Mizmor & Dross Split

Mizmor/Dross

Running a website like Black Metal & Brews means I often get to rejoice in the thrill of discovery. New artists and new ideas are a delight for me. However, without old favorites and standards to turn to for consistent quality, the stream of new blood would mean so much less. Watching new promise turn into familiar fare is a wonderful experience, and the announcement of a split between Mizmor and Dross is a dream for me. I’ve watched Mizmor sprout from a project whispered about on twitter and Facebook between doom aficionados into a band whose releases sell out on the artist’s name alone. Similarly, Dross has been building its name for a while now and as the project of the mighty Cloister Recordings’ current label head, it’s great to see them reaching a broader audience. With one track each, these two bands make great use of this split to display exactly why they’re relevant. It’s a bond of friendship and professionalism that I’d like to see more of in the heavy metal community.

Mizmor’s contribution marks the third in a trilogy of splits with the song “IX – Crestfallen Usurper.” This track is an interesting one in many ways, marking much more of a black metal influence than past Mizmor releases, yet still retaining the trademark walls of doom that have made this project such a force in the underground. It’s worth noting here that this is A.L.N.’s own recording work, with mixing done by a professional sound engineer, and the artist’s involvement in the process makes for crisp clarity of vision.  At over fifteen minutes in length, the song washes over the listener with a depth that takes root somewhere inside the mind, slowly blossoming with sorrow and ferocity like the rage of a captured and defeated animal. The song’s title hints that these may be the last thoughts of an intended ruler whose failed coup has left them facing death, but it’s not certain. Regardless of intent, the manic pacing of the song’s initial moments and the trudging to which they lead make for a pummeling that stands as strong as anything in Mizmor’s already weighty catalog. The only downside to loving Mizmor is the knowledge that, as the project of just one member, it’s unlikely such compelling music will ever be performed in front of a live audience. As the song swirls out of existence with delicate finger-plucked acoustic guitars over a backdrop of feedback, it’s hard to imagine the song being followed, but Dross is as complementary as any artist could be.

With “Verdant,” Dross makes its own mark quite clearly. At just under fourteen minutes, this song is equally adventurous but in its own unique manner. With guitar tone that begs for sustained notes, Dross could easily impress by simply hitting chords and letting the song’s building introduction last forever, but the band is creative and instead uses these elements tastefully, allowing them to grow toward something even more captivating. “Verdant” spends much of its time at the same pace, just plodding onward and allowing the atmosphere to become thicker and more full, utilizing repetition to great effect. Rather than being a dull experience, the hazy vocals and massive guitars play together nicely until the eight minute mark when things reach a more subdued, yet highly ominous point. Dross finds its greatest strength in minimalist approaches, allowing empty space and restraint to create tension. The anticipatory thrill could be its own reward here, but the kick when Dross brings it all back home is absolutely worth it.

This split is available both directly from A.L.N. and Cloister Recordings itself. With only 150 copies in existence, these won’t last long, especially since there are two slightly different editions, each with a unique wax seal and label for either Cloister or ALN. For those with a preference toward vinyl, this will see a broader release through Pesanta Urfolk down the line, so keep an eye out.