The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism (Season of Mist)
Review by Milos Sebalj
Laying down the soundtrack to Lovecraft’s mythos is never going to be an easy task. Many are the devotees to his universe that have tried to encompass the very essence of fear the author has put to paper. While the tributes to his work have been more or less successful, none of them perfected the approach, whatever the art form of choice. Neither did the Great Old Ones.
Now, this is not going to be a bad review, since the French again managed to create a decent record which is able to stand alone, even without the connotations to the legendary writer. The Great Old Ones have assumed their path from the very start and, during the decade of existence, have only gotten better in expressing their ideas through music. More skillful than ever, especially with arranging their tracks in a constant flow, whether through the more aggressive or melodic, atmospheric parts. Combination of both is what gets the most of the listener during these 50 minutes. Exploration of the deep, emotional side of Black Metal is what this quintet is all about.
Getting anywhere near Lovecraft’s imagination without completely wrapping the music in keyboards or samples might seem like an impossible task. The Great Old Ones actually managed to get close to it using reverberating guitar sounds, while the rhythm section mostly just covers the footsteps of the explorers of the great beyond. Among the ‘backing’ instruments, bass guitar has been given a bit more freedom, and uses it thoughtfully. Acoustic guitar passages get a prominent position among the surrounding dissonance, competing in creating the atmosphere with chanting vocals. The traditional screams are omnipresent here, but, being nothing more than standard, they fail in making a deeper impact on the general sound of the record. Enrichment of the vocal performance might be the next step in the right direction for the French, seeing how the spoken word fits like a glove to particular pieces of the tracks. Not that it should take over, but it might bring a bigger diversity to the emotional side of the album.
Considering the reputation the Great Old Ones already have, and the label behind them, it is fair to say this album has gotten the deserved attention. When it comes to Lovecraft, “Cosmicism” definitely stands among the more successful attempts on painting the soundscape behind the vast frozen landscapes. On the other hand, the album is colorful enough, gathering in itself a big part of the author’s perspective on the (not for long) lost worlds. As the French have proved to be an entity looking to move forward with their creations, one can only hope this is not the last, nor the best, they have yet to offer. Keep up the good work!