Female-frontend black metal solo project Myrkur has come out of nowhere to cause quite a stir, having been signed by Relapse prior to releasing any material. Ignoring the weirdness around the band’s sudden emergence and personnel, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the music is damn good, if a bit unorthodox.
While black metal is admittedly the most appropriate label for Myrkur’s unusual compositions, the sound is dominated primarily by beautiful and brilliantly executed female vocals. The closest thing I’ve heard in metal is probably doom metal group Lethean Dreams‘s vocals, although Myrkur’s exquisite harmonies are on a whole different level and lend a haunting, ethereal quality to the entire album. The vocals are supported by abrasive guitar melodies and occasional blasting sections, and while the guitar sections lend a blackened edge the songs never become overly heavy. The transitions between riffs are sometimes a bit jarring, and I don’t know if that’s intentional or a result of the relative newness of the project’s sole member to the metal genre. Regardless of the reason, the primitive nature of the guitars only serve to further highlight the vocals as the core element of Myrkur’s refreshing sound. Some songs work better than others, but on the whole I can’t help but be impressed.
It’s tough to write about Myrkur without some discussion of the frontwoman herself. Originally shrouded in secret, Myrkur was eventually revealed to be Amalie Bruun, a sometimes model and pop musician as well as one half of indie pop group Ex Cops. She lives in New York, but yes she is in fact Danish and her enthusiasm for black metal and viking culture is very real. While I’m sure the fact that Myrkur is basically a pop musician’s foray into black metal probably bothers the hell out of a lot of the kvlt elitists of the genre, I just find it highly amusing as well as really fucking weird. The result speaks for itself, and at the end of the day that’s pretty much all that matters to me. If it takes a genre outsider to make an album as unique as this one, so be it.