Let’s be honest: in a lot of ways, the world kinda sucks right now, doesn’t it? There’s political unrest both at home and abroad, famine and disease have been allowed to fester…and oh yeah, humanity might be bringing on a new mass extinction. And that’s just the stuff we all have to deal with; factor in your own personal trials and tribulations and…shit’s bleak, man. Why bother carrying on with it all? What’s to be gained from trudging forward and trying to beat life at a game with so much stacked against us?
That’s the question Mizmor mastermind A.L.N. has been grappling with, and his extraordinary new album, Yodh, tackles the topic meticulously. Over its hour-long run time, the album channels despondence, anger and, often, incredible beauty into a satisfying and consistently rewarding helping of blackened doom.
To the surprise of exactly no one, Yodh is heavy — immensely, even cripplingly heavy at times. That’s essential for weighty subject matter like this, and thanks to his time in both Urzeit and as a live member of Hell, A.L.N.’s got a knack for it. But more importantly, he understands that there’s more to “heaviness” than simply bludgeoning your listeners over the head. What sets Yodh apart is the way it deftly juxtaposes utter devastation with moments of somber introspection and adds depth to its core concept.
And with just five songs spanning more than an hour, it’s got plenty of time to explore those juxtapositions. The album’s second track, “A Semblance Waning,” is a perfect example; after opening with two-and-a-half minutes of tension-building calm, the song gives way to an unbearable pressure, submerging the listener in dirge-like doom, a sea of feedback and, later, a grim, blast-beat driven explosion that stands as one of Yodh‘s heaviest moments. The song, like its counterparts on the rest of the album, covers a lot of ground. But crucially, it does so without for a single second losing your attention. It makes every twist and turn feel absolutely essential. The world may be collapsing before your eyes, yet you’re never once tempted to look away.
But beyond simply being well-written, Yodh also sounds terrific. Recorded solely by A.L.N., then mixed and mastered by Sonny DiPerri and Adam Gonsalves, respectively, the album pinpoints your senses like a kind of reverse acupuncturist, ensuring every moment evokes as strong a reaction as possible. Where past Mizmor releases could sometimes feel a bit raw for their own good, Yodh ensures every howl slices through your eardrums unchecked and every blast beat hits with the force of a migraine.
**It’s both easy and incredibly fulfilling to get lost in the chaos — and yet, Yodh opts to send listeners off with a moment of relative clarity. After 58-ish of the album’s 61 minutes have elapsed, “Bask in the Lingering” closes with a repeated, harmonized progression that offers, at last, a sense of resolution. It’s a bit unexpected, given the tumult of the rest of the album, and yet it ends up being the album’s most satisfying moment. Out of chaos comes direction. Out of sadness and uncertainty comes a path forward.
That’s why we carry on.
Keep it heavy,