Give in to the storm.

That’s the message of the opening song from JORD, MØL’s genre-revitalising full-length debut. “Give in to the storm now,” repeats vocalist, Kim Song Sternkopf, first screaming over colossal slabs of guitar, then growling mutedly through static over ambient tremoling. It’s clear that he’s referring to the existential turmoil of, you know, the human condition and all that, but, on another, more meta level, it serves as an appeal to listeners, equal parts invitation and litmus test. This is going to be chaotic and destructive and disorientating, Sternkopf seems to be saying, but if you stop fighting it, if you just give in for a little while, you won’t regret it.

Now, there will always be people who hear the guttural death growl and guitar chaos of extreme metal and think “yikes, turn it off, please.” MØL are trying to bypass that instinct. ‘Storm’ might seem like it’s pulling a cheap trick by easing you in with those Badalamenti-esque, echoing guitar chords and that gentle chiming melody plucked straight from the post-rock playbook, before hitting you with a hurricane of pummeling kickdrums courtesy of powerhouse Ken Klejs, screaming guitars and goblin-esque screeches, but MØL aren’t trying to Trojan horse extreme metal into your steady diet of shoegaze and post-rock. They’re creating a streamlined hybrid of myriad genre touchstones that, at its very essence, is rooted in good old fashioned songcraft.

Regardless of what mode the band is operating in at any particular point in a song (and, believe me, these songs may be relatively short by the standards of the genre, but they pack in a career’s worth of ideas), the key components are always melody and structure. These are beautifully, intricately constructed songs. Whilst the band’s early EPs exhibited considerable promise, there was occasionally the sense that the songs were comprised of disparate parts that, while effective in their own right, didn’t necessarily cohere as a satisfying whole. That’s no longer the case on JORD. These songs function like the best pop music, in that they aim for the pleasure centre of the brain over and over again. This is about as accessible as extreme metal gets without becoming off-puttingly sanitised. The songs are tighter than anything by the likes of blackgaze contemporaries like Deafheaven, Lantlôs or Alcest, but, at times, they’re even more ferocious. And they’re written and performed in such a way that they still emotionally resonate, even as you’re conscious that you’re just having a real fucking blast listening to this thing.

Take lead single, ‘Penumbra’ for example, with it’s arena-sized, crowd-pleasing opening guitar riff. Somehow that section segues seamlessly into no-holds-barred black metal blast beats and tremolo-ed riffing, before the songs veers off into other territories. If the change-up at the two-and-a-half-minute mark doesn’t provoke an outbreak of goosebumps I’d call the emergency services, because your central nervous system has probably shut down. Structurally, the song changes multiple times without repeating itself, and without ever losing coherence or letting up energy, until the conclusion brings back that monstrous and yet uplifting opening riff. As with ‘Storm’, the track’s structure reflects the lyrical themes, wherein seasons change, the world changes around us, but we remain oblivious and static, never progressing.

Second single ‘Bruma’ is what I would call MØL’s ‘Brought to the Water’ moment, firstly in the way that that song became the ideal one to use to introduce Deafheaven to newcomers, and secondly because it too has melodic passages that recall a seminal alt-rock song from the 90s, without being detrimental to the song as a whole. On ‘Brought to the Water,’ it was Sixpence None The Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’; on Bruma, it’s R.E.M.’s ‘Daysleeper.’ This melodic familiarity makes the song an easy in, even if it is, in terms of subject matter, one of the darkest songs on JORD, concerned as it is with cold hard facts of mortality and our delusional denial of them. “These dreams are fast, our glow will fade and die, Still we think ourselves timeless,” screams Sternkopf as his bandmates whip up a storm behind him. The way the song combines passages of ethereal beauty with sludge-metal riffage and short-lived tornadoes of black metal chaos is nothing short of breathtaking. What also stands out is Sternkopf’s vocal performance. Whilst his delivery vacillates between fairly conventional screeches and deeper, guttural growls that will be catnip to fans of the genre, he is more intelligible than someone like Deafheaven’s George Clarke, and his sense of rhythm and melody is particularly strong. While you can sometimes imagine a Deafheaven track without the vocals (it’s a complaint you hear often about blackgaze artists: “oh, this would be great without all the screaming ruining it”), the interplay between the vocals and guitars on JORD is one of the most engaging aspects of the album.

Now, I’ve dedicated a decent amount of copy to ‘Penumbra’ and ‘Bruma’ so far, which should in no way suggest that this is an album carried by its singles. MØL keep up this standard across the album’s entire runtime, with the one exception of instrumental ‘Lambda’, which, while being a perfectly serviceable interlude of Slowdive-esque shoegaze that will give listeners a chance to catch their breath, doesn’t achieve the level of dynamism of tracks like ‘Vakuum’ or the closing title track. It virtually cycles through the same (admittedly gorgeous) chord progression at different volumes for its duration. It might have been more impactful to feature some of the clean vocals that accentuate ‘JORD’ to such emotive effect. Regardless, ‘Lambda’ is consigned to the status of fleeting memory once you’ve experienced ‘Ligament,’ a song which exhibits such command of the vocabularies of various sub-genres of metal, that by the time the band pull a chugging power-pop-meets-hardcore riff out of their box of tricks, you’ll be grinning ear-to-ear. That is, if you’ve still got ears after all the punishing blast beats.

Minute-to-minute, second-to-second, MØL continually surprise and thrill on JORD. And yet, there isn’t anything truly revolutionary about what they’re doing; you can hear specific influences in almost every individual component, and the lyrical subject matter is fairly par for the course for the genre. MØL are not reinventing the wheel. But the wheel they have made is the roundest, shiniest, and most intimidatingly huge fucking wheel you’ve ever seen in your life. In this sense, the album reminds me of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s masterpiece, Source Tags and Code; another album that unapologetically wore its influences on its sleeve, but pulled something off that was undeniably masterful. Like that record, JORD is a journey of crescendos upon crescendos, each one striving to outdo the last. It’s perfectly sequenced, starting in the midst of a catastrophic storm and ending in the dirt (“jord” means earth in the band’s native tongue), like we all will, eventually. In between, you will feel like you have experienced something truly vitalising, a cathartic rush of visceral noise and fleeting, transcendent beauty. And you will be glad that you gave in to the storm.