Album Review: The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li

Album Review: The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li

French black metal is an obscure genre and The Great Old Ones with their unique brand of eerie black metal are pioneers pushing. Tekeli-Li is a literary concept album taking inspiration from the work of weird horror visionary H. P. Lovecraft in similar fashion to their 2012 debut Al Azif. Those unaware of who Lovecraft actually is may be surprised to learn that he was also the muse for the classic instrumental The Call of Ktulu which appeared on Metallica’s classic Ride the Lightning album in 1984. This time around, The Great Old Ones has notably taken the time to iron out some of the patchy songwriting issues that blemished an otherwise excellent debut album.

The first track on Tekeli-Li is a spoken narrative (in French) tilted Je Ne Suis Pas Fou (I am not insane). The track is entrancing with it’s languishing violin melody that builds up a sense of dread. The following track Antarctica feeds off this sense of hopelessness as it shifts through moments of musical tension masterfully. The layer of distorted and drone like clean guitars definitely adds a lot of dimension to the track,.

The Elder Things begins with a vividly surreal atmospheric soundscape being carved out and whipped around by the unforgiving Antarctic wind as a lonely piano melody treads lightly in the background, as if to prophesize the realization of the impending doom. Finally a wall of distorted guitars and deathly screams punctuates the lifeless serenity. The drums are slow and deliberate initially as the band adds depth to the song layer by layer. The bass in the middle section provides an interesting contrast to the main theme, emphasising the aberrant subject matter it seeks to tell.

Awakening begins with a sinister sounding guitar and yet another French voice-over capturing the ethereal nature of the unknown. It is a slow and brooding track that ends with a disturbing choral chant. The Ascend is a full black metal assault instrumental. The drums really take a more direct approach here, in contrast to some of the other tracks which are more experimental rhythmically. The song ends with a nice flamenco inspired acoustic guitar outro.

Running at just under 18 minutes the final track Behind The Mountains erases any chance of closure to this wintry journey of despair and horrors. It begins peacefully enough with some dissonant acoustic guitar licks before descending into a dimension of utter terror and menacing allure. Towards the end, a suffocating layer of distorted guitars and bass induces the listener into a state of chromatic insanity once again, just as Lovecraft would have surely intended.

H. P. Lovecraft was posthumously credited for combining a variety of literary techniques such as a crescendos and archaism in his writings, and in many ways Tekeli-Li closely imitates the use of these devices musically. Crescendos in particular are something “The Great Old Ones” have made extensive use of on Tekeli-Li in order to create depth. From the gentle acoustic guitars on The Ascend to the almost theatrical vibe of The Elder Things, Tekeli-Li is a fascinating if not slightly harrowing listening experience that will make you want to get your hands on the original story and become immersed in the tale about extraterrestrial deities and demons in underground Antarctica.


Tekeli-Li is an intriguing atmospheric black metal interpretation of H. P. Lovecraft’s horror story At The Mountains Of Madness. Fueled by a foreboding sense of dread and articulated thematically through windy melodic passages mirroring the harsh Antarctic imagery and narrative of the original story, Tekeli-Li captures the spirit of the French black metal genre in terrifying style.

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