Hailing from Oregon in the United States, Yodh is the sophomore album from the black/doom metal one man project Mizmor. With great skill in composition, it moves effortlessly from brooding and atmospheric to barbarous and uncompromising in a fantastic hour of dark metal music.
After a short dark ambient intro, first track Woe Regains My Substance begins life as blistering black metal, pounding blastbeats, tremolo picked melodies and harsh screams, all barrelling forward at speed, but with a post-black metal atmosphere afforded to it by the melodic playing. The sound is heavy as anything, there’s no scratchy trebly raw black metal production, instead it’s huge – as monolithic as the figure on the cover. The slight reverb on the vocals gives them an almost cavernous feel, reverberating around the wall of sound. It’s not long before they slow things down and ugly distorted riffs crash down with an oceanic heaviness with poignant melancholic melodies exuding forth – imagine Bell Witch or Ahab got pushed into black metal territory. The best thing about them is the way they just constantly change the tempo and approach, not out of nowhere but as a smooth composition, doom will give way to Burning Witch-esque assaults of feedback walls before bursting forth into harsh melodic black metal. It’s almost a shame that the track just ends up fading out after being so well paced the rest of the time.
The rest of the songs continue in such a way, moving between harsh but atmospheric black metal and chilling doom, but still throw in surprises, A Semblance Warning breaking down out of nowhere into a state of psychedelia meets noise akin to Oranssi Pazuzu before jumping right back into the black metal. Or on Inertia, an Ill Compeller where they break down to just guitar and bass for some post-rock chord playing, leaving you expecting this to go on and evolve subtly before the heaviness returns, instead just lulling you into a false sense of security before ramping everything back up seconds later while retaining the same melody. The wall of harsh noise Bask in the Lingering suddenly breaks into at the three minute mark is a great tension builder for the black metal that’s to come.
The best track is The Serpent Eats Its Tail, the acoustic intro and soft drums laced in reverb makes for an evocative ritualistic atmosphere before guitar crashes down and a huge howl vomits forth. This section of doomy melancholy is one of the best of the whole album, the vocals sound so tortured, the melody so poignant it sounds like it’s being painfully wrung from the strings of the guitar. At nearly fifteen minutes it’s the longest track on the album but feels like the shortest it’s so effective at creating an unsettling atmosphere that makes your skin crawl and hairs stand on end.
Overall Yodh is a great piece of extreme metal, paced exceptionally with doom, black metal and atmospheric parts, and is well recommended for those looking for something a bit different from the post-black metal scene. As monolithic as the brilliant cover, play it on headphones and play it loud.