It’s almost impossible to talk about Myrkur without the inevitable debate about “is she black metal or not.” Personally, I’ve always thought this was a ridiculous argument to have, as Myrkur (AKA Amalie Bruun) is whoever the hell she wants to be. Her inspirations are vast, her musical knowledge and expertise are wide-ranging, and on her latest release, Mareridt, she proves more than ever that she doesn’t care about labels, and has created an album that transcends genre labels. Complete with moments of sheer beauty and terrifying darkness, her music is an exotic blend of metal and dark-folk.
The album opener shares the same name as the record, “Mareridt.” It consists of Amalie’s singing in the beautiful style of Kulning. I’m not entirely sure what the origins of this vocal styling are, but it’s stunning. It’s an incredibly calming opening. But as you’ll quickly see, this track is simply the calm before the storm.
“Måneblôt” gives you about two seconds, consisting of guitar feedback, to prepare for the onslaught that’s about be brought down on you. This track definitely showcases Amalie’s love for black metal and folk melody. There are moments of fast-paced, blistering drums and guitar while Amalie shrieks above the instrumentation, juxtaposed with slower, melodic moments.
Amalie usually sings in Danish, but “The Serpent” is, to my knowledge, the first ever English Myrkur track. I will admit that hearing Amalie sing English lyrics is interesting because I’ve always wanted to know more about the subject matter of her lyrics and, well, I don’t speak Danish. Ultimately, having an English Myrkur track is of little consequence. The music, whether in English or Danish, speaks for itself in many different ways. Either way, “The Serpent” is another great song, featuring slower, chugging guitars with Amalie’s voice hovering over it with a distorted effect.
Along the way of Myrkur’s musical journey, she crossed paths with one of my all time favourite artists, Chelsea Wolfe. Months ago, Chelsea posted a photo of the two jamming together in a room. At the time, I could only imagine the music these two souls would have created together. I wondered if we’d ever hear the result of that jam session and thankfully we have, in the form of a song called “Funeral,” which is almost doom-like in nature with the slow crawl of low-tuned guitars and bass; it’s a perfect amalgamation of both their sounds. It could sit just as comfortably on Chelsea’s new record, Hiss Spun, as it does on Mareridt.
One last standout track I want to talk about is “De Tre Piker.” This song is Amalie’s rendition of a traditional Nordic song and, by the sounds of it, features some of her Nyckelharpa playing. It’s a simple, elegant version of the song and is simply another example of her vast and wide-ranging sound.
By the time I was finished with Mareridt, I realized that I couldn’t quite pigeonhole it into a specific genre. I wouldn’t know where to place it in the vast list of metal genres because there’s so much diversity and ingenuity happening on it. As long as Myrkur continues down this path, I consider myself a fan for life.
Written by Dominic Abate
*edited by Lia Davis