Hell and Mizmor are two bands from Oregon that both play a crushing and emotional form of doom metal. The bands go about playing doom in ways that are very similar, yet there are some key differences. Past releases from the two bands have their obvious similarities, which is to be expected because the two musicians work together often. On this release however, both bands bring new sounds to the table and approach their styles with more willingness to experiment, creating a split that is a great representation of what each is capable of.
Hell starts the split with the track "Foetorem Timere" a song unlike anything M.S.W. has released under the moniker before. The track consists of a lengthy introduction of guitar (both acoustic and electric) and violin. This long instrumental passage is captivating and somber, perfectly setting up what is to come. The introduction to me is reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, utilizing minimalism and field recordings to create a tense climb to a final release. Hell's intent is far more sinister than GY!BE, lulling the listener in through every mournful chord before unleashing a huge riff at roughly the nine minute mark. Hell's brand of slow, anguished doom is as deviating as ever. M.S.W.'s voice has always stood out to me as one of the best shrieks I've ever heard, every painful cry cuts like a knife, seething with malice and agony. This over the bludgeoning blows of the instruments slowly crawling forward creates a horrifying atmosphere, and as quickly as this horror began it ends, the song is played out through eerie noise and another field recording. A perfect end to the first half of the split.
Mizmor's contribution starts with immediate blasting and a tortured shriek, a stark contrast to Hell's reserved beginnings. The contrast is what makes this split so great, these bands could have easily released a split where both of the tracks sounded too similar to discern between them, instead what we have is two bands each putting their unique spin on a similar style of doom. On this track, "VII - Epistemological Rupture" Mizmor opts for a more aggressive approach. After the blasting ceases we are left with a desolate funeral march. Vocals rasp over a massive dirge. Over the heavy riffs a clear guitar line emerges displaying an almost triumphant side to the project before the riffs slow, becoming even heavier than before. A similar cycle is repeated, black metal blasts turn into drudging doom. The last lyric before the split slowly comes to a droning close is "woe to us," a fitting endnote.
Both bands bring excellent material to this union. Hell comes forth with a more haunting and contemplative approach and Mizmor with pure scornful rage. These two portions juxtaposed against one another make for a captivating split release. You can listen to the Hell side of the split here and the Mizmor side here, the vinyl can be purchased through both of those pages as well, don't sleep on this desolate union.