Mizmor // In Conversation

Faith is an intensely personal matter, yet for some, that faith is tested and broken and the subsequent fallout discussed and laid bare for all to see. Portland’s Mizmor is one such instance of faith being a central pillar of a person’s existence before life created ways in which to test and create cracks within that belief. This year’s full-length, Cairn (which was written about here), is the result of many years of searching, thinking and creating from it’s sole recording member, A.L.N., and here we talk about the moments that led up to his belief in God diverging from that of family and friends and the ultimate separation that needed to occur.

I would like to thank A.L.N. for his openness and honesty in discussing difficult subjects and for creating such challenging music that brings about much introspection and catharsis.

Faith is a central theme in your music and the path you took to this point is one that is coloured with many intensely personal moments – can you please explain a little about how Mizmor came to be, your reasons for rejecting this idea of a God and your reasons for choosing the name?

I was raised in a Christian family whose practice of Evangelical Christianity (Christian Missionary Alliance denomination, to be precise) was central to our lives and relationships. I was “dedicated” as a baby in the church, went to Sunday school as a kid, and to youth groups as an adolescent. In my early teens I began to reject the faith, seeing it as something my parents subscribed to that I didn’t necessarily believe in. I was interested in exploring other religions, philosophies, and worldviews and also wanted to experiment with “worldly” things forbidden by the church. I pulled away on the inside but was forced to attend church every Sunday until I turned 18. I (obviously) stopped going once I reached that age. However when I was 19 or 20 I had a conversion experience that led me to see Christianity with new eyes and take it on as an adult, for myself, in all seriousness. This was very different than my force-fed experience of Christianity as a younger person. It resulted in an immersion in the scriptures, hours of daily devotional prayer and worship, the compulsion for outreach, and an overall transformation of many of my personal qualities which defined my identity (for good or bad).

Mizmor – Cairn (painted by Mariusz Lewandowski)

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Mizmor – Cairn

The acceptance or rejection of religion is a process that is personal and can often be fraught with turmoil and fear. For many the acceptance of a God is something that is instilled from a young age – they are brought up with the knowledge that their parents believe and therefore so should they. Some find religion at a later age and use it to overcome hardship, grief or troubling times. Some reject their God during their childhood and some come to the realisation later that God is not the all-powerful being they were led to believe and reject those ideas in favour of a different approach, one that eschews religion and takes a more personalised path to self-discovery. 

For Portland’s מזמור (written as Mizmor) the process of rejection began later in life and for founder and sole recording member A.L.N. that process was one wracked with pain, guilt and the knowledge that God does not have the answers. The struggle between this and what was promised via religion is one that A.L.N. has documented through the blackened doom lens of Mizmor’s music since its inception seven years ago and the process has never felt more real and intimate than it does on Cairn.

Mizmor – Cairn (painted by Mariusz Lewandowski)

Mizmor – Cairn (painted by Mariusz Lewandowski)

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XIX

Andavald – Undir skyggðarhaldi

The black metal scene in Iceland has been thriving for many years and where many projects from the volcanic country are proving their worth with second full lengths and touring the world, Andavald have been slowly curating their sound and biding their time before unleashing their debut upon an unsuspecting scene. Undir skyggðarhaldi is the culmination of years of work with Andavald forming around 2014 but waiting until 2019 to release their music. Their debut is more moderately paced than, say, Sinmara’s work, but it’s no less impactful for it; instead the band use moments of doomed rhythm and slow, drawn out screams to create their darkness. Speed is not of the essence here and for Andavald it is the building of terror, the procession towards finality and the beauty found within the pitch black cosmos that serves Undir skyggðarhaldi the most.

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Roadburn Festival 2019 // In Confrontation // Vol. II

The second part of my Roadburn Festival coverage can be found below (the first part is here). Please forgive the lapses into first person narrative – it’s not something that I do very often at all but Roadburn has been a deeply personal experience each time I’ve attended and I feel that I couldn’t have taken a step back from it while writing something about it.

2018’s edition was a strange time for me; I’d moved country a few months prior and still had many unsettled feelings and that I didn’t really belong anywhere yet. The music I saw that year hit hard and seeing Bell Witch, Worship and Mizmor in one long day really took me to places I had tried not to think about. This year I feel more at home in my new country and the experience of the festival was reflected in that. I felt grief for the person I once was but also hope for what is to come. There is so much relief to be found this year, and this culminated in the Have A Nice Life performance on the main stage on Sunday – I can finally let go of my fears and embrace the future.

