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Myrkur – M

by H.P. Buttcraft at 30 September 2015, 6:04 AM

Ever since her self-titled debut EP last year, MYRKUR has become one of the most fascinating artists in current extreme metal. The amount of momentum she is building grows greater with each passing day. So you can see why it is an esteemed privilege of mine to get to review her latest album, her first full-length, "M".

There is a sweet, subtle mysticism surrounding MYRKUR but she is no stranger to the press and she certainly doesn’t hide behind the music she produces either. Although MYRKUR chooses to keep her true identity secret, there is still plenty that we know about her as a musician. Amalie Bruun, as she is otherwise known, is a multi-instrumentalist is also an avid archer, falconer and artist.

The album "M" is somewhere in between a BJÖRK record and an early ULVER record. There is so much folk art infused into the songwriting. Right from the start with “Skøgen Skulle Dø”, the audience is greeted with fiddle and hand-made drums with powerful, distorted guitar strums bellowing forward through the antiquated folk atmosphere. This then leads into a more experimental passage, an aural forest of vocal samples, heavily delayed violin and electric guitar with all the rhythm and percussion subtracted from it. "M" is filled with lots of vocal chamber music, giving this album a much more angelic shade than I would expect from any other Black Metal release.

Although it may not be obvious from an outside listener, the Black Metal community is, perhaps, unfamiliar with a female multi-instrumentalist. From all I know, she is one of a small group of female artists from all over the glove that affiliate themselves with Black Metal. Perhaps lovers of Black Metal may find MYRKUR a foreign presence amongst their male-centric music scene and this may create doubt or distrust for her authenticity. But with the way Black Metal obsessively worships 19th Century Romanticism, it still feels like a feminine presence has been haunting Black Metal records like an elusive spectre weaving its way through the fibres of the songs that exist in the genre ever since its earliest inceptions.

MYRKUR is the manifestation of this spirit and her glorious music, genderless as it is, integrates into the mythology of Black Metal seamlessly, as it does with the Norse mythology it pays homage to. One could theorize that MYRKUR retains a necessary child-like innocence and naivety to authentically believe magical beings, Gods and sorcery that come straight out of a storybook. Post-modernist culture has satirized these myths enough to plunge them into a cesspool of ironic appreciation but MYRKUR seems to hold onto this sentimentality for folk mythology and draws her strengths from the beauty and power of these things that we have sullied.

Another note about this particular album, there is a basic melody that is used on multiple songs. You can hear it foremost on the track “Onde Børn”, this melodic progression in MYRKUR’s voice that glides along the guitar melody similar to a medieval folk song. You can hear it again, this time on piano, on the album’s outro track “Norn.” The melody on “Vølvens Spådom” bleeds into a slower but heavy tempo which pretty much classifies the song “Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne” as a sort of Blackened Doom Metal opus.

The moments on this record that strive to sound abrasive and raw or try to sound heavily dark and gloomy, like on “Hævnen”, “Dybt i Skoven” and “Mordet”, could come off to some listeners who are more familiar with atmospheric and pagan Black Metal as uninspired and bland. To a degree, I agree with them. For one thing, the guitar riffs are way too murky and simplistic to be anything more interesting than a DIMMU BORGIR riff. Also, the tremendous contrast between the classical piano, the fiddle and the chamber vocals along with the icy black metal screeches juxtapose each other is a way that lacks consistency and focus on the philosophical and spiritual relevance of Black Metal. Sadly, this is the main criticism that keeps “M” from earning what could have been a perfect rating.

The omnipotent presence of beauty and grace resounds throughout MYRKUR’s "M". And what makes “M” so incredible to hear are the wide range of influences on her album than just “Bergtatt” from ULVER, DARKTHRONE and BURZUM. I can certainly hear influences from Tori Amos, Kate Bush, SPIRITUALIZED and JOY DIVISION interlaced throughout and between the stark sounds of the electric guitar. Perhaps these influences can be attributed to how deep “M” gets underneath your skin and begins to incubate in your brain. I promise you that you will enjoy “M” quite a lot and if you haven’t given MYRKUR a chance by now, this is the right time to start.

4 Star Rating

1. Skøgen Skulle Dø
2. Hævnen
3. Onde Børn
4. Vølvens Spådom
5. Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne
6. Nordlys
7. Mordet
8. Byssan Lull
9. Dybt i Skoven
10. Skadi
11. Norn
Myrkur – Guitar, Vocals, Piano
Record Label: Relapse Records


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