MØL – Diorama

MØL – Diorama

Møl is a black metal/shoegaze quintet who reportedly made waves in the genre with their debut album, "Jord"²⁰¹⁸, this, the sophomore release, "Diorama", released on November 5th, being their first major label album. Although I’m usually not that much into this genre, seeing as much of it are just better or worse copies of Alcest, I was, nevertheless, intrigued by the two tracks available on their bandcamp and asked for the album for review. It turned out to be a good decision and Møl quite a unique band and blend, incorporating also some death metal, alternative, gothic, ambient, doom and even thrashy punk and hardcore for good measure, with a familiar if pleasant and elegant sense of melody and mostly good songwriting.

The word "diorama" can either refer to a 19th-century mobile theatre device, or, in modern usage, a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum. Dioramas (as the one on the cover) are often built by hobbyists as part of related hobbies such as military vehicle modeling, miniature figure modeling, or aircraft modeling. The current, popular understanding of the term "diorama" denotes a partially three-dimensional, full-size replica or scale model of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment.

Møl lives up to the titular concept (that is, if it is a concept album) by making each of the 8 tracks a unique display of their vision and ability. The two tracks I mentioned in the opening paragraph, "Photophobic" and "Serf" were excellent choices for representatives, strong, powerful and varied enough to draw attention to the album. The former has powerful excellent heavy rhythmic definitely black metal riffs on which to build a double chorus melody in a slightly progressive sauce but the latter is my favorite, with melodic death metal of Arch Enemyic verse riffs and strongly reminiscent of Dark Tranquillity’s "Atoma" stylings with a very addictive and uplifting melody although probably despite the lyrical message. Another standout is a very different "Itinerari" with a surprising male clean vocals slightly recalling Jonas Petter Renkse (Katatonia) the song sounding not unlike what Enslaved is recently doing. "Vestige" is a surprisingly thrash and punk driven number, Mastodon struggling with Paradise Lost, and its additional appeal is that it follows "Serf". The very aggressive, very black metal "Tvesind" may seem off putting at first likely due to the smart use of atonal Gojirian riffs in the verses but the chorus melody is, again, Dark Tranquillityic, this time somewhere from the "Haven" pastures, this one using an interesting light/dark, ambient to doom play and varied pacing.

What doesn’t quite work for me is the hardcorish "Redacted" and the opening and closing of the album. The opening "Fraktur" reads like a teaser but I never liked similar attempts by my favorite metalcore act Darkest Hour (which they seem very fond of doing often) so why should I here, and the closing title track is almost boring. While we can see that Kim Song Sternkopf (vocals), guitarists Frederik Lippert and Nicolai Busse Bladt, Holger Rumph-Frost (bass) and Ken Klejs (drums, percussion) are not content working alone already on the 2nd track (Photophobic), engaging an undisclosed and uncredited female almost operatic singer to compliment various always interesting and properly placed growls, rasps and clean vocals of Sternkopf, it works beautifully until the title track which turns a blackgaze dynamic into a gothic alternative Evanescence. It’s not a terrible track but I don’t see myself playing it often. Perhaps the song would work on an album in a similar vein or even in the middle of this one (seeing as it is the title track) but I’ve never been a fan of morose non-dynamic closers with few exceptions (such as the Machine Head’s albums). As it is, it is the last track and you can easily skip it by restarting the album which I’m sure many people will do.

I recommend "Diorama" most to those who think blackgaze is not worth much attention, you may be surprised. It is a fresh, very catchy, skillfully and excellently put together album with a high replay value and a few flaws.