21st August 2015 – Relapse Records
01. Skøgen Skulle Dø
03. Onde Børn
04. Vølvens Spådom
05. Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne
08. Byssan Lull
09. Dybt i Skoven
Formed just a couple of years ago in New York, one-woman black metal project Myrkur – AKA Amalie Bruun – has already released a myriad of records, including some highly praised singles in “Nattens Barn” and “Onde Børn“, as well as the well-received self-titled EP, so understandably there was quite a bit of anticipation for her full length debut M.
It is readily apparent from most of these tracks, however, that Amalie does not have the songwriting chops to be able to produce a full length. While the singles stood out as quality, most of the material on this album feels entirely underwritten, to the point where songs feel as though they are missing more than half of what they should have offered. Opening track “Skøgen Skulle Dø” showed promise, and there are glimpses of that promise scattered throughout, but M feels more like patchwork of riffs and screams than a comprehensive LP.
At times, M pulls back the black metal elements to offer up something more folky and traditional, which is better. Such moments nicely mixed; not too polished as to lose that more primal tone, but still well enough that it doesn’t sound as though it was recorded on an answering machine. The minute-long “Vølvens Spådom” is a nice example, but altogether too short. Other moments are sprinkled amongst the black metal parts, but for each of those there are songs like “Mordet”, which is entirely derivative and worthless as a piece of music.
One area where Amalie does seem to have it all together is the clean vocals. Her wispy inflection floats across the music like some kind of spectre. Many of the melodies are a bit unimaginative and unmemorable, but her voice is pleasant to listen to. The exception is the utterly gorgeous “Nordlys”; piano and voice combine to evoke beautiful imagery of nature. It is short, and yet unlike any other song on M, does not feel like it was recorded before the writing was finished. During heavier passages however, M feels entirely one-dimensional, and the vocals get muddied up. It’s clear aesthetic choice, but an ill-advised one, and it’s another strike against an album that couldn’t really afford any more.
The fact is that, despite all the promise shown in earlier works, M comes across feeling like a collection of unfinished demo songs with songwriting that stopped being unique twenty years ago. The folkier moments are a saving grace, as are the ghostly clean vocals, but not enough to save Myrkur’s anticipated full length debut from being a listless slog through a project that wishes it was 1991 again. Avoid.