Another year comes to a close and that means lists. I never really get excited when the prospect comes around because a list is never as complete as you’d want it to be. In a way, it’s a moments recollection of all the good music that came by in the past year. Still, it’s important to look back and share with the world what it might have missed otherwise.
I can mention a load of bands I would gladly have included here. For example, I didn’t really get around to listen properly to Enslaved and Converge’s new records and I had to chose to omit the likes of Power Trip, Akercocke, and Pillorian. Oh, and Dool came to me in a big way. Well, you can’t have it all, but here is the list as it is:
I would also like to express thanks to the labels that have kindly supplied me with promo materials and support for realizing my goals. In particular thanks to Transcending Obscurity and Qabar Extreme Music PR. Also, thanks to Echoes & Dust for lending weight to my 195 bands project, by publishing these interviews.
May 2018 be a great year in music again. Live long and prosper.
Label: Relapse Records Band: Myrkur Origin: Denmark
Myrkur may be an artist that caused more fuss in the black metal world than even Deafheaven in the past year. Her debut ‘M’ was a darn good record though and seeing her perform live was very special indeed. The beef with Myrkur is a bit vague to really pin down. Is it the fact that her music focusses on a specific aspect of black metal, the more ritualistic, folklore atmosphere? Is it that Amelie Bruun did pop music under her own name and with Ex Cops? Or maybe that she did hiphop with R.A. The Rugged Man?
Or is it the fact that she’s really quite attractive and has a fashion sense, which she displays in videos online? There’s many reasons to revile Amalie Bruun if your a stuck up black metal purist. If you manage to look pas that, you might be able to see that Amalie Bruun is talented, creative and daring to step out and do a black metal album. Having seen a show, I can also inform you that it is a great improvement to have women seeing the bands with you and not just the smell of basement, earth (I think) and sweat stains surrounding you. Get over yourself, please, and look at your black metal heroes who are now making wine, industrial music, classical stuff or weird racist role playing games.
If there’s one objection I’ve had agains the music of Myrkur, is that i’s so ridiculously dense. There’s so much happening, that it confuses me as a listener. No, it’s not like a crazy jazz record, but ‘Mausoleum’ offers what I would have liked from ‘M’. A dressed down, more pure performance of these highly atmospheric songs. The Danish singer can really demonstrate her skills here.
While retaining the essential atmosphere, the music becomes a sort of chamber music, with only guitar and piano supporting Bruun’s vocals. The ethereal, nymph like chants of Bruun evoke mythological images and dreamy nature landscapes. I had to think back to a book I once read, which involved a man ending up in a Mausoleum of his race, where his people where sleeping forever. In this tranquil silent place, he walked around for hours. This soundtrack would be the right one for that story.
The record was recorded live in Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, which through its natural reverb greatly supports that wavery sound of the record. The choir also helps to create that angelic aspect. Though I could go through every song, the album listens as a whole. If any deserves special attention though, it’s the Bathory cover ‘Song To Hall Up High’, which is majestic. Truth be told, I love the work of Amalie Bruun for what it is. If that is not worthy of the black metal label, than so be it.
A new series of sounds from that good, old underground with this time Myrkur (sure, I’m the metal hipster), Heisenberg (yes…), Bròn and Aokigahara.
Myrkur – M
You can’t pass up on all major releases, specially not this project by Danish multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun. Produced by Krystoffer Rygg (Ulver) and supported by Teloch of Mayhem and Øyvind Myrvoll of Dødheimsgard, this is one magical release. The sound is full, eclectic and unpredictable. It’s essentially a one person release, but much more than just a black metal album as which it has been put down. It contains new age, classical, ambient and folk elements in a blend that is so potent, that a listener may easily be overwhelmed by it.
Angelic singing by Bruun (or should that be another word due to the clearly pagan elements on the album) over some effect creates a dreamy atmosphere of tranquility with an edge of unrest. The guitar work is usually dense and full on, creating walls of tremolo guitarplay and thunderous rhythms. This record is not made with the intention to sound grimdark, evil and cold, it’s a calm and eerie beauty. A passage into the otherworldy, where the black is more black and the white is more white, everything is more intense on this record. That’s what makes it great, trying to write about it as waking up from a lucid dream. It’s bewildering.
Heisenberg – Heisenberg
I’m usually pretty enthousiastic about the bands I write about, but I’m not going to praise this one very highly. After hearing the dreadful Okilly Dokilly (the Ned Flanders HxC band) I stumbled across this on bandcamp and was like…Hell no! I did not watch ‘Breaking Bad’, which makes this even worse. It means that I can not even bring up the little bit of fanboyism that might be required to experience this band in the way it intends to be enjoyed.
I’ve never bothered saying I know my shit when it comes to death metal. It just is not my cup of tea in a general sense, though I can enjoy quite a lot of this. I do think it is a funny idea and someone had to do it, but it kinda starts to put the gimmick in metal and truly… that’s something it’s already choking on. If you happen to be part of that small niche of people who dig both death metal, gore and Breaking Bad (talk about niche marketing), this is your band and this is your album. Enjoy. I’ll pass… The bit where you hear Pantera is good though.
Bròn – Fògradh
It takes some digging to find out what this project really is. The man behind this atmosferic black metal project is Krigeist, who is also active in Barshasketh,, Cathedra, Blood Of The Moon and Belliciste. It’s one track of almost half an hour. The intro part takes a bit of the shimmering electronics of Jean-Michel Jarré it seems but then the black metal part hits. The production is not perfect, which makes you really pay attention to hear what is going on. Interestingly, the black metal never takes the forefront on this recording.
It’s a bit like synths are being played loudly over a tape deck playing the black metal tracks in the background, which makes them gently merge into the streaming, clean sounds. Harsh vocals are barked here and there, but the mix of the two elements is just off. That is what creates a unique ambiance of warmth, with a tiny hurrican in the bottom of the streaming sound. An odd tremolo guitar playing follows later, taking away the continuous flow of synths for a short while, creating another odd part, where the fog is momentarily broken by sunrays. The sound is very warm and pleasant, but with a tone of remorse. An intriguing record for sure. Aokigahara – _ Aokigahara.
I might have an eclectic taste, but atleast I’m not putting this stuff out there on a regular basis in order to torment people. It’s electronic music, but the first couple of minutes of this Costa Rica based band are samples, noise and weird screaming. Named after the famous suicide forest in Japan, this is obviously a DSBM record. I don’t really check that stuff out for fun by myself, because some of it really makes me feel fearful sometimes. This band is no exception. There is virtually nothing to be found about these guys.
The music just gets more eerie and uncomfortable as the record progresses. Cold tones, grim chittering in the synths and then your eyes are drawn to the bondage image on the cover. A funny note is added with the final track, titled ‘Costa Rica Is The Happiest Country In The World’. I never really know what to say about records like this, but to convey feelings of unrest, crawling under your skin is a talent not to be underestimated. I think its worth giving this a spin. No surprise that its out on Ukrainian label Depressive Illusion Records by the way.