Myrkur. Gothic Theatre. 05.03.16
There is a certain beauty to black metal. That might sound ridiculous to those who have never gotten past the grotesque imagery that often surrounds the scene, but many black metal albums can be practically soothing in a repetitive, almost meditative way. Granted, there is a spectrum of styles within, but a lot of black metal reminds me more of electronic or shoegaze music than it does traditional heavy metal. There are many elements that set the subgenre apart, but the overall atmosphere it creates, as well as the high-pitched shrieking vocals, are key differentiators. Usually those vocals are delivered by men who defy the conventional definition of beauty; either by nature, or by masking themselves in corpsepaint and blood. Amalie Bruun is something different altogether. She brings physical beauty to black metal. And in doing so, she has become quite the polarizing force within a scene that doesn’t always accept those who are different. There are purists out there who are repulsed by the fact that Bruun is receiving attention for her one-women project, Myrkur. That being said, I am anything but a purist, so nothing about her gender, indie pop past, or lack of kvlt credentials did anything to diminish my experience as she opened for Behemoth at the Gothic Theatre on Tuesday night.
Amalie Brunn was preceded by three men who looked as if they just infiltrated the realm from the north side of the Wall. They remained silent; one behind the drum kit, while the other two stood facing away from the crowd. With twigs protruding from her blonde hair, Brunn situated herself behind a keyboard before letting her angelic voice stimulate the entire venue. Having already been familiar with her clean vocals, I was absolutely shocked by how amazing they were live. Her style has been described as ethereal, but her delivery was powerful enough to obliterate that definition. Even when her band got to work on her compositions, she had no problem competing as the defining sound of the set. As the angel gave way to the beast inside, she snapped the twigs off her head and threw them into the stunned sea of faces in front of her. A twisted tree branch served up the two microphones needed for her split personality; one for the foreign songs of sadness, and the other to exorcise the demon within. If there was any doubt that Brunn could pull off the harsh vocal screams in a live setting, it was put to rest within the first few minutes of the show.
Many black metal singers seem to be channeling some vile shit, but by the time “Mordet” made the set, Brunn was a woman possessed. Her range was literally that of an insane person; especially considering Ex Cops already proved she is a fully capable pop singer as well. Brunn is not just a pretty face and voice though. She played every instrument on Myrkur’s debut album and she transitioned between keyboard and guitar throughout the set. At around the halfway mark, she broke the spell that had been cast by speaking directly to the crowd. She asked if we were excited about Behemoth, before admitting that she was as well. Some burly dude in front of me yelled “then stop being a bitch!” That type of crass shit gives metal fans a bad name, but thankfully Denver has a little integrity and the guy got more dirty looks than anything else. Brunn completely ignored the comment and continued her amazing performance like a professional.
The set covered a good portion of M, as well as “Den Lille Piges Død”, but when she turned Bathory’s “Song to Hall Up High” into a solo, Tori Amos-type ballad, she moved the crowd to hoist their lighters in the air. When the song was finished, she gave a quick curtsy, said thank you, and walked off the stage before the house lights came on. If there were any angry purists in the vicinity, they were masking their hatred well, because all l saw was an audience in awe.
Den Lille Piges Død
Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne
Dybt i skoven
Skøgen skulle dø
Song to Hall Up High