At the end of the day, you shouldn’t invest too much time or concern about whether Amalie Bruun – for it is she behind the Myrkur moniker – belongs in the pages of a metal magazine. Let alone wringing your hands over whether she’s a black metal chanteuse or not. Better surely just to actually listen to the music she’s served up on new album Mareridt and decide whether it’s any good?
The first thing you’ll notice about the album if you’ve any prior Myrkur experience is the actual reduction in the metal quotient; Like all the best giants of classic rock past and, doubtless future, Bruun is a magpie, stealing influence from wherever the fancy takes her, and weaving same into a dense mat, if not of originality then certainly of divertingly listenable – ‘world music’.
Consequently, amidst the Viking atmosphere and volkische leanings what sounds like a Jew’s Harp underpins the start of folky instrumental Kætteren, the song sounding like something found in the archives of the American Library of Congress’s sprawling archive of Appalachian hoedown accompaniments; juxtaposed with the swirling maelstrom of her uber-goth collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe (oh-so-knowingly entitled Funeral) this all becomes a bit confusing. The template at some points is so demetallized as to resemble Clannad or Enya, making the crashing sturm und drang of Måneblôt even more welcome to ears accustomed to, and expecting, a feast of female-fronted misanthropic metal.
The title track sounds like Dead Can Dance, with a dash – most welcome, I might add – of Mediaeval Baebes – whilst the most melodic track in evidence, Crown, is the sort of thing that turns up these days as the soundtrack for noirish Northern European cop shows. But what links all this together, what provides the framework on which to hang this variegated vision and cinematic ambition, is the voice. And there isn’t a moment on the album when the voice isn’t causing goosebumps to break out all over your skin, or making the hairs on the back of your neck stand obediently to attention.
Amalie Bruun may well be a black metal charlatan – but she’s an absolutely stunning musician. Isn’t that enough?