Amalie Bruun, the creative force behind Myrkur, came out of nowhere in 2014 with a heavy metal sound that managed to be gorgeous and unsettling at the same time. She’s maintained indie cred since, despite the vocal internet trolls who can’t bear to see a woman succeed in metal. New album Mareridt (meaning nightmare) should please critics and enrage man-children in equal measure, due in part to its incorporation of lesser-known roots music sounds.
Bruun’s new batch of songs is dominated by creepy, meandering soundscapes. Such orchestral songs as “Crown” and “Gladiatrix” sound like the moody soundtrack cuts that play during a slowed-down medieval fight scene. Both powerful, emotive songs demonstrate Bruun’s range as a multilingual vocalist and multi-talented instrumentalist.
Another notable cut is “Funeral,” a duet with like-minded artist Chelsea Wolfe. Some of Wolfe’s music really has played over dramatic fight scenes, most notably in Game of Thrones promotional material. In addition, Wolfe is another talented musician with an ear for both metal and folk traditions. Enough troll tears should be shed over this pairing to flood a massive crater!
These cinema-ready moments are counterbalanced by downright terrifying album closer “Bornehjem.” It features a child-like voice talking about demonic possession. This young’un should supersede your fear of clowns, lotus pods, porcelain dolls or pretty much anything else. It’s seriously one of the most terrifying things you’ll hear all year, which makes this release even better.
Just as artists here in the South embrace the region’s rock, blues, and country roots, Bruun blends elements of her native Denmark’s metal and folk pasts. This album incorporates violin, mandola, folk drums, nyckelharpa (an ancient Swedish key harp) and kulning (an ancient Scandinavian herding call). Few albums featuring a couple of those elements will reach many turntables or inboxes this or any year, making Bruun a true folk artist with an ear for discovering and sharing past sounds.
For writing memorable songs that defy subgenre labeling, introducing her home country’s folk traditions to a global heavy metal audience, and pissing off all the right people, Bruun deserves all the hype she’s sustained with Myrkur.