Monday 18 September 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Myrkur - "Mareridt"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/09/2019
Label: Relapse Records


Rarely does a recording embody the dynamism of heavy music, while being legitimately artful and musically resplendent, "Mareridt," just happens to be one such album and with it, all your expectations will be exceeded.

"Mareridt" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Mareridt
2. Måneblôt
3. The Serpent
4. Crown
5. Elleskudt
6. De Tre Piker
7. Funeral (featuring Chelsea Wolfe)
8. Ulvinde
9. Gladiatrix
10. Kætteren
11. Børnehjem

The Review:

What metal fan hasn't had the talk with a friend, partner or acquaintance? You know the talk? It is that moment of judgment. It is at once an inquiry of a sound as it is a question about you are as a person. What attracts you to this howling? Implicitly, because it is less polite, is the query: what in you is broken that prompts you to listen to this?

It is a thematic inquiry too of course. Extreme music's foreboding images and confrontational sound are disquieting for listeners of many other styles of music. Like the ghosts in our stories, the specter of Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center hangs heavy. For every genuinely curious question, there are three value-laden ones, which probe scarring of listeners to such noxious aural assaults.

Without a doubt, plenty of metal is proudly noxious. The music is by its very definition bellicose. So, when a recording appears that embodies the dynamism of heavy music, while being legitimately artful and musically resplendent, it is singular. Such is the case with the return of Myrkur's new release, "Mareridt."

The one-woman project of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Amalie Bruun, Myrkur has specialized in the classic sound of black metal with folkloric as well as orchestral flourishes. Bruum's 2014 debut drew much praise for its virtuosity. "M," the 2015 follow-up, saw assists from members of Mayhem, Arch Enemy and Ndingr and received international awards. Buoyed by a live record last year, interest in Myrkur has only grown since "M."

You will have every high expectation exceeded with "Mareridt," Myrkur's latest. Its title is Danish for "nightmare." It is anything but.

With the title track opening the new record, tinges of folk metal with its waves of ceremony and menace wash over your mind. In addition to being a fantastic start to the many moods you catch across 11 tracks; it is simply an impeccably composed song. Outstanding vocals and exemplary instrumentation make it a great beginning, lolling into crisp guitar work of the fast but understated second wave of black metal. Like some other cuts on the recording, such as "Gladiatrix" and "De Tre Piker," the title track sets a blueprint for a blend of metal snarling and otherworldly singing. Many artists have employed this mode of attack over the years. Myrkur just happens to do it exceedingly well.

Back to the talk. To many people, this style of metal is unexpected. For a mainstream that associates most metal with volume and corpse paint, the variants like this will challenge opinions. Most labels and more observant fans recognize the potential for music like this is break boundaries and attract new audiences. Consider the regard for French act Alcest when it surged to prominence in the mid-2000s with a black metal style that engulfed shoegaze and pop strands at points. Having a sound that is at once bold yet divergent is a blessing and a curse, certainly. By "The Serpent," your internal conversation may be quite active, as you may ponder if there is no limit, in truth. It and the following track, "Crown," are easily the most accessible on the album. Both are appreciable for their artistry. They're also unlikely to be considered metal by American hardcore fans or the mainstream. Regardless these cuts, and several other moments, are sure to make you step back, beyond extreme music, and appreciate their creativity and fearlessness.

Myrkur deserves much praise for presenting a fully imagined release, one that goes from gauzy to portent in the blink of an eye. From the efficaciously strong "Funeral," with singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, or the closer, "Børnehjem," a supernatural first-person tale, Bruun is sure to prompt you, and the friends wanting to have the talk, to think about extreme music in a renewed way.

"Mareridt" is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp