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With Taake's third album, the conclusion of the magnificent trilogy that launched Hoest into the upper echelons of black metal artistry, the band seemed to pull off the impossible, the completely unexpected: after the slightest of stumbles with the sophomore, a move that all too often signals an inevitable spiral into artistic bankruptcy or irrelevance, Taake managed to once again tap into the same icy veins Hoest so skillfully mined with the debut. With the production right on point to capture the music's nuances, Taake once again weaves a tapestry of riffy, powerful distillate of black metal that flows with almost uncanny perfection from one vaguely folky northern melody to the next. Yet again Hoest finds ways to convey the entire spectrum of emotional depths the best black metal bands probe: beauty, wonder, power, pride, despair, romance, hatred, nihilism, longing, solitude, l'appel du vide. Not only are all of these (and more) present here in doses just as concentrated as ever they were on the debut, Hoest once again convincingly quilts together these facets into a cohesive whole where these emotions intermingle and flow seamlessly, so much so that there becomes this indescribable "black metal feeling." It's the sort of stuff that longtime fans of the genre will try to tell you is the reason they prefer the darker stuff to any other flavor of metal (or of music, more broadly, for that matter) yet often struggle to put into words or compare to other sets of feelings they might have. Hell, often enough it's tough to come up with single musical examples of exactly what they're trying to get across when discussing the subject, but just like the debut, Hordalands doedskvad is probably as close to the Platonic form of black metal as might be possible for human beings to craft.
Take "Part III" for example. The first thing that comes to mind for me when I hear this song is "Christmas." I don't mean mangers and baby Jesuses or fat jolly red Santas or anything like that. I mean that sort of strange mix of contentment and sadness, icy coldness balanced by fiery warmth, romantic idolization of and nostalgia for what has gone and will never return, the unexplainable love and comfort of reveling in traditions older than memory in the face of an uncaring, meaningless existence. I guess that says an awful lot about how I feel about Christmas, but I'll be damned if all of that shit isn't pretty perfectly captured by some of those more grandiose, romantic traditional bits of Christmas music you hear around the holidays, full of sad choirs and bells. "Part III," with its cider-drunk swirling opening and midnight sleigh ride tremolo, ticks all of the very same boxes. It's the kind of track where you'd almost want to just lay back in the snow with your eyes closed and let it wash over you, if it weren't for the fact that it gets the blood flowing with such frightening effectiveness. Shit, even the pounding, rolling double-bass backed outro feels like an exhilarating sled ride down an icy hill in some sort of old Scandinavian version of a Thomas Kinkade painting, robbed of all of its kitsch and inauthenticity and replaced entirely with pure old world Christmas spirit (damn the fact that this listener, at least, is acquainted with no such thing), all at white-knuckle speeds.
And that's just one track. While "Part III" might be a personal favorite of mine for the way it draws comparisons to some other part of my own life that is linked to so many memories and sensations, like some multi-dimensional onslaught of synethesia, every track on here is just as good as that, and it takes no effort at all for me to imagine how other listeners could have experiences just as profound when listening to any one of these songs. The descending guitar notes in the huge riff at the end of "Part IV" is basically everything that ever made HEX/Hibernaculum-era Earth magnificent, with the added power of Hoest's tortured howls providing a narrative backbone, a sense of purpose, that Earth's instrumentals never could have even striven for. The ending bits of "Part V" shift from the snowstorm that surrounds them to a gentle, swirling flurry of crystalline beauty, each note of which glimmers and melts the instant it settles. "Part II" has church bells ringing exactly the best way that church bells could in a black metal song, and a "chorus" tremolo melody that sounds like a string quartet composed of rare forest spirits that feed off of pure liquid human sadness. "Part I" careens purposefully between ironclad power and vulnerable bouts of wistful longing, even working in that sickening sing-song "the worms go in, the worms go out, the worms play pinochle on your snout" melody that I remember from my childhood (I really hope I'm not the only one who knows what I'm talking about here), all forged into a singular alloy of potent, cutting emotion. The instrumental is a hell of a thing, the epic closer is almost exactly as it should be - I dunno why but those weird short little spoken sounds during the part where the rhythm section drops out to let the guitar go it alone through the blizzard, the equal doses of fear and melancholy that make up those alien syllables, that really, really get to me.
