Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Black Metal
The self-titled debut EP by this one-woman Danish black metal project carved a surprisingly deep mark on the landscape of aggressive music when it appeared last September, with many critics lauding the record's delicate, multi-foliate textures, while others dismissed the effort as a publicity stunt from Amalie Bruun. A lot of the criticisms of the record were rooted in base sexism (while solo projects remain common in black metal, a lone woman making this kind of music is still perceived as a novelty), and the full-length follow-up, M, now puts any lingering doubts about the brilliance of Myrkur decisively to bed. Produced by Garm of Ulver, the textures of M are even more finely hewn and interwoven than its predecessor, resulting in a record that is at once profoundly tactile and deeply sensual.
Following up her 2014 debut EP, Danish multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun (also of indie- pop darlings Ex Cops) enlisted Ulver mastermind Garm to produce her first full-length—and members of Norwegian black metal outfit Nidingr as her backing band. The result is an electrifying midnight ride through an icy 'Game of Thrones' landscape where gorgeous choral passages (“Vølvens Spådom”) offset thrashy rippers (“Mordet”) and Scandinavian string instruments mingle with screeching black metal blasts under a plaintive symphonic atmosphere. The lyrics are in a combination of Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic, so it’s anyone’s guess what Bruun is talking about.
This one is going to cause some consternation amongst the corpse-painted rank and file of black metal fandom. In suburbs across the world enraged, blood curdling shrieks of, “This doesn’t sound like Darkthrone!” will echo up from basements and locked bedrooms. Mom will tell them to stop making such a racket down there, but the angry back metalers will pay no attention, because they are right.
After Myrkur's critically acclaimed self-titled EP appeared in 2014, the mysterious identity of this one-woman black metal act became the subject of intense scrutiny. She is Amalie Bruun, a New York-based Dane who is half the indie pop duo Ex Cops and a fashion model. Thankfully, none but the most conservative of black metal fans care. M, her debut full-length from Relapse, is a more sophisticated extension of the music on the EP.
Myrkur steps confidently from the shadows on M, the full-length debut from the polarizing black metal project of Danish singer and bandleader Amalie Bruun. Late in 2014, Myrkur emerged with a self-titled debut EP clouded in and catapulted by mystery. Hyperbolically billed by Relapse Records as "a wholly unique perspective on the genre," the seven songs webbed haunting, seraphic singing around tremolo guitars and primitive, rumbling drums.
Hailed last year as the bright new beacon in the shifting fog of modern black metal, the one-woman project Myrkur maintained her mystery and hidden identity as long as she could. When it was revealed that Myrkur was Amalie Bruun of alt pop duo Ex Cops and Danish modeling fame, the great victory of discovery and subsequent controversy that was to be expected from her unmasking dissipated almost instantly. After the release of her first EP in September, her fans didn’t seem to care about her background, but rather what else she had to contribute.
Danish black metal composer Amalie Bruun’s debut full-length as Myrkur, M, was recorded, in part, in a Norwegian mausoleum. She described the space as vast, frigid, and unrelentingly dark, though once your eyes adjusted, paintings of bodies were visible on the walls. The tomb’s 11-second natural reverb was the practical reason for schlepping to Oslo, but it’s a fairly potent physical metaphor for her twilit pieces on this record.
Review Summary: Myrkur is the musician that black metal needs, even if the same can't be said of "M." The black metal ethos has become a caricature of itself. Nameless men beneath cowls of black have replaced the pale characters of the genre’s past, but nothing much has changed. Black metal thrives with band’s remaining anonymous figures making music in their basements or woods or whatever.
Myrkur's eponymous EP debut stirred a backlash when its goth/black metal mash-up revealed a member of indie rockers Ex Cops. Joined on her first LP by Ulver's Garm and Mayhem's Teloch, Danish raven Amalie Bruun integrates extreme intensity into both genres' inherent drama. Ethereal crooning alternates with inhuman shrieks as she inserts pounded piano into walls of blast beats and guitar.
"This is my music, so I will write what I want. And if you are listening to music because 'a woman made it', then turn it off. Listen to any music only if it speaks to your ears and your heart." Amalie Bruun, the multi-instrumentalist known as Myrkur (Icelandic for "darkness"), posted this pointed request online following the social media-created controversy that surrounded the mysterious Relapse-signee at the time her self-titled EP was released in 2014, a rudimentary seven-song homage to the early neo-folk traditions of the black metal legends Ulver.