Regardless of how you feel about Myrkur’s music, Amalie Bruun is an interesting figure. Starting her career as a singer/songwriter and occasional model, she went on to perform in the pop/rock group Ex Cops before deciding her true love was black metal and created the Myrkur identity. While the secret didn’t last very long, the music caught everyone’s attention.
There was a big stink initially that Myrkur was a “cash in” of sorts. If you stopped to think about it, however, if she was truly “selling out”, she would have stayed in the radio-friendly area which is far more lucrative. That talk has died down for the most part, with just a few stragglers griping about “authenticity” and other “trve”-isms.
Myrkur’s 2015 debut album, M, was a bit divisive in that the tracks ping-ponged between airy clean singing and traditionally dissonant black metal. Even El Goro and I weren’t 100% sold on it. 2017 sees the release of her sophomore album, Mareridt, and she seems to have resolved a lot of the issues I had with M.
At first I wasn’t sure, because opener Mareridt features the airy delivery from before, while the second track, Måneblôt, fully commits to the traditional black metal mold. The Serpent tries to unite the two with a doomy/occult rock rhythm. Following this, the next few tracks go back to the clean, folk-driven style.
Ulvinde sees a merging of the two worlds. Myrkur’s clean vocals open the track, but dissonance soon shows up in the background. Likewise, she breaks into screeching vocals at various points throughout the song. All the pieces mix well together, though.
I would recommend getting the Deluxe Version of the album, otherwise Mareridt ends with a two track whimper. Instrumental Kætteren doesn’t do anything particularly new or interesting. Meanwhile, Børnehjem feels more like a lead-in to a more interesting song, relying on children saying creepy things, building toward… the end of the album? I don’t really understand the planning here, but I’ve never written an album. So maybe it’s just my uneducated mindset. All I know is that it felt like the wrong place for this track.
Like the debut, Mareridt isn’t an easy album to recommend. People seem to either love or hate Myrkur, and this album isn’t necessarily going to change your mind. It does feel more unified than M, but the lighter approach may turn some folks away.
On the whole, I enjoyed Mareridt. Yes, it straddles that “is this metal” line with similar acts such as Sylvaine and Darkher, but I like it. It’s probably not an Album of the Year contender, but I can see myself listening to it when I want something that’s mostly peaceful with occasional bits of aggression. If you were on the fence with M and appreciate more clean, folk-heavy albums, give Mareridt a listen.