This is gonna sound weird but black metal makes my mouth water. That’s no exaggeration. And the rawer the quality and the greater the album, the more my mouth waters. When I first got into the scene—some fifteen years ago—I started from the beginning. First, it was the well-known Norwegian outfits, like Burzum, Darkthrone, Enslaved, Immortal, Mayhem, Thorns, and Ulver. Then, the Swedish stuff (like Dissection) and the third-wave shit (like Marduk, Watain, and Gorgoroth). But the ones I came back to the most were the underrated groups, like Ofermod, Svartsyn, Urgehal, and Taake. To me, this latter group has some of the best black metal ever recorded. In Taake‘s case, Nattestid ser porten vid, Over Bjoergvin graater himmerik, and Hordalands doedskvad still make me dribble over my lower lip like a fucking vegetable. But, like most black metal giants, Taake‘s recent material has begun to slip in quality. Their 2014 release, Stridens hus, left my throat parched and now my need for nourishment is at an all-time high. The question is: will Taake‘s newest release, Kong Vinter, wet lips or will it cause them to crack and bleed?

Well, to be quite honest, opener “Sverdets Vei” did nothing to dispel my continued concern for the band. It has the same “safe” qualities as Stridens hus and its proggy Enslaved character doesn’t break it from any shell. But, Kong Vinter isn’t one song. Hell, it isn’t two songs. It’s seven; seven songs that build off one another and ferment into one hell of a black metal brew. For now, you can’t see that coming, as the Darkthrone-esque follow-up track “Inntrenger” only slightly emerges from its warm cocoon. But, this is only an introduction to what’s coming. And, it’s the catchy guitar lead that hints at where the album is going. After dancing around with this slick riff, the song settles in for the long haul—taking Taake melodies and infusing them into Satyricon-like mid-paced blackness until its conclusion.

From here, everything changes. For the next five songs, riffs are the name of the game. After the back-to-back “Huset i Havet” and “Havet i Huset,” you’d think you came across an unknown Immortal record. There are so many mood swings, so many riff changes, so much fucking attitude. The first of the two tracks is heavier—using black metal grooves and headbangeable Carpathian Forest assaults. The second is the more melodic and better of the two—sucking you deep into its dark, melodic spell. “Havet i Huset” sifts through everything from lightning-quick black picking and in-your-face bass work to a building transition that climaxes into one of the best riffs of the album.

And Kong Vinter continues to grow and Hoest’s vocals become more vicious with every track. But, the Gorgoroth-infused “Jernhaand” will be the last time you hear a full song of Hoest’s nasty rasps. After all the fretboard ascensions and descensions, and the neck-breaking riff at the 3:40 mark, you can pretty much kiss Hoest’s voice goodbye. Instead, Hoest gives in to his other passions: the guitar and bass. The two closing tracks are a back-to-back stew of every melodic, hard-hitting, or genre-snapping guitar lick Hoest can muster up. After opening with a couple minutes of vocal work, “Maanebrent” unleashes lush guitar atmospheres and the journey through dark valleys and over snow-capped mountains begins. The atmospherics turn to start-stop guitar licks and clever bass work, before bludgeoning you with massive drum assaults that morph into slow, melodic interludes. Even after ascending and rupturing into an explosive melodic climax, “Maanebrent” still isn’t finished. The rest of the instruments spread it out and expand upon it, driving this eight-minute piece home.

But the ten-minute closer, “Fra Bjoergegrend mot Glemselen,” is the masterpiece of the album. Not only that, it’s one of the best pieces Taake has ever written. It has all the progressiveness of modern-day Enslaved but with a character that is and can only be Taake. It opens with some nifty guitar work and a shroud of tension before all falls into classic Taake melody. From here, it collapses further and resurfaces more. And with each rise and fall, it comes back with new life and new riffs. At five minutes, the bass takes hold and begins an almost rocking build that explodes into Gorgorothian gallops. After this subsides, the guitars unleash one of the most beautiful passages the band has ever put on tape. And, now that it’s over, my shirt is soaked in drool.

So, how does this new opus compare to the band’s classic first three? Well, it doesn’t. It’s something else entirely. It’s black metal to the core but with a progginess and classic metal feel that makes it unique. Kong Vinter‘s only real issue (which is a significant one) is that its back-half is better than its front. That said, Kong Vinter proves Taake will not settle into a groove and join many others in black metal purgatory. Taake will, instead, continue to be the underrated classic they are.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: taake.bandcamp.comtaake.svartekunst.no | facebook.com/taakeofficial
Releases Worldwide: November 24th, 2017

Share →
  • Pauline Zipzer

    Agreed. Last song rips.

