Myrkur is the recently famous one-woman metal project that became a sensation overnight on facebook. The mystery has now been solved, as we all know Myrkur is the black metal act of Los Angeles model/musician Amalie Bruun. She has been the face of many famous ad campaigns for big name brands, but has dabbled with music in the past as the co-lead singer of the pop band, Ex-Cops. It is easy to see why her appeal works inside the frame work of so many genres; her voice is graceful and pretty in every sense, she even has the potential to make black metal slightly more palatable for non-metal heads. With the mystery left behind in the dust, Bruun is going to be tested for her music as opposed to the question of identity. Despite a few hiccups and disappointing direction decisions, Myrkur is a promising act to look forward to.
While not re-inventing the style of black metal and it’s almost formless nature, Bruun has just the right amount of intrigue and finesse to make up for all of the shortcomings present throughout this debut EP. Sonically, there really is nothing new to digest, relying on a drum machine and guitar lines that could be performed by anyone in the genre. Even the layered and clean vocals have been done in the past by Ulver, but she is a master at matching pitch. The cleans on this record are ethereal and amazing, giving each song something worth listening to, even if the instrumentation comes off weaker in the process. The screams are less interesting, being mixed in a way that is almost headache-inducing, and while It is clear she can pull off a good scream to input some much needed energy, there needs to be less tinkering in the mixing process.
“Ravnens Banner” kicks off the record with a blistering pace and tone shifts that show off a good amount of versatility. Ehereal vocals are all over the track, lending a sense of epic nature to the ride. The lead guitars are equally riveting as well, giving the track a good sense of atmosphere and rhythm. “Latvian Feguro” pops up later with a good mix of vocal attacks, featuring the best harsh screams on the record. The guitars and drums are mixed at furious pacing, giving the track a distinct sense of urgency. The highlight of the debut is easily “Nattens Barn.” Not only is this is a great black metal song, it might be the best song of the year. Clocking in at just under six minutes, the scope is large and fits inside the tight framework with ease. There is a heavy sense of light to kick off the ride, only to be followed up by dark tones that quickly shut down the rosy prospects. There is a worthy solo to end off the ride that is not present anywhere else on the debut, almost as if she was holding back to create one perfect note at the end.
There are some really disappointing songs to note as well though. “Ma Du Braende i Helvede” has a lot of promise, but the poor mixing and vocal manipulation for the screams are ultimately too distracting. There are plenty of fast guitars and cleans to enjoy, but the screams end up stunting the epic build that the instrumentation direly needs. “Dybt I Skoven” has similar issues, but the instrumentation is weaker as well. The strong sense of clean tones and rhythms play off perfectly fine, but the dull lead guitar is just too boring for it’s own good. The closing track is where the decisions become a major problem though. The idea of ending an album on clean and pretty chorus singing is fitting for what Myrkur is all about. However, “Nattens Barn” has too epic of an ending to close off any other way. The last 47 seconds of the album are too anticlimactic and boring after “Nattens Barn” give listeners a glimpse at sheer perfection.
Myrkur is clearly not going to warrant being compared to Burzum any time soon, but there is a vast amount of potential for this one-woman project. Bruun has some truly majestic and astounding clean vocals, easily comparable to a deadly siren’s call. The instrumentation is good enough to carry the record as well, even if they will never blow the doors off of black metal. Myrkur is a good example of how to kick off a career and potentially growing into an act that can transcend a genre into the mainstream. The big question is whether Bruun can fine tune the attack to do so.
1. Ravnens Banner
2. Frosne Vind
3. Ma Du Braende I Helvede
4. Latvian Feguro
5. Dybt I Skoven
6. Nattens Barn