Solbrud at Amager Bio, photo by Nikolaj Bransholm

On their latest album, Copenhagen’s black metal outfit Solbrud (eng. Sunburst) push the bounds of experimentation by recording a live show entirely inside a concrete water tower. Entitled Levende i Brønshøj Vandtårn” (eng. Live at the Brønshøj Water Tower), the album features the best aspects of a two-night sold out concert from November 2019.

A water tower is not where you would usually associate with seeing a band live, but the setting worked perfectly. It’s not the first time Solbrud have hosted an unorthodox performance; they have played in various places, including churches all over Denmark. As their audience is mostly static, the venues enhance the feeling the music presents. Brønshøj Water Tower offers a haunting fifteen seconds of reverb, adding to the essence of black metal. Two nights, although freezing for performers and the crowd, meant that the band had two shots of getting everything just right for the live recording. For the most part, it’s impossible to tell that there was even a crowd; aside from a couple of times, they are quiet as a mouse whilst this music billows out towards them.

“Levende i Brønshøj Vandtårn” is a journey of highs and lows. It’s a relentless wave of music surging towards you, intermixed with short breaks of soul-wrenching melodies building up, once again, into an uncompromising black metal explosion. Melodies become rhythms and the vocals are applied on top, adding to the unending stream of sound. It’s so easy to get lost in this album.

It’s hard to choose obvious highlights, as the whole record is a work of art. My favourite song is “Klippemennesket”. I absolutely love softer sounds mixed with black metal. The melody slowly builds into a crash of drums and guitar, rising and falling throughout. There is something supreme about this soundscape. From the opener “Øde Lagt” through to the closing song “Besat af Mørke”, the tracks are entwined into each other so beautifully; the consequent song picking up and carrying the torch through to the next, and the next. Having extra reverb in the venue clearly helps, as even when a song ends, the last note still lingers in the air in a slight hum.

This is Solbrud’s second album, which was mastered by Flemming Rasmussen, the Danish award-winning studio and mastering engineer who has worked with Metallica, Rainbow, Morbid Angel, Ensiferum and more. From an interview with V13, guitarist Adrian Utzon Dietz recalled that after Flemming had listened to the full master, he simply remarked: “That’s quite a statement you’ve made there.”

With the performance itself, the venue choice and the energy this album gives, I am in love with this release. It has been worth the wait.

Words by Charlotte Rasmussen

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