The presence of Amalie Bruun in the black metal scene has probably resulted in as much discussion about non-musical factors as it has about the actual sounds of Myrkur. The basement-dwelling masses feel as if she is an interloper and a fraud (probably is), and thus Does Not Belong. (News flash: somewhat by design, black metal is rife with frauds.) Those that like to try-hard their way to an Open Minded Image are vocal about their support for Bruun, sometimes with little analysis of the music itself. And this isn’t even touching on the gender connotations of it all; you might not know it, but black metal tends to attract some rather insecure males to its masses.
Label: Relapse Records.
Sophomore full length Mareridt, while an improvement over the earlier material due to a heightened focus on Bruun’s singing and less emphasis on metal, is largely the same story. This is mostly shine over substance, and ultimately shallow music from a promising artist.
Mareridt tries to trick you into thinking otherwise, however. The opening title track starts things in decidedly unmetal territory (typically the album’s best material), as Bruun’s haunting voice pierces the hazy distance, sounding like Dead Can Dance filtered through a foggy morning in a northern Europe countryside. “Måneblôt” then bursts forth with harsh black metal that works in spite of Bruun’s rather average harsh delivery, swapping blasts for soaring clean vocals and passages of violin, and eventually arrives at what appears to be a very nice chorus… only to immediately stop.
This is the primary issue throughout the album. The barely metal “Funeral” has a massive atmosphere that is given very little time to develop, seemingly stopping mid-melody. The heavier “Ulvinde” paints some gorgeous, wide strokes with Bruun’s voice, but likewise stops before these nice ideas can make something out of their surroundings. On “The Serpent,” where the individual ingredients are probably greatest on the album, the result of this undeveloped vision is particularly damning. The song uses metal as only a slight accompaniment under some great, entrancing melodies from Bruun, but after a piano passage hints that the song is going to become something truly great, it too just stops, like an engaging TV show canceled ¾ of the way through the first season.
Nearly all of Mareridt is an exhausting lesson in how to not provide resolution, and unless Bruun learns to write complete songs, this isn’t going to change. With all of the conversation surrounding the project, however, there is little reason for her to have any urgency in this department. Plenty of people are going to hear this purely due to exposure, and the shallow thrills are surely there. But dig deeper — both into this album and the greater underground — and the limitations of Myrkur become clear. There are far too many superior and similar albums to justify spending much time with Mareridt, Bruun’s great voice be damned.