Amalie Bruun is a gorgeous Danish model who’s spent time living in LA and NYC. She plays in a slick indie pop band called the Ex-Cops, whose last album was produced by Billy Corgan. Her debut EP under her black metal alias Myrkur was released by one of the biggest labels in metal. She was described during this anonymous period as hailing from “the darkness of Scandinavia” and channeling a “distinct sense of Nordic isolation.”
Given the kerfuffle that followed upon elitist kvlt black metal fans learning of her identity, it’s easy to see why she waited so long to identify herself. A whole truck full of vitriolic internet bullshit was flung about wildly regarding Bruun’s art, identity, gender, label, and legitimacy.
Did she “pay her dues”? Is authenticity even a desirable commodity at this point in history? I don’t know. Who cares? What I do care about is that with the release of M, the “controversy” has mostly abated. The trolls are back under their bridges, and those of us who don’t mind a little ethereal/gothic flavor in our black metal get to enjoy a really beautiful, haunting album.
M was produced by Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg of Ulver, and featured Teloch of Mayhem and Nidingr on guitars, with Øyvind Myrvoll of Nidingr and Dodheimsgard on drums. It was recorded in various locations around Oslo, Norway (including renowned artist Emanuel Vigeland’s mausoleum, where the natural 11-second reverb added a melancholy atmosphere to Bruun’s vocals. The music artfully blends second-wave black metal, Nordic folk music, and classical instrumentation to great effect. The influences vary, but think Mayhem, Enya, Wardruna, Alcest, and Ulver and you’re somewhere in the right ballpark.
What makes the record great is that light and dark elements here blend seamlessly. There’s a hidden fury in even the most pastoral, glimmering sections of these songs. A sadness and a decay that feels ancient and forbidding. It’s not for every metal fan, but if it sounds appealing, definitely check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
M is available now from Relapse Records.