If there's one thing Danish-born Amalie Bruun hates, it’s stagnancy. After starting out as a classical musician, she formed the one-woman black metal band Myrkur and recorded a 2014 self-titled EP and the 2015 album M.
The latter, assisted by members of Mayhem and Ulver, blended Marshall-in-a-trash-can guitars and feral tremolo picking with atmospheric sound effects, a mix of sepulchral and angelic vocals and elements of classical and folk music, making it one of the most striking extreme records of the year. For black metal purists, it was also one of the most divisive.
“After that album came out, I got death threats and hate videos,” Bruun says from her home just north of Copenhagen. “I used to take pepper spray onstage with me and I had a knife in my boot because I was scared of what might happen.”
Making no effort to appease her detractors, or even please her followers, Bruun followed last year with the hauntingly beautiful nine-song EP Mausoleum, which featured songs from M recorded acoustically in a crypt, with acoustic guitar, piano and vocals from the Norwegian Girls Choir.
“I love exploring with the possibilities of sound, taking a classical piece and making it a metal song and vice-versa,” Bruun says. “I’ve always liked to contrast dark and light and see what’s left in the shadows.”
Currently, Bruun is working on the proper successor to M, which seems likely to further intrigue the open-minded and antagonize the kvlt-obsessed. The yet-untitled new album (out later this year) will be slower and doomier than M and will incorporate more authentic Norwegian folk instrumentation. But don’t expect it to be less tortured.
“Right now, one of my favorite songs is called ‘Mare Ridt,’ which is a song I wrote on the nyckelharpa about one of my nightmares,” Bruun says. “A lot of the album has been influenced by nightmares. I have night terrors and I can’t seem to make them stop, so I’m making them a positive part of my creativity rather than letting them wake me up every night and make me feel like I want to die.”