I thoroughly enjoyed both Myrkur and M; their combination of raw, second wave black metal and folk, choral beauty was as well-judged as it was well-executed. However, if you thought M was the culmination of Myrkur’s style, and Mareridt would be just more of the same, you’d be mistaken.
This latest release takes the style that the artist has previously crafted so well and brings the folk and atmospheric elements to the fore. The raw, scathing black metal is still here, of course, but has been greatly pared back to allow the less-blackened and more sumptuous sections to be developed further. More than this though, she also explores new avenues across the playing time, expanding on her already rich palette of frosted colours in which to paint a vivid and vibrant picture of the frozen climes she finds herself in.
Her clean vocals are utterly beautiful, there’s just no other way to describe them. Frequently chilling and devastatingly haunting, her voice is always powerful and effective. She has an extremely rich voice that seems to have a cold, icy core, which is very fitting for the style. On Mareridt her voice, like the music itself, is actually stronger and delivered better than ever before. She’s now showing greater range and even greater confidence than she already had.
On some of her older work the folk and black metal elements have sometimes been kept quite separate. Although this is also true of some of the music on Mareridt, the two main aspects of Myrkur’s sound show better integration than previously on this new release. This is partially due to the black metal aspects being used more subtly for the most part here, with an overall blackened vibe and influence being felt in all aspects of the music, despite very little actual black metal raising its corrupted head. Like her voice, the music on this album has greater range and confidence, and is stronger and better than anything done previously.
The songs take the blackened core of her Norwegian influences and, in true 90s black metal style, expands on them. Like a lot of the early black metal innovators that she takes influence from, Myrkur largely leaves the original template behind, while still incorporating its core tenets into this new, luscious form. As such, this is her most well-realised and well-rounded work to date. Nothing sounds disjointed, and the songs show a greater degree of diversity and songwriting skill than any of her other material. If she was essentially playing folk-influenced black metal before, on this latest release she’s gone and developed her own post-black metal path that’s hers alone.
Mareridt is the sound of a talented artist truly coming into her own. This is a work of supreme blackened art, one that’s both emotive and moving. It’s also, in my humble opinion, absolutely essential.