    • After one spin, I think this whole album rips TBH.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        But I do love when an album builds towards a momunental closer. I was kind of lukewarm at first towards Sator Malus’ latest, until the last track came on. I love the whole of Dark Matters now, but Endless Cycles of Life and Death is so monumental and spellbinding with its ominous groove.

        • Sator Malu’s latest? You mean their debut! It’s on my list.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Yes, true. My bad.

  • HeavyMetalHamster
    • Monsterth Goatom

      b…b…bad a…a..pe.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Hahaha. .

  • Stefunal
    • Tardsmat

      First thing i thought of. It’s a bit hard to take this album seriously when you always have donkey kong in your head.

    • John Mosley

      Yes this

    • Eldritch Elitist

      10/10 edit

      • Stefunal

        Not mine though. Stole it from some guy from the Russian internet.

        • Eldritch Elitist

          That’s fine, I’m still happy it was shared here. Thematically speaking, it’s very much in line with this screenshot I took last night in Mario Odyssey. http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/133fc4efd8ec9688f7996f09b889271fbd3f83697eed8710b2f34e22407c98e1.jpg

          • Stefunal

            The Nintendo Switch just became a whole lot more interesting to me.

          • The Switch is entirely worth it for Breath of the Wind alone. Any other game you get for it like Mario is just a bonus.

          • Nukenado

            Say, Talvalin, you’re Japanese right? This is off topic, but are there any JRPGs you recommend?
            Sorry if this sounds a bit insensitive.

          • Stefunal

            Not Talvalin and not Japanese, but I think I’ve played enough JRPGs to give some recommendations :D
            If you haven’t, try Lunar, Trails in the Sky, Xenogears, Parasite Eve, Persona (Parts 3-5) and Fire Emblem (pick whichever you want, they’re all worth it).

            Hope I could help.

          • Nukenado

            Xenogears/Fire Emblem, I’m down. Trails in the Sky… I’ve beaten every Trails of… game up to Cold Steel at least three times. I’ve not heared of Parasite Eve yet, so thanks. I’ll recommend you Ys 8 and Ys 1+2. One of my personal guilty pleasures is the Phantasy Star Portable series, but I won’t be recommending that anytime soon. Try some Vanillaware games if you have the chance and a Playstation console!

          • Stefunal

            I’ll really have to get a PS Vita at some point, Odin Sphere does look pretty amazing. Good thing Ys is on Steam though.
            Try Wild Arms while you’re at it as well!

          • Nukenado

            Yessir! Odin Sphere Leifthrasir and Oboromuramasa are great games. Simple but fun. I’m still bummed out by the lack of an official Chinese translation for Oboromuramasa though.
            Also check out Dragon’s Crown.

            One thing about the Vita that pisses me off is that Falcom abandoned it. What the fuck, Toshihiro?

          • @nukenado:disqus – Whilst I’m living in Japan, I was born and raised in England and I have never actually played a JRPG before in my life. :(
            To date, I’ve only played Western RPGs such as Fallout 3 and first three Mass Effect games (I’ve just bought Andromeda in the Black Friday sales, and am considering whether to get Skyrim on the Switch or the Xbox One).

            Dark Souls is absolutely fantastic, but that’s apparently an action RPG so possibly not what you were after. If you’re in the market for action RPGs however, I cannot recommend Dark Souls enough. Yes, it’s brutally fucking hard and will punish you at every possible moment, but you slowly get better without realising it until you’re able to own enemies that previously would have given you a serious beating (it’s a bit like Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox in that regard. It’s so punishingly hard, your improvement is barely noticeable but it’s there)

          • Nukenado

            You=>The Choir
            I kid.
            I love Dark Souls too, but I actually got into it by its wonderfully uplifting but sad worldview and how the world is shaped around impermanance and finding meaning in a nihilistic, futile world that would literally reset itself no matter what you do. It’s some of my favorite music in game form–

            Ahem.
            If you want to try out JRPGs, check out some oldies like Chrono Trigger. It’s a realm more like power metal though; find meaning through the mediocrity.
            I’d advise you purchase Skyrim on Switch for on-the-go play, but play it via PC at home.
            Also, Oblivion was better >:(

    • Monsterth Goatom

      This game has now rocketed to first place on my Christmas list.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      Boy, all that jumping over barrels and stuff must’ve made you mighty hungry… http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a0c58f6515a541f835063fc2eb72beecc075db97a4bc6fe43ad6680861a32780.jpg

  • HeavyMetalHamster
    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Only the Dutch will get this one unfortunately…..

