Review of “Spine” by Myrkur — fresh, personal, non-conventional

Author Askar Ibragimov - 30.10.2023

On October 20, 2023, Myrkur (Danish multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun) released her new record, “Spine”. Amalie is known for her genre-defying and genre-blending attitude. Her initial records were venturing into black metal, sparkling some controversies and securing her a place in the global metal stage. Black metal gatekeepers did not really get one thing: for her, any music, any texture is just a raw material, and she prefers to weave her compositions by mixing them together.

Almost the entire career of Amalie was a series of metamorphoses. With the start of Myrkur they continue, as the new record demonstrates. We remind, that her initial albums “M” and “Mareridt” were a mix of black and folk, while “Folkesange” was a journey to acoustic folk without a hint of distorted guitars. “Spine”, simply put, is neither. It is clearly not to be described as a “proper metal” record — and as Amalie admitted in a recent interview to Chaosizine, “I think that it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m not someone who is defined by or cares about genres at all.”

If I try to bring up the most significant influences I can hear in this release, that would be dark electro, folk, and some — very welcome anytime — elements of blackened sound. Yet, Myrkur does not stop even for a single release to keep in line with any previous ideas. For me, it feels like the surefire way to arrive at a more unique sound and carve one’s own path — while it is not for me to say if the current release hits the “endgame” in that journey (it certainly does not feel this way). At the same time, I do wish for a tiny bit more familiarity with the most resounding early works. Myrkur cites a feminine inspiration for this record, and this really depends on the chosen way of doing things, compositions leaning on slow-ish songs, and relatively easy-listening results.

I think it has to be stressed: Myrkur made the music she felt to be making as an artist without catering to producers or the crowd. She says: “I didn’t have, would you say, motivation or intentions of creating a specific song structure for anything. It was just like a stream of consciousness.” the music definitely feels “trough-composed”, not really organized by canonical structures. At the same time, it is safe to say that this record is a thing of its own, not really following any earlier paths, while the audience might wish for some inheritance.

Musically, the record is done on a great level. An American producer, Randall Dunn (“Mareridt”), and Myrkur were recording it in Iceland at the “Sigur Ros studio” Sundlaugin. The sound feels weaved from many small pieces. For myself, the most standing out songs are dancefloor-like “Mothlike”, blackened “Valkriernes Sang” sung in Danish, and “Spine”.

I did give it a thought about how to round up this review. Should I say I love it because of innovations or because it’s still Myrkur with her being herself, with her seemingly endless evolution? Should I complain that she went non-metal and softer melodies are not as fierce as “M”, that she did not burn another wooden-made rune or two on the music videos? Her idea is “I purposely left the songs, the production, and everything else – even down to the album cover – quite open and vast. Because I never wanted to put a specific feeling over someone’s head”. In line with the author’s idea, it’s best to let everyone taste the record for themselves. I can only see that it is different, fresh, unique, and made with thought, great vision and emotion.

Feel free to read the full interview: Myrkur speaks with Chaoszine about her new record “Spine”: “This one is a very personal record. I left everything to be quite open and vast”.