their peers by creating a unique niche that is unmistakably theirs. Tekeli-Li is an album that should not be missed if you are a fan of atmospheric Black Metal. 4.5/5
“It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be left alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.”