I've gone back and forth between this album and the debut as being my favorite Taake record, but it's that "almost" that just narrowly costs Hordalands doedskvad its victory. The way that last track peters out into silence with that bizarre backmasked chorused guitar line is clearly meant to be exactly as it is, but I can't help but compare it to the phenomenal closing track on Nattestid... that's just...well, more perfect than this. I will also admit that there are parts of the first half of "Part V" that aren't jaw-dropping amazing, simply very, very good, and sorry but that takes away just a tiny, tiny bit from this. But, to be completely honest, this is essentially a perfect album and if the worst I can level at it is that, in over fifty minutes of play time, there are a few bits here and there that aren't absolutely flawless injections of pure black emotion directly to my nervous system or whatever chemical processes act as some some soul-surrogate in my decidedly unspiritual brain structure, then I'd say that's pretty fucking impressive.
Taake have yet to reach these lofty heights in the eleven years since this album was released, but the way that Hoest was able to unearth or summon or surrender himself to or however it is he gains access to this kind of perfection after seemingly beginning to briefly gaze down the wrong path has effectively steeled my faith in the man's ability to always have, somewhere inside him, both the will and ability to return to music of this caliber. There was a lot of it on Noregs vaapen, seemingly despite everything about that album that should have prevented it, and it even shone through the muck of Stridens hus only last year, so I know the beating heart of the Hordalands is still there, somewhere. Let's hope Hoest feels its pulse more clearly next time.
The consensus almost everywhere seems to be that this is not only the best Taake record, according to Best Black Metal Albums, it’s in the top 5 of all time (number 2 at the time of this writing). While I doubt many people here would agree with the latter, the reviews on this site still herald this as Hoest’s crowning achievement. I tend to disagree.
Don’t get me wrong. I like this album. There are some strong moments here for sure. Take the opening track for instance. From the first triumphant-sounding guitar lines to the “HEY! HEY!” I dig it. Everything about this track is awesome. It’s got that bittersweet folky sound akin to the first Borknagar albums. And rather than simply engage in an imitation, Taake changes pace several times to showcase their own signature touches on the genre from the relentless, bouncing tremolos to the schizophrenic vocals. This is progressive black metal at its finest. The transitions are smooth, and it feels like a true classical arrangement rather than a riff salad.
Track 3 is my other personal favorite. Featuring the dreariest, trudging tremolos leading into a blastbeat march to war, it’s a gem. And the vocals are just so righteous. I have no idea what Hoest is saying, but if we were on the battlefield, I’d just be like “Fuck yeah! What he said!” Again, there are plenty of pace changes, and they all work so well together. The break for the bass solo leading into that ominous final riff gets me going.
But for every triumph, there are a few missteps. For instance, track two features a riff disturbingly similar to the “Imperial March” riff from “Pure Holocaust,” something I didn’t care for to begin with. The transitions also don’t work as well on the other tracks. Riffs bump into each other clumsily and are less memorable. Tracks 5 and 6 in particular just feel aimless and dull. I wouldn’t call them bad; just uninteresting. On an album with only 7 tracks, even 2 or 3 tracks going wrong significantly harms to overall listening experience. The closing track is better, but just can’t stand up against the closers of Nattestid or Noregs. I will say I enjoy the strange little rock riff that is used throughout though.
Comparing this album to the rest of the trilogy, there is far less emphasis on cohesion. Personally, if you are looking for the best Taake album, I’d start from the beginning with Nattestid. It’s so hipster to say that, but in this case it’s true. Beyond that, I would rank them thusly: Nattestid, Ser Porten, Noregs Vaapen (heresy, I know), Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik, Hordalands Doedskvad, Taake, Stridens Hus. That’s just my personal opinion, but I feel my top choices are a bit more consistent and I find myself enjoying nearly every track pretty equally.
Overall, this is not some monumental argument I am making. I fully admit to splitting hairs considering I am still ranking this with an 80%. I just took a look at all of the 90%+ reviews and felt there was room for some sort of counterpoint here. I still highly recommend listening to this album, but not with disregard to those that come before or Noregs. The only two albums I feel are skippable are Taake and Stridens Hus. As always, form your own opinion, but I hope this can help others not feel inclined to go with the majority decision.
