This is second-wave Black Metal with supplemental ethereal flourishes. Angelic clean vocals and harsh, daemonic screams play out across music that’s as frozen as it is beautiful. Think bands like Burzum and Vinterriket, only with added atmospheric instrumentation and stunning female cleans.
And stunning is the right word, as the brains behind this outfit has an amazing voice. Sounding transcendentally beautiful and uplifting, her voice is an incredible tool that gets used just right. The screaming doesn’t let the side down either; this is the kind of scratchy, static-like high-pitched shrieking that works so well in Atmospheric Black Metal.
If the music was straightforward Black Metal I think that it might be put to shame by her voice. However, in reality the Black Metal core is added to by so many other instruments and elements that the beauty of the clean vocals and the icy nature of the guitars don’t reveal too much contrast as there’s a lot of other music going on to bring the two closer together; in addition to the standard Black Metal instruments we also get piano, violin, horn, tuba and other traditional Scandinavian instruments used on the tracks.
The main juxtaposition comes when the angelic cleans aren’t being used; here we get malevolent Black Metal with frosted fury and malignant intentions. These sections segue nicely into the more atmospheric/Folkier parts though, so there’s no massive disconnect, only a compelling and involving soundscape that contrasts the beauty of a frosty landscape with the dangers inherent in such a scene.
M doesn’t contain songs in a traditional sense; the tracks are movements designed to showcase an emotive musical tapestry that takes the best from second-wave Black Metal and adds extra layers to it via clean singing and bright atmospherics.
There’s not really anyone playing this kind of Black Metal at the moment, certainly not with this level of proficiency at any rate. It’s definitely a less-travelled path that Myrkur is treading and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see where it leads in the future. My hope is that the songs become lengthier and even more epic in scope, as my only real complaint about M is that it is over far too quickly.
But I digress. For the moment let’s ignore what the future holds and concentrate on what we have; authentic Black Metal with an individual and highly emotive take on the source material. M is a success in every way, and after the tantalising glimpse into her world that was her début EP, we have not been disappointed by the promises it contained.
This is a class album; doing something a little different with Black Metal while still retaining the core of the style has worked wonders.
This album will garner all kinds of praise from all kinds of people. Trust me, it’s worth it.