From out of nowhere, MØL landed in the effervescent world of post-black metal with 2018’s lauded release Jord and did Denmark proud, as well as firmly stating their unique spin on the genre. MØL perfectly and expertly blend black metal and shoegaze with utter ease, so much so they give icons like Deafheaven and Alcest a run for their money.
Jord arrived gift-wrapped and imbued with creativity and spectacle. Sophomore album Diorama is the surprise second present that brings you more joy than you ever hoped for. Let’s cut right to the chase—Diorama is a masterpiece, featuring eight glorious tracks filled with attention-grabbing riffs and a beautiful contrast of light and dark that prove their debut was never just a bit of good luck.
“Fraktur” is a cosy introduction into Diorama’s modern masterpiece. The first opening picks teasing gently into an outburst of colorful, Unreqvited-esque riffs, shrill vocals, and bending, irregular guitar slides. The track nips by in no time at all, leaving you craving more and never knowing exactly what’s to come.
“Photophobic” perfectly shows off the intricate balance between black metal’s harshness and the starry, reflective wonder of the genre of ‘gaze’. The brutality of the dissonant chugging and blastbeating plays beautifully alongside bubbly, energetic riffing. The track is given even more life with its airy and ethereal, female-led vocal sections from Norwegian singer Sylvaine, who appears again later in the album.
“Serf” may be Diorama’s most catchy track. The headbanging chugs and awesome, rhythmic stomps provide the main meat of the track and driving force through pleasantness, whilst that absolutely delightful riff hooks you in for endless repeats. The more caustic “Tvesind” begins venomous, storming in with blast beats and blackened, fret-scraping guitar work and then makes ways for sweet interludes between these darker strikes of black metal.
The thoroughly enchanting title track “Diorama” ends the album with a blackgazing power ballad with Sternkopf dueting with Sylvaine, who graces another track with her angelic voice. Sternkopf’s voice is engaging, powerful yet so beautiful, showcasing surprisingly perfect cleans as well as a grim metal vocals. The track becomes sing-songy with sinister hints and eventually melts away into a cacophony of noise.
Diorama glitters with endless nuances and insane energy and gave me the same musical chills as Deafheaven’s Infinite Granite did. Utterly blew me away. It’s still very much them but so joyously new and freely open, with experimental tendrils in various genre directions for that expansive listening pleasure.
The two guitarists are truly magnificent and provide some stellar ear candy. Around every detailed corner awaits a spell-binding riff to sweep you into the clouds, and that’s on every single track. Diorama is packed with hooks, catchiness, vibrant riffs, and enough earworms to cause your head to buzz with all the inner humming along you’ll do.
Diorama is a pleasurable reward after a long day and an album to sink deep into like a warm, comforting bath. It’ll certainly be a go-to album for myself from now on. Album of the year contender gets thrown about a lot. but MØL play with enough vigor and confidence and back it with countless hearty riffs and euphonic moments that it would be a crime to overlook it. Exuberant or crushing, MØL do both with great aplomb. Diorama is modern black metal at its finest.
Diorama is available to buy here.