MYRKUR – SPINE
LABEL: Relapse Records
RELEASE: October 20th, 2023
AUTHOR: Benedetta Baldin
02. Like Humans
04. My Blood Is Gold
06. Valkyriernes Sang
07. Blazing Sky
08. Devil In The Detail
What do we get when we mix atmospheric music, metal and folk? The answer is MYRKUR, this amazingly talented woman from Denmark which is about to release her 5th album “Spine”. It would be rude and disrespectful to make this artist fit in just one genre, because the range that she was able to provide in the album is bigger than what anyone could expect.
In a world of music constantly evolving and reinventing itself, “Spine” serves as an album that is different yet a step forward for the artist. MYRKUR partially abandons the black metal of her previous releases and focuses on a more introspective road that will not disappoint even the most ardent of her fans.
A synonym for “Spine” could be “backbone”, and it is clear that this record is a bit a return to MYRKUR‘s origins and core. It’s as if MYRKUR has come full circle, combining the lessons learned from her diverse musical journey with the intensity of her beginnings, resulting in a sonic experience that is both introspective and authentic.
The complexity and structure of each track reflects the complexity of our own life, and when we dive deep inside this album, we find out that even the simplest melody can form a lasting impression inside of us. Unexpectedly, things can change direction and speed, a warm feeling can turn to cold distance between us and the others.
“Spine” takes the listener on a trip inside our bodies, our feelings, our history and our time. MYRKUR doesn’t just use English to convey her messages: she uses also the Danish language, and even if I don’t understand a single word of it, I got the meaning loud and clear. Each language carries its own emotional weight, and the choice to include both adds authenticity to the album’s storytelling.
The expressivity of MYRKUR‘s voice and the use of Celtic instruments like the hurdy-gurdy or the nyckelharpa as well as classical instruments create a layer of depth that would be impossible to capture with just one listen. Amalie Bruun‘s vocal range is breathtaking, effortlessly transitioning between hauntingly beautiful melodies and powerful, guttural growls. This fusion of eras and sounds elevates the album to a whole new level, making it a true work of art.
The ancient meets the modern without contrast: the production, mixing and mastering are wonderfully executed, which make the listening even more enjoyable. Lust (“My Blood Is Gold”), nostalgia (“Devil In The Detail”), desire (“Spine”), protection (“Menneskebarn”)… there are so many emotions that follow each other throughout “Spine”. And we get to experience them right alongside MYRKUR, who is kind enough to guide us every step of the way with her voice.
Like a path, there are obviously easy grounds to walk on and some obstacles to overcome, and in “Blazing Sky” I got the feeling that the song was about the feeling of not fitting in, always thinking that we don’t belong in some places. But the hopeful sounds remind us that not everything is lost, and we must never give up.
There is one small fault, though, of “Spine”. It ends way too soon. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes, the experience is over almost too quickly. However, this brevity also leaves a lasting impression. It ends with MYRKUR singing us a lullaby ; her final words are: “Sleep my child / I will always be here”, and honestly it’s never too soon to hit play one more time from the beginning and listen to her voice again.
An interesting factoid is that this album was recorded in Iceland’s Sundlaugin studio, which has also hosted the legendary band Sigur Rós. The choir in the record are sung by three notable and spectacular artists: Maria Franz (Heilung), Maja Shining (Forever Still) and Marie-Louise Zervides, who already provided her vocals for previous MYRKUR releases.
In conclusion: if you like metal music, a combination of styles and enchanting atmospheres, then “Spine” is a great match. A raw and striking record that testifies the endless skills of MYRKUR and consolidates her role in the music industry. While its short duration may leave you yearning for more, the album’s quality more than compensates for its length.