  • It’s alright. I can Taake it or leave it.

    • Stefunal

      It seems like you’re a bit Kong-flicted about this album.

      • h_f_m

        Now is the vinter of our diskongtent…

  • sir_c

    AHA – Taake on me

  • Thatguy

    Thatguy approves of Taake.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I just knew you were a Taakeguy.

      • Thatguy

        Ha!

    • welyyt

      Yo guy, what do you think about the new Krallice? After a few listens, I think it’s one of their best, and one of the best of the year (and I already love Loüm).

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        Agreed, it’s excellent.

      • Nukenado

        He’s a fanboy and has been raving about it a lot in the forums.

        • welyyt

          Damn it, I need to join the discussion over there.

          • Nukenado

            Come. I got recommended some pretty good albums from there this year, namely Porky Vagina (my current AoTY), the new Dreamgrave and Tetragrammacide (before it was reviewed.)

      • Thatguy

        Yep, I am a fanboy. Krallice can do no wrong in my eyes.

        I am getting my head around ‘Go Be Forgotten’ as I write. I am liking it more than Loum, I think.

        • welyyt

          It’s definitely more melodic, and I’d say accessible than Loüm (love that umlaut), but both are fantastic.

          • Thatguy

            I love a gratuitous umlaut too, but I have never bothered to learn how to get one on my computer/phone etc.

            And I am out and about today wearing my Krallice T-shirt to celebrate the two new releases – when too much Krallice is just barely enough.

      • ssorg

        It’s prob the best I can remember hearing. It’s like Krallice were sitting around listening to too much (impossible!) Memoria Vetusta II. Looking forward to the review

  • Monsterth Goatom

    This might event make AMG’s mouth water. I recall he’s also a big fan of their early work.

  • Spread Wide & Panic

    good review. but Marduk & Gorgoroth aren’t 3rd wave; they’re 2nd wave. carry on

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It was a joke… whenever I mention “waves,” someone whines. So, I figured isn’t bash. Doesn’t matter because I love both bands.

      • Spread Wide & Panic

        lol my bad then. still, a real nice review

      • GrumpDumpus

        *READJUSTS READING GLASSES* ACTUALLY YOU’RE BOTH WRONG THEY ARE 9TH WAVE ROCK AND ROLL BANDS

  • Monsterth Goatom

    It’s fun to make fun of gorillas when Steel Druhm’s not around. He’d probably take it personally and start flinging his feces around.

  • GWW

    Taake Good.

  • Tom Wahl

    Hm, wouldn’t called Marduk third-wave. They formed back in 1990.

  • Jason McGuiness

    Taake are one of my favourites. Also, where might a black metal enthusiast begin with Svartsyn and Ofermod?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’d try Svartsyn’s …His Majesty and Ofermod’s Thaumiel.

    • Brian Domijan

      Svartsyn’s “Timeless Reign” from 2007 is an undeniable classic in my book!! ,,,/ (- -) ,,,/

  • madhare

    Pavlov called, wants his dog back.

  • Donkkeri

    So much black metal namedropping, without even a single mention of Satanic Warmaster. Have you somehow skipped SW or is any black metal group with any kind of shady possibly-NSBM phase in their past banned here?

    But anyway, Taake is fantastic and for me, this new album is at least 4.0

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I do dislike the NSBM stuff, but I’m actually a huge fan of Satanic Warmaster.

  • ssorg

    I was so ready for this to be mediocre… rather looking forward to it now. Also interesting that it’s backloaded with quality… I always felt Hordalands and later albums were much stronger in their first halves.

  • la porte

    Great album and good review. It doesn’t have the immediacy and instant catchy savageness that some of his previous work had (Noregs Vaapen and Hordaland Doedskvad come to mind), it is more mid-paced, but it manages to remain exciting by mixing things up and coming up with surprising icy grooves. I think the score is pretty fair.

  • MetalMartin

    Cet album est merveilleux! J’adore 😍!!

  • h_f_m

    I like this a lot. I can hear the Opeth in the riffage.
    I just wish it didn’t sound quite so mid-heavy. Needs just a little more.. oomph.. but I do like it quite a bit.

  • Mattias Niklasson

    Taake is one of those black metal bands I wish I’d like more than I actually do. Hoest writes some of the best riffs in metal music, no doubt. But the songwriting doesn’t quite grab me as firmly, the exception being Noregs Vapen – a stellar album.