PICK OF THE WEEK: Mizmor poses questions of survival, pushing beyond life’s torment on ‘Yodh’

Photo by M. Garcia

Photo by M. Garcia

For a lot of people, getting up each day, eating breakfast, going to work, and muscling through another 24 hours is a given. For others, it’s a struggle as mighty as anything else they’ve ever faced. There are plenty of reasons putting one foot in front of the other is so difficult, and tucking oneself into the bed at the end of a day to face more can be something of a victory.

Why we choose to carry on despite a mountain of negative forces pushing against us is something each person answers with his or her own reasoning. For example, despite last week’s RNC delusion circus, a lot of us chose to move forward and not write off the rest of the country based on some folks’ warped brains. Not sure if I’ve beaten that dig into the ground yet. That’s merely one scenario in a sea of them, and the basis of survival is the center point of Mizmor’s stunning second full-length effort “Yodh.” Over the course of five mammoth tracks and an hour-long running time, Mizmor (more formally known under the Hebrew spelling מזמור) mastermind A.L.N. packs black metal, noise, doom, and drone into a package that is dense, scary, emotional, and gripping from beginning to end. Sitting with this thing for the entire run time is a challenge, so be warned. It’s a lot to take on, and it’s a gut punch over and over again, but doing so is the best way to digest this thing. Then give yourself time to come down when it’s done.

MIzmor coverA.L.N. started his Mizmor (Hebrew for “psalm”) project several years back, launching a self-titled debut record in 2012 and following that with smaller releases, including a 2013 EP and split releases with Hell, with whom A.L.N. performs as a live member, and one with Dross. But “Yodh” is this project’s most massive and ambitious release so far, a record that feels like it is constructed with the weight of a planet and forces you to address the matters of what pushes you to survive. What carries you day through day, no matter how bleak life is around you or how poisonous the nature of society has become. Even if you’re simply taking this on as a piece of music and don’t tend to dwell on the emotional issues attached, you’re still setting yourself up to take a massive pounding all over your body and soul.

“Woe Regains My Substance” is the 13:38 opener that balances on noise fields and doomy guitar work, before shrieks and growls tear their way in and pour on the psychosis. The pace crushes slowly but mercilessly, with the vocals gurgling and a torturous heat being unleashed. Sounds spit while guitars churn, with the body of the track seeming to hang in the air before another violent outburst. The song starts a new charge, while the vocals lacerate the skin, fury and destruction arrive, and everything ends in a haze. “A Semblance Waning” sweeps in on acoustics, with cold guitars sending shivers and feedback wailing. A.L.N.’s voice echoes, meeting up with doomy pounding and a noise vortex that feels like it’s pulling every molecule into its grasp. Power bursts from the sides of that, while the pace starts to gallop, animalistic cries are unleashed, and pain and sorrow are smeared all over the walls, a sign that all might not be right. From there, the tempo slows, letting everything dissolve into pure agony. “The Serpent Eats Its Tail” is the longest cut at 14:40, and it drips chilling mist into your face, feeling like the birth of the first cold Autumn day, as it pours on solemn punishment. The growls destroy everything in its wake, while the guitars take on Sabbathy tones, with thorny playing drawing blood and a thick blanket of sludge pulled over everything. The growls stretch, while the sense of pain and suffering never is more tangible, and the chaos eventually dissolves into the fog.

“Inertia, an Ill Compeller” erupts right off the bat, with guitars burning, the growls scraping at the crust of the earth, and the pace melting away. The vocals find a new level of ferocity, while the doom storm smothers, the guitars begin to swagger, and another passage that feels inspired by Iommi’s fingers push the track right into the babbling acid bath. Terror and deep emotion combine for a black tidal wave, while the back end of the song disappears in exhaust. Closer “Bask in the Lingering” rumbles out of its cave, with cloudy guitars marring the vision ahead, and the song starting to stomp holes. Black metal-rich melodies drizzle tar over the landscape, while unsettling, scathing roars increase the horror level, mixing into a scorching pace that kicks up and drives this piece into a cosmic noise black hole.

Mizmor’s journey has been catastrophic in nature and strives to find greater understanding with the forces that impact our lives and world, and that’s heavily apparent on “Yodh.” A.L.N. obviously wrung his heart dry examining himself inside and out, seeking his own reasoning for what’s led him to where he is and sharing that energy and chaos on these five tracks. This is a record that will quake you and smash you to your core, and it might even help you understand your own mission better and what pours you in from one day to the next, ready to prevail over what ails you.

For more on the band, go here: http://mizmor.virb.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.erodingwinds.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/