Myrkur - M (2015)

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In our feature this week, we tackled some of the sexism that remains active in the metal community. And while, as we said, the majority of metal fans understand and oppose this archaic thought process, there are those that seek to keep women out of heavy music. Yet, that attitude endures, with one person reacting to our piece by commenting "End of the Metal community being mostly dominated my men? Sure, bro." But Myrkur has an interesting advantage in the fight against misogyny; she performs black metal with all the daring and grit of any male counterpart. Her self titled EP spoke volumes about her unique style, but never pulled the curtain back all the way. For her first full length, M, Amalie Bruun dives head first into the genre that runs through her veins. And with only a single listen, she grabs her detractors squarely by the balls.

Even moreso than her debut, M relies heavily on the contrast between raw and refined, something Bruun does exceedingly well throughout. What makes her take on the formula very interesting is that she does it with such grace and ease. Based on her debut, many have been lulled into a falsehood; that this is a one dimensional attack, simply putting a female voice atop folk inspired black metal. But a mere two tracks in, Hævnen reveals a much darker side of the equation. The screams here are blood curdling and, quite frankly, frightening at times. She's captured the devilish qualities of black metal, without letting go of her own unique style. It allows her to create a texture to her music that most standard bands could not. Yet, at the same time, she is remaining true to the main rituals of the genre. Even the beautiful, sublime melodies of Onde Børn maintain the ominous percussion and riff oriented tenets, often hearkening back to a classic horror soundtrack in their tone.

Bruun's strength over the course of the album's nearly 40 minute run time is pairing the different aspects of her sound together is significant ways. In one track, you'll find the heavenly soft vocals layered on top of machine gun snares and guitars, a combination that would likely fail in a vacuum. Here, though, it not only works, but seems natural in it's assembly. Moments later, gone are the shivers and chills of fear, and present is mid tempo swooning. It's latitude and longitude, a movement up and down and side to side. By giving a frame of reference to each track, placing light next to dark, or even atop of it, Bruun gives additional weight to each and every offering on the album. If there is a struggle to be found, it's that it fails to be generic and confined to a single mold. The beauty of an interlude such as Nordlys would seem to have no place on a traditional black metal album, let alone as a lead in to the Christopher Amott backed screamfest Mordet. Yet, rather than leave one on the cutting room floor, they are attached at the hip, and allowed to be what they truly are.

One of the most notable phrases that have crept into much of the Myrkur conversation, especially from the nameless, faceless hordes of the internet, is that this music is good "for a girl." As condescending as this statement really is, it does more than attempt to discredit the music itself; it takes aim squarely at the woman behind it. Make no mistake, Myrkur isn't the second coming of Varg Vikernes, or the return of Darkthrone. Nor should anyone hope it to be. For a debut full length, M is everything you would want from a black metal album, with so much more that you might not have expected. To say it's "good for a girl" would be the greatest disservice anyone could do to the black metal genre on the whole. If you remove gender from the equation, it would be heralded by the masses as a fresh take on the toughest sect of metal to change. And that is exactly what it is. M is must hear, even if you're still afraid of getting cooties.

9/10

Bandcamp - https://myrkur.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/myrkurmyrkur