Mizmor stands for “psalm” in Hebrew, and what a fitting choice for a name that is, as the ritualistic element takes over completely from the very start of their new album, Yodh. The one-man project of A.L.N., hailing from Portland, has produced an excellent series of releases, from splits with Hell and Dross, to their debut, self-titled full-length, and now to Yodh, their sophomore record.
As is the case with all of Mizmor’s work, the epic element is overflowing in the album. This is a big work, with all the tracks spanning over the ten-minute mark, containing an intriguing structure. Slow build-ups, impressive soundscapes and relentless outbreaks are all featured within Mizmor’s vision. It is a heavy approach, leaning towards the extreme side of doom/death, with sludge riffs coming down, devastating in their approach, producing pure punishment with their slow and torturous unveiling. On the other hand, the flip-side of the doom weight is the black metal edge, equally remorseless, seeing Mizmor switch up the gears and go into full-blown, fast attacks.
The plunge to the complete drone side of Mizmor’s music occurs a few times through this journey, causing a complete loss of form, moving towards an abstract proposal where feedback and intense energy solely construct the soundscapes. The subject of this work, according to A.L.N., is the nature of survival, and mankind’s continual stubbornness in choosing life in the face of pain, anguish, depression, adversity and suffering. This comes across clear as daylight in the heavy doom or extreme outbreaks, but there are also sparse melodic elements that attribute the album with more emotion, as do some very nicely done acoustic passages.
What has always been the case with Mizmor, and still holds true in Yodh, is A.L.N.‘s ability to switch between all the different styles and influences in the album. Not only does it seem like he is not missing a beat, but he does it with frightening ease. It comes down to being able to retain the energy and momentum of the music, and that is something that Mizmor excels at, becoming unstoppable in that instance, traveling from minimal drone riffs to melodic doom leads to reach a black metal catharsis. It all shows how much a leap forward Yodh is for the band. The grasp of A.L.N. on the extreme side of metal, his compositional skills have been known since the debut album, but Yodh is the peak realization of this vision.