Label: Holy Roar Records
Despite being a relatively young sub-genre, blackgaze has already fallen in to a pit where most bands playing the style feel tired and uninspired. Sure, there are some bands who stick close to the core of the genre whilst still sounding passionate and vital – such as Underdark – but they’re rare. Rarer still are bands such as Møl, who feel not so much as if they’re showing how strong the genre can be, but with Jord are instead reinventing it, making it feel alive and thrilling in a way that it hasn’t for years and years.
At its heart, blackgaze is – or at least, should be – a thrillingly emotional sound, taking the listener on something of a journey through its rises and falls, its game of build-up and release, all underpinned by a sense of catharsis. And, to some extent, that’s true of Jord – it’s undeniably emotional, with plenty of cathartic elements to be found. But the songs are far shorter than the likes of Deafheaven and Alcest have led fans of the sound to expect, and they’re far more vicious, too – songs like ‘Vakuum’ and ‘Penumbra’ are filled with bared teeth and visceral threat, as comparable to USBM like Woe as it is Deafheaven. It ensures that Jord is an energising, captivating listen right from the first play, filled with an immediate energy that is hard to resist.
Impressively, Møl combine this sense of violence with the shimmering, ethereal beauty that is integral to blackgaze; clean, echoing guitars are as much a part of Jord as are furious, distorted chords and throat-shredding screams. When they’re going for beauty, Møl achieve it in a style that seems deceptively easy, with ‘Lambda’ in particular carrying that same wistful, forlorn feeling as those old Slowdive records did, and sounding absolutely gorgeous.
A large part of what makes Jord so impressive, though, is the feeling of travel it conveys – of taking the listener on a journey through different soundscapes and emotions, with its diverse sounds working to compliment one another (just as the best blackgaze should) to conjure mental images of snow-capped mountains, of autumnal forests, and of bands playing in some small sweat-box of a venue. For sure, it might not change anyone’s mind who has already dismissed the genre – yet for those who are still open to blackgaze, this is a reminder of just how superbly powerful the style can be, both musically and emotionally. From the heart-breakingly beautiful to the violently cathartic and raw, Jord takes the two extremes of the style and combines them in such natural, flowing ways that it almost seems easy. Of course, that it seems easy betrays just how much work must have gone in to both the individual songs and the structure of the album. Jord is a masterful album that deserves to be talked about alongside the very best examples of blackgaze, and sets a new standard for the genre.