Review Summary: Myrkur is the musician that black metal needs, even if the same can't be said of "M."
The black metal ethos has become a caricature of itself. Nameless men beneath cowls of black have replaced the pale characters of the genre’s past, but nothing much has changed. Black metal thrives with band’s remaining anonymous figures making music in their basements or woods or whatever. It’s a fitting style given the music, but a body of work can only support so many Thantifaxaths before crumbling.
Then Myrkur comes along and suddenly everything seems
Myrkur is a one woman act from the Denmark. She is, in essence, the complete opposite of the stale black metal image while also the embodiment of all things the genre stands for. She is the musician that black metal needs. Her face is recognizable. She has presence. Myrkur does not hide behind silly facepaint or painfully contrived back stories. With the crassness and edge of rock star she commits to social media posts while still posting photos in woods with wolves. She is the black metal image inversed and palatably crafted. Once again, Myrkur is the musician that black metal needs.
, on the other hand, is not the album black metal needs.
is Myrkur’s first attempt at a full length, riding the success of her self-titled EP. Unlike that enjoyable taste of Myrkur’s take on black metal, M
comes off as incredibly generic; an album pandering to people with a base understanding and appreciation for the genre. This was her chance to kill it. M
could have been a twisted look at the genre’s past with a fond look ahead towards the future. Instead, listeners are treated to tracks like “Heavnen,” which bumble with absolutely no style or panache whatsoever. Her cleans intermingled with her screams are the saving grace here, as Myrkur is a varied and talented vocalist. However, when “Onde Born” roll around it feels shockingly cheesy.
A lot of M
sounds as if it should grace the background of a Dateline special discussing “satanic metal.” It’s so bland and vanilla that one can’t help but feel like it should have been named “Stock Black Metal: C.” Slow, clunky guitars grace nearly every track, with the floaty Chelsea Wolfe-esque atmosphere making up for the lack of character. It’s ironic that this produced by Garm, as songs like “Skogen Skulle Do” and “Jeg er Guden, I Er Tjenerne” sound like really unflattering attempts to recreate early to mid Ulver. But it sounds fine, from a traditional stand point. The mixing is pretty stellar and the backing instruments blend seamlessly with the vocals. The air around Myrkur is foggy and warm, which helps an otherwise stagnant and forgettable sound.
Myrkur is on to something. Her black metal lite sound is almost
fresh and exciting. She employs the aura of early second wave ambient black metal without expressly ripping it off. It’s interesting to say the least, and it’s safe to say that she has it in her to release something pretty spectacular someday. Sadly, that day is not today. M
is painfully bland and too on the nose. The generic nods to the genre’s past create a haze that covers everything else that is trying desperately to bring black metal into the future. It isn’t worth it, M
, even if its creator is.