Myrkur – “Mareridt” (2017)

Label: Relapse Records

Review by Michelle Henriquez

The one-woman black metal inspired project Myrkur is releasing her sophomore album “Mareridt” this autumn. The Danish singer-songwriting multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind Myrkur, Amalie Bruun has been working with the producer Randall Run (known for his work with Marissa Nadler, Wolves in the Throne Room, Earth, Sunn O and more) in Denmark and Seattle. This time the album features only one special guest, non-other than the sultry gothic folklore singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. Furthermore, fans have been teased by Amalie’s social media posts of her playing a rare instrument called the nyckelharpa (a Swedish key harp), which is featured on the album. The album also includes other special instruments such as the violin, mandola, folk drums and Kulning (an ancient Scandinavian herding call). Finally, the songs on “Mareridt” are mainly written in Danish with the exception about four songs, which are in English. Earlier in August, Myrkur already released an English song, “Shadows of Silence”, exclusively through Decibel Magazine. The array of rare instruments combined with Bruun’s inspirational nightmares promise a very dark yet enthralling album. However, Bruun has been in a position of controversy since the release of her EP as well as her debut album “M”, a strong and diverse album in its own right. Her music is not typical BM nor Avant-Garde BM. Many have described her music as ground-breaking due to her exploration of the feminine through second-wave black metal. “Mareridt” is thus an evolved extension of “M”, with a more traditional Scandinavian folkloric aspect than “M”. Songs like “De Tre Piker” and “Kaetteren” are fokloric to the core: the first one is folkloric but with synths while the second one follows a more traditional style of folklore. “De Tre Piker” also has the languid ethereal yet somber sonorous power Myrkur always incorporates in her music and vocals. The intro “Mareridt” that immediately starts off with “Kulning” and sounds of a thunderstorm backed by ominous strings. The introduction is followed by one of the heaviest songs on the album, “Måneblôt”, in which Myrkur successfully incorporates folkloric melodies/instrumentations in conjunction with what sounds like blast-beats and heavy guitar-riffs. Myrkur’s Scandinavian etherealness meets Wolfe’s American gothic in “The Serpent” and “Funeral”. Their communion is in perfect dark harmony and allows Bruun to explore her lower register more deeply then on the previous albums. “The Serpent” is heavily distorted the way Wolfe distorts every aspect of her music and voice whilst “Funeral” sounds more of a more eerie invocation of death, perfectly executed in the form of doomy and distorted guitar chords with crooning vocals. “Crown” is another example of how Wolfe’s style influenced Bruun’s songwriting. The song cascades into languid alto tones in the verse and soars into mezzo indie-folkloric tones in the chorus. It is a ballad in which we see a part of Bruun’s past indie influences meeting her darker self. “Gladiatrix” is a typical Myrkur song, which starts off with soft singing, before ascending to brightly distorted guitars, much like “Onde Børn” on “M”. The difference is that the song is in English and the vocals remain melancholic in tone. “Elleskudt” has a similar approach, noticeable in its forlorn atmosphere, yet offers more intensity and tension through the guitar riffs and screams. Myrkur’s most bewitching and captivating song to date is the masterpiece “Ulvinde”: the stark contrast of the angelic and demonic is the strongest in this song. At the same time, the song embraces Scandinavian folkloric percussions and chants. The last song, “Børnehjem”, is a spoken-word piece backed by a foreboding choir that gives the listener insight into Bruun’s dark mind. In conclusion, “Mareridt” is an exploration of the new and the old. It extends the old into new territories, stepping slightly away from post-BM and entering into the realms of American gothic. The union of Nordic folklore and American gothic makes “Mareridt” a successful endeavor in the BM genre. Love it or hate it, Amelie created a hybrid that reflects the polarities of our time in a beautiful yet brutal way. Like “M”, “Mareridt” cracks minds open, which in my book, makes it one of the greatest albums of this era.

Rating – 85/100

 

Tracklist

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

 

Line Up

  • Myrkur (Amalie Bruun) –  Vocals, piano, nyckelharpa, violin, guitar, percussion, synth, organ
  • Chelsea Wolfe – Vocals, guitars on “Funeral”
  • Veslemøy Aalde Heyerdahl – Choir
  • Ida Sandberg Motzfeldt – Choir
  • William Hayes – Guitars
  • Andreas Lynge – Guitars & Bass
  • Randall Dunn – Synths and loop processing
  • Abbey Blackwell – Contrabass
  • Maria Franz – Percussion
  • Christopher Juul – Jew’s harp, percussion, mandola
  • Brad Mowen – Drums on “Funeral”, percussion
  • Aaron Weaver: Drums, additional drums, percussion

Links

facebook.com/myrkurmyrkur/

myrkurmusic.com/