For all the derision that Deafheaven were pelted with for giving black metal a more commercialised shoegaze shimmer, it’s tough to say that hasn’t been effective. Not only have they carved out a niche for themselves that’s produced a couple of absolutely stellar albums, but the blackgaze movement as a whole has shown just what can be achieved when some light is shone upon the black metal’s stony exterior. And like a lot of subgenres, it hasn’t really had much time to develop yet, and the lack of many truly distinct names beyond the originators has been to its detriment.
As for Denmark’s MØL, they aren’t doing anything drastically different within the blackgaze genre – searing, titanic walls of blackened guitars balanced out with gleaming ethereal passages – but Jord still seems to be a cut above the rest. This is more concise and weighty, concentrating itself instead of spiraling off in either direction, and ensuring the blend of styles is borderline perfect for the maximum impact. And yet, this doesn’t seem overly calculated either, with the roaring guitars, thunderous blastbeats and Kim Song’s burning vocal performance surging ahead with that black metal edge on the likes of Penumbra and the title track that makes this a pretty great listen.
That said, it’s one of those great listens that doesn’t inspire a lot to say beyond the matter of how great it is. Jord is an album that needs to be allowed to wash over the listener to reach its desired effect, primarily thanks to its imposing overall scope and surprising amount of melody. There’s nothing nearly as impenetrable here as black metal can be (another area where the Deafheaven formula feels heavily stuck to), and with the towering melodic composition of Vakuum and especially Lambda’s gorgeous cinematic soundscapes that could almost be a Sigur Rós song, there’s something about Jord’s approachability and accessibility that’s definitely appealing. If any points are lost, though, it’d be here, as that can mean the production does end muting some areas where MØL could’ve afforded to go a bit heavier, and there’s definitely the sound of being hemmed in, and that does dampen the atmosphere a little.
Having said that, it’s easy enough to get over, particularly when Jord walks such a stark balance between its two individual sounds with minimal stumbling. Again, it’s not an album that warrants much of a detailed discussion beyond the abundance of atmosphere and how strong that comes across, but even that one point alone has plenty of merit for how this is certainly a great album. Ultimately, it needs to be experienced to see exactly where MØL’s biggest strengths lie.
For fans of: Deafheaven, Oathbreaker, Alcest
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Jord’ by MØL is released on 13th April on Holy Roar Records.