Considering how 2015’s M didn’t exactly live up to the “savior of black metal” overhype, it’s probably for the best that Myrkur’s second full-length could hardly be called a black metal album. Raspier vocals pop up on “Måneblôt and “Ulvinde,” while “Elleskudt” and “Glaidiatrix” feature ethereal cleans over Bathory-esque instrumentation, but any extremity is more of a supporting tag than a leading classification. As others have already pointed out, this is much more in line with the ambient metallic doom folk of Chelsea Wolfe, who not coincidentally appears on “Funeral.”
The style shift was definitely a good move but it’s clear on Mareridt that Myrkur is still transitioning and seeking out a sense of purpose. Songs like “The Serpent” show a lot of potential as the ringing guitars and dreamlike vocals conjure an intriguing atmosphere, but the building structure ultimately doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There’s a lot of variety on display and the vocals fit in just about anywhere, but the compositions themselves just aren’t that memorable.
That said, the issue may not entirely be with the songwriting as the production and instrumentation are also rather rocky. This may not entirely be a black metal album but it certainly is produced like one, boasting the Darkthrone-patented fuzzy lo-fi tone that results in hazy guitars and even more distant drums. Thankfully the more ambient tracks aren’t terribly affected by this decision, as the vocals, keyboards and violin are front and center, but there’s a feeling that the heavier songs would’ve been more effective with more straightforward percussion patterns and a fuller production job.
Overall, Mareridt sees Myrkur advancing toward a distinct vision though still falling a little short of its goal. Scaling the black metal influence to better accommodate the more natural ambient folk sensibilities was certainly a smart move and the variety of songs does result in several enjoyable formats to choose from, but the production and songwriting are still holding the project back. There is potential for this album to grow on me and Myrkur still has an opportunity to make a truly excellent album in the future. As long as the next one’s closer isn’t as dumb as “Børnehjem.”