Review: Myrkur – “Myrkur”

You may well have heard of Myrkur. This one-woman black metal project from Denmark has been causing quite a stir recently with parent label Relapse Records promoting and releasing this debut EP, comparing her music to early Ulver and Darkthrone; not comparisons to be made lightly, it must be said. She does appear to have come out of nowhere, and signing with a relatively major label before releasing even a demo aroused peoples suspicions. But I’m less interested in the person behind the music than I am with the music itself, so that’s what I would like
to focus on here.

While I understand the comparison with Ulver, I don’t think Darkthrone is a particularly useful point of comparison. In fact, the group that Myrkur most reminded me of while I was listening to this EP was actually Alcest. I think both seem to have a fairly similar sound and vision for their music. Both take a rather unorthodox approach to black metal, making use of clean vocals and atmosphere rather than brutality and low-quality production. Unfortunately in this comparison it became clear to me that Myrkur is less successful in achieving her vision. Perhaps the most frustating thing about this EP is I can totally see where she is going with this. I can totally understand how she is trying to balance these fragile choir vocals against a more raw, black metal set of instruments in an attempt to conjure an atmosphere of nature, forests, waterfalls etc. However the execution is not there yet. Continue reading “Review: Myrkur – “Myrkur””

Sinmara – Aphotic Womb

I’ve long been fascinated by Iceland’s music scene, its metal scene in particular. For such a small country with such a low population it’s surprising how many quality bands they produce. Svartidauði, Wormlust, Sólstafir, Angist, Carpe Noctem, Mannveira… Suffice it to say that they have a thriving metal scene. And if you know anything about the aforementioned bands then you’ll realise that Sinmara have some serious pedigree, as they feature former members of Svartidauði, Wormlust, Rebirth of Nefast, and Slidhr. Sinmara are a black metal group from Reykjavík, Iceland. They formed in 2008 under the name ‘Chao’ but renamed to Sinmara in 2013. On their debut full-length ‘Aphotic Womb’ Sinmara blend occult and mystical orthodox black metal with unparalleled atmosphere and brutality.

To me, Sinmara embody everything that black metal should be. It’s atmospheric but never too slow as to lose its ferocity; heavy and aggressive but never monotonous or one-dimensional. The spacious, cavernous production does wonders for the band’s sound, allowing each instrument enough room to breathe, with the bass being given a fair and prominent place in the mix unlike many black metal bands. ‘Cavernous’ is a good word to describe the production on the album; if you close your eyes in a dark room you can imagine yourself in some grim and kvlt cave and picture the band actually playing the music right in front of (or around) you. It makes for some compelling atmosphere.

Continue reading “Sinmara – Aphotic Womb”