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MØL continue to be blackgaze leaders with 'Photophobic'

30 July 2021 | 5:46 pm | Alex Sievers

The Danish blackgaze group are still leading the genre's pack with their new single 'Photophobic.'

Danish blackgazers, MØL, are leading the genre's pack with the light-bearing 'Photophobic', taken from upcoming 2nd album 'Diorama.'  

MØL's debut album, 2018's exceptional 'Jord,' was not only a perfection of the modern blackgaze template off the back of songs like 'Bruma,' Ligament, and 'Storm,' but also one of my favourite records of the 2010s too. If it passed you by, listen to it at your next earliest convenience - it's incredible stuff. Informed by what Alcest, Oathbreaker, Deafheaven, and Lantlos (who just put out a new record) did before them respectively, MØL twisted and turned this style into their own arresting hurricane of powerful fury and melodic passion. Despite their short life span as a band, their take on this crossover sub-genre is the best I've heard it, even when placed against the luminous acts that paved the way for these Danish lads. That's true again as they now begin the campaign for album number two and its first single.

Equally blackened and beautiful in tone and composition, 'Photophobic' is everything I wanted from MØL and very much what I expected from the group moving forward. Dreamy delay and reverb-soaked guitars ring out, soon giving way to a rapidly-picked and strident blast-beat section, all before the band knuckle down hard and chug and groove with a metalcore ferocity. Then everything widens up into the grand open-sky that is the chorus, and the band switch back and forth between these sections at first. At all times, Kim Song Sternkopf's overwhelming screams fittingly punctuate the piece. An immense vocal talent, one who serves the great instrumental performances around him, Kim is one of the best new voices in black metal today. MØL understand what makes both post-black-metal and shoegaze tick, and how they so potently blend the two ideas together is what makes them such an incredible act. That's all on display with 'Photophobic.'

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While this is all executed near-flawlessly, the Danish quintet also shows hints of expansion with this latest single, the first cut from their upcoming 2nd album, 'Diorama,' out November 5th via Nuclear Blast. (Whom they signed with following the demise of Holy Roar Records last year.) You can see this expansion with the lovely angelic singing in the bridge that's not afraid to try on some light falsetto - the last time MØL used vocals like that was on the titular 'Jord' - and how they later overlap these sung vocals with the screams and uplifting blackened passage that serve as a striking climax. Weirdo cvlt nerds will debate the singing's value, but I love that vocal inclusion and hope we see some more of it on LP #2. It adds a lot to the track and contrasts its finale very nicely. An end that captures the pensive nature of the larger theme at play to 'Photophobic.'

Because 'Photopohbic' is all about self-reflection, or rather the fear of it; about the shame and fear of having one's past exposed under a naked light. To feel cursed by one's past self; made real in the below music video by a mysterious box that looks like a similar metaphoric chest to a previous music video of theirs. Kim explained as such upon the track's release last week, that it "...encapsulates the dread of forcefully venturing through the painful but nonetheless important places of one self and your history.” Though the song contains a silver lining: to address these disparaging thoughts and personal history with an utterly blinding, all-swallowing light and thus move on. The band say as much, lyrically: "abused by solace, drown in the bright. Caroused with comfort, swallowed by night." There is no outward growth without inner reflection, and it sure looks and sounds like MØL have been looking inward ever since their first LP. Bring on November!