Many times the the world of underground music is portrayed by those that cover it just as they would a team sport. It is very much a tribal and gang mentality of sub-genre police between music scribes and it seeps down to the tastes of fans. No place does this division exist than in the varied, and varicose world of Black Metal. The many factions alternately give it life, while others are trying to raze it to a stump. Still, it is great music that is the elixir for this illness, and great music is what the debut full-length, self-titled recording from Myrkur brings us.
Scandinavian in origin, Myrkur’s singular name and haunting sound conjure a myriad of mental images with a cross between brutal passages couched between somber motifs, and the cold claustrophobic feeling of an inescapable ice floe. From sorrowful vocals to crushing dynamic swells, this album has all the best touches of the genre. Raw, but not too raw, but very well done overall.
The songs are really the thing here, not just the atmospherics. From the Opera and chamber quality canticles, to bleak harshness, every nerve is uncovered. The gentle hush of the opening of ‘Ravnens Banner’ gives way to apocalyptic barrages of blastbeats and killer riffs. Tracks such as ‘Frosne Vind’ and ‘Må Du Brænde i Helvede’, lull you into a soft chill out moment, before roaring to life with anguish. The entire album is a gem, but my favorite track is ‘Nattens Barn’. Not only is it crushing and deep, it has a proggy part to it that almost sounds like ‘Bolero’ by Ravel, but that may be my inner classical nerd trying read too much into a good jam.
Unlike most black metal that comes across my headphones, the production on this album is pretty impressive, well thought out and not lacking by accident or on purpose in a hipster way. It’s possible that some readers may be wondering why I waited until this point in the review mention that Myrkur happens to be a solo woman act rather than a band. That fact that she is a women, or a lone artists making great black metal is immaterial for review purposes here. Women fronting killer black metal bands is not a novelty, but the opportunity to have such a high profile release on a label like Relapse for one, well I hope that doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone.
Emotionally gripping from first note to last, this is a powerhouse release that has already clawed it’s way into my year end top albums list.