The last few years have seen this subgenre just explode with talents both great and small. Call it what you like...post-black metal, blackgaze, blackened post-metal, but the genre often gets unfairly poo-pooed by people who can't see past classification enough to just listen for the quality of the music, of which there is an abundance on this new release by MØL.
When discussing this genre there is definitely one band that immediately comes to everyone's mind and that is DEAFHEAVEN. Albeit unfair to simplify a band by comparing it to another, it is going to be inevitable with a band that sounds like MØL. Within the genre, one thing that separated and/or DEAFHEAVEN's style was their lack of shyness bringing in a slight pop-punk, emo, screamo, or similar kind of influence alongside the obvious shoegaze and blackened metal. With DH's apparent aversion to creating killer, <i>metal</i>-oriented music as of late, MØL seem keen to not only step up and fill that gap, but amp up literally everything. The sound quality is crisper and livelier courtesy of the always incredible Tue Madsen, there is some downright killer and headbang-/pit-worthy metal riffage, and even the Warped tour influenced are intensified and only add to the overall impact. Strap in, because this record gets bananas and you pick up more and more with each successive listen.
Not to do a track-by-track, but really everything is just so all-over-the-place here and it's actually quite an engaging listen because of it! For nearly 90 seconds, the first song "Fraktur" lulls you into a false sense of security with delicate melody lines given texture through reverb and delay effects, only to give way to something akin to THE USED with black metal shrieks, riffs that have a tape-stretching waviness to them, bombastic palm-mutes, and beautiful and hooky melodies. It's jarring with how many different elements are coming together and with how perfectly it all works! Blasts abound with following single "Photogenic" and even moreso on "Tvesind," arguably the most extreme tune to be found here with it's blackened trem-picking and carpet rolling double-bass giving way to a damn uplifting pseudo-chorus at 1:32 in. But it doesn't stop there as some Akerfeldt-esque demon growls come in out of nowhere over a chordal passage that brings to mind stuff like BOYSETSFIRE and bands of that ilk. I don't know what's weirder, the fact that it's happening or that it works so damn well!
"Serf" is probably my favorite song on the record with heavy barrage-style guitar-/drum-interplay riff akin to what one would find on a FEAR FACTORY record that gives to a cleaner, reverb-drenched passage and an actual chorus (kind of a rarity on this record) that could have come straight off of SAOSIN's self-titled record. The same sort of sound is all over the following cut "Vestige" with those beautiful lead lines in the chorus, but even that song throws you for a loop right from the word go with a straight up hardcore punk tom riff normally reserved for getting a circle pit going. I'm telling you, this record is insane with how much it throws at you and yet it all comes together!
This album is definitely an album-of-the-year contender. With how much the band excels at literally everything it throws at you, it's going to be hard not to put it on year-end lists. Everything that is on this record is there for a reason. There is zero wasted space, there is zero stutter to the flow, and there is zero reason not to give this record a fair listen. The only thing stopping me from calling it an all-out perfect record is that on the few songs where the band does put in a formula for verses and choruses, they just work so incredibly well that it almost seems a shame there's not more tunes like that. Maybe next release, but I am definitely a fan of this band now!