Every year there seem to be one or two metal albums that become particular lightning rods of controversy. This year Myrkur’s debut album M was one of those. On the one hand, it has drawn praise — for example, it has just appeared in the Number 28 spot on DECIBEL magazine’s list of the Top 40 Albums of 2015, described as “a collage of icy vibes”, “haunted by demons and angels alike”, “true extreme metal, not intended for the weak, -hearted or -minded”. On the other hand, it has been the target of unpleasant assaults by various devotees of underground black metal who seem upset to the point of resentment by the attention it has garnered.
Well, the point of this feature really isn’t to rekindle that debate, it’s to share a video that’s an example of the positive interactions that can happen between musicians and their fans — a kind of feedback loop in which each inspires the other. It’s far from the only example, of course, but it seemed to me one worth spreading around.
Myrkur fan art by Ræveðis
Our putrid site might seem an odd place for this premiere — much of the black metal we cover tends to be more unremittingly savage, esoteric, and unnerving, haunted by demons but with few angels in the vicinity. And Myrkur violates that not-always-strict rule enshrined in our site’s name (Amelie Bruun’s clean singing voice is one of her signal strengths — though she can shriek and snarl with conviction as well).
But I have enjoyed M, and I also thought the message in this video was a good reminder: Finding the personal strength to continue making music in such a relatively small and unremunerative genre as extreme metal is hard as hell for almost all artists. No one worth their salt does it for money or fame; most do it for themselves (often because they’ll go crazy if they don’t). That can be a very lonely, frustrating, and depressing endeavor, and it means a lot when people for whom your music really means something return the favor. When the favor of art is returned with art, that seems especially cool.
In addition to the video, I’m including below a recent single that Myrkur recorded for the Adult Swim singles series, because we managed to overlook it when it was originally released in September. The title is “Den Lille Piges Død (The Little Girl’s Death)”, and it’s now available on Bandcamp. It’s chilling — beautiful, bereft, and barbarous.
I just can’t get into Myrkur. Especially when theres the recent releases of Nachtlieder and Nyx to show how it really should be done. At least from the guitar standpoint. Thats the weakest part of Myrkur. The guitars. And if its really supposed to be black metal, then thats a shame.
I wanted to like Myrkur, but between all the wonky press shenanigans and the overwhelmingly bland music (the vocals are the only part I can really give creedence to) it just seems easier to let it fall in the background and be forgotten.
Then can we stop calling Agalloch “black metal”?
^ was meant for the post below
This comment is not really aimed at anyone here. It’s rather something haters should read.
I like and respect Myrkur, but I don’t consider it black metal. Maybe that is why I like and respect Myrkur…
This is a post that I wrote on Angry Metal Guy not long ago:
“I think all the references to black metal is one of the reasons for all the hostile rejection toward Myrkur. Even if the music has elements of the genre (as do Dimmu Borgir), I wouldn’t really define the band as black metal. Avoiding such erroneous pigeonholing also forces the listener to look deeper, and to judge Myrkur for what it really is. I define it as fairly ambient and partly medieval folk/black where dissonant and harsh elements meets the contrast of woodland spirits and elfish vocals. You all might find other elements or use other words, but at least you’d be searching beyond the borders of BM, and the black metal mafia would probably go back to their old Dark Throne albums and ignore Myrkur instead of nitpicking at her”.
My point is; Don’t judge Myrkur as, or weigh the music up against true black metal.
Enjoy or dislike, it’s up to you, but to hate it? That’s just pathetic.
Stå på, Amalie. Respekt kommer til den som gjør seg fortjent til det 🙂
Interesting observations that make sense.
Very cool video. I’ve never received any kind of fan art but I can only imagine what an amazing and moving experience it would be.
I love her music, she has an awesome voice 🙂
I just can’t help but feel when so many people idolize a band, or copy any fashion or trend, part of that is not authentic. I am also far from a “kvlt” kid, I’ll admit to liking all kinds of shit to this day that would get me kicked out of the cool kids club, but I see what I see.
I got her EP from someone who had no idea who they were, and tried to give it a chance. Its not terrible, not by any means, but I also fail to recognize why people are so obsessed over this. I am sure some, if not many, genuinely like this, but people are people, and quite a few are simply following whatever currents they jump into.
She got death threats? WTF?!
I almost don’t want to bring up the gender issue here, but It’s hard not to conclude that reactions that harsh are related to the fact she’s female – I mean, I can’t imagine reactions like that or the same degree of bad press would happen if Myrkur were a guy. If a dude made a folky, ethereal vocal black metal mix… some people would love it, others ‘meh’ and generally everyone would just get on with whatever they’re doing. But death threats?
I’ve spun her record, or technically streamed a series of 1 and 0s, from her bandcamp page a fair number of occasions – and those 1s and 0s were surprisingly pleasant to my earholes. So it’s time I put some money where my earholes have been and do a little something so that she can continue making more. The new track is great too.
“I mean, I can’t imagine reactions like that or the same degree of bad press would happen if Myrkur were a guy.”
I can’t help but to agree. I think a lot of the criticism levelled at her has an undercurrent of being female AND not playing by the supposed rules, unlike say Darkened nocturn slaughtercult or Nachtlieder who are much more orthodox in their black metal. Deafhaven and Liturgy may get hate, but I doubt they get threats of rape and murder.
Either way, I like Myrkur and the juxtaposition of her ethereal cleans over the distorted music is the main selling point for me. That’s what sets her apart.
I don’t care what anyone says. I’m just happy to see that Mortiis finally raised enough money to finish the operations required to turn into an elf. All kidding aside no one else hears a bit of Mortiis in this? Not horrible by any means and easily fits into the deluge of “ambient black metal” (oxymoron?) that seems to come out today by the truckload. In regard to the death threats issue it sure seems that it did a fair amount of good to her overall press exposure so who’s to say. Plus I’m sure a lot of black metal and death metal bands have received death threats over the years from idiotic people, they just do what most adults would and ignore them. It is extremely lame that she would receive any specifically because of her gender but we can’t really be shocked that there are some intolerant people who are fans of black metal. She should take a lesson from Gaahl from Gorgoroth. If someone talks shit or threatens you because of your gender or sexual identity you tie them to a chair and threaten to make them drink their own blood. THAT would be black metal…. just sayin is all.
Plus, Cadaveria is way hotter, and her growls are more convincing.