|by Jess Blumensheid|
Runhild Gammelsaeter is a beast. She contorts her vocals to sound unreal, more ill-tempered than any horror film villain. Her intuitive sense of experimentation is profound, surpassing any female vocalist in metal. With her first solo album, Amplicon (Utech, 2008), Gammelsaeter exceeds expectations based on her work in Thorr’s Hammer and Khlyst. Putting forth her Ph.D. knowledge of cell physiology, she flavors Amplicon with ideas from physics, chemistry, and biology. Amplicons are pieces of DNA produced from organic or naturally occurring events, like evolution. As if producing music for something nonhuman, Gammelsaeter goes beyond human comprehension with frightening power.
Amplicon highlights her many demented voices. She deprives the album of rhythm, which she clearly demonstrates in the first track. “Collapse – Lifting the Veil” reveals Gammelsaeter’s schizophrenia. Her folk singing is uplifting, but her roar hammers that beauty to the ground. She then turns werewolf in “Expanding the Universe.” Her heavy growl and desperate whispering proves her pluck; no black metal frontman could top this terror.
With the production of Ulver’s Tore Ylwizaker, Gammelsaeter puts forth sounds that keep the mind anxious. “Incubation” invites avant-garde listeners with warped vocals and toy keyboards. Gammelsaeter creates comas: hospital beds, blurred vision, impaired hearing. She speaks incomprehensible words, finally hushing the turmoil away after four minutes. There isn’t anything out there as terrifying or enjoyable as this.