WORDS: James Weaver

The sound of black metal has been firmly consistent since it’s explosion in the early 1990s. With the formula so concise, large scale experimentation often results in a backlash from the movement’s core fanbase. Along comes MYRKUR, a one-woman black metal project originating from Denmark who sent ripples across the black metal world with 2014’s self-titled EP. A year later and the debut record is finally here. Is this the album that reshapes black metal?

Atmospheric black metal is nothing new with bands like AGALLOCH and AUSTERE solidifying the formula years earlier. Yet the musical style of M is both fresh and instantly mesmerising. Amalie Bruun‘s soft orchestral vocals are an absolute delight to listen to, something that one would not expect with the genre. For example, Dybt I Skoven features a dynamic orchestral vocal performance backed with a consistent drumbeat and solemn guitar tones making the track incredibly moving. Whilst MYRKUR‘s style is very much focused in the atmospheric realm of black metal, M is so dynamic that it ticks the boxes across the whole variations of the genre as a whole. Skaði‘s raw guitar tones accompanied with the trademark blast beat drumbeat resembles artillery whilst Hævnen batters the listener with huge down-tuned riffs that come straight from the book of doom metal.

With so much variety, there is a plethora of experiences to be had with M. From the subtle folk-tinged opener Skøgen Skulle Dø to the more melodic riffwork of Onde Børn to the thrashy old school opening of Mordet, the entirety of the record is a fantastic combination of what makes black metal so intoxicating. And yet the album flows incredibly well, a rare trait indeed. The transition from Vølvens Spådom, a track laced with epic orchestral vocals backed with a subtle use of the piano, to Jeg Er Guden, I Er Tjenerne which resembles the raw power of the likes of DARKTRHONE is so slick that the tracks gel-together. Atmospheric black metal demands immersion and M sucks the listener in from the very first second.

M is a phenomenal record and injects new life into the black metal scene. MYRKUR have single-handedly raised the bar for not just the atmospheric side, but for black metal as a whole. With such professionalism, attention to detail and raw power you’d be surprised that this is the band’s debut record, M is a gem in the dark world of metal’s most controversial sub-genre. It boasts originality, character and transcends such a variety of emotion all whilst sticking to the formula of the genre. Whether you like black metal or not, M is an absolute must for any music fan’s collection.

Rating: 10/10

M is available now via Relapse Records