PICK OF THE WEEK: Endless need for life’s meaning, spirituality darken Mizmor’s stormy ‘Cairn’

It’s easy to struggle with everyday existence, even without in light of political and societal trauma that never, ever seems to slow down. Also consider what we deal with personally, the struggles we face constantly, the striving for meaning in our lives, and the desire to connect with something higher than ourselves that we can use as a guide to live our lives (not to oppress and harm others, as so many do).

Mizmor’s sole creator A.L.N. has confronted and wrestled with these things for years, and the personal toll has come out in his incredible output under this banner including the 2010 self-titled record, and 2016’s heavily lauded “Yodh.” All of that, great as it is, takes a backseat to “Cairn,” the brand-new Mizmor record that feels like it topples the world and brings the heavens down with it. On this four-track, hourlong opus, A.L.N. examines humankind’s futile effort for meaning in life, as well as his own dissolved relationship with God, pounding the listener with challenging, tough-to-face messages that could carve a hole right in your heart. Musically, it’s the most intense, harrowing Mizmor music yet, a titanic display that will overwhelm you on first listen and dig itself into your being on every visit.

“Desert of Absurdity” starts with acoustic waves before the track tears open, and the waves begin to lap violently. A.L.N.’s growls penetrate the surface as melody swims, and elegant doom crashes to the ground in drops of acid. The screams lurch and the sounds echo and sting, meanwhile the surface of the Earth is scorched, guitars well, and then coldness reigns, with the final moments feeling utterly sorrowful. “Cairn to God” runs a mammoth 18:03, the longest track on here, and things unfurl with noise flooding, all elements rising up, and shrieks tearing the walls apart. Doomy stomping is mixed with mystical sounds, while raw growls scrape at open wounds, and the track moves into slow-boiling hell. The track hulks along before blistering madness arrives, overwhelming doom strikes, and the track burns and gives off suffocating smoke. The track moves deliberately and heavily while the growls smear soot, the leads strike an emotional hypnosis, and cries and clean playing make up the emotional end.

“Cairn to Suicide” goes right for the throat with devastating playing and vicious growls bruising bodies. A heavy cloud cover threatens with darkness, and a low rumble makes it feel like you’re being dragged through a dank basement toward whatever that dripping sound is. As the song moves on, acoustics mix into the fray and spread before another explosion that spits ore and bones, causing pain and confusion before the final moments bring crashes and acoustic blur. “The Narrowing Way” closes the record, pushing over 16:40 and opening with an air rush and quiet tricking. The playing builds into a deluge complete with slithering pacing and growls crushing and slowly working to cut off air supplies. The playing pounds away and fills your head with noise, while drone rolls through, and jarring shrieks rob you of any sense of solace. Strange chants pass through ghoulishly, the vocals turn to death growls, and the leads glimmer and scream. All of those elements pile up, echo shatters all illusions, and the track extends itself until it finally stops moving.

No matter what we do and no matter how senseless it seems sometimes, we’re always going to push to figure out what everything means and what our place in the universe is. Through Mizmor, A.L.N. has been examining these ideas, as well as whether spirituality is worth anything, and that comes to a cataclysmic level on “Cairn,” this project’s mightiest, most provoking yet. This isn’t meant to be music that’s easy to make or absorb, and every drop of this album is challenging and rewarding no matter how much physical and emotional pain you’re in when it’s over.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/whollydoomedblackmetal/

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

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