|Artwork by Zdzisław Beksiński|
I couldn't have picked a better night than this to pen this review. It's a Monday. I've been miserable all day. Disappointed and frustrated. Yodh, the latest release from Mizmor plays right into those feelings. This gargantuan blackened doom opus to survival (surviving life more than say, being hunted by psychos) comes saturated in frustration, misery, despair and longing.
However, instead of pulling a shroud over his head and hiding under forlorn melodies and woe-is-me sappiness, sole member A.L.N. goes on the offensive; thunderously powering through the darkness, tearing through it with a piercing scream breaking the quiet intro to “i. Woe Regains My Substance”. Following that attention-grabbing moment come rage and terror.
That long opener covers a lot of ground, from twisted black metal to funeral doom and back again, all through a distortion beyond reality. It's the soundtrack of utter ruin and pain. Until it slices open the vein and a more traditional (read: second wave) black metal furor flows in. That's the kind of chaos that keeps long, brutally tortured songs from losing the listener and sets the stage for the album.
Four more tracks follow the path of apocalyptic doom segueing through textures, paces and noise, all tearing at the psyche like a vulture. The transitions often paint a bleak picture that tips over the abyss into the rollicking steamroll of black metal wrought with horror. The unhinged vocals lead an army of spectres on a mission of terror, none more unsettling than as heard on “iii. The Serpent Eats Its Tail”.
This 14+ minute endurance test of malevolent doom puts forward a different sound in its first half, sounding quite like Pallbearer. The vocals are grotesque and demonic though. Deadly growls meet high screams trapping the listener in their own personal hell. Think The Body but you don't feel like it's an animal that needs to be put out of its misery. The track's second half pummels like waves of doubt crashing perpetually upon the listener's mind, assaulting with dementia and enduring weight.
If by this point you haven't run for safety, you'll get more of Mizmor's desolation littered with the detritus of the empty things that we think make us happy but only plunge the soul deeper into frustrated melancholy.
Yodh is brilliantly crafted for both emotional impact and listenability. The long runtimes never drag. Instead the songs insulate the listener from any semblance of time passing and bore deep within to draw out the listener's inner demons.
Yodh is complete sonic alchemy fit to blacken the skin as it enhances the muscle beneath. The outstanding cover art is but a fantasy compared to the level of horror, pain and tortured souls that lurk within. Misery never sounded so good.