Review Summary: Scandinavia's answer to Deafheaven deliver with a sophomore album which renders their great debut almost obsolete
How many times have you read a review for a blackgaze album and not seen at least one mention of Deafheaven somewhere in the text? Probably not a lot, as at this point mentioning Deafheaven in your blackgaze review is like commenting that the genre is mostly dying in your post-rock review: a famous cliche, but everyone does it anyway.
In the case of the band Mol, this reference is basically obligatory. Their 2018 debut album Jord
was widely acclaimed, but even more so than most blackgaze acts, these Danes saw the Deafheaven comparison thrown around with abandon. That isn't likely to change now, but with their wildly successful second LP, Mol have gone from worthy imitators to direct competitors at the forefront of the blackgaze scene.
When compared to Jord
basically ups the ante in nearly every respect. Still engaging in a relatively accessible brand of blackgaze, the eight songs presented on the sophomore record remain fairly concise (totaling around forty-six minutes) but nonetheless are sonically fluid and masterfully executed. If anything, this album leans more melodic than its predecessor (even if it lacks an overtly pretty post-rock track like "Lambda"), but there's no shortage of crushing moments, including from notable metalcore and post-metal tinges. Mol aim for and hit the bullseye on the eternal appeal of blackgaze, the successful fusion of opposites, a duality of light and dark, beauty and brutality, peanut butter and chocolate (oh wait, not that last one). The end results are immensely satisfying. Not only is the dreamy shimmer and the blackened roar locked together in a way that works, but more varied elements like the almost power metal-esque sections of "Photophobic" and the gorgeous female vocals on the beginning of the grandiose title track add diversity while still fitting into the album's broader vision.
The biggest compliment I can give Diorama
is that its release means I'll likely not be returning to the band's debut much anymore. While Jord
was a great slab of blackgaze, its follow-up feels fuller, richer, and more complete, the sound of an already talented group leveling up. Even if doesn't reinvent the wheel, Diorama
is a near-masterpiece, incorporating a wide slate of tasteful influences into a rollicking blend of heaviness and accessibility.