Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: Mizmor’s Cairn and Paradox Brewing Company’s Future Knowledge No. 7
The Metal: Mizmor’s Cairn
It is my immense pleasure once again to be covering another stellar Gilead Media release on this column, as well as to talk about new music from Portland, OR’s Mizmor, an act I’ve long carried the torch for, who have released what is undoubtedly their best work in a long and already pristine career. Cairn is Mizmor’s most immediate album, eschewing the long and winding intros of “This Unabating Wakefulness” for the short acoustic passage that prefaces “Desert of Absurdity,” which sets the stage for the album both musically, through breakneck black metal and lumbering doom, and thematically by introducing the landscape that makes up the story arc the songs follow. Based on Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, Cairn functions as both a personal narrative of Mizmor’s ALN losing his faith in God and as a larger look at how humanity struggles to find meaning in a life that resists meaning at every turn. The twin centerpieces of the album reflect two options for going through the desert of absurdity that the speaker of the narrative has rejected; “Cairn to God” is a monolithic slab of sprawling doom metal illuminating the immense tomb where the idea of a creator with an ineffable and perfect plan for us all is buried forevermore, and “Cairn to Suicide” (in my humble opinion, the best Mizmor song to date) is a poignant and haunting reminder that even though we may never be able to find a concrete meaning for why we’re here, to give up is to deny the strength all of us have within (I cannot commend escape / Even an enlightened one / Like faith it shies away from strife / and forfeits resolve). “The Narrowing Way” completes the arc by showing the path between these tombs, the way forward beyond ideas that no longer holds sway over us; it is a trudging song for a path that inevitably will contain more pain, fear, doubt, and heartache, but also the chance to seize your own meaning from the absurdity of life. Cairn is a story of the journey of self, and also a way for us to connect with each other through shared experiences of loss to make sense of that journey along the way. It is an album full of weight, philosophically and sonically, containing within Mizmor’s most fully realized songwriting to date, and undoubtedly some of the most harrowing music that will be released this year.
I’ll close with a quote I thought of often while listening to Cairn, one of my favorite quotes of all time from my favorite movie, Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke:
“Life is suffering. It is hard. The world is cursed. But still, you find reasons to keep living.”
The Booze: Paradox Brewing Company’s Future Knowledge No. 7
In keeping with themes of the absurd, we have on deck tonight Future Knowledge, a tart farmhouse ale from Colorado’s Paradox Brewing Company. Brewed from a base of golden ale with pilsner and red winter wheat, flaked oats, and Lemondrop and Centennial hops, the seventh variant in the Future Knowledge series is light and crisp with a decidedly bright citrus tartness. The Brettanomyces that gives this beer its sour character helps accentuate the citrus notes here, yet there are also grassy, floral notes from the farmhouse cultures allowed to develop here as well. There is also an interesting oak flavor in the finish that comes from the oak foeders the beer is aged on, which adds an additional layer of funk and helps round out the lemony forenotes. There is an immense amount of balancing that goes into this beer: three different grist elements, two kinds of hops, three different cultures, and yet this delicate balancing act results in a delicate and tasty beer with a whole lot going on.
Cheers, and be good to each other,