From its early days as an anonymous project beloved by diehards of the underground to its current status as a festival draw, the rise of Mizmor has been a sight to behold. I remember discovering this band through word of mouth years ago and wondering why I wasn’t seeing more people talk about them. Now that mastermind ALN has signed with Gilead Media and is playing fests like Migration and Roadburn…I still find myself asking why I’m not seeing more people talk about Mizmor, particularly within the last few years. The band’s music has always been good, but after Cairn and his expansion into ambient territory alongside live member Andrew Black on Dialetheia, Mizmor appears to be going through something of a renaissance, and new (ish) EP Wit’s End is the next step in that evolution.
Originally written as a commisioned audiovisual piece for the lauded Roadburn festival, the title track of Wit’s End is a much doomier affair than Mizmor has written of late. Absent of blast beats and nearly all tremolo riffs, the song shudders along on sparse, fuzzy chords and crashing drums as ALN vents his frustrations with the state of the world, its rejection of objective truth, and whether or not there is even anything to be done about it. Mizmor’s music has never shied away from ambiance of any kind, but it makes more use of negative space in its composition than almost any other in the band’s history, creating a landscape of empty sadness and misery that captures the full weight of the lyrical ideas. B side “Pareidolia” continues this fascination with ambiance in the form of a full 14 minute experimental composition, using fuzzed-out synths and choir-like samples (I am assuming they are samples and welcome any correction to this idea) to invoke a sermon-esque feeling, albeit one here where the sermon feels designed to preach a rejection of religion rather than a glorification of one.
The sonic differences present on Wit’s End are where I take special interest in this release. It is evident on both an audible and compositional level that big things are happening in the Mizmor camp. The most obvious change in sound comes from the fact that these songs were recorded in ALN’s brand new home studio. This manifests in the most clarity and crispness the various pieces of Mizmor’s songs have had, particularly the vocals. ALN’s pained howls stand out much more starkly from the instruments on “Wit’s End,” which couples with the musical direction to highlight the intensity of the lyrical content that is the centerpiece of this release. Mizmor’s albums always have a point to them, some idea to convey, and the simple increase in intelligibility of the vocals makes those ideas shine all the more. The B side is also an interesting new sonic choice, perhaps also informed by having more gear to play with in a new space. It’s no secret I loved Dialetheia; in fact, you can read all about how much I loved it here. I’m very excited to see ALN continue to experiment with incorporating this style of music into the Mizmor canon, particularly because he manages to do so incredibly well. “Pareidolia” is the kind of ambient music I personally enjoy very much, and more importantly provides an incredibly interesting and thought provoking counterpoint to the title track.
Wit’s End is a massive statement from an artist that has consistently been putting out some of the most intense and fascinating metal in recent memory. The two halves of this album provide a wonderful contrast to one another and serve to explore the central theme like two sides of a coin, divergent and seemingly opposed yet deeply woven together at their core. Add in the visual element in the form of a gorgeous animated accompanying video and you have a release that is boldly creative on all fronts and shows just what a huge force Mizmor truly is in the world of metal. I say this a lot, but I truly cannot wait to see what comes next from this camp, because if it’s even half as put together as this release is, it’ll be worth talking about for a long time.