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Of all the major metal genres, black metal is the one that has seen the most diverse range of influences being incorporated. Since Emperor added a strong symphonic presence and Ulver brought folk music to the fold, black metal has seen virtually every type of music becoming part of the sound to some extent. Thus, one rarely finds a novel take on this particular genre these days. Still, every now and then an act comes around that actually catches at least me completely off guard.
When Myrkur struck the metal world much of the focus ended up on the marketing strategy, the potential use of outside songwriters etc., rather than the actual music. Leaving the surrounding issues to the keyboard warriors and kvlt spokespeople, Myrkur indeed has a sound that is bound to raise controversy.
The combination of polished black metal elements, folk music and what can best be described as dark pop music certainly was a mouthful for many to swallow. On the sophomore album, 'Mareridt', the very same elements still mark the core of the Myrkur entity. The main difference from the predecessor, 'M', lies in the improved compositions and direction which give a more focused effort all together. The black metal elements are less prominent and the harsh vocals are all but gone, but this album nonetheless is what probably embodies the Myrkur vision fully.
All the influences merge nicely and projects an atmosphere of sorrow, beauty, and heavily restrained anger. The superbly controlled clean vocals are the main adhesive that binds all the components together on this one. Admittedly, this is far from my usual cup of tea, but the delicate songcraft and the voice of Myrkur keeps me on a leash the entire album. With the small exception of the cringeworthily closing track.
With 'Mareridt' Myrkur has crafted an album that will put even the sternest detractors to a test. Some songs could very well have been successful pop songs with a less distorted sound, which makes this achievement even more impressing. All the controversy and heated internet debates aside, this is an album that deserve everyone's attention.