Overall Score: 9/10 Atmosphere: 10/10 Production: 8/10 Songwriting: 9/10 Pros: Perfect balance between brutality and tranquillity Cons: Unlikely to win over detractors of blackgaze movement
Møl are a fairly new name to the metal sphere. Coming off the back of 2 well received EPs, the Danes attracted the attention of Holy Roar Records and set to work on their debut album, JORD, in an attempt to show they can join the likes of Deafheaven, Alcest and Agalloch in the upper echelons of the blackgaze movement, which has steadily been gathering momentum since the late 00s.
Beginning from opening track “Storm”, Møl immediately get to work establishing their core sound: effects drenched guitars, and the constant battle between the tranquillity of post-rock and the sheer brutality of black metal. The result is extremely rewarding, with urgent riffs, surging melodies and the tightly controlled vocals of Kim Song-Sternkopf – fierce and emotional, yet able to move and synergise with the melodies that accompany them. This is a theme that continues throughout the album, as it shifts seamlessly though the bright and uplifting into the bleakness and the dark. Very few bands in the blackgaze scene are able to successfully display the contrast between shoegaze and black metal in such a way, yet Møl are able to pull it off like seasoned professionals.
The track “Bruma” takes us on a different direction to the previous tracks, not relying mostly on blastbeats and rapid tremolo riffs (although they are there), instead opting primarily for slow and mid-paced sections, providing changes off pace throughout the track. In that respect, it may be the best summary of what Møl are hoping to achieve with JORD: something which takes the staple elements of blackgaze and uses it to explore the full scope of what it has the potential to achieve, moving through the different sounds and emotions and fully engaging the listener. Then we’re thrown straight back into the nature of contrasts that this album presents, with the salvo of “Vakuum” and “Ligament”, a pair of cold, storming black metal led tracks, separated by “Lambda”. This break in momentum provides a beautifully constructed piece of instrumental music, which strips away all the extremity and fully soaks you in warmth. It’s the way in which Møl are able to effortlessly switch from one extreme to the other, through “Vakuum”, “Lambda” and “Ligament, which shows the diversity and range of their songwriting, and makes them more than just another Deafheaven-wannabe post-black metal band.
The only thing negative to say about JORD, is that it is unlikely to win over many detractors of the blackgaze movement. While it is able to expand on and improve the established sound, it is still very much something that outsiders may find difficult to find appeal in. The prevailing harsh vocal style will likely be too much for those on the shoegaze-oriented end of the spectrum, while their soaring atmospheres are unlikely to convert the extreme metal purist. However, for those who are already aware of the movement and are familiar with its leading artists, they will find something which pushes the envelope at both ends of the blackgaze spectrum and revels in the musical contradiction that is blackened shoegaze. JORD is a serious statement of intent from Møl, and it will be interesting to see where they take their sound next.
JORD is out now via Holy Roar Records.