Finding a home in the more exploratory realms of the extreme metal spectrum, Danish outfit Møl blend esoteric atmospheres with raging metallic power. There’s a fine art to blending the two seemingly opposing styles without the end result coming across a jumbled, jarring mess, but it’s one that’s been increasingly explored in recent years, as more and more artists feel the urge to innovate and stand out in a world creating more and more music than anyone could ever realistically listen to.
Of course, the melding of black metal and shoegazey textures is not entirely new, as Deafheaven, Alcest, Ghost Bath and more will tell you, but there’s immense class to the way Møl utilise the benefits of the style to create breathtaking compositions. Black metal is a style often enraptured by a need to feel primitive and straight-forwardly abrasive, whilst the more widescreen soundscapes of shoegaze are more concerned with conjuring loftier emotions – put the two together seamlessly, and the imposing nature of each complements the other, offering something that no other style of music can. More than this, though, the group’s sound sees an intuitive and innovative influx of melody that allows their songs to remain catchy despite periods of all-out bedlam.
No wonder Holy Roar saw fit to pick the group up for the release of their debut album, as Jord, set to release in April, looks set to be yet another success for the British label. With a desire to find out more, we spoke to guitarist Nicolai Michael Busse Hansen about their inspirations, what the hell their name means, and how the notion of impermanence informs their upcoming album.
Møl means “moth” in Danish, what’s the significance of this name?
The boring story is that we wanted something really simple and a name that was entirely Danish and would stand out.
The more inspired version is that moths, at least for us, symbolize duality. They are, for example, both beautiful and considered pests – at least some species. They also symbolize change, namely, from larvae to full-grown moth. We feel that this reflects our music very well: We rely on beautiful and shoegazey effects as well as the aggressive and crushing elements of metal.
Holy Roar look set to have a great year. How has being on the label helped you?
They have been absolutely amazing in helping us. We were, and still are, stoked they want to release Jord, which is more than we could ever hope for. We are huge fans of many of the bands on their roster including Svalbard, Rolo Tomasi, and Employed To Serve. So for us to be included is a dream come true. Holy Roar have also helped by getting us exposure, so we are also looking at some shows outside Denmark with their help. There will be more on this at a later time.
Who/what would you cite as inspirations on your sound and lyrics?
With regards to our sound, our inspirations really are multifaceted. We’re huge fans of the late eighties and early nineties shoegaze scene. The work of Cocteau Twins’ guitarist, Robin Guthrie, and especially his clean and lead sounds, is something that we find very powerful. In the metal scene and especially with the genres of post-metal, we’re also fans of bands like Alcest, Lantlôs, and Les Discrets.
Regarding inspiration for lyrics it is mainly the human condition, being a sentient being, living in Scandinavia, enjoying and loathing the spoils of life, single malts and quality beer and great coffee.
You’ve mentioned that lead-single ‘Penumbra’ is about “a sensory journey from light towards dark”, what are some of the other lyrical themes across Jord?
The main underlining theme of the release is impermanence – the impermanence of the human existence. In this day and age, everything seems to be temporary and fleeting at alarmingly increasing speeds. How we as humans tend to put meaning to and sometimes overemphasizing certain aspects of our fleeting lives is somewhat the essence of the lyrical writing on Jord. The opening track, ‘Storm’, encourages the listener to give into and embrace the storm and walk into whatever life may grant you along the way, whilst trying to let go of the visions you might have since these too might change.
Shoegaze and metal have been proven to match well by Deafheaven, Alcest etc., what do you think sets you apart from these bands?
Better songwriting and catchier tunes. Well, maybe not with Alcest. Neige is an amazing songwriter.
What’s the local metal scene like in Denmark? Was it hard to make a name for yourself?
Small. With only six million people living in Denmark, the metal scene is incredibly small. A lot of bands seem to steer toward the more old-school genres of metal such as thrash and death metal. However, we think that this has worked to our advantage. We stand out a lot in the scene by also drawing on elements of genres outside the metal genre. This has also gained us attention outside the metal scene with the more “mainstream” audiences.
Have the EPs you put out before Jord helped you hone your sound? If so, how has your sound progressed since your first release?
We feel that we have progressed both as fans of music, as songwriters and as musicians. However, it’s difficult to say exactly how our sound has developed since the release of our first EP. Writing music is a personal process for us and something that is very much in the moment. Songwriting for us is still very much about writing something that we would want to listen to ourselves, but we do think that since our first release our approach to composition has improved and become more confident. We are using more dynamic build up as well as writing with more focus on melody. The production value has also increased immensely.
Weird and wonderful subgenres are becoming fairly common. Do you feel the notion of genre becoming increasingly redundant in 2018?
Not really. From a purely practical standpoint, people will always need something to label things by, regardless of how popular it is. We need something to describe and encapsulate what we’re listing to. The problem with genre as a musician is that you have no control over what label you’re given. In Møl, for example, we don’t necessarily see ourselves as a post-black metal band, but that doesn’t stop people from using it. In other words, we’re probably fine with people using whatever they want to describe our music.
Looking beyond the release of Jord, what can we expect from Møl in the future?
You can expect more. We’re hoping to play more shows and release more music for as long as people want to listen to it. Or at least until we grow sick of each other.
Jord is out April 13th via Holy Roar Records. Pre-order here.
Words: George Parr