Taake Stridens Hus 01Taake are back and pimping their Norwegian black metal wares as only the gloriously bare chested Hoest can do! Yes you read right, it seems the obligatory three year wait since the release of Noregs Vaapen is over and it’s time for the sixth and newest “exciting” chapter in the band’s extensive catalogue. So what of it? Is Stridens Hus packed with more of the thrilling Kentucky bluegrass that enamoured us in Noregs Vaapen? Have Taake packed Stridens Hus with a tasty hint of danger, some tightly wound excitement and burning passion, or has Hoest put away his banjo, turning in a safe, risk-free and dependable release that’ll ultimately start Taake on the downward slope? So many questions…

Right from the get go you pick up a sense of where Taake are headed and surprisingly, it’s not up. “Gamle Norig” hints at the early days of Nattestid, with some plays on the traditional Norwegian blackened sound they had in Noregs Vaapen combined with a touch of Belus era Burzum and the kind of black ‘n roll I normally seek out in a strange old brew like Carpathian Forest. Hoest delivers a breathless, rasping croak that’s still up there with what you expect if you’re a Taake fan, counterbalancing it with some tasty and plenty-mean caterwauls and shouty bits. Progressing into the very depths of “Orm” and moving onwards through “Det fins en Prins” and “Stank,” I get the impression that Hoest’s focus on Stridens Hus was to treat the vocals in an instrumental fashion and while it’s diverse and vaguely interesting at times, these lamentations always pull back seconds before they should, leaving me feeling a little shafted.

Hoest plays all the instrumentation on the album, barring some contributions from his live band, the details of which are not clear from the the promo info. I expected a fresher feel to creep in based on this “new blood,” but in truth finding fresh and interesting hooks on Stridens Hus is not easy. If you pull out your trusty monitors, sit down and really focus to a granular level, “Orm,” “Stank,” “En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann” and “Kongsgaard Bestaar” feature short, tragic and melancholic guitar solos that teeter on the edge of either Agalloch or old Katatonia, but in truth, they remain too sedate and restrained to actually reach the greatness of either of those genre titans. Apart from these enticements and the Carpathian Forest-like black ‘n roll dotted throughout the album, the happy little gallop in “Gamle Norig” and a few moments in “Det fins en Prins” hint at the glory I found in “Du Ville Ville Vestland” and “Myr,” but unlike their predecessors, in mere moments they’re gone, lost and mostly forgotten.

Taake Stridens Hus 02

The individual tracks on Stridens Hus barely exceed the eight minute mark, and yet with the lack of “white space” separating each stream of thought, the tracks blur into one another and the album feels far far longer and more tedious than it actually is. There’s a lot of play on repetition, which should embed melodies in your subconscious and have you humming them in the shower, but instead this just adds fuel to the boredom fire. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before from Taake and a host of similar black metal bandits.

While I don’t expect another Noregs Vaapen each time Taake releases an album, I had high hopes Stridens Hus would be the work of a band that thinks outside of the box. Instead, though there are definite moments of ear catching beauty nestled deep down in Stridens Hus, which Conclave & Earshot’s studio production compliments, it still feels like this brainchild has been hastily stitched together for release in the nick of time for the holiday season. It is interminably long, lacks space and just ends up a chore to wade through. This reviewer avoids chores at all costs!

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: TaakeOfficial | Facebook.com/Taake
Release Dates: EU: 2014.12.08 | NA: 12.16.2014

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  • Excentric_1307

    If my impressions from the example track are to be trusted, this review is spot on. What happened to the mastering of the previous album, also? I feel like the sound on this album veers too close to just being background static if you’re not paying attention; a problem since the songwriting isn’t overly interesting.

  • I think that everything after Hordaland Dödsskvad has been a downward spiral. Taake’s first three records are possibly the best black metal ever produced, but I haven’t liked a single one of their records after that.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I think I’ll go now and listen again to Over Bjoergvin in honor of the glory that was. Better to burn out than to fade away.

    • Refined-Iron Cranium

      They weren’t necessarily bad afterwards, I just think the formula became stale. Trying to experiment too wildly while trying to stay strictly within the confines of one genre can really limit one’s creativity, too.

      • This. I really dig this record too, but Taake is a one trick pony, and the overall score I think reflects that fact. At least that is how I read the review (I could be wrong though).

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Yikes! Bummer. I liked both Over Bjoergvin graater himmerik and Noregs vaapen. I guess the mojo stopped working.

    • Indeed it has… count me among the disappointed.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Dammit…. I was really looking forward to this…

  • Alexandre Barata

    As a Taake album is weak, as a random BM is still one of the best this year. Agree it’s too long, and not genious and innovative, but it has some of the coolest riffs I’ve heard this year still. Well I’ll probably give the star of the best 2014 BM album to Kampfar, I loved that album.

    • This album doesn’t come anywhere close to the best BM of the year.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Meh I like it. Yes it’s a safe album from a band that isn’t used to safe albums. Yes it has 43 min (not that much) but only half of them are useful. But it has that Taake taste on it, and I admit, I sure as hell like that taste!

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I dunno, I still like it. It’s no …Bjoergvin…, that’s for sure, but I have a soft spot for Hoest’s work.
    For me, it’d be 3/5. Still, a very fair review.

    • Yeah I have a soft spot for the band too… Unfortunately that didn’t make the listening experience any easier.

  • Wilhelm

    It’s nothing different for Taake, but I think it’s a huge improvement on the last couple of releases and an in my opinion, an way above par BM album, you gotta love those audible bass lines too.

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    I liked Noregs Vaapen. The banjo solo was a bit weird though. I haven’t heard Stridens Hus all the way through yet, but I’m hearing that it’s just okay. Not too exciting.

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      The banjo solo was the best bit!

      • Our Fortress Is Burning

        Depending on your perspective, I suppose that’s true.

        I’ve grown used to it now, but it was like a punch in the face the first time I heard it. A true WTF moment. I had to check that there wasn’t something wrong with the stereo. If Black Metal is intended to shock and surprise, mission accomplished. It seemed like a musical non sequitur at the time, but perhaps it’s a comment on the expectations of Metal fans.

  • sweetooth0

    Totally disagree. I can’t stop listening to this album. The latter part of Orm has been stuck in my head for weeks.