People are funny sometimes in their never stopping critique of everything what is Norwegian. Some dull and useless opinions would even dare to say that this country hasn’t produced anything exceptional ever since the early 90’s and the good, cult early releases of Darkthrone, Ulver, Satyricon and Mayhem. What a perfect example for jerkism, jealousy and lack of musical taste… What about all those exceptional and killer releases of Thorns, 1349, Urgehal, Orcustus, Gehenna, Svarttjern, Helheim – to name only few! – which happened later, in the new millennium??!! And what the fuck about Taake, probably the greatest black metal band from Norway of the past decade? Is this still not enough for you for the proof that this country always had exceptional black metal to offer and often was standing a step forward, comparing it to the rest of the world? Taake… Yeah, this band is the finest example for the supremacy of the Norwegian black metal and their 2005 release “Hordalands Doedskvad” definitely belongs to the finest releases of this band… and to the whole Norsk Black Metal at all. Taake already had a couple of excellent releases behind their belt (mainly the awesome second LP “Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik”), but even if I really like both previous full lengths, I must say that they’re just not as good as this third LP is.
I love every aspect of “Hordalands Doedskvad”. Truly, I do. The album is not only amazingly written and perfectly recorded, but also is catchy as hell; which is quite surprising, as we speak of the black metal record, so music which in its nature should be disgusting, obscure and be everything, but no fun. I don’t wanna say that Taake on their “Death Chants from Hordaland” sounds happy and joyful, not at all; it also isn’t quasi symphonic and commercial like Dimmu Borgir. It still is damn vicious, cold, dark and malevolent music, but damn me, if many of those riffs didn’t hook me up immediately and I ended up screaming the lyrics along with Hoest and banging my head in the frenzy rhythm of that music? Right from the very first second, when Hoest screams out “Helnorsk Svartmetall!!!!!” and then that melodic, folky riff blows the speakers out, you’re there for good – right in the middle of that cold and gloomy atmosphere. Actually that opening song “Hordaland Doedskvad Part I” (the titles are not too clever, being just parts I up to VII) is a perfect example for the brilliancy of Taake’s music. Great riffing, quite melodic like I already said, but at the same time one can almost spot how deeply rooted those riffs are in the traditional Norwegian black metal. For me it just sounds excellent, especially as I also really like Hoest’s vocals and probably the only thing, which I do not enjoy so much in this first song – but which doesn’t disturb me totally – are Nattefrost’s guest screams here and there. Anyway, if you don’t believe how great is that song and how brilliant is its atmosphere, then just listen to that break part close to the end of the song... What a masterpiece. It is extreme, but still so beautifully (bllaaahhh, I mean disgustingly) melodic and catchy, that I cannot imagine someone, who’s into this music not to get infected by Taake with this song. In my opinion they have here some of the best black metal guitar parts ever composed by the Norwegian black metal and that is a fact!
But the passion for cold and majestic, epic black metal doesn’t end up on this one, opening song. Sure, “Part I” is an incredibly amazing anthem, but more is yet to come. Every damn track on “Hordaland Doedskvad” actually sounds fantastic and has something exceptional to offer. And since the whole has been played usually in mid paced tempo, the album is soaked with energy and infectious power, there’s no place for boredom and unimpressive playing on any part of the LP… And that riffing, man, I love it. I guess some may find those folkish harmonies as too trivial, but fuck them. This album is filled with passion, great feeling and killer atmosphere and if one will find those folk melodies as annoying, then it only is his problem. Go and listen to your Nargaroth or Mutiilation. But before that, listen to the instrumental “Hordaland Doedskvad Part VI” and tell me, if those riffs won’t fasten your heart beat and really cause some serious neck damage, when you keep banging your skull in excitement. Taake’s songwriting is just superbly good, the band never fails to deliver a killer tunes and whether it’s “Part I”, “Part VI” or another my favourite, “Part III”, the tension is always there and you just must admire how these songs have been built – with many tempo changes, great long instrumental parts, effective breaks and impressive play of every instrument, plus also an extra positive word must be said about Hoest’s rasp voice, which is just great and surely he’s one of the most characteristic and charismatic black metal vocalists out there. On top of everything what I mentioned, I’ll add the production of “Hordaland Doedskvad”, which is just superb; Grieghallen