Album Review: Mizmor & Thou – ‘Myopia’

When I was first told about this surprise release, slated to debut later today at Roadburn 2022, my first thought was: didn’t this happen already? With both Mizmor and Thou‘s propensities for collaboration, surely they would (and, as of recently, have, on a cover song with Emma Ruth Rundle) have at this point. Having realized they hadn’t made a proper collaborative release together, my next thought was: how hasn’t this happened yet? I mean, both Mizmor and Thou operate in each others’ orbits and, as stated earlier, they do like to work with other people, be it Thou’s small catalog of collaborations or Mizmor’s semi-recently-released Dialetheia, a release he shared with ambient composer (and Mizmor live member) Andrew Black. It makes so much sense, and yet for some reason or another it just… hasn’t happened. What makes this funny is, the thinkable has happened. Thou and Mizmor have made a full collaborative album together. It’s just within the realm of possibility, but also just big enough to be unbelievable at the same time.

When listening to Mizmor and Thou’s collaborative Myopia, the idea of simply staying in one box does not apply. Yes, I do know that neither of these bands have a tendency to stick to one genre, be it Mizmor’s miserable and apostative black metal, sludge, drone, and doom metal or Thou’s propensity for the massive by fusing sludge and doom metal with post-rock and (occasionally) grunge, but in this collaboration we see a deviation from the traditional “Venn diagram” approach taken in many collaborations. What I mean by that is: bands tend to meet somewhere in the middle when they collaborate, but they also bring their own ideas to the table, creating a pair of intersecting circles in which influence becomes a balancing act.

What I’m trying to say is, Thou and Mizmor (or Mizmor and Thou, depending on how you feel) don’t necessarily present an exchange in power or acquiescence to appease their collaboration partner. Yes, there are moments where Thou distinctly Thous and Mizmor undoubtedly Mizmors (if you catch my drift), but it’s the overarching movement of these artists pushing each other to move outside their comfort zone which makes Myopia a cool (and even great) album. How does this manifest? For starters, expect some black metal (more than you’d think). Sure, Mizmor uses blast beats fairly often, and Thou has even employed black metal as an outward influence as early as Summit (plus guitarist Matthew Thudium spent some time in Baton Rouge black metal band Barghest), but what we have here is a seamless mix of what makes each band unique simultaneously. Thou’s big, majestic chords transmute themselves into feisty, impassioned black metal progressions and Mizmor’s impenetrable gloom finds its way into a sludgier context.

I keep playing up this album’s employing of the black metal sound, and maybe there isn’t as much as I would have wanted found herein, but there is a lot (a lot) of doom here, too, which makes sense given both Thou and Mizmor’s existences as doom or doom-forward bands. What is nice about all the doom here (the album is 73 minutes long) is that the majority of it exists on a spectrum which looks beyond a pop structure and is simply dialed past ten the entire time. There are no weak riffs nor boring progressions; this album just goes for its entire runtime.

Though this pairing is a little on the nose, so much so that I honestly thought it had already happened, these modern titans of American doom metal continue to prove their mettle, and together they are greater than they are separately. Debuting today in a surprise set at Roadburn, Mizmor and Thou will play through Myopia in its entirety, with physical copies available at the fest, which is quite the achievement given current record industry supply chain issues.