Møl love Bristol. This was their third visit to The Fleece since 2019. Add in two sold-out shows at Mother’s Ruin and a double appearance at Arctangent, and one wonders why they don’t buy a flat in the city. Given the house prices in Bristol, you can see why they don’t! But the Danes truly love playing here, and on tonight’s performance, one can see why Bristol loves them too.
Møl – Countless Skies
The Fleece, Bristol – 9 May 2023
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
It’s only been eight months since the band were here as support to Crippled Black Phoenix, and the venue is similarly busy without being crammed, something that can make it a little uncomfortable.
With two stunning albums under their belt, 2018’s Jord and 2021’s fantastic Diorama, which for all intentions, they are still touring, Møl may not have a huge catalogue to spoil us with. Still, they pick wisely, throwing the appreciative crowd the choicest cuts from both releases.
They open with Fraktur, and after the sparkling, almost ethereal intro, Møl explodes in a frenzy of blinding lights and the blur that is lead singer Kim Song Sternkopf. The diminutive frontman rarely stops throughout the show, his head often flung back or hurled towards the stage as he erupts with almost frightening savagery, such is the force with which he spits forth the lyrics. It’s an amazing transformation, for between songs, he’s about as mild-mannered as you can get, thanking everyone for coming on a Tuesday night.
If you are unfamiliar with the Blackgaze that Møl delivers, then imagine a torrent of Black Metal screams over shimmering guitars that cascade like a waterfall. Melancholic lyrics enunciated with enough force to punch holes in walls, all delivered with enough passion and energy to power a small town.
They are short of a bassist tonight, Holger Rumph-Frost is playing guitar on this run. It matters little, for the use of some layered digital backing is cleverly mixed to allow the phenomenal guitar work of Joachim Rahbek Iversen to glide and caress. Itinerari, one of four to feature from Diorama, is a highlight. The gentle guitar work gives way to incendiary passages, and clean harmonies provide a welcome contrast to Sternkopf’s ferocious onslaught.
It may be around 70 minutes in length, but the intensity in which Møl exist means that less is more. A punishing finale of Sundowned from their self-titled EP is breathlessly executed, and with a thank you, the band ease off the stage.
Stunning on every level, there’s no doubt Møl will be back in Bristol soon. As for the clever soul who put this tour together, they deserve the highest of congratulations, for this was a package of stellar quality on every level.
If Møl brings the intensity, then Countless Skies match it in a totally different manner. Just as Møl manage a connection that is almost telepathic, the Hertfordshire quartet hit you from every angle with delicious melodies that are intertwined with brutal, angular Death Metal elements that crush with their heaviness.
Their music is complex and enchanting, drawing you in with an ease that means the dramatic changes of tempo surprise and delight in equal measure.
This tour sees the band promoting their freshly released Resonance EP, out mere days earlier. A lockdown recording, it features the amazing cello of Arianna Maysayah, who performed in the studio with the band. She is joining the band on this run and brings a unique addition to their 45-minute set.
It’s difficult to take your eyes off her as she strikes quite the figure on a night when another celebrated cellist, Jo Quail, is playing a sold-out show in the same city.
Of course, Countless Skies are all about contrasts. The death growls of lead vocalist Ross King are countered by the phenomenal backing vocals of Phil Romeo, whose voice is operatic. It works as well live as it does on record, most notably on the stunning Glow, which the band perform in full.
A 20-minute three-part piece, it holds the audience entranced as the band effortlessly ease their way through it.
The harmonies give way to punishing riffing as Part 1: Resolution goes full Opeth circa 1999, whilst Maysayah’s cello provides the extra that makes it magical.
By the time Countless Skies finish with Tempest, there’s no movement apart from heads that are nodding up and down. Music can be spellbinding, and the magic that this band weave is truly captivating.
I’m not alone, as all around me, there are smiles, focused smiles as people compute what they’ve witnessed. It won’t be long before King, Romeo, guitarist James Pratt and drummer Nathan Robshaw are back headlining this stage.
Anything else would be a travesty.