MYRKUR

Icon­o­clas­tic chanteuse un­shack­les her­self from the un­der­ground

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums -

whing­ing that greeted

Myrkur’s de­but was com­i­cally over the top at its best and straight-up vit­ri­olic at its worst. Ac­cused of jump­ing into a scene she had no busi­ness med­dling with, Amalie Bruun hardly reimag­ined the black metal tem­plate with 2015’s solid M, but the al­bum cer­tainly of­fered enough in­ter­est­ing left-turns and me­an­der­ing side­steps to ear­mark the Den­mark na­tive as an artist ca­pa­ble of some­thing spe­cial.

And Mareridt is very spe­cial in­deed. Bring­ing in Wolves In The Throne Room pro­ducer Ran­dall Dunn, Amalie has ex­panded her vision into some­thing that un­shack­les it­self en­tirely from pre­con­cep­tions, box-tick­ing or scene points, in­stead reach­ing for the kind of emo­tional, soul­stir­ring trans­gres­sion that only the rarest of al­bums achieve. Where she could’ve bowed to the elit­ists and charged into heav­ier realms, in­stead she’s scaled back the ex­trem­ity, rev­el­ling in the kind of heav­i­ness that favours sen­sory im­pact over the ham­mer­ing of gui­tars as she flits be­tween English and Dan­ish. Måneblôt is the most out­wardly BM track present, its cas­cad­ing swirls of black­ened noise and pierc­ing shrieks giv­ing way to ethe­real singing and smat­ter­ings of folky per­cus­sive sec­tions. Elleskudt and Gla­di­a­trix both also dial up the in­ten­sity. The for­mer is car­ried by a sin­is­ter level of sonic blus­ter that’d make Dimmu proud, but is given ex­tra lay­ers by Amalie’s en­chant­ing vo­cals, which strike through the windswept dark­ness like shards of light sneak­ing through shad­ows. Gla­di­a­trix’s sonic as­sault, mean­while, is per­me­ated by smat­ter­ings of trib­al­is­tic clat­ter that make it feel less like a song and more like a spir­i­tual sum­mon­ing.

Be­yond that, Mareridt is an al­bum that mostly leans closer to the earthy, gothic folk of Chelsea Wolfe than post-BM – in­deed, Chelsea her­self ap­pears on the doomy Fu­neral, which in­ter­locks both singers’ voices into a deliri­ous in­can­ta­tion that could turn uni­corn blood black. The Ser­pent is a men­ac­ing beast of a song that wraps Amalie’s singing in a layer of lum­ber­ing riffs and an al­most suf­fo­cat­ingly thick layer of smoky pro­duc­tion – a de­light­ful foil for Crown, which could have been writ­ten by Lana Del Rey af­ter be­com­ing pos­sessed by the Devil her­self.

De Tre Piker lets Amalie’s voice take cen­tre stage, her haunt­ing croon un­der­pinned by melan­cholic waves of synth and strings, while Ulvinde is an ab­so­lute mon­ster: walls of tremolo gui­tars fight­ing for space with at­mo­spheric keys, blood-cur­dling screams and hyp­notic singing. Folky in­stru­men­tal Kaet­teren sounds like it was recorded in the heart of an an­cient forest, while fi­nale Børne­hjem is to­tally out of left­field – a spo­ken-word track given an Evil Dead-style pos­sessed over­dub as it nar­rates Amalie’s bat­tle with her in­ner demons (of course). It’ll be­muse as many as it en­rap­tures, but it sig­ni­fies a will­ing­ness to leave all cau­tion to the wind – and that is ex­actly what sur­mises Mareridt at its core.

What­ever you know of Myrkur so far, know this: Mareridt is an al­bum that de­mands your at­ten­tion. Not since The Satanist has ex­treme metal pre­sented a vision so ready to stride into metal’s wider con­scious­ness. Amalie has cre­ated a por­tal into a world torn apart by light and dark­ness, and what is left might just be the finest metal al­bum of 2017, and one of the great­est al­bums of re­cent times.

FOR FANS OF: Wolves In The Throne Room, Chelsea Wolfe, Oath­breaker

MER­LIN ALDERSLADE

Myrkur: fac­ing

her demons

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