The latest addition to our The War Inside My Head interview series is both straight out of left field and entirely at home. Beyond Despair is the solo acoustic project of Zion Mizrachi, known in the Tel Aviv underground metal and hardcore scene less for his gentle strumming and more for his vicious riffing and emotional vocals. With past stints in such noteworthy Tel Aviv-area bands such as Whorecore, Eternal Grey and, more recently, the awe-inspiring black metal entity Mortuus Umbra, Mizrachi's current vessel for the conveying of rage and larger-than-life guitars are the excellent Israeli/Spanish hardcore band Katzon La'Tevach ("Like Lambs to the Slaughter") that released an incredible demo via Tunisian label A World Divided later last year, a song off of which was featured in our latest compilation album MILIM KASHOT VOL. 2.

All of which would seem strange when considering the stark, emotional minimalism of the debut of Mizrachi's solo project, Beyond Despair. And yet it is that minimalism and passionless passion that marks Beyond Despair entirely compatible with Zion's previous work and, in a way, a progression upon it. Taking the mantle from such luminaries of heavy such as Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till and punk greats such as Billy Bragg, Beyond Despair taps into the very soul and essence of music – heavy or otherwise – by stripping away the grandeur and protection of the massive riffs and ecstatic screams and leave nothing more than a shimmering soul.

It is for that reason that we are beyond elated to have been awarded the opportunity to stream Beyond Despair's debut in it's entirety here, thus allowing everyone everywhere to witness this wonderful moment of sheer beauty. It is even more of an honor given our opportunity to interview Zion about some of his musical inspirations, in an attempt to draw the line of emotional honesty that runs through Mizrachi's output – from the heavy to the etherial. Enjoy the album above, buy it – half of the proceeds go to an NGO by the name of Headspace that aids at-risk youth – read the interview after the jump, and, as always, check out our other interview series (Albums of the Decade and Pillars of the 90s), to follow us on any one of our social media outlets (FacebookInstagramSpotify) and also, if so inclined, support us on Patreon. On to Beyond Despair. Oh, and in case you were wondering who was in charge of that incredible cover art – Amit Ben-Haim, who is also responsible for this very site's logo and banner.

What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?

Damn…that's embarrassing: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory. I was nine years old and I used to watch a lot of MTV back then. I grew up in Holon [a suburb of Tel Aviv, MM] in a lower-middle class neighborhood, I would say. We had a small shopping center that had a record store for very few years, I don't even remember if it had a name, but I remember always looking for CDs of cool stuff off of MTV. There weren't many there and  I came across that album by chance and bought it with enthusiasm as if I had found a Black Sabbath first pressing.

What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?

My interest in music by choice started around when I was nine years old. Back then I hadn't really owned any albums or listened to a full album, just random songs that i liked more or less. I always drawn to what was strange and different from the rest of my family, but the top three "albums" that really got my attention while I was growing up was a mixtape of Arabic music that my dad had in his car. The second was Flamenco and Spanish tapes the my grandfather had in his car, Julio Iglesias and Camaron de la Isla. The third was a Michael Jackson mixtape that my uncle gave me with my first Walkman.

What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?

Neurosis – Through Silver And Blood. Every time I listen to it I learn more. I remember the first time I listened to, it i felt home, it was like I found everything i was looking in music, this aggressive force pushes at you when you hear it. Also, the melancholy of it was extremely beautiful, just the amount of honesty you can feel through the vocals and lyrics. The writing there is very brave and unconventional and it's something i like to challenge myself sometimes.

The second one wold be Ulver's Kveldssanger. I remember the first time I heard it, I was expecting for a run-of-the-mill black metal album. I thought the first track was supposed to be an intro but it kept me curious. There's something so simple and dark, naive, comforting and mellow about it. I love how the classical guitar is in the front, how the strings serve as the storyteller. It's very hard to feel complete with it in my perspective, after your whole writing is based on distortion and screams. I love how it presents for the listener.

What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?

It's hard to decide what was more shocking – Neptunian Maximalism – Éons or Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis. Both of them shocked the hell out of me! Unbelievable how someone can write and to have a vision of that kind of music. Brilliant.

What album relaxes you or centers you the most?

Pedro The Lion – Control. I discovered that album after a hard breakup and that album. There is a brutal honesty in this guy's lyrics that i really like. The guitar riffs are awesome with weird chords, it has also this kinda "less is more" approach, i love it. I think I hear this album almost every week.

What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?

His Hero Is Gone – Monuments Of Thieves

Pears – Pears

EKKAIA – Demasiado Tarde Para Pedir Perdon

HHIG and EKKAIA are two bands that I listen to constantly in almost any chance I plug my headphones. Pears's last album is dope. I love these guys, very energetic punk rock.

What album is grossly underrated?

I'm not sure about an album because it's subjective, but, Robbie Basho is a grossly underrated artist. He is one of the main reasons I bought my acoustic guitar and started this project. He was underrated back when he was alive but he is one of the most amazing guitar players I have ever heard.

What album would you recommend from your local scene?

Because I don't know if a lot of people reading this like acoustic music then I would recommend – Sangre De Muerdago – Deixademe Morrer no Bosqueor any of their other albums. They're a band from Basque Country that sings in their native language. They chance instruments with each album but with the same kind of vibe. It has an amazing forest and nature atmosphere, like the singing and the instruments are part of it. The singer/guitar player also play in EKKAIA.