Blackgaze is a tentative beast of a genre. An amalgamation of black metal and shoegaze, the genre and respective scene has mostly been reserved for those seeking musical endeavours excelling in extremity whilst retaining a sense of integrity, structure and sonic beauty. Whilst such a movement has experienced the occasional thrust into the focused spotlight of the alternative scene, with the works of acts such as Deafheaven and Alcest being the subject of widespread critical acclaim, the genre has mostly been one to hide in the shadows; a worthy prize to those willing to venture into such sonic darkness and unknowns.
Hailing from the scenic Danish city of Aarhus, MØL are undoubtedly destined to present the best of what this genre can offer again to the greater alternative scene with their fantastic debut Jord, an offering that perfectly balances the glacial darkness of black metal with the compelling curiosity of shoegaze.
As beautiful as it is crushing, as triumphant it is melancholic, Jord perfectly presents the delicate yet intense majesty that this genre is revered for. The fittingly named opener ‘Storm’ begins such a sonic journey with faint tantalising strings prior to exploding into despondent screams that blanket a post-rock landscape. As the track crashes into black metal orientated structures, with intense blast beats puncturing such a detailed soundscape, it quickly becomes evident that one of most appealing and stimulating elements of this record is how they take inspiration from a range of third parties without adapting any stereotypical or tired tropes. As bleak and fearsome black metal extremities fold into reverberating shoegaze before blossoming into euphoric post-rock symphonies, MØL have taken cues and tropes from leaders of various genres before moulding them into a collective amalgamation that resonates a sense of individuality.
Lead single ‘Penumbra’ and ‘Bruma’ sees jovial yet icy structures and riffs sailing atop darkened and punishing seas of rage and extremity, before evolving into unique creations that balance light and dark artfully. In relation, the graceful albeit tensive nature of instrumental track 'Lambda' plunges into an abrasive all-consuming storm of sound with ‘Ligament’. This, the constant juxtaposition and contrast between beauty and rage, is mastered artfully. The way MØL balance and interlace such contrasting and polar themes is wonderful and absolutely riveting beyond comparison. At times blistering torrents of rage collapse into ambient passages of peace and hindsight whilst during other moments punishing blast beats of metallic severity dance with fragile towers of grandeur. Free of any such stereotypes associated with the genres they implement the result is a sound pure and cathartic.
As the colossal title track ‘Jord’ sees a fluid unity between abstracted rage and omnipresent atmospherics, it’s going to be highly interesting to see how such a near perfect record will shape the blackgaze and extreme metal scene upon release. A bedazzling showcase of what extreme metal and music in general can present when removed of any pre-existing archetypes and exhausted tropes and perfect example of music as art. Whilst it may take some acts years to achieve a sound so detailed, characteristic and atmospheric, MØL have achieved such feats without issue or tribulation. Expect to see Jord on many album of the year lists come the end of 2018.