Three notes in and you’ll be forgiven for thinking this is Angelo Badalamenti turning his Twin Peaks theme toward the blackgaze spectrum. In truth that would be kind of awesome, but just as awesome is that Møl is back, and their debut full length Jord is a fresh injection to the genre, masking melody and emotion in an expansive wall of sound and aggression that shows a continued ascent from their previous (excellent) outings and hints at a fearlessness when it comes to embracing the beauty in metal.
Putting asides obvious comparisons to peers like Alcest and – to a lesser extent – Deafheaven, the Danish collective have been embracing melody since their 2014 self-titled EP. Tracks like “Sundrowned” and “Airy” speak directly to the music found within: reverb drenched guitars and ambient keyboards enveloping blast beats and screaming with massive hooks. Speed is secondary, as 2015’s II shows a growth in structure and less reliance on ensuring everything races by in a blur. When it does race, as in the middle section of “Atacama” it’s surgical in its precision, moving the listener’s pulse up and down in a frenzy. Listening back to the two EPs now it feels like practice runs for what is fully realized on Jord – an amalgamation of every trick displayed previously, but with a new-found fury and confidence that allows speed and emotion to mix in such a way we’re not waiting for one to come after the other – it’s all there in every second, every breath of the songs.
So let’s jump back to “Storm,” and those first notes. It seems at first misleading, lulling you into one mode before taking off into a furious spin of screams and guitars. But that intro really cements the chords that are spinning by at warp speed, and the band rises and rises until the drums drop back for the next section. The emotion is coming from the rise and fall of the music, even as the tempo kicks back we’re still riding that high from before. “Penumbra” continues the speed, bursting forth until we hit a shimmering section reminiscent yes of Alcest, but going back further and farther past shoegaze touchpoint like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine to bands like The Cure and Ride in its pop chord progressions. Further down the spiral “Vacuum” has a great chugging riff attack that calls out the significant metal pedigree the band worships as much as the shoe gaze components. “Ligament” surprises with a straight up black/grind attack that almost mutates into Tears for Fears – it’s a huge kick to hear against the rest of the record and was an instant early favorite for how aggressive it is. “Virga” has a the same crushing weight, except it uses a mix of post-metal and doom to balance out the chorus which hints at Type O Negative in the way the keyboards are utilized.
By the time we get to the shimmering opening of “Jord” it feels like a summation, executing on every influence Møl have brought to bear on Jord. It’s an album full of small connections that leads to larger stories and musical narratives, a rich vein of influences that coalesce into a vibrant and alive album that bears repeated listenings long after the final note hits you.