By: Scott Bowden
Myrkur | website | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on August 21, 2015 via Relapse Records
In case you have been in a hole for the past year, there is a lot of talk surrounding Myrkur since the first EP surfaced from the woods of Denmark in 2014. Mostly talk that surrounds her alter ego pop star life as a member of Ex-Cops and as a solo performer under her own name, and how the music isn’t representative of true black metal, sometimes purely down to the fact that she is a woman, which is flat out stupid if you think that way. This somehow takes precedence over the music on this album and it is ridiculous. No one bats an eyelid when Fenriz does something other than Darkthrone, right?
Anyway, back to the matter at hand…
There have been a lot of bands and people in the last decade who have elevated black metal from its roots whilst keeping it relevant for the old fans, and making it more accessible for a new audience to appreciate, and Myrkur seems next in line to continue that lineage.
M features Garm of Ulver overseeing production duties, Teloch from Mayhem adding guitars and Øyvind Myrvoll from Nidingr taking up drum duties. The influences from each band are apparent at snippets throughout, some more than others, but you can’t help noticing that even though Myrkur is a one-woman black metal band, this album was definitely a collaboration at points, especially with Garm. At quite a few moments, this sounds a lot like Ulver’s Bergtatt, and although this is certainly not a bad thing, you find that M struggles to stand on its own two feet for the entirety of the albums duration, mainly coming across as a sort of nod, or wave to everything that has come before it rather than creating something new and brilliant.
‘Skøgen Skulle Dø’ opens the album wonderfully. It is a slow builder that features beautifully arranged traditional instrumentation, beautiful vocal performances, both in the form of singing, and her forest wandering banshee like shrieks, and some excellent use of production tricks that will manage to please fans of Swans and Ulver equally. This is immediately followed by ‘Hævnen’, a much more familiar take on the black metal sound, and it is executed exceedingly well. This however is the blueprint for the entire album. We are teased with something that pushes the envelope that little bit further out into new territory, and then it almost jumps back a step. That’s not to say that it is bad in any way, I actually really like this album a lot, but I find that the tracks which stray from the familiarities of black metal are a far more rewarding listen.
If M was an album filled with songs like ‘Jeg Er Guden, I Er Tjerne’ or ‘Dybt I Skoven’, then I probably wouldn’t hesitate to put this album near the top of my end of year list. They have everything, frost bitten melodies, inventive drum work, solid guitar parts, beautiful vocals that Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins would be proud to have achieved, and thick, dense atmosphere. But it isn’t filled with songs like that. Instead we are treated to something brilliant, then something good, then a soft solo piano based track or interlude, which breaks up the album nicely, then repeat. It is great, but it just doesn’t quite make it up there into excellence territory. It’s definitely worth checking out though, in fact, I highly recommend that you do. Just don’t expect to be blown away.
M will hopefully stand as a prelude of what is to come because although it isn’t quite pushing any new boundaries, it is a solid homage to some great bands and a style that transcends typical classification. I think album number two will be something truly special and I will be waiting for it.