(Relapse Records)

The music of Myrkur transcends the mortal plane, elevating to a spiritual level of earth and mysticism. Mareridt (translation: Nightmare), marks the artist’s sophomore LP. Much like her 2015 debut M, Myrkur once again creates an atmosphere that blends auras of enchantment and darkness. Each track promises a rich adventure into the realms of mystery, weaving together a spellbinding collection of emotionally rich instrumentals, backed by beautiful singing, and wraith-like screams.

Myrkur’s ability to blend the musical styles of black metal and folk present a unique presentation that sets the tone for the pure magic that is Mareridt. The instrumentals play to a beautiful essence that cries of the occult, dipping into the powers that are the sun and the moon. These instruments include everything from: guitar, violin, mandala, folk drums, nyckelharpa (an ancient Swedish key harp), along with the use of Kulning (an ancient Scandinavian herding call). It is thanks to all this that Mareridt continuously keeps each song fresh and elegant.

The album starts things with a ghostly introduction in the self-titled track “Mareridt”. Myrkur’s voice beautifully flows along with the droning tone, establishing an eerie chill and distance. This flow becomes mesmerizing with every second, producing a unique serenity (such as that of being alone in the midst of a beautiful forest). The following track, “Mäneblôt”, drops these feelings like a boot to the face. Myrkur shifts her vocals into wretched screams that pounce through a blackened dreamy rhythm. There is still plenty of singing at times, adding a bright aspect to the dark sound. By the halfway point, the song shifts into a more folky territory, providing a great pause to build tension. The balance between these two styles is used precisely to create a haunting aura, allowing all the instruments to blend seamlessly into one another. “The Serpent” finds the artist singing over a blackened progression that trudges with the presence of a stalker. Myrkur’s vocals come once again with some distance, eventually building to this sonic twilight of ghostlike cries.

“Elleskudt” returns to more of a traditional black metal sound. The guitar starts with an electric rhythm, settling into a dense drone. The song switches up between these two styles, creating a structure within the material that keeps things exciting (especially when Myrkur throws in some screams). It is the fact that the two genres at play (folk and black metal), truly complement each other. Of course this isn’t utterly brutal shredding metal, but more of an atmospheric blackened element that adds a dark richness to Myrkur’s vocals. Many of the tracks play to both aspects of gentle folk instrumentation and energetic metal, allowing for a variety of sounds to keep the listener enchanted. “Funeral” is easily one of the more intense tracks, partially thanks to guest vocalist Chelsea Wolfe. Thick guitar distortion hits hard with precise strums, creating a somber wave throughout the work. Both vocalists produce tones of sadness and pain, presenting a dark treat that resonates with heartache and coldness. “Ulvinde” is a treat that blends the two major styles of the record, having both gentle moments of easy rhythm, met with fiendish roaring. The vocals flow along the hazy rhythm, shifting into a banshee scream and hefty guitar distortion.

Mareridt is a chilling record in the best of ways. The unique collection of instrumentals, along with Myrkur’s beautiful voice, create a mystical work. The superb musicianship allows for a strong balance of sounds and musical styles, allowing a variety of emotions to come through. Marerdit is a powerful work that reaches into the spirits within the earth, and levitates amongst the stars. Mykur strikes a two out of two so far, as this record continues to prove her remarkable artistry, and her ability to create utterly powerful and magical music.

Purchase the album here.

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