Blackgaze got a serious boot up the arse when Møl’s debut album, Jord, arrived in 2018. At the time, the MO of its biggest stars – namely, Alcest and Deafheaven – was beautifying black metal by extending it with ambient segues. Then these Danes cut the bullshit. Instead of keeping the shoegaze bliss and metallic rage separate, Jord layered the two together. Clean guitars echoed while the rhythm section raged and frontman Kim Song Sternkopf ceaselessly screeched. As a result, it was a more ferocious jolt than anything the genre’s idols had presented.
Diorama makes its subversive predecessor look primitive. It lives by the same principles, but every detail has been exaggerated to weave a masterpiece. While still anchored in black metal’s brutal vigour, it dares to shimmer even brighter than before. The guitars of Nicolai Hansen and Frederik Lippert, have fully flourished from playing a handful of delicate notes to complete, blissful melodies. Chugging and roars consume the latter half of Serf until – with drums still pounding hard – a soft, hummable lead unfolds. Yet, during Tvesind, the pair rampage from thrashing chords to a scraped death metal riff worthy of Gojira. Surprises abound, and yet nothing ever sounds shoehorned in.
Sternkopf is similarly unchained as he introduces clean vocals to his repertoire. Their sudden emergence during Itinerari’s chorus creates an instant anthem, destined to incite singalongs live. They return on the closing title track: an operatic duet that plummets into a hellscape of screams and feedback, ending Diorama at an evolutionary peak.
Flaunting all of blackgaze’s strengths at once while also connoting ambitions beyond the genre’s borders, Diorama deserves to catapult Møl into the stratosphere. In much the same way Deafheaven’s Sunbather set the standard for the last decade, this should be the measuring stick for the 2020s.
Møl's Diorama is released on November 5 via Nuclear Blast Records