MYRKUR — Mareridt (review)

MYRKUR — Mareridt album cover Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
I am increasingly convinced that the black metal scene's fixation on aesthetic kvlt purity is far and away its biggest liability. For one thing, when bands buy into it too hard it's a recipe for artistic stagnation; exactly how many bands do we need rehashing the early Darkthrone style, particularly when Darkthrone themselves already nailed it and moved on? For another, it means that whenever someone does something a bit different in a black metal context, there's inevitably a grumpy backlash.

Take Myrkur, for instance, whose debut album had a mixed reaction to say the least. Some of the backlash devolving into either lazy misogyny or quibbles about her indie pop background; those arguments we can toss aside easily, the former as the bigoted nonsense they obviously are, the latter for the absurdly closed-minded attitude they reveal. Who cares where she learned her chops if she produces decent black metal? How does it help black metal grow and evolve if the scene rigorously closes itself off to influences from outside it? Wouldn't someone who cut her teeth outside of black metal and then shifted over to it later in her career be able to bring an interestingly different perspective to bear? It's precisely this perspective which allows Myrkur to really tease out parts of the classic black metal sound which other artists take for granted.

A somewhat less risible set of criticisms came from those who dislike it when their black metal gets blended with other genres, regarding that as a dilution of the music at best, an attempt at bandwagon-hopping at worst. If that's genuinely your aesthetic outlook, fine; you probably didn't like Myrkur's M, and you certainly aren't going to enjoy Mareridt, because far from pandering to a purist audience that she'd likely have never satisfied anyway, Myrkur instead goes even further with her genre blending here, bringing to the fore the dark folk and ethereal wave influences which were already apparent on M.

Compare the covers: M had Myrkur lurking about in the distance, an indistinct shape; here she's stood out in the light, her aesthetic intentions entirely clear. Take it or leave it, guys; for my part, I consider this one of the most interesting projects in black metal today.
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