Myrkur – M (Relapse)

Thursday, 13th August 2015
Rating: 9/10

The buzz around Myrkur was strong last year, as the one-woman band made a distinctive mark on the black metal world with a self-titled EP. Combining ethereal clean singing with snarling black metal undercurrents offered a glimpse into two worlds, yet somehow it all seemed to hold together and flow well. Capitalizing on this momentum, Myrkur has returned one year later with a full length that should satisfy all fans of the EP and generate plenty of new ones. Adding to the hype machine is the fact that Garm (Ulver) himself produced this album, as it’s been a while since he has produced any black metal albums.

The short and sweet version of this is that if you enjoyed the EP, you will love M. If anything, there’s more contrast – the atmosphere is more majestic and enthralling, and the black metal bits are more abrasive and frenetic. Songs like “Byssan Lull” and “Nordlys” are downright gorgeous in their minimal use of instrumentation and the sweeping vocals carry the listener off into a peaceful dreamscape. Even better though, is how you can be quickly dragged away from that moment and thrust into some nightmarish black metal on the following track (“Mordet” and “Hævnen” for example). What keeps things from seeming like two different bands is the number of tracks that incorporate both sides of the equation. “Onde børn,” “Skadi,” and “Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne” effectively mesh the harsh black metal elements with Myrkur’s more folky and atmospheric side, which makes for a real treat. The transitions are seamless and are a true testament to the writing capabilities of Murkur.

While purists may find the inclusion of the clean vocals to be too much to handle, those looking for a little something new in their black metal variety should seek out Myrkur. Well-written and keeping the listener on their toes, M is invigorating and yet one more example of a genre that seems to be able to expand without limit.

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