The only certainties in this life are death, taxes and Holy Roar not releasing bad records. With both Conjurer and Rolo Tomassi already blazing a trail this year, Holy Roar’s next world-beater comes to us from Denmark’s Møl, who may have just about perfected the whole Shoegaze/Black Metal trend with Jord (Holy Road Records), a record whose delicate intricacies are as emotionally devastating as its grossly incandescent rage.
Bands like Deafheaven and, more recently, Ghost Bath, may be getting more traction from the press – be it through purist anger or sheer oddness respectively – but already on their début record, Møl are standing out from the crowd, interweaving more ethereal dream-pop influences into their music. There are clear influences from bands like Slowdive, and even the more recent output of acts like Alcest, woven into Jord. It’s not just a greater appreciation for more ethereal sounds that sets the record apart from its peers, but once you hear it, you come to realise that no other record with the Blackgaze tag attached to it has the bite that Jord does.
Catharsis is the word of the day, and Møl know just how to deliver it, picking the ideal moments to lull you in with lofty, shimmering splendour before caving your head in with a furious mix of discordant riffs and visceral shrieks. When ‘Penumbra’ was first released, it tore through every single person that heard it. You couldn’t move for people online walking away from the listening experience as though they’d suddenly developed PTSD, and as more people stuck their heads out of the sand to see what all the noise was about, they also promptly lost their minds. The blend of atmospherics and outright fury isn’t as simple as mere ebb and flow, but rather a densely layered barrage on the sense.
Even those tracks that have a more eerie quality, like ‘Vakuum’, still have enough force and instantly memorable riffs to knock you for six. Following on from that, the post-Rocky instrumental ‘Lambda’ is a cinematic and captivating experience full of hope that will melt even the iciest of hearts. If that’s not kvlt enough for you, however, ‘Ligament’ is waiting just around the corner to let fly a barrage of violent blast-beats and fiery tremolo picking. Its blistering Darkthrone-esque intensity is made all the more devastating by this almost My Bloody Valentine melancholy. In a similar vein, the title track that closes the record also draws its strength from the bleak rawness that starts the song giving way to these soft, sincere vocals and soaring crescendo.
This is the moment when a fully realised mix of restraint and fury was finally achieved, and this is the record by which all other records of its ilk will be held up against. This is a record that we’ll still be talking about ten years down the line as a landmark moment in this Blackgaze subgenre. The time of Sunbather (Deathwish Inc) has come to an end, and the time of Jord is just beginning.