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Myrkur - M (2015) - Review

Band: Myrkur
Album title: M
Release date: 21 August 2015
Label: Relapse Records

01. Skøgen Skulle Dø
02. Hævnen
03. Onde Børn
04. Vølvens Spådom
05. Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne
06. Nordlys
07. Mordet
08. Byssan Lull
09. Dybt i Skoven
10. Skaði
11. Norn
12. Skaði (Demo) [Bonus Track]

What a stir up of different arguments the guys at Relapse Records made when they've signed this Danish one-woman black metal band last year and released her eponymous debut EP, which brought to Myrkur kind of a recognition that very rarely any new band or artist gets this days. The mistery behind who's the lady behind the name Myrkur didn't last very long and was soon revealed, her name is Amalie Bruun from alternative pop duo Ex Cops and she's also a well known Danish model. Maybe her instant success is a consequence because she's a good looking woman, but mostly I believe that the reason lies somewhere else - her music and compositions are truly a fresh air in the scene, such a combination of soothing atmospheres, celtic folk elements, ethereal ambiances and primal black metal is rarely heard and even if the debut EP was a good one, showing Myrkur's musical versatility and stylistical focus, the debut album, simply named M, is a step forward from that one.

On M Myrkur offers eleven tracks of haunting ambiances, short tracks with only one that exceeds five minutes in lenght, but each one of those brings forth quite an interesting blend of styles. M is a very dark album in its essence, it shows the savage side of nature which shines in beauty and Myrkur is an observer of all that. The ambiances go from some very ice cold ones to those warm ethereal parts where Myrkur with kind of a delicacy of features caresses the listeners soul. You'll find elements that could be near to the metalgaze style originated by Alcest, sometimes going that far to be near to Jarboe, even Arcana comes in mind here and there, then as well the viking metal vibes of Bathory, but the basis lies on early 90s era black metal witchery that has its origin in the likes of early Ulver, Burzum or even Darkthrone. But still that's not all, there's kind of a thick gothy shade all over, maybe unintended but pretty much significant, all that just to give you a dramatic feeling of wandering through Scandinavian forests, hence Myrkur also draws the lyrical inspiration from her native folklore.

Vocaly Myrkur is amazing, versatile, dynamic, devilish and emotional when needed. She can sing those chanting lines with such a fatal attraction, almost with an ethereal glance, before going into extreme bewitched shrieks, many times even more self-confidently than most of male vocalist, just listen to the primal outbursts of "Hævnen", how synchronized are the black metal driven parts with a bit of psychedelia and soothing almost gentle soundscapes. Then, in my opinion Bathory influenced "Onde Børn" or "Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne" have both such a great pathos taking you above the frozen fields into the battle, even Quorthon would be proud of those, I'm sure of that. The guitar job is not that technical at all, there's really no need for that, but still when going extreme, those tremolo picked riffs which are many times intertwined with doomy and on other points with more rough fogy thrashy riffs, testify that Amalie together with some noteworthy guests taking care of guitars, Teloch (Mayhem) or Christopher Amott (Arch Enemy), are professionals in what they do, now just take a listen to the fantastic "Mordet" where I can't go past but noticing some riffs that are pretty near to those on the first two albums of Metallica, even Venom's Welcome To Hell influence could come in place to mention here,'s like going 20-30  years or so in the past.

But Myrkur is mostly based on great atmospheric soundscapes, from almost epic celtic folk vibes made by use of so many differnt instruments and siren like vocals, like are present on the dynamic opener "Skøgen Skulle Dø", to captivating piano driven pieces like are "Nordlys", "Byssan Lull" or the closing chapter "Norn", often coinciding with myriads of different instruments and sounds (strings, horns, traditional Scandinavian instruments,...). After you'll give a listen to those too short enchantments on "Vølvens Spådom", you'll get my point, I'm sure. Everything mentioned before is so well balanced throughout the whole album, but the thing that got me hooked the most is truly breathtaking emotionaly fueled soundscape and thumping drum rhythm of in a way simple "Dybt i Skoven". Even the typical black metal arrangements like it's the beginning of "Skadi" reach the intended point, before going into the smooth intermezzo with haunting atmospheres.

M shines from many aspects, it's a well composed album that shows both, the emotional, traditional and savage side of nature lover - Amalie Bruun. It also shows a huge talent of the composer and Amalie should be respected just for that. Her pop side does her many favors here, she knows how to make songs catchy when needed and it's nothing strange that Kristoffer Rygg aka Garm of the legendary Ulver co-produced this album and the job done is nearly to perfect. It adds kind of grimness, density and rough edge to the whole thing by reaching to get that old-school sound. Still, it doesn't sound too unpolished, the sound is clear enough. I believe that this album, which shows a huge potential of the artist, will bring forth your primal animal instinct and I won't be surprised to see many Myrkur fans wandering through the most gloomy woods in search for the perfect spot while listening to M through the headphones. The only complaint I might have is the sole structure of the album, sometimes it feels that the songs could be better connected between each other, otherwise I can only congratulate to Amalie and her team.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10

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