Myrkur Juniper

Relapse Records

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Myrkur

December 7th sees the release of a two-track EP, ‘Juniper’, by Myrkur. This is Myrkur's fifth release on Relapse Records, following two full-lengths (‘M’(2015) and ‘Mareridt’ (2017)) and two EPs (‘Myrkur’ (2014) and ‘Mausoleum’ (2016)). As we all know, Myrkur is the project of the talented, rather versatile and sometimes maligned Danish musician, Amalie Bruun. She is as much slated in "true" black metal circles for fakery, quackery and downright charlatanism as she is adored, more widely, for her haunting mash up of nordic folk and metal. I sit firmly in the latter of those two camps and in my ideal world we would all live in fur-lined viking halls and drink horns of mead in front of a roaring fire while Myrkur sang us songs of Odin, Fenris and Valhalla, with Daria Endresen shooting photos for posterity. One can always dream.

Anyway, over the last few years Bruun has clearly left her mainstream, significantly less alluring alter-ego behind and found a rather large niche for her dark brew of nyckelharpa, fiddle, heavy sawing guitars, piano, blast beats and a voice straight out of Asgard. This EP is an obvious progression from all that has come before. Produced by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost, Paradise Lost, Solstafir, Cathedral) and recorded at Orgone Studios in England, this EP is no different from Myrkur's previous releases in terms of overall vibe... it continues where "Mareridt" left off, kind of. Like I said the vibe is mostly the same but it's cleaner, simpler and, if I'm honest, more accessible. It sounds better too.

The A side, ‘Juniper’ starts off like a folk ditty and grows, layer by layer. Early in the song it snakes through an eerie key change where Amalie asks "Bring her bleeding heart to me"! This marks a shift from the mellow to the bombastic and it all works its way to a lively crescendo which will surely work well with a live audience. Perhaps we're hearing the beginnings of Myrkur's attempts to package her vibe in a slightly more commercial jacket... simpler, to the point, in the face, with no loss of those things that make her special. It's not as dark as some of the songs on her previous records but what it lacks in mirk it makes up for in epiphany... the last chorus literally takes you to another place and it ends with a solitary, weeping nyckelharpa, just to make sure that you don't forget that all that is light is tinged with darkness in Myrkur's misty world. In short, it's beautiful in it's melody, it's form and in it's simplicity. The B side is pretty standard Myrkur fare... a beautiful interpretation of a 17th century Danish folk song, ‘Bonden og Kragen’ (The farmer and the crow). Well arranged, sweetly recorded and wow how the lady can sing!

Having seen her acoustic show 12 months ago I've been secretly praying to Odin for Myrkur to release an album full of folk songs. For now I guess I'll have to make do with her releases to date, this new track and the little odds and sods that she drops on Facebook. Put "Juniper" on, close your eyes and drift back to a time when men would return home on their longships to the sweet embrace of a fair-haired maiden in a flowing white dress. This EP will be released both online and as a limited edition 7". (A)