December 6, 2018 Myrkur – Juniper (EP Review)
Fresh off the release of her second album, Mareridt, in 2017, the semi-anonymous Myrkur is back with the Juniper EP on Friday, December 7, 2018 on Relapse Records.
The brainchild of Danish performer Amalie Bruun, the Black Metal outfit has grown steadily since its self-titled debut EP in 2015, followed quickly by its first full-length, M, a year later. Bruun tasks herself with haunting vocals as well as the majority of the instrumentation as well, and for the two tracks on Juniper, she has enlisted Producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, whose past work includes Paradise Lost, Ghost, Solstafir, and Cathedral. The title cut is a cold, bitter track in the vein one would expect after Mareridt, while “Bonden og Kragen” is her fresh rendering of a traditional Folk song dating back nearly half a millennia.
Though lighter in tone than typical Black Metal fare, the title track makes excellent use of loud strings, which are punctuated by caustic electric guitar and slow-beating drums, all of which is topped by the soaring vocals: “so I ran into the forest black/ hoping to find an answer in the woods/ but this time, this time I must turn back/ the only answer is I never could.”
“Bonden og Kragen” is a faithful rendition of a historical song, versions of which exist within the cultures of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the surrounding islands. The lyrics track the story of a wicked farmer who shoots a sleeping crow, then justifies his actions by attempting to convince town elders how broadly he put the remains to use, making everything from boots, to food, to a drinking mug, to even a mighty ship. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, the subtle accent and small inflections are handled deftly by Bruun as perhaps only a native speaker can.
Combined, the two tracks serve to emphasize the strongest of Bruun’s many talents: her voice. Where “Juniper” allows her voice to alternately shine amongst backing stings, then stand high atop the grinding Metal of her usual output, always standing as the most important instrument, “Bonden og Kragen” puts her voice practically alone, with the guitar providing the simplest of pace and guidance.
Perhaps it is too much to ask for anything more, barely a year after Mareridt, but one or two songs more may help satiate the masses until the next album. In the meantime, Cryptic Rock is pleased to give Juniper 4 out of 5 stars.