From the darkness of Scandinavia emerges MYRKUR. Hailing from Denmark, the one-woman project signed to renowned independent label Relapse Records in 2014 off the strength of just one EP, its eponymous debut (released September 2014). Envisioned and realized by classically-trained multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Amalie Bruun, MYRKUR combined the rawness of second-wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural, ethereal sonic beauty. MYRKUR introduced a wholly unique perspective on the genre of black metal, one that immediately put her on the map and caught the attention of listeners and publications worldwide.
Though the word “myrkur” means “darkness” in Icelandic, Bruun’s music encompasses far more than just that one dimension of music: with its distinct sense of Nordic isolation, MYRKUR is a definitively brutal creation, yet also a delicate and feminine one. Choral and folk elements abound, lending the music a mystical, legendary quality and an untouchable equilibrium between dark and light. MYRKUR’s influences range from nature to traditional Scandinavian folklore to Norse mythology and far beyond. Bruun elaborates, “I always dreamed about becoming a Huldra, an Elver girl, a Valkyrie, the goddess Freja. These powerful women in Norse Mythology have an element of beauty and mystique, but they are also deadly.”
That power was more than evident on MYRKUR’s EP, but fully came into its own on Bruun’s first full-length M, released via Relapse in August 2015. Featuring production and guest appearances from renowned metal legends such as Krystoffer “Garm” Rygg (Ulver), Teloch (Mayhem/Nidingr) and Christopher Amott, M showcased Bruun’s learned and mature perspective on black metal alongside her prodigious compositional and vocal talents. As Decibel Magazine put it in its 8/10 review, M is “a black metal record that respects tradition without drowning in it.” Publications including NPR, Stereogum, Pitchfork, Spin and dozens of other outlets worldwide have shared this sentiment, hailing M and MYRKUR as the very thing they stand for – not a drastic reinvention, not an atavistic homage, but a unique, timeless, and true expression of black metal. Now with two acclaimed releases and several live performances (including one at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival) under her belt, nobody but MYRKUR is in a better place to help Scandinavia reclaim its rightful throne as the global leader of extreme music.
BAND NEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Danish composer, vocalist and classically trained multi-instrumentalist, MYRKUR (Amalie Bruun), journeys into the heart of Scandinavian culture. Through Bruun‘s crystalline vocals, an array of traditional instruments and storytelling, “Folkesange” offersJanuary 18, 2020 by Kris Murias
Mareridt / 2017
3. “The Serpent”
6. “De tre piker”
7. “Funeral” (Featuring Chelsea Wolfe)
Mareridt (Danish “nightmare”) is the second studio album by Myrkur, the black metal project of Danish musician and singer-songwriter Amalie Bruun. The album was released on 15 September 2017 through Relapse Records. Mareridt was recorded between Seattle, United States and Copenhagen, Denmark, and was produced by Randall Dunn. The album’s title is Danish for ‘nightmare’, in reference to the frequent occurrences of sleep paralysis and nightmares which provided the inspiration for much of the album. The album’s release was promoted with the release of at least three singles: “Måneblôt”, “Ulvinde”, and “De tre piker”. The album received widespread acclaim from music critics upon its release.
Background and style
Following the release of her debut full-length album, M, Bruun toured across the United States and Europe. Returning to her home in Denmark, Bruun found herself plagued by nightmares and episodes of sleep paralysis, which she has described as “one of the worst times of her life.” To cope with these nightmares, she used a notebook to document all the details and symbols in the dreams, and used them as a source of inspiration for her music. Many of the songs were written and composed on a small string instrument in a forest near her home which Bruun used as an escape and source of inspiration. The significant levels of online abuse and death threats she received also partially contributed to her mental state during this time. In July 2017, she released a song titled ‘Shadows of Silence’ as part of the Decibel Flexidisc series, though the song did not appear on the final album itself. It was also the first Myrkur song written and sung in English.
Critics have noted that Mareridt represents a noticeable change in musical style compared with Myrkur’s previous albums. Metal Hammer wrote that the album “mostly leans closer to the earthy, gothic folk of Chelsea Wolfethan post-black metal”. They also wrote that “Where she could’ve bowed to the elitists and charged into heavier realms, instead she’s scaled back the extremity, revelling in the kind of heaviness that favours sensory impact over the hammering of guitars as she flits between English and Danish. ” Some critics have compared the album favourably with artists such as Dead Can Dance, Sigur Rós, while AllMusic’s Thom Jurek argues that the album “not only bridges the stylistic diversity of her three previous releases — the 2015 album M and two EPS — but extends their reach into her own creative space, which cannot easily be defined.” In their review of the album, Decibel wrote that “black metal’s just one of many textures manipulated by Bruun”, and that her compositions “owe as much to Nordic folk music as they do to Ulver.”
M / 2015
1. Skøgen Skulle Dø
3. Onde Børn
4. Vølvens Spådom
5. Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne
8. Byssan Lull
9. Dybt i Skoven
12. Skaði (Demo) (Bonus Track)
M is the debut studio album by black metal project Myrkur, by Danish musician and singer-songwriter Amalie Bruun. Produced by Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg of Ulver, it was released on 21 August 2015 through Relapse Records.
Featuring a black and gothic metal sound, the album melds influences from various genres, including second wave black metal, atmospheric post-metal, gothic, darkwave, Scandinavian folk and classical music. The album was named the Best Hard Rock Album of 2015 by Gaffa.
Upon its release, M received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 83, which indicates “universal acclaim”, based on 10 reviews, and was the 85th highest rated album of 2015. Allmusic’s Thom Jurek wrote: “Myrkur’s music melds all of her adopted stylistic elements, lets their seams show, and emerges with an innovative, alchemical creation of her own. M expands on black metal’s boundaries yet holds its dark, foreboding spirit close.” The Austin Chronicle critic Michael Toland stated: “Danish raven Amalie Bruun integrates extreme intensity into both genres’ [goth/black metal’s] inherent drama.” Sean Barry of Consequence of Sound thought that “M doesn’t differentiate itself greatly from the early work of many black metal artists.” Barry further added: “The album shines with potential and the promise that a more unique followup waits further down the trail.”
Exclaim! critic Natalie Zina Walschots praised the album, writing: “The textures of M are even more finely hewn and interwoven than its predecessor, resulting in a record that is at once profoundly tactile and deeply sensual.” Grayson Haver Currin of Pitchfork thought that “on M, Bruun is free and clear of any identity drama—and a much more convincing bandleader for it.” Spin critic Colin Joyce stated: “What remains Bruun’s strongest suit is the way she juxtaposes the extremity of her influences.” Joyce further concluded: “She comes out of more subdued sections to use blast beats like scare tactics, drops in glacial vocal harmonies as soothing lullabies.” The Quietus’ Dean Brown was also positive in his assessment of the album, writing: “By conveying the masculine and feminine duality inherent in old musical traditions and modern musical developments, Bruun has composed a truly rewarding record that defies direct categorisation.”
Nevertheless, Sputnikmusic’s Elijah K. gave the album a mixed review, describing the album’s sound as “painfully bland and too on the nose.”
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