Myrkur At Amoeba, Wednesday August 23rd 2017
Watching Myrkur at Amoeba last night was like watching a Irish folk goddess playing a mysterious instrument that could have come straight from some old fairy tale with a lot of odd-looking elves. She had brought a bit of the Nordic forest with her, with the dead leaves torn around her mic stand, and her voice, pure and ethereal, was rising above the music she was playing on keyboard or with the bow sliding on the chords of the strange and ancient Swedish key harp ( a nyckelharpa) she was holding…
Extremely pretty, wearing a long dress, she looked like a gentle Nordic legend, but of course listening to her songs on her record was a completely different experience, largely departing from the pretty and melancholic sound she produced inside the store. Myrkur means darkness in Icelandic, and the Danish classically-trained multi-instrumentalist songwriter is actually a metal one-woman band, writing multi-influenced music and often singing in Icelandic, a mysterious language to everyone ears, instantaneously bringing a moment of solemnity and isolation.
She played a short (only 5 songs) and very strip-down acoustic set and you could have immediately classified her in the folk section of Amoeba if you were not paying attention. However, there was another dimension to Myrkur than this eerie voice, and when she took the keyboard, she played a much darker song (a track that she said was composed with Chelsea Wolfe), and the tone was given. Amalie Bruun (her real name) is in fact very metal, even black metal and, on her albums, you can hear her pretty voice transform itself into a demonic one for a few seconds, something you would only expect from a male-fronted metal band, before resuming to its crystalline beauty. There is a brutal rawness on ‘M’, the album she released in 2015, and if she was more one-dimensional at Amoeba, you could hear here and there darker elements piercing the folksy and calm surface…. Nobody shouldn’t have been fooled by her blonde beauty — yes you don’t have to be dark haired and wear black to be metal — her debut album ‘M’ earned ‘Best Hard Rock Album’ at the 2015 Gaffa Awards, as well as ‘Band of the Year’ and ‘Metal Album of the Year’ at the High Voltage Awards.
Her music mixes a lot of elements from classical to dark folk and metal, with choral-like vocals of sublime beauty, which seems all inspired by the mystic of nature and legends. Obsessed by Nordic fairy tales, mythology and folklore, she has declared to have ‘dreamed about becoming a Huldra, an Elver girl, a Valkyrie, the goddess Freja’… because ‘These powerful women in Norse Mythology have an element of beauty and mystique, but they are also deadly’. And this could sum up very well her impressive performance on Wednesday night.
Looking around me, I could tell that the crowd was visibly mostly metal-heads and it was a bit strange to look at these people listening music that could have come from a church choir, however, Myrkur may be the missing link between metal and its cold folksy, classical origins. Signed to Relapse Records since 2014, she is about to release a new album, ‘Mareridt’, that will be out on September 15th.