Album Title: 
Sleeping Under Clouds Of Gripping Anguish
Release Date: 
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Review Type: 

One of Australia’s most characteristic acts must be Blacnk (no, this ‘name’ has not been misspelled), a one-man outfit by an unidentified human (?) creature from Perth, named Grey Blacnk. In quite a short time, he recorded some unique albums, combining grim Black Metal aesthetics with psychedelic elements. The most recently recorded Blacnk album, Sleeping Under Clouds Of Gripping Anguish, is the first that gets released in partnership with Centipede Abyss.

Sleeping Under Clouds Of Gripping Anguish has been printed on compact-disc, yet pay attention: there are only 25 (hand-numbered) copies (24 actually, because I ordered mine), so hurry up in case you are looking for a physical edition; otherwise, there’s still the digitally downloadable possibility. Everything was done my Mister Blacnk himself (song-writing, lyrics, instruments and vocals, production), except for some of the voices, which are courtesy of Lady Garnetia (both she and Blacnk run the project Past Party, by the way); as well as the mastering, which was taken care of by Centipede Abyss trustee Pan. The latter (as Inentropy) took care of the visuals too; a beautiful cover it is, by the way, with a black crow (or raven) penetrated by parasite-like worms, eyes of lightning fire, and many subtle additional arrangements (like those fine golden circles, giving the whole an ‘astral’ touch, or the ominous, almost post-apocalyptic background).

After a short yet intriguing intro, Lacrimis Perfesus (a haunting and ominous piece of ceremonial ambience) [PS: the outro too, called Lacrimis Solatii, dwells in comparable spheres of vast, post-astral grandeur], Blacnk offers us a new step within their recent yet enormously productive existence. The first ‘real’ track after the introduction, As Years Descent To Dirt, initially offers us a spectral sonic finesse, with the most mesmeric, nostalgic approach ever. It’s slow, like Doom-slow, transcendental through really floating keyboards, yet still ultimately obscure and oppressive. This very lengthy opener -As Years Descent To Dirt lasts for 8:31 minutes- presents us both known and newly explored territories, which sort of characterizes the bare essence of the whole album. After that aggrieved opening sequence, which comes with, besides these autumnal keyboards, truly gruff vocals (which do deeply fit to the general atmosphere), militant drum patterns, and a fine interplay of strings. Step by step, the intensity increases, and throughout this epic, other effects appear: epic choirlike chants, persuasive leads, thunderous drum patterns (with a few blasting outbursts), and psychedelic-cosmic electronics. At about half of this epos, things evolve into a rather depressing chapter (DSBM / Blackgaze-wise, this part delves into spheres of isolationism and reclusion), with reverberating, haunted voices and really captivating, yet unusual drum templates. In short: As Years Descent To Dirt represents the known and the unknown, exploring bare, darkened and secretive sonic dimensions…

With the next composition, One Has Just One Left To Hide, we’re going more into known territories of psychotropic, mocking, surreal and bleak aural artistry. Although, ‘known’ just refers to this project’s past, because the content is, as you know, taken from a unique angle of alienated noise-sculpting. At the one hand, there’s the naked core of primal Black Metal; take pieces like Forgotten In Mist or Destroy The Storm Destroy The Absence, for instance, which could be some Grieghallen-recorded efforts, going for both sound and the structural basics. Yet then again, it gets surrounded in a foreign, extraneous fog, focusing on the dual, almost schizophrenic identity of this act. Every single hymnic effort on Sleeping Under Clouds Of Gripping Anguish sort of proposes the listener that paradoxical ambivalence, that balance of conversant yet harsh constitution in a rather ‘traditional’ vein, if you want to, with an antithetical transcendence of discordant out-of-the-box-thinking, and this going for both song-writing (plus execution) and atmosphere. And the latter, that atmosphere, is permanently overwhelming, captivating, usurping.

Recommended if you can also appreciate -and I’ll take it quite general- stuff à la Blut Aus Nord, Lurker Of Chalice, Oranssi Pazuzu, Thantifaxath or even (early) Striborg