Review Summary: At The Mountains Of Madness Soundtrack
Artists that choose literary works as the theme and inspiration to their music can often be hit and miss. Whilst this is an interesting option to the lyrical composition of an album, the challenge is whether the band can turn words into sounds and make their music as grasping as the storyline. Fortunately, from France, The Great Old Ones have proved that they know exactly how to do that and are making H.P Lovecraft proud for a second time.
The Great Old Ones released their debut 'Al Azif' in 2012-a good album yet it lacked true identity to The Great Old Ones, save the unique theme of Lovecraft’s work. Despite this, the band had shown they had great potential and a truly unique approach on heavy metal. This time around, they focused solely on “At the Mountains of Madness” for inspiration; transforming the adventure of William Dyer into a black metal album of gargantuan grandeur.
William Dyer’s expedition within this album starts with a French spoken word narrative explaining that he is not insane for seeing the undiscovered monstrous horrors in the mountains of Antarctica and warning others not to venture into said places-the beginning of the album yet the conclusion of the novella. Tekeli-Li then immediately breaks into the suitably named 'Antarctica'. The Great Old Ones portray the descriptive literacy of Antarctica’s landscape and climate through harsh guitar ascends and lifeless, interludes and establish a tiring lumber that quickly soars and dips from dramatic speed and pummeling riffs into simplistic, melancholy harmonies that continue into 'The Elder Things’ eerie piano intro gives way to a more doomy approach when the explorers discover some unearthly creatures kept preserved by the icy coffins of the cold. The threatening vocals of Ben Guerry incorporate a sense of panic and a quiver of confused desperation to the listener.
'Awakening' is the only song to tell the story from The Elder Thing’s perspective rather than Dyer’s. The eerie French narrative explains Dyer has found Lake’s camp and the uplifting tone to The Great Old One’s music represents the pride the character feels as they find their fossilized discoveries but contrasted against the screeching guitars is the anguish and fear he feels after realizing the creatures dissected them purely out of curiosity. The choir chant at the end serves as a lament to Lake’s group and introduces the instrumental 'The Ascend'- This may just be to represent Dyer’s conflicting feelings. The change of tempo and mood swings relates to the madness that the mountains seem to emit to explorers.
The 18 minute closer 'Behind The Mountains' begins with a lingering atmosphere which is disrupted by the terrifying screech and eruption of calamitous sounds. A dreamlike interlude suggests Dyer is searching through the halls of the lost cities, silence falls-as if the music itself is holding its breath for the onslaught of terror when lays eyes upon the hideous Shaggoth. The urgent pace reminisces his flight away from the caves into safety as the echoing guitar fades into the distance, concluding this epic journey.