Black Metal, the most fickle of mistresses. A genre that is both hostile to innovation yet simultaneously embraces the idea of a personal difference. Dividing Black Metal fans the world of over Myrkur, unveiled her debut record simply titled M. Not in the realms of Immortal, nor in the aether of Darkthrone, Myrkur is wholeheartedly unique. Returning with her sophomore release Mareridt, danish for nightmare, Amalie Bruun delves once more into the nightmarish psychedelia of her truly unique brand of Black Metal.
As much about atmosphere as it is songwriting, the ethereal opening of title track “Mareridt” sets the scene beautifully. Shrill female vocals are layered on top of a monotone din with a cathedral like echo. Sounding like a nightmarish rendition of what you might expect Frodo to see when he gets stabbed for the umpteenth time. Importantly though, immediately the listener is beguiled into this malevolent force that is Mareridt.
Veering from sounding like a possessed Enya on “The Serpent” there are moments where the more traditional elements of Black Metal pierce through. Contrasting from its serene opening the banshee squeal of “Måneblôt” is a far more abrasive sound with blast beats a regular occurrence. Reaching into an almost agricultural vein standout moments on Mareridt are often not with any form of distortion, “De Tre Piker” being a section where once again Bruun lets go and enables her cathedral like resonation to flow through the record. Though there are tracks where both contrasting elements merge to form the likes of single “Ulvinde” very much a familiar call from the permafrost, whilst not quite like anything you will have heard.
Collaborating with a fellow doomy lady Chelsea Wolfe brings her vocal talents to the cheerily titled “Funeral” creating more of a psychedelic mantra than howling force. Here lies much of the genius in Myrkur, quite simply, you get entirely absorbed by not only the music but the atmosphere itself. The final section of the album sees this come full circle with a rustic instrumental “Kætteren”. Featuring inspired use of a jaw harp before the marriage of Celtic sounding violin before the albums final track throws you from the reverie. Bringing you back to the records finally track “Børnehjem” into the inescapable portal that Mareridt invokes. A harrowing use of distorted vocals that if used badly would have the effect of being cheesy yet here it leaves a lingering eerie reality to it closing the record beautifully. More Arthouse than Blockbuster, Myrkur might not get worldwide recognition but damn is she going to get some niche praise for this record.
Myrkur’s brand new album Mareridt is out now via Relapse Records.