Mizmor : Wit’s End
Wit’s End is a manifesto detailing not only the failings of nearly every reality (seen and unseen) that we’ve experienced over the past six years, but also the contours of atmosphere. Within just two tracks, each totaling nearly 15 minutes in length—two halves of the same thought—Mizmor (or A.L.N., as the musician behind the project goes by) musters a full-throated exploration of the material and immaterial, with aesthetics to match each concept. As weighty as that concept sounds, its execution yearns to prove otherwise.
That the album is only two tracks speaks to that duality. The title track is a concrete affair, Mizmor experimenting with ominous grooves and jagged-edged riffs. Every guitar stroke relishes an imposing delay. The percussion suite here is curiously dampened, favoring cymbal crashes that bleed through low ends, the kick drum a muted echo fluttering instead of thudding against the channels. A.L.N’s vocals this time, compared to the relatively conventional yet gut-wrenching Cairn, are more elastic. There’s growling, barking, snarling, pitch correcting, stubbornly stopping short, as if biting back another verse of sheer spite, or out of exaltation. The voice, however, is human to the core—it’s raw and real.
On “Wit’s End” Mizmor brings listeners to its forefront, but never within, constantly exploring the periphery of more traditional sounds by nearly deconstructing them. The track’s lush opening guitars thrum against a cascade of a spoken word monologue, eventually spilling forth like a spear point from the amplifier, sharp and sudden, and just as effortlessly transitioning to a lulling wave of feedback, a synapse of potential going cold. It’s this intent that defines Mizmor’s style and success in so many ways, founded on a liberation from catharsis, an exploration of the negative space that so often haunts expectation.
In stark contrast, the album’s second half, “Pareidolia,” is an entirely ambient affair, built on swirling passages of hymnal ether. Throughout soundscapes of voices, distant harmonies, played in reverse and underscored by an eerie longing, Mizmor begins to try and convey something immaterial here. This may not be the metal we’ve come to associate Mizmor with, but it bears the same unmistakable fidelity, artistry and rawness. The potential of an audible harmony looms throughout, of something beyond just the heaviness, of something that could be repeated, carried outwards from the song, but it still remains appropriately just out of reach. The track’s emptiness is its own margin of possibility. Defying, or perhaps staying in accordance with the album’s primary thesis, the album ends with serenity, a gleaming scarceness that operates as a soundscape of reflection, a perfect mirror to its beginning.
There aren’t as many who are going to appreciate being challenged in the way that Mizmor has challenged listeners with Wit’s End, a brilliant and at times confounding experiment that does more than just succeed. It pushes forth a genuine attempt at both pondering and contextualizing metal, the world and the self.