Published Sep 05, 2019In a visionary realization of atmosphere and sonic imagery, Portland, OR's one-man master of blackened doom, Mizmor, has crafted a pocket realm in the four-track Cairn, which mesmerizes in horror and sorrow.
Like a half-mad magician presenting substance from nothing, Mizmor uses the absence of sound as much as he does a wall of it to evoke an aura of bleak surrealism. "Desert of Absurdity" opens Cairn like a Pandora's box of strangely upbeat wonder at a landscape that rolls past us at high speed, beneath brisk riffs and drum tempo, sharing a kinship of brightness with "Cairn to Suicide." But these vestiges of hope are short-lived. We are now trapped here, and our hopeless situation is punctuated by twin prongs of abyssal depression.
"Cairn to God" eliminates the landscape that characterized the former tracks, instead feeling like islands of horror amid a sea of nebulous void. Droning riffs are spaced between long seconds of inaction, but the precious silence never feels empty of meaning and impact. Mizmor's vocal dynamics are stunning, playing between ragged screeches and gasping wails like that of an abyssal wraith come to freeze the blood. In this way, Mizmor populates his world with creatures of nightmare.
Glacially, we are ushered along the expanse in "The Narrowing Way," on a path eroding, becoming less and less tangible until we finally plummet into black oblivion.
Cairn is a work of startling vividness in its manifestation of place and feeling. Mizmor latches onto fleeting glimpses of hope to contrast with and make ever more dismal the depths of hopelessness that characterize Cairn's atmosphere. And augmented by a jaw-dropping vocal range, Mizmor once again stands out amongst the masses. (Gilead Media)