With what can only described as an effervescent whirlwind of sound that takes as much from Cocteau Twins as it does from Alcest, MØL earned a number of plaudits for last year’s breath-taking debut album, ‘Jord’, which raised the bar astronomically high for the subgenre of blackgaze.
Now seems like the right time to build on that success, so the good folk over at Holy Roar Records have issued remasters of their debut EPs, ‘I’ and ‘II’, both together in one package for ‘I / II’.
‘Sundrowned’ is centered around a simple guitar riff for most of the track, and, while you can see that their sound would eventually be developed further, the fluidity and breadth of ideas were there from the very start. Interestingly, a math rock section even makes its way into the song.
‘Airy’ in particular has a real sense of urgency with the drumming, but ‘Makhachkala’ is the true stand-out moment of this compilation, and shows an early indicator of their fantastic grasp of light and shade. And showcasing their masterful approach to transitioning near the end, a blast-assisted section comes right out of nowhere, keeping you firmly rooted in your seat. This could’ve even made it on to ‘Jord’.
But, here’s a key factor as to why MØL are a special band, not just in their field – they know just how to keep a longer, drawn-out section interesting, and they know exactly when to move a song on. This pragmatic yet free-flowing approach helps them avoid the trappings of a lot of post-metal bands, and it’s also why there’s no 10-minute-long track that’s seemingly obligatory with lots of similar acts.
As we move into the contents of ‘II’, ‘Kathexis’ is another masterstroke in melding the lighter elements of their sound with the more aggressive.
‘Rush’, another highlight, is a flurry of energy from the moment that it begins. Ken Klejs‘ drums, again, are a real driving force the song, and yet there’s more to unpack still. Now former frontman Steffen Nørregaard‘s vocals (since replaced by Kim Song Sternkopf for ‘Jord’) are also another key element of the emotional power of MØL, with his charged, banshee-like shrieks being virtually indecipherable, but you know that he means every word.
Even though this captures a band in their very early stages, ‘I / II’ is a timely reminder of MØL‘s brilliance. Few bands on their first EPs can make for such an immersive, invigorating listen, and their follow-up to ‘Jord’ can’t come any sooner.