Review: Gnarl ‘The Great Blackness’

From beneath the brown leaves of the oak from which I begin, a spectral vista appears; a barren landscape spreading across the horizon. As far as my eyes can see there is nothing but a purple-black floor enveloped in a ghostly grey mist. I can see for miles, and yet the moment I begin striding forward from under the safety of the lone tree, all that appears in my vision is the space into which my next step will take me. As I place my first foot forward, the cold damp ground envelopes my boot, the icy feeling of trepidation rising through my body. I push forward. The ground is loose below me, sliding and rolling as the heather and earth detach under the weight of me. The mist ravages my face with its effervescent chill, leaving me expressionless and entranced by the ferocity of this seemingly calm place.

Gnarl ‘The Great Blackness’

As my face numbs, by ears begin to pick up sound; at first a mere faded hum, tuneless and droning but steadily increasing in volume. Carefully the drone starts to evolve itself, moving from a monotonous baritone into something with horrifying character. Layers start to reveal themselves; from the smooth bass appears a distorted white noise crisply attacking my upper register. Melodious chords begin to gently stroke the inner space of my aural cavity, leaving fingerprints behind that cautiously fade before the next simmer of smokey overtones. The unmistakeable timbre of a human voice arrives, almost smothered by the plethora of sounds already reverberating through my nervous system. It sings, it speaks, it chants, it weeps, it howls, it screams, it warbles, it whistles, it serenades my mind, talking to me without a single intelligible word. It tells me to simply let go.

I fight it. I have no intention of letting go. I press on through the landscape, the mist now thickening into fog and the ground dissolving into peat bog. The dampness in the air settles onto my head and trickles down through the ridges in my skin. Breathlessly I stop to observe my surroundings. The tree has gone, shrouded in a wall of silver smog, my path to return now disappeared from sight. As I swallow the gloomy air the noise begins to penetrate my skull again, but this time with no subtlety or delicate layering. Instead I am hit with a cacophonous collision of every sound I have ever heard: from the abstract glaze of the sun’s beams, to the gnawing tones of commercial construction, every frequency is filled with turbulence and the wind is rushing through my cranium at an ever increasing velocity.

This is the void in which existence has no meaning or purpose. This is The Great Blackness…

The ground begins to fall from under me, my feet sinking into the dark slime. I fall to my knees, but the sudden frost of the mire on my flesh shocks me into action. I grab at the roots of the ling, pulling myself forward and propelling my form. I am straining every muscle and sinew to escape the tremendous weight of the now impossibly dense fog that pushes the breath from my lungs. I can hear the blood rushing form my heart into every artery and through every vein, capillaries bursting and aortas retching. It reaches my eardrums, pulsating to the rhythm of my heartbeat; but slowly it begins to overload, turning the sound of cells wrangling into that same cavernous deluge of sounds. The voice is now clearer, revolving at such a rate as to overlap itself. It repeats its dictation to let go, and as I look to the sky for inspiration a new voice appears. It is familiar and it is terrifying. It is my own, and it says with veracity: I am letting go.

The vastness overcomes me, ripping softly through my being. The cold that once scythed through my consciousness replaced by a glowing shadow that warms me. The air that once drenched me in glacial dampness now draining me of elixir. The sounds that once disturbed me into conflict are now reclining me into acceptance, concession and affirmation. This may be death, it may be a new life, or may be something outside of them both; neither destruction nor renewal, neither extinction nor restoration, neither total cessation nor infinite reincarnation. This is the void in which existence has no meaning or purpose. This is The Great Blackness.

Label: Trepanation Recordings
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Scribed by: Will J