(Andy Synn invites you to open your eyes, and your ears, to the morbid magnificence of Myopia, the recently-released collaborative album by Mizmor and Thou)
I am, as has been well-documented by now, something of a sceptic when it comes to so-called “supergroups”, whose main impact on “the scene” tends to be just taking up space and column inches which would be better off given over to less well-known (and better) bands.
There are exceptions to this “rule”, of course, and the common factor between them seems to be a real sense of collaboration, a partnership driven by an irresistible need to create, as opposed to the crass commercial aspirations or lazy self-aggrandisation which tends to fuel the majority of these shallow vanity projects.
Thankfully, as you may already have guessed, this new collaboration between Mizmor and Thou – written and recorded in secret and released without any prior fanfare to coincide with their joint-performance at Roadburn Festival last week – falls firmly into the former camp, and finds the two bands joining forces to create a singular piece of anguished, blackened art that truly feels far, far greater than the mere sum of its parts.
Smartly, whether intentionally or not, the two bands appear to have settled on a single creative vision early on in the writing process, rather than attempting to compromise by ticking boxes and tracking percentages in a desperate effort to please absolutely everyone.
The end result is that, rather than seeming as though they are trying to please many masters, songs like the gorgeously grim “Subordinate” and the stunning slow-burn of “Indignant” come across as a cohesive group effort, with the album as a whole feeling more like a Mizmor album than a Thou record… albeit one where the members of the latter band have fully immersed themselves in the creative process and, in turn, elevated the music to new heights.
Or, perhaps that should be depths? Because, make no mistake about it, this is one unflinchingly bleak and miserable album, one which – despite moments of haunting beauty (the swirling tremolo melodies and soaring leads woven throughout “Drover of Man”, for example, will surely wrap themselves around your heart) – seems to have a single goal… to plumb the depths of despair and despondency further than either band have ever done before.
The vocals in particular are as harrowing, and as heart-wrenching, as they come, both vocalists seemingly caught in a dizzying feedback loop of tortured shrieks and tormented growls, each one constantly driving the other to ever more expressive and extreme heights of fearless, shameless, and limitless catharsis.
For all that this album is a raw scream of pure emotion, however, the band(s) haven’t forgotten to make the music just as powerful as the vocals, with several of these tracks (including both captivating opener “Prefect” and absolutely crushing closer “The Root”) reminding me a fair bit – in the way in which they blend doomy weight, blackened intensity, and snarling fury – of last year’s fantastic debut by Moanhand (which is high praise indeed, considering that was one of my favourite albums of 2021).
Chances are, however, that Myopia will go even further… and not just because both bands involved in this record’s creation are more well-known, but because this really is an undeniable “Album of the Year” contender.
It’s not an easy listen, by any means, nor is it intended to be. But it’s one that will work its way under your skin, sink into your bones, and become a part of you, if you let it.
This is a fantastic album, but definitely hit better as an early morning road trip listen than it did as a workout album.