15th September 2017 – Relapse Records
03. The Serpent
06. De Tre Piker
07. Funeral ft. Chelsea Wolfe
Metal as a whole has been and continues to be dominated by male musicians – with the occasional exceptions, usually limited to power metal and very little else. Because of this, bands with a prominent female element, like Myrkur, are bound to cause ripples in the status quo.
Few have made more of such ripples than Danish musician Amalie Bruun. In diving into one of the most closed-minded of genres, she elicited such an outcry of toxic vitriol that proved once and for all that your average black metal fan doesn’t have a whole lot going on between the ears. Unswayed, and with a full length, an EP and a spectacular live album to her name, Myrkur continues her unwavering crusade with second full length Mareridt.
Opening the record with the title track, she wastes no time exploring the light and dark duality that will remain on show throughout this release. Amalie’s wistful yet controlled harmonies echo throughout every corner of the music, as background storm clouds brew. There’s a tension that cracks with a distorted guitar wail before her acidic and scathing growls come into play. There is a most certainly a careful equilibrium here, built further in follow-up “Måneblôt“, where gently considered harmonies tread weightlessly over rather standard double kick patterns.
“The Serpent” sees a distinct shift. It’s a rarity for Amalie to sing in English, but completely disregarding her own conventions for something more in line with Chelsea Wolfe, the unabashedly heavy instrumentals feel foggy, weighed down by controlled yet expansive vocals. With a focus here on sultry delivery of lines over the ethereal deliveries we’re used, the track is a welcome curve ball from Myrkur.
As the noise rings out, “Crown” slithers in on waves of nyckelharpa and piano. It’s pure tranquility, with a cinematic quality that goes unparalleled, and the vocal deliver delivers such depth in places that you could be forgiven for believing that Amelie has morphed into Lana Del Rey. Then, ”Elleskudt” returns proceedings to a lo-fi haze that stomps with quintessential black metal essence. Where “De Tre Piker” (or ‘The Three Girls’) is a take on a traditional Nordic folk song it is enthused from the bottom to the very top with an ancient depth that is only ever magnified by the vocal performance on offer. Traditional instrumentation adds a feeling of authenticity that goes a long way into creating the illusion of this song being tracked in a forest around a campfire somewhere in the North lands. With prior mentions to the influence of Chelsea Wolfe, the woman herself delivers her unmistakable touch with a guest spot on “Funeral“, and the pairing couldn’t be more perfect; the doom-tinged unison piles over the traditional band setup and makes for an almost unbeatable masterclass in vocal harmony.
Despite the vocals being the main pulling power of Myrkur, the instrumental prowess on show throughout Mareridt bursts forth in short, well-considered blasts, and each time each instrument is allowed to take a centre stage quite readily. The drum heavy “Gladiatrix” is a fine example of this; cacophonous blasts of snare and cymbal command attention both unabashed and unrelentingly. “Kætteren” invites you to enter a world long gone with a traditional instrumental track that paints visions of vast landscapes and viking mead halls.
Myrkur represents the future of metal; a meeting of minds and genres that pair some completely and succinctly without fear of undeserved critique in order to further the style. Mareridt is a culmination of past, present, and future with an incredible attention to detail. Each considered note is enraptured by the vocal prowess on show here and for that it’s clear that Myrkur goes unparalleled. The future is here.