I suppose that among our regular writers it may seem that I have a more pronounced weakness for the kind of metal that tries to claw your guts out and eat the gall bladder (because it thrives on bile, yes it does). But you can relax — somewhat — before you listen to the four songs collected in this post. There is beauty in this collection (along with the clawing).
Myrkur is the name of a one-woman black metal band from Denmark (it reportedly means “darkness” in Icelandic). You probably haven’t heard of Myrkur before, but I’m highly confident this won’t be the last time you hear the name — partly because Relapse Records is now behind the band and partly because the music is strikingly good. Despite the fact that Myrkur has released no music before a self-titled EP that Relapse now plans to release in September — and has done nothing to publicize her existence as far as I can tell — both Pitchfork and Stereogum were lavishing praise on her yesterday, and it won’t stop there. I know this because I’m about to do the same thing right now.
One of the seven songs on the EP became available for streaming yesterday and its name is “Nattens Barn” (“Night’s Child” in Danish). Myrkur’s pure a cappella voice, layered to create the sound of a choir, is immediately arresting, and so are the wolfish, ripping howls that come forth later. The powerful waves of dark guitar melody that roll in like a storm front are hugely appealing, and so is the combination of jagged, jabbing riffs and rippling tremolo streamers that shimmer above them like an aurora borealis.
Relapse is billing Myrkur’s music as something that will appeal to fans of Ulver, Alcest, and Deafheaven. If the rest of the EP is as good as “Nattens Barn”, it will be worth grabbing.
Relapse has established a pre-order page for the EP (which it’s releasing on CD and vinyl, as well as digitally):
Here are some more links:
And here’s “Nattens Barn”, on a couple of different players (thank you Leperkahn for tipping me to this music):
In July 2013 I wrote this: “Majalis is one of those ‘after work’ side-projects whose debut release leaves such a powerful impression that one can only hope, fervently, that it continues. It began years ago as a songwriting collaboration between two of In Mourning’s guitarists, Tobias Netzell (ex-October Tide) and Björn Pettersson. Eventually, they enlisted vocalist/bassist Daniel Jansson and drummer Jonas Martinsson and recorded Cathodic Black, an EP released earlier this month by Pulverised Records. And together, they’ve created something wonderful.”
Majalis are still together, hallelujah. They say on Facebook they’re writing songs for an album, hail Satan. And they’re performing live, amen. And my friend and fellow scribe DGR sent me proof of that in this new video of “Rusting Sun” (from the EP) performed live at Trondheim Metal Fest. The sound quality is very good, it’s a great song, and you should listen to it. So heavy, so anguished, so beautiful….
I stopped to listen to this next song because of the artwork for the album (above), which I thought was really excellent. The album’s name is Nightmare Years and the band’s name is Maahlas.
Maahlas is the brainchild of Turkish guitarist and composer Cuneyt Caglayan (aka Cuno), who now lives in Oslo, Norway, having moved there from Istanbul in 2012. Facebook says that Maahlas also includes vocalist Levent Ultanur, though it appears the band included drummer Lucas and bassist Atle when the album was recorded. It further appears the album has been available on iTunes since mid-June, and the song I heard yesterday has been on YouTube since January.
That song, which is the album’s title track, is all I’ve heard so far, but it’s a good one — pulse-quickening, hard-charging metal with an epic atmosphere, magnetic guitar and keyboard melodies, and wonderfully scathing vocals.
(credit to NorskMetal for turning me on to Maahlas)
I wish this band had a different name. I nearly didn’t listen to this next song (or watch the video for it) because I expected something silly. Not that I have a categorical rule against silly, but when you’re short on time and you’re trying to listen to new music, you often skip the silly. At least I do. I’m glad I didn’t this time.
But I did go into the song (which is named “Asteroids”) thinking I’d give it about 30 seconds and then pull the ripcord if it turned out to be… silly… because the song is more than 11 minutes long. But in the first 30 seconds I encountered the unexpected — the angelic voice of a woman named Cara Minichiello (who turns out to be a guest vocalist) with engrossing piano accompaniment. And that wasn’t the last unexpected thing I encountered in this song.
There are snails. Lots of snails. Creepy snails, moving and pulsating to the compelling rhythms of the music. And kaleidoscopic patterns and other arresting images. I’m talking about the video now — it’s really, really well done (kudos to the creator Hicham Hiddaji).
And so is the rest of the song — it’s a fascinating tour de force of progressive instrumental music with impressive piano, guitar, bass, and drum performances by Ken Theodore, Nicholas Llerandi, Steve Jenkins, and Zachary Marks, respectively. I was mesmerized.
The band’s self-titled album (mixed by Billy Anderson) is estimated for release on August 15. It’s available for pre-order on CD here, and as a digital download via Bandcamp, where “Asteroids” is also available as a single.