GIG REVIEW: DEAFHEAVEN & MYRKUR Live at Uebel & Gefährlich, Hamburg
Owais 'Vitek' Nabi
When the name of a concert venue translates to “Nasty & Dangerous”, then at least you know what to expect. But the giant military bunker in Hamburg, that was transformed into a dark alternative party location, turns out to be the perfect environment for those two acts that bend and break all the boundaries of classical metal: California’s Deafheaven and the Danish one-woman-black-metal phenomenon Myrkur.
This line-up promises an openminded audience of all ages and even though MYRKUR’s reception on the internet varies between enthusiastic praise hymns and daily death threats because she “dares to be a woman in a male-dominated scene”. The people who finally show up at her gigs, know what to expect – and that is a unique mix between angelic folklore tunes and raw black metal shredding. Of course, the young Danish multi-instrumentalist isn’t capable of performing her songs alone on stage and therefore she brings her own little touring band, but from the first second on, all eyes are on Amalie Bruun. With “Den Lille Piges Død”, she opens the set, standing behind the keyboard, her clear and soft vocals seem like straight from heaven, but as soon as the guitars join in, she sends the audience straight down to hell. Few might understand her Danish lyrics, but Myrkur‘s music lives off its haunted atmosphere and with her set, she puts a special focus on the dramatic and melancholic tracks. But of course, songs like “Hævnen” or “Skøgen skulle dø” cause a severe headbang inferno in the small audience and with a magical piano-and-vocals-cover of Bathory‘s “Song to Hall Up High”, she gives a surprisingly romantic ending to her 45 minutes long set.
Those who love Myrkur since her crushing album ‘M’ never had a doubt, that Amalie is a true (black metal) artist and lets her soul flow out through her voice and fingers. Even the ones who accused her of using beauty or gender to hype the music, should finally be silenced. Myrkur doesn’t put on an eccentric show – no erotic dances, high heels or deep decoltés distract from the high quality of her songs and in the end, all you get to see on stage are four humans. So just get over it.
After the majestic silence that Myrkur left in everyone’s mind, Deafheaven are here to shake the grounds and frontman George Clarke moves so quickly that he becomes almost invisible. Unfortunately, the sound of the microphone is nearly inaudible in the front row and even though George clearly screams his heart out, suffers, bends himself in every possible direction, his unique voice gets completely swallowed by the guitar noises and several fans move to the back of the hall where suddenly the mix is amazing. The shoegaze elements of their songs cause absent-minded dancers on the 4th floor or the bunker, but as soon as the harsh black metal vocals set in again, all the attention is on the charismatic frontman again, who seems to conduct an invisible orchestra with his fingers, while axe-master Kerry McCoy seems constantly focused and delivers mindblowing shred attacks.
No matter if you’re familiar with Deafheaven‘s albums or not, those guys convince every listeners within seconds and this avantgardistic mix of shoegaze, black metal and even electronic sounds is something you’ve definitely never heard or seen before. In combination with Myrkur you get a perfect package for everyone, who enjoys modern metal bands that not only chose different paths for the sake of being alternative, but definitely belong to the ones, who will pave the road for future metal generations.