24 Apr 2022 - Jonas
Atmospheric Blackened Doom Metal | Gilead Media | Release date: 22 Apr 2022
Every now and then, an impossible void comes into existence, within which the laws of nature don’t apply, and one plus one equals three. ‘Myopia’, the collaborative effort between Mizmor and Thou is one of these occurrences, which took place during the 2022 edition of Roadburn Festival, and got released as a studio album on the very same day in a clandestine manner!
While I’ve, regretfully, been oblivious to the works of A.L.N, the proprietor of the Oregon-based Mizmor (מזמור, ‘Psalm’ in Hebrew) project, our webzine on the whole, thankfully, hasn’t been. We have, among other things, covered ‘Wit’s End’ (2022) earlier this year, and also interviewed A.L.N! If you, like me, are not familiar with Mizmor (Don’t worry, I’ve rectified this since then!), they basically operate in the realm of blackened doom metal. Heavy on atmospheric and laced with psychedelic elements. As you can probably imagine, it’s very heavy.
The second act of this (un)holy alliance is Thou, which I’m, thankfully, very familiar with. While both of these are deeply rooted in doom metal, Thou’s opted for a fusion with sludge metal, with a flavour I can almost identify as a testament to their Louisiana roots. The vocals of Bryan Funck, however, have got a certain black metal delivery, only considerably less viscous and with some considerable weight behind them. Collaboration isn’t an unfamiliar concept for them, having worked with both Emma Ruth Rundle and The Body (though to be fair, who hasn’t?) in the past.
As for the setting in which this joint effort took place – Roadburn Festival, in Tilburg, Netherlands. While I’ve personally never attended the festival (had tickets to the 2020 edition, and then …), I know for a fact that this is the place for unique, one-off, live experiences. A place where experimental metalheads and connoisseurs of esoteric music congregate after what can only be described as a worldwide pilgrimage. I’ve been told it’s a life-changing experience. However, a few of these seemingly ephemeral moments make it into the permanent record, though mostly in the shape and form of a ‘Live at Roadburn’ format, be it with full video footage, or audio-only. In some rare cases, however, an actual studio recording sees the light of day, with ‘Myopia’ entering the latter category, which I’m very grateful for seeing how I’m generally not a fan of listening to or watching live recordings, especially if I wasn’t in attendance.
Contrary to what I wrote in the leading paragraph, sometimes one plus one can also equal less than one, where it ends up sounding like lesser versions of the involved parties, or like neither. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to truly collaborate on the writing process in one band, let alone when merging the visions of two. Ideally, they should both shine equally bright as they would’ve on their own, but piecing such a puzzle together in a limited aural spectrum is nigh impossible, with emphasis on the word ‘nigh’. It does happen. My personal favorite is ‘Mariner’ (2016), which I consider the magnum opus of both Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas. It’s a perfect collaboration, through and through. While it might be impossible to topple ‘Mariner’ from its throne, ‘Myopia’ sure gives it a run for its money.
It clocks in at a robust 74 minutes and with the combined weight of doom metal, it’s easy to imagine it would come to a grinding halt after a track or two, but that’s where the blackened elements come in, like a massive tractor able to drag mountains. While I’m admittedly not as well-versed with Mizmor as I should be, I can still discern when either Thou or Mizmor is the driving force, or when they’re both pulling/pushing together, and as I’m sure you can imagine, this record primarily exists on the lower frequencies, and as such, any attempts to avoid getting into the proverbial groove will be in vain. It doesn’t feel anywhere near its actual duration as it completely absorbs you, and dismantles your very being as you spiral into the void where time and space are merely suggestions, becoming one with everything, only to reassemble you at the end.
By laying a seemingly infinite puzzle and somehow still managing to finish it, מזמור and Thou has invoked a veritable gestalt with ‘Myopia’, one that will, undoubtedly, be used as a touchstone for future collaborative records. A truly remarkable effort! My only regret is that I couldn’t experience this in a live setting.