When Amalie Bruun, the woman behind Danish black metal project Myrkur, announced that her debut album M would be produced by Ulver’s Krystofer Rygg—and feature members of Mayhem and Dødheimsgard—the natural implication was that the album would not only bolster her black metal roots, but in fact sound even more like a classic black metal album like those recorded by her collaborators in the ’90s and early ’00s. And that’s more or less true—early album highlight “Haevnen” (which was one of my favorite metal tracks of June) balanced Bruun’s gift for melodic songwriting with the intensity and harshness that can only come from blistering, brutal, soul-destroying black metal. And it sounds awesome, naturally.
“Onde Børn” is an even better representation of Myrkur’s songwriting strengths and versatility. When she goes for a harsher, more visceral sound, it’s impressive enough. But when she balances that with the dreamlike beauty that so often colored the songs of her rawer, much more concise self-titled mini-album from 2014, it’s something even more awe-inspiring. “Onde Børn” begins with the forceful rhythms and tremolo picking of a great black metal song, and rises up to a brilliantly gothic bridge toward the end. But it’s what happens in between that showcases the real magic within the song. Bruun’s vocals have a lot to do with it—in other songs, her shrieks and growls are fearsome, but her ethereal approach on “Onde Børn” is gorgeous and otherworldly, transforming what might have been a plunge into the underworld into an ascent toward the heavens. The balance between her intoxicating vocals and dense layers of guitars ultimately make this more of a shoegaze track than a black metal one, but that’s not at all surprising. Drop the BPMs and subtract a few pentagrams, and it becomes much harder to tell the two apart.[from M, out Aug. 21; Relapse]