Denmark’s Amalie Bruun returns with her solo project, Myrkur, for the follow-up to 2015’s debut album ‘M’. Sophomore effort, ‘Mareidt’ is a different beast entirely when compared with its predecessor. ‘M’ combined the raw, masculine energy of second-wave black metal, with delicate, ethereal femininity, with a helping hand from members of Ulver, Mayhem, Nidingr and Arch Enemy. ‘Mareidt’ is more of a solo effort, fuelled by Amalie’s night terrors and the obsessive need to create, it features only one guest appearance, with the entire album recorded by producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Marissa Nadler, Sun O))), Boris).

There is a lesser focus on the aggressive nature of black metal within this release, instead homing in on the haunting, ghostly qualities of mythology and folklore it’s trying to convey. Amalie implemented an array of instrumentation to fit with the overall atmosphere, including violin, mandola, folk drums and nyckelharpa (an ancient Swedish key harp). Chelsea Wolfe lends her vocals to the song ‘Funeral’, her melancholy spectral tones merging with Amalie’s dulcet, angelic voice to divert further still from the metal genre, stretching further into ambient and experimental territory. This isn’t to say that Myrkur has abandoned the extreme entirely; there are still plenty of moments on ‘Mareidt’ that feature frenzied tremolo picking and Amalie’s tortured banshee screams.

‘Mareidt’ is a credit to Amalie’s musical capabilities; she is a talented multi-instrumentalist with a stunning vocal range, and this album is proof that she doesn’t need already well established male black metal musicians propping her up in order to create a good record. However, what really lets this album down is the closing track ‘Børnehjem’ – while understandable that it’s supposed to convey the obsessive thoughts and night terrors plaguing its heroine, this could have been executed in many other, much more effective ways. What ensues is a 2-minute monologue in a creepy child’s voice, layered with effects, chattering about demons and murder. It sounds akin to something you’d expect to hear on a Die Antwoord release and works to undermine the raw talent and creative song writing that the rest of this album has carefully laid out. A disappointingly silly end to an otherwise stunning release. Skip the last track and go into this record without any expectations of lo-fi 90s black metal and you’ll hear ‘Mareidt’ for the triumph it really is.

(8/10 Angela Davey)