Thou performing at Roadburn Festival 2019 – by Cheryl Carter

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Roadburn Festival 2019 // In Confrontation // Vol. I

Beginning a review is always the most difficult part of the writing process. There are many thoughts and feelings that you want to express and so many experiences that you want to put across in the right way and your train of thought moves fluidly from one thing to the next…. but getting that down in a coherent and interesting way is something that often falls short. For a weekend spent at Roadburn Festival that process becomes ten times more difficult as experiences are not exactly in short supply and each person has their own unique take on what the city of Tilburg has given them for the four day festival run. No two people will likely have exactly the same experience of Roadburn and it’s often said by the festival team and those who have attended many times “Roadburn is what you make of it, it’s personal, it’s yours.” And that is such a true statement. This is my third Roadburn and while it’s not a festival I can claim to have been to as many times as another person…it often feels like some bands are being booked directly out of my dreams and for the thousands of other attendees this is most probably true for them. Somehow Walter gets into your mind and pulls out your musical desires and the festival becomes as much a part of you as it is for the organisers.

Thou performing at Roadburn Festival 2019 – by Cheryl Carter

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XVII

Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna

Iceland’s black metal scene is one full of creativity and unique sounds and Sinmara are but one part in a much larger group of musicians who make music so unlike other current black metal that the small country is now home to some of the most interesting projects around. While the Icelandic sound is different to most modern black metal it’s still difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it so intriguing. Is it the vast, desolate landscapes of their home country? The pitch black darkness or blinding sun of the most extreme times of the year? The remoteness of their locale giving rise to untainted ideas and themes? It could be all of those things or none of those things but Sinmara are one of the trailblazers of a scene that is so revered that it became one of Roadburn Festival’s commissioned projects at the 2018 edition (although Sinmara members were not a part of this performance, many of their contemporaries were).

Sinmara’s second full length builds on 2014s Aphotic Womb and 2017s EP Within The Weaves of Infinity plays a large part in informing the melodic structures of this new record – Sinmara do not shy away from creating moments of great beauty within their chaos and many songs are deceptively harmonious at times. The dissonance of “Mephitic Haze” is tempered by Ólafur Guðjónsson rasping vocals and guitars that suddenly soar on high, rich notes that create passages of utter elegance.

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Barshasketh // In Conversation

Last month found The Round Up Tapes exploring Barshasketh’s newest record, Barshasketh, and further to that study a conversation with Krigeist and GM was had. Below are the results of that conversation which was conducted via email.

For those not familiar, what is the history of Barshasketh? How did the band come together and how has the geographical distance that now exists affected the way the band works?

Barshasketh started off as Krigeist’s solo project over a decade ago. After he relocated to Edinburgh in 2010, he set about piecing together a lineup from local musicians, initially strictly for the purpose of playing live shows, but in time some of these live members were made permanent. Unfortunately, just as we were settling on a stable lineup, Krigeist ended up having to leave the UK in 2014 as his visa was revoked and BH, our drummer at the time, ended up leaving the band due to some rather unfortunate family issues. Undeterred by these logistical challenges, we continued to work on our music remotely and replaced BH with MK. We simply fly in members and plays shows with very minimal or non-existent preparation- as crazy as this arrangement seems, it actually works surprisingly well thanks to the discipline and dedication of each of our members in preparing the material individually.  

As it stands we’re spread across three different countries, and no two members are even based in the same city. Although it’s not always easy to do what we do, as long as we feel we’ve got something to say as a band, we’ll find a way of making things work.

Photography: Porta Atra

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XVI

Barshasketh – Barshasketh

Originally a one-man band from New Zealand, founding member Krigeist’s relocation to Scotland brought new opportunities to enhance his music and after session members and live line-ups were solidified, Barshasketh began to take the form that we see today on their fourth full-length, Barshasketh. Stripping back their sound to that of their early days, Barshasketh are reclaiming the essence of black metal and while their music isn’t breaking down barriers or smashing genre lines, the expertise and musicianship on display here is more than solid and definitely worth multiple listens.

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Devouring Star // In Conversation

Last month found The Round Up Tapes exploring Devouring Star’s The Arteries of Heresy and further to that study a conversation with Devouring Star’s founder, JL, was had. Below are the results of that conversation which was conducted via email.

Photography: Porta Atra

What was the driving force behind creating Devouring Star? What does the name mean to you?

The driving force on creating Devouring Star was the necessity for a creative platform for my concepts, it comes down to the simple fact that music was the only way of expressing these things for me and metal music in particular due to the fact that I am and was fond with it.

The name ‘Devouring Star’ is a reference to a black hole, yet it is also a metaphor for something that consumes yourself ultimately.

Do you see Devouring Star becoming an all-consuming part of your life or are you able to separate that side of yourself from the world?

No matter what, life itself is as boring as it is for everyone else, no mysticism required here. We eat, we shit, we sleep. So naturally Devouring Star isn’t a part of the daily routines. However the concepts in Devouring Star present my personal beliefs in such a way, that it is always a part of me and it is something that is separated from me unto music. Back in 2013 when Devouring Star started, has however affected my life dramatically.

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