Thursday, September 10, 2015

Myrkur: M (2015)

Relapse isn’t typically known for releasing atmospheric/folk black metal, so the debut full-length from Myrkur certainly caught me off guard. It’s the project of one woman, whose background is in indie pop, so of course hipster alarm bells will go off. And go off they have: The Metal Archives ratings for this record are abysmal.

But fuck that, because I like this. If you’re looking for consistency and black metal credibility, look elsewhere. But if you are the type who will occasionally pick up an indie pop record, and non-judgmentally welcome outsiders to the metal fold, M is worth a listen.

I would not approach this as a black metal album. I wouldn’t approach it with any preconceived notions, actually. It doesn’t seem to have a consistent idea of where it’s going or what it’s trying to accomplish. But there is much beauty to be found, tempered of course by ugly black metal. What strikes me most is Bruun’s achingly gorgeous voice and the folk melodies employed (often using piano). It brings to mind the heart-breaking soundtrack of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Secret World of Arrietty (especially check “Nordlys”). This theme is woven, inexpertly but interestingly, with a vague, general idea of what black metal is supposed to be, but even then her vicious rasp is quite good. The main metal riff of “Mordet” is a little obvious, and is a little too rocking for the atmospheric style throughout the rest of the album. That’s just one of the symptoms of the flaws of Myrkur, as it exists now.

I, for one, welcome this. Where would metal be without people who had no idea what they were doing, but started making new music anyway? People like that have a lot of things they want to try, and come up with new ideas all the time. If everyone has the same musical literacy, they’re going to make the same music. Sure, I know Deafheaven is divisive, but I guarantee some of their ideas are trickling back into music that you like.

Bring it on, Ms. Bruun. I can’t wait to hear what you do next.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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