Archive for the ‘Myrkur’ Category

Sonic Truth: Music’s Gender Problem

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Mike has asked:

Why is the music industry so male-dominated?

Dear Mike,

Let’s start with some good ol’ verifiable facts. As of this year:

+ no solo women have ever won the Triple J Hottest 100 since it was established in 1989
+ only three have won the UK’s Mercury Prize in its 22-year history
+ around 1 in 10 audio engineers are women, and no woman has ever won a Grammy for producing a non-classical record.
+ industry gender pay gaps are substantial, remain in place and in some areas are increasing.

Also, take the Billboard Power 100 for 2015; index of the industry’s most powerful and influential. Twelve spots out of the total 100 feature women — often they are featured as part of a duo with a bloke. So while Taylor Swift, Adele, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are all marquee names in music, the reality is that it’s men producing the records, pulling the industry strings and landing the kudos when they put their own tunes out there.

The past couple of months has seen black metal musician Myrkur forced off social media due to death threats and Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman revealing she’d been sexually harassed by a prominent publicist. Anyone can spend some quality time with Google and find myriad similar tales from now and in the past. Lots has been written on this so I’ll leave it to one side for now.

For my part, one of the ways I think the music industry can help here is by fixing a certain mindset. My theory is that women working in music earn less respect because of sexist biases about expertise. Expertise is highly valued in the music industry, whether it be as a great manager, talented audio engineer or a sick guitarist able to shred G# diminished sweep arpeggios at 220 BPM.

Socially, we still reinforce ideas that men are more pragmatic, technical and decisive while women are emotional and vulnerable. But research on the brain has debunked this idea. If this bias can be banished from the music industry, we’re encouraging more women to succeed in roles that they would be great in, but haven’t always been given the opportunity.

Not many of us, even those involved in the music industry, have any influence on something like who lands in the Billboard Top 100. But all of us love music, and we can be more conscious in the way that we express that love. Women musicians and producers rarely get called geniuses, but lots of them are. If they achieve great things in the music industry, it’s an achievement usually described with the prefix “female”. Just laziness.

Music culture is archetypal. We can name heroes in all parts of the music world, but our handful of heroines have been confined in a small corner of it. The more inclusive we make the myths, in the way we talk and speak, the faster we can move towards an equal playing field.


If you’d like an answer to any of life’s great mysteries, get at Alex on

Anger Management: Myrkur

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

As loathe as I am to admit it, its hard to write a review of the new Myrkur LP ‘M’ without first acknowledging the most irrelevant, yet most commonly discussed issues: the hype, backlash and controversy. So lets address it and move forward.

Last year, out of nowhere, Relapse Records unleashed the debut EP. A collection of scrappy, harsh black metal inspired by the mid-90s second wave of black metal with more than a tip of the hat to Ulver, plus some classical influences. These was some mystery behind the identity of the solo lady behind the project (name me one BM band worth their salt that didn’t have pseudonyms in the 90s) before it was revealed to be the sole project of Amalie Bruun (a solo artist more well known for her time in indie/synth combo Ex-Cops and MINKS).

Online trolls were quick to jump all over the project for reasons other than the music. Quick to hammer irrelevant details such as Relapse’s over the top promotion (Relapse doesn’t have a history of getting behind too many black metal bands), her musical history (irrelevant, you can’t make money playing black metal), the media hype (Terrorizer magazines cover/clickbait story “THE FUTURE OF BLACK METAL IS HERE” really added fuel to her detractors), a few shaky live shows (you can count the amount of times Myrkur has played live on one hand) and other unimportant elements. There was some very blatant sexism involved too, like somehow her EP had damaged the boys club credibility of “black metal legitimacy” or something. Pretty silly stuff.

To her credit, Bruun hasn’t let this phase her and has approached with a refreshing response of “if you don’t like it, listen to something else.” Metal musicians and social media often don’t mix well, so it’s great to see someone so level headed in the face of enormous criticism.

Myrkur’s first full-length is produced under the watchful eyes and ears of the ‘Trickster G’ himself Krystoffer Rygg (AKA Garm from Ulver). He’s been there, done that and moved forward in terms of black metal so you know he wouldn’t lend his talents to any old project. Rygg complimented Bruun when they met in an interview she mentions: “He said, ‘all these bands today, they go into the studios and they spend all this time trying to make it sound like shit. But yours sounded genuinely like shit,’” she recounts of their first encounter, chuckling. “‘There was so much beauty and authenticity in it.’”.

The sound of the album is also fleshed out by Teloch (Mayhem) on extra guitars/bass and Øyvind Myrvoll (Nidingr) on drums.

Opener “Skøgen Skulle Dø” really sets the tone for the album with layers of choir vocals mixed with feral shrieks and a folky riff. This gives way to some sinister sustained guitar feedback, tuba/horn drones and creepy whispers and laughs. It’s almost as if Myrkur is laughing at her detractors. This track reminds me a bit of Storm’s 1995 album, Nordavind, Bruun’s choir/clean vocals occasionally sounding a bit like Kari Rueslåtten.

There are some really memorable songs here, a few piano/vocal only tracks mixed in to underscore the light and darkness that a lot of good black metal has. Tracks such as “Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne” and the re-recorded “Dybt i Skoven” are very catchy with simple, almost indie-like song structures. But these moments are dark and have more in common with the weirdo, depressive rock of a cult band such as Joyless than anything else.

A true highlight is the powerful, Bathory-esque rumble of “Mordet,” featuring Chris Amott (Arch Enemy). Catchy and vicious with its primitive fury.

M isn’t the future of black metal, but it is not worth the scathing criticism that it has been getting. What it is is an album that is 100% worthy of your time and attention. Forget the hoopla surrounding it, this has some excellent songs.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.