Heads were scratched in bemusement when Relapse released Myrkur’s debut EP in 2014.
Anaemic, narrow and lacking remarkable moments, it wasn’t the most auspicious of opening statements, but Relapse seldom make mistakes and so, with heartening inevitability, M reveals precisely what the label saw in young Amalie Bruun in the first place.
Now bolstered by numerous contributing musicians, her vision of a strange but enchanting twist on the black metal formula has fully blossomed here, revealing a wonderfully idiosyncratic approach to songwriting and arrangement that may yet become a benchmark for infernal creativity, even if Bruun is already suffering the slings and arrows of petty-minded purists.
Myrkur’s black metal credentials are unquestionable; the rampaging, lo-fi squall that erupts from the cracks in Haevnen’s stately façade evokes the same unearthly terror that informed Burzum’s early works. But it’s the sonic furniture around those bursts of extremity that make M such a fascinating and rewarding effort. Onde Born is all Bathory bombast and My Bloody Valentine haze, Volvens Spadom is a Jarboe-esque choral curio, and Skadi is a blizzard of gothic grimoire and swirling chaos. Ending with sublime piano sketch Norn, this feels very much like the beginning of a magical journey.