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Mizmor - Cairn Award winner

by Chris Hawkins at 09 October 2019, 6:06 PM

For those unaware, MIZMOR means “psalm” in Hebrew.  MIZMOR is also a band from Portland playing decadently dystopian Black Metal with an equal reverence for classic Doom.  Listening to “Cairn” is a moving experience, similar in a bit in effect to recent efforts by DEAFHEAVEN and WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOMMIZMOR can really connect with those other bands mentioned in that they do include Black Metal elements but Black Metal is not their militantly prescribed constant format.  One could say there is a hint of the Cascadian sound lingering in there, but how could it not be so being from Portland?

One would never guess this is a one-man band project.  A.L.N. does everything and sounds convincing like a full band.  the production is on the edge – very radical sounds coming from the guitars especially.  It is so lethal when “the band” decides to perform those super-slow dissonant chords, the kind of Doom that came out on Peaceville in the early 1990s.  It is not a sound, though, that is by any means trying to replicate that era or slant to Doom but rather contains that crushing factor those bands and others at the time like AMORPHIS and ASPHYX had.  The marriage of hooks subtly here and there, and blackened gloom works prodigiously well.

The album begins with the track “Desert of Absurdity” which starts off with a lush, melodic acoustic sound hat had an innocent type of frailty.  Soon, though, the sound eschews into a dream-like haze with a Black Metal riff that is actually not completely minor.  It has an otherworldly effect, this wall of billowing smoke created by unique melodies combined with a sullen, dreary aesthetic.  It is a heady brew, one that also resonated deep within, particularly during the über-slow, Doom part.  It just has that Trojan Horse of a sound, solid forging its own path with no regard for others.

Cairn to God” is a whopping 18:33 minutes long.  that does not mean it lacks its own vibe or gets boring.  The megalithic guitar chords had a menacing sound like something from Steve Austin of TODAY IS THE DAY would create.  The Doom part is absolutely crushing, pulverizing, trying to one-up HOODED MENACE.  The vocals in the latter part sound clearly tortured, distressed beyond belief/hope.  The way “the band” keeps it slow throughout is absolutely sick.  The scream toward the end gave a chilling feeling – there was this disturbing energy conveyed within it.  Alas, that is the allure of Heavy Metal, to walk on the dark side.  The following track, “Cairn to Suicide,” featured a part where it was nice to hear a haunting acoustic melody tucked in there.  I couldn't help but get an old EDGE OF SANITY vibe, that epic and melodic blend.  Ultimately, it ends on a pensive, poignant melody that is actually beautiful.

With “Cairn,” A.L.N. has created a mammoth sound.  There is just no better way to put it for it is gargantuan, propelled by the elite-sounding guitar tone conjured forth for this album.  It’s just absolutely thick stuff.  The incorporation of Black Metal elements and a hefty amount of sheer individuality make for a varied experience.  This is certainly an exceptional album.

Songwriting:  8
Originality:  8
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Desert of Absurdity
2. Cairn to God
3. Cairn to Suicide
4. The Narrowing Way
A.L.N. - everything
Record Label: Gilead Media


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