Album review: Myrkur – Spine

Inspiration both fresh and ancient leap into focus on richly emotional genre-fluid comeback for Denmark’s Myrkur…

Album review: Myrkur – Spine
Steve Beebee

When Myrkur delivered a stunning folk and metal inspired soundtrack for the Royal Theatre of Denmark’s Ragnarök in June, most of us assumed it’d be all we’d hear from her this year. The release of Spine barely four months later now seems even more remarkable.

Myrkur is essentially a vehicle for the multi-talented Amalie Bruun. Her latest is neither a return to her black metal roots or a continuation of her entrancing dalliance with ancient pagan sounds (2020’s Folksange). Though just 34 minutes long, it bears gifts from both those eras, beginning with Bålfærd (meaning Viking funeral), a haunting instrumental similar to that which ended Ragnarök. It’s a little wink of recognition from Amalie to those who are paying attention, but there Spine’s similarity to its predecessor ends, and off into a rabbit hole of infinite possibility and explosion of genre we plummet.

Like Humans and Mothlike dare to involve synthetic elements from dance and pop, entwining them quite brilliantly with metal – even blast beats. The title-track delights with multiple layers of guitars, light and dark. Like the heavy but joyful Valkyriernes Sang, it defies expectation and pricks emotion at every turn. Even better is Blazing Skies, primal metal riffs and a cloud-surfing chorus. Devil In The Detail takes us somewhere else again, Celtic-styled folk-pop that climaxes in a flurry of blast beats, a thing traditional folk artists are unlikely to have even heard of, let alone used.

If considered as a standalone work, Spine is a spider’s web of intrigue, gently luring you into its honey-laced trap. Impressive enough – but, if taken as a companion piece to the tumultuous Ragnarök, it completes an hour of the most involving, evocative music to grace our ears in 2023. Moreover, it confirms Amalie Bruun as one of the most powerful and magickal musical forces in this – or any – age.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Heilung, Alcest, Nightwish

Spine is released on October 20 via Relapse

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