Taake has easily been my favorite from the second wave of Norwegian black metal bands. I discovered them through a friend of mine back after the classic Nattestid ser porten vid was released and have been a huge fan ever since. Despite having moved away from black metal as a whole, because I think it’s a pretty boring landscape of repetition and monotony these days, I have always kept my eyes on what Hoest and his rotating band of live musicians are doing. That said, I was not a fan of the band’s eponymous release which hit in 2008. I felt like it was bland and it left me without the same sort of awe that the first three full lengths left me in.
So the big question, then, for me was can Noregs vaapen live up to the earlier material? And on that note, I think it does pretty well. “Fra Vadestad till Vaandesmed” starts out in a remarkably similar vein to Over BjÃ¸rgvin graater himmerik and moves into a jaunty lilt with good riffing and, in my opinion, what Hoest is best at, good guitar melodies that keep the listener locked on the music. The trem-picked guitars, hooky riffs and mid-paced feel on the first three tracks (“Fra Vadestad till Vaandesmed,” “Orkan,” and “Nordbundet”), however, started to feel kind of repetitive to me. “Orkan” has some cool changes halfway through and “Nordbundet” has an awesome halftime part which might be the first “black metal breakdown” (it’s all good, no hardcore bullshit) I’ve ever heard, but all-in-all I wasn’t floored by the opening of this record.
Where Noregs vaapen gets really cool for me is on “Du ville ville Vestland,” which features a black n’ roll, clean guitar part at the four minute mark that breaks into an 80s rock inspired anthemic riff. I sat up and took notice of this, and then I started the song over when it was done. This was followed up by “Myr,” which not only has one of the best opening riffs on the record, but also features a motherfucking black metal banjo and Hoest screaming “Ahoy!” (Ok, probably not the second part, but that’s kind of how it sounds). Once again, it kind of jumps out at you at the halfway mark and it makes this song stick. The second to last track is “Helvetesmakt” and while it starts out unassumingly, it breaks into a doomy, slow riff that has Hoest’s unique writing style all over it, and then one of the most powerful melodic parts on the record. To be honest, I was surprised that this wasn’t the last track (the 10 minute and also good “Dei vil alltid klaga og kyta” is the final track), because this riff has a melancholic finality to it that reminds me of Nattestid‘s ending.
So, with the surprises and the general quality of this record, I can say that it’s a good record. It didn’t floor me, but it is one of the most enjoyable black metal records I’ve heard in a long time. I think experimenting within the genre is probably the most important thing that Hoest can do in order to make Taake one of the most important black metal bands of all time (which, in my opinion, it already is). The rest of black metal has given in to its naturally conservative tendencies and copycatting, or its moved to America and turned into long-winded drone stuff which I just don’t care for. And unlike many of the best Norwegian black metal bands, Taake has never given up the ghost (here’s lookin’ at you, Fenriz). So, I’m really curious to see what happens in the next few years around this band. All black metal fans should check this album out. It’s moving. Something you can’t really say for black metal these days.
A note here about Kveld, which is pictured here to the right. It’s an EP that Hoest was kind enough to send me to review when it came out a long ass time ago that I never got around to actually reviewing due to summer burnout. But it’s a neat little thing that fans of the band should definitely get their hands on. It’s an EP consisting of “Nordbundet” from Noregs vaapen, “Motpol” from Taake, “I” from Hordalands dÃ¸dskvad, “IV” from Over BjÃ¸rgvin greater himmerik and “I” from Nattestid see porten vid with a live band in the studio. It’s actually pretty cool how all of these tracks sound so damned good and
you can buy it over here on vinyl (as it should be). Check it out! that is sold out and you probably are going to have to wait for a re-release or befriend a Taake fan to hear. But it’s worth hearing for the guitar solo in the last 30 seconds of “IV” from …BjÃ¸rgvin…