Myrkur
Myrkur


2.5
average

Review

by Nash J! USER (41 Reviews)
September 16th, 2014 | 76 replies


Release Date: 09/16/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Who is Myrkur? More importantly, why should we care?

There is a certain mystery as to the true identity of female black metal soloist, Myrkur. Whether for hype or artistic integrity, information on the background of this artist has been decidedly scant, leading to speculation as to who she truly is. Likewise, in keeping with the whole “I have no identity” theme, Myrkur’s self-titled debut does little to answer the questions, “Who is she"” and, more importantly, “Why should we care"” Of course her gender is an undeniable novelty when it comes to black metal. Hell, the album’s framework may have even sounded groundbreaking in concept; dark ambient passages and intense black metal instrumentation laden with mystic female cleans and brittle, high-pitched shrieks. Yet, rather than cash in on the potential of what could easily have been a female-fronted Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Myrkur’s debut is another poorly-executed entry into a genre that leaves so much room for ambition that playing by the book is almost criminal.

The issue with Myrkur’s debut is not that she is untalented by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, her vocal talent is used to outstanding effect, especially in the beautiful, yet haunting a cappella that introduces “Ravnens Banner” and the majority of tracks that follow. Her unintelligible growls and cries are equally as emotive, adding a profound amount of horror to songs such as “Ma Du Braende i Helvede.” However, the fact that she is talented only makes Myrkur all the more frustrating to listen to. While the vocals never fail to impress, the songwriting is so standard that no song is particularly noteworthy or even memorable. Perhaps this can be attributed to the uninteresting riffs or the often lifeless tone of the guitars; but what mars the album’s lasting appeal more than anything else is that, with the exception of the ambient interludes that are arguably more interesting than the songs themselves, there is always an unpleasant discordance between the instruments as a result of poor production quality.

While the argument can be made that the underproduction, being a time-tested staple of black metal, was entirely intentional on Myrkur’s part, the dynamics over the course of the album are unforgivably messy. The volume of each instrument is all over the place during the intense passages, and the clean vocals are always so loud that they severely dampen the individual impact of the instruments. Worst of all are the loud, fake-sounding drums, which are mixed with such ineptitude that they constantly sound detached from everything else. The production issues, as well as the dull songwriting, serves to reinforce the notion that Myrkur’s debut could have been far more memorable had she truly pushed any boundaries. Sure, having female vocals, both clean and unclean, at the forefront of an atmospheric black metal soundscape is an ambitious idea in and of itself, but the overall product differs little from what dozens of other bands have done, and done better, in the past (even the album’s structure is not too dissimilar from a poor man’s version of Ulver’s Bergtatt). For this reason, Myrkur will likely become lost in the wind regardless of her talents.

Myrkur’s debut shows a large amount of potential, displayed in her versatile vocal performance over the course of the album and the perfect balance of ominous ambience and harsh black metal riffing on penultimate track “Nattens Barn,” the album’s standout as well as the only song with memorable instrumentation. Yet, if she ever wants to be recognized above the rest of her contemporaries, she’ll first have to focus harder on being more inventive in her songwriting and better-executing her ideas, which are in no short supply. Until then, she’ll continue to be an anonymous artist without a true musical identity.



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user ratings (91)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 15th 2014


17610 Comments


I didn't mind it, but you're right, nothing really stands out.

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Was pretty disappointed with this album, especially after I saw some of the praise people were giving this. Still, there were some interesting stuff here and I want to see this artist succeed, plus "Nattens Barn" is better than I probably gave it credit for.



Album is streaming here:

http://www.terrorizer.com/news/streams/myrkurs-myrkur-exclusive-full-album-stream-review

ExplosiveOranges
September 15th 2014


4408 Comments


Feels like that second paragraph needs to be broken in half. Just a formatting problem. Good review nonetheless.

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks for the feedback, but while writing this I couldn't really find a good place to break up that

paragraph. I'm open to suggestions though if you have any.



"I didn't mind it, but you're right, nothing really stands out."



I mean yeah it's definitely not a bad album, but no song really left any impression on me.

ExplosiveOranges
September 15th 2014


4408 Comments


I think you could break it up right before "While the argument can be made", but idk, if you think it disrupts the flow, I feel ya.

laughingman22
September 15th 2014


2798 Comments


but female black metal. there is no way I can just ignore this

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Haha I figured you'd say that, laughingman. I was counting the seconds until you'd show up on this thread with that exact comment.

Mercy
September 15th 2014


225 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, I was equally disappointed with this release as well.

pedro70512
September 15th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I rather enjoyed this release, but then again, I usually go into things with the idea that I'm going to like them. She's got a lot of room to grow, so I'll be keeping an eye on Myrkur.

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah I also went into this expecting to like it, but it had so much less to offer than I'd hoped for. I'll

definitely keep my eye on her too; if her songwriting improves she can have a very bright future ahead of

her.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
September 15th 2014


24372 Comments


"Yet, rather than cash in on the potential of what could easily have been a female-fronted Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Myrkur’s debut
is another poorly-executed entry into a genre that leaves so much room for ambition that playing by the book is almost
criminal."

Haven't heard the album, but I strongly disagree with this sentiment. There are plenty of modern black metal bands that "play
by the book" and are still excellent, if not better than bands who decide to be a bit more ambitious.

Digging: Deceased - Ghostly White

laughingman22
September 15th 2014


2798 Comments


Just listened to Nattens Barn not the most inventive bm but good enough, as I suspected the vocals rule

pedro70512
September 15th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I gave her an extra half wannabang point.

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@TheSpirit Maybe I worded that sentence badly. Of course there's a lot of black metal bands that play by the book and are awesome for it, but what I was trying to say is that, besides the fact that this is female-fronted, this basically sounds exactly like every other standard black metal band. I'm not say that she has to bring anything new to the table in order to be successful, but that this sounds like something I've heard 1000 times before and she needs to strive towards establishing her own identity instead of settling for being generic. Personally, I love when black metal bands are ambitious and push boundaries, so I'd like to see her give a shot too.

PiedradeLuna
September 15th 2014


233 Comments


Good write up Judio. You definitely hit on a lot of issues that the album has. Although I do like the EP I think that she has a lot of work to do and could eventually release something worthwhile. I kind of feel though that if Relapse didn't say, "one-woman black metal band" this would be getting a lot less attention.

Amphoteric
September 15th 2014


2014 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I wasn't disappointed by this, since I didn't know anything about it before I listened, but it was alright. The clean sections are a lot better than the black metal sections though.

pedro70512
September 15th 2014


4167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Combining the rawness of second wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural sonic, ethereal beauty, MYRKUR has created a wholly unique perspective on the genre. With a distinct sense of Nordic isolation Myrkur’s debut is a feminine yet definitively brutal record that has burst onto the scene like a Valkyrie into battle."



That was the promo pitch...make of it what you will.

Judio!
September 15th 2014


8433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Same here Luna, I'm looking forward to whatever she releases in the future, I just hope she learns from her mistakes. It's true though, you don't hear of many one-woman black metal bands nowadays. Still, if it wasn't for the pretty female vocals on here, this album would be 10 times worse.



Agreed, Amphoteric. The clean sections were easily the best parts of the album, which is why I said that the melodic interludes are even better than the songs they were leading into.

PiedradeLuna
September 15th 2014


233 Comments


True. Not too many one-woman black metal bands but there are plenty women in black metal but yeah hopefully she learns from the mistakes and comes out with something solid down the road.

Mercy
September 15th 2014


225 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for any future material, that's for sure.



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