Review Summary: If your black metal has been unsavory of late, these Danes may have the spice you are looking for.
Prior the early ‘90s black metal outburst in Europe, and the... logistical notorieties that took place at that time in Norway, the Scandinavian peninsula was a region with a track record of merely absorbing/adapting to the foreign rock/metal trends, as the latter were imported from England, the States, and Central Europe. Post the mentioned singular point, metal music press throughout Europe, was quick and diligent in documenting the hordes of Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish outfits, as they set out to make their own stand in the metal world. The somewhat weird part with Denmark, is that it took at least a decade for native black metal outfits to start following suit, albeit one of the three key outfits responsible for planting the genre’s initial seeds (yes, Mercyful Fate), came from the Nordic/windy island complex. In hindsight, this latency could be explained by the country’s inclination towards other metal genre tributaries, namely the hard rocking, death, modern/nu, melodic death, and gothic/doom/death ones.
Due to the inherent language barrier, the author of this review is largely ignorant as to how impartial is the Danish metal press regarding the merit assessment of native black metal bands, and the ensuing contentions. However, the treatment of Molok’s new album Salt
from two such outlets, can be slated as a statistically unsubstantiated indication, but an indication nevertheless, that the local metal press treats the scene with a too-little-too-late mentality, even when it appears to be the other way around. Danish outfit was founded during the dusk of the naughts, with drummer Loke Bispbjierg listed as the band’s sole member. While there’s a lack of correspondence between the band lineups and the materialized back catalogue releases, the loosely knit, lofi/psychedelic/experimental/black n’ blues metal therein, could easily fly under the radar, and it pretty much did. However, this should not the case with Salt
, a quantum leap forward for Molok; if your “off the beaten path” black metal has been bland of late, these Danes may have the spice you are looking for.
kicks in with “Kryddersalt” and in turn, with a calm introduction, post rock in design, that could be mistaken for setting the tone of the entire album. The same melody is reiterated at the album’s closure track, giving a sense of a universal concept possibly lurking within the lyrics and the song titles; the aforementioned language however barrier however, is for the time being. prohibitive of more discerns in that respect. “Kryddersalt” is quickly transformed into a ferocious black metal attack, in which Molok’s instrumental urgency becomes immediately evident. Merely reenacting the black metal basics with vigor, does not seem to suffice for these Danes from the getgo, and this becomes perceivable from the vocals, whose ferocity and enunciation give the album a lot of merit points. Throughout Salt
, their intention to experiment with odd time signatures, and meddle with genres seemingly alien to black metal, is made perfectly clear and most importantly, it is undertaken with a sense of purpose. For instance, the rhythm section is blast beating for the most part, but the way cymbals are being pounded in accord with the corresponding mid-tempo sections here and there, hint towards the corresponding best available practices of traditional post punk (“Benzo-Benny”, “Nu Falder der Braende Ned”, “Vandspejl”).
The guitars all but follow suit, as besides being drenched in noise the whole time, they shift unexpectedly between blackened, groove, post-related, even rock n’ roll tendencies. What’s more, the bitter melodies that emanate from the album as a whole, are satiably reminiscent of the cold look and feel of the late ‘90s black metal movement, which disrupted the genre from its putrid marrow up. Salt
’s first half, atypically set by the hypnotic trip hop of “Med Hjertet”, is a masterclass of flow and awe, especially during the first listens. The second half does not greatly fall behind, but besides the increased heterogeneity of the material therein, one could sense some elements from the first half being reiterated, with minimal-moderate loss in merit. Moreover, from the 20th listen onward, album loses some of its impetus, still it settles at the top tiers of the compound style it strives for. All in all, Molok’s sophomore album and the band itself, are an unexpected yet great addition to the highly volatile fold of forward thinking black metal, whose frequency of releasing material tends to match that of rainfalls in Earth’s deserts.