Green and purple. Peanut butter and jam (jelly) – wait, that one definitely doesn’t work. Chocolate and sausages (seriously, try it). All of these things absolutely definitely shouldn’t go together, but somehow they just kind of work when they do.
That same sentiment should also apply to the fusion of Black Metal with Shoegaze. Yet somehow, Danish rockers MØL – which translates to Moth – perfect the impossible with a unique sound that instantly flits from roaring aggression to uplifting, emotional ambience. Furthermore, their own description of their sound as “ethereal, aggressive and catchy” are three things that shouldn’t go together but somehow work.
Inspired by 80s rock and shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth and Swirlies and more recent bands such as Alcest, Lantlôs and Les Discrets, the Aarhus-based quintet was started by guitarist Nicolai and drummer Ken. The duo had previously played in a shoegaze band together then began writing heavier music while retaining the shoegaze edge back in 2012. They were soon joined by Frederik, who started on bass then switched to guitar, followed by new bassist Holger and vocalist Kim.
Describing the unique approach and sound of the band, Nicolai told us: “It’s mainly the emotional width of the music. Shoegaze, to me, has always been an incredibly emotional genre of music. Whether it’s My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins or Slowdive, shoegaze always stirs something up in me with its ethereal nature. It’s hard to pinpoint what that is, but I think the combination with metal amplifies this aspect of shoegaze. It makes it much more powerful. I think this is also what people should expect from it – music that’s incredibly powerful, that takes you on a journey, and that affects you emotionally.”
Their latest single Penumbra was released in January, ahead of their debut album Jord being released on 13 April. It opens with a mass of wild screamed vocals over booming guitar chords and swirling high-pitched guitars, then huge double bass drum kicks in provoking a storm of piercing metal noise. Big high-pitched guitars become more prominent as the screamed vocals continue relentlessly, then give way to cool building guitars that explode into fast-paced riffs alongside drawn-out screams.
It soon drops into a more relaxed section of light guitars, which soon drops into repeated stabs of guitar and melancholy drawn-out chords, then the pace begins to build with building guitars. That soon explodes into a big smash of heavy guitars and wild screams, which are soon joined by high-pitched floating guitars and more pounding bass drum that bring the track to a heavy ending.
The band’s music in itself is innately Scandinavian, combining truly crushing metal with melancholic moments of ambient dreaminess. As Nicolai explains: “Writing music is a very in-the-moment kind of thing – a kind of snapshot of the feelings that we want to convey or specific sounds or melodies that we have in mind. I personally like to sonically explore the relation between melancholia and happiness. This is also why a lot the music is both aggressive and crushing as well as uplifting.
“With regards to the lyrics, I can only speak on behalf of Kim. It’s personal experiences, positive and negative. The Scandinavian nature, its rugged nature, and the changing of the seasons have a great emotional impact on the imagery of the lyrics. Change is a common thread as well as the feeling of insignificance and impermanence.”
Speaking about MØL’s ethos, Nicolai explains: “I think we all want to be in a band because it gives us a sense of purpose. Writing music is about creating something tangible and concrete as well as expressing yourself. Moreover, being in a band gives us the possibility to get away from the bullshit of it all, regardless of whether it’s at home working on demos, rehearsing at our rehearsal space or playing live. It’s all a sort of escapism.”
This is only the second Danish band we’ve discovered, but MØL think we should stop looking now, as Nicolai tells us: “We’re the best Danish metal band.” It’s hard to disagree with them but we’ve heard from Denmark so far has us keen to hear more of what the country has to offer.
You can see MØL in the UK very shortly as they play four gigs here in May, beginning with two gigs alongside Svalbard at the Black Heart in Camden on 24 May and Soan in Nottingham on 25 May. They’re then playing Mother’s Ruin in Bristol on 26 May and Creeping Death Fest at Green Door Store in Brighton on 27 May. More info on all their gigs is here.
Penumbra is available now, and their debut album Jord is out on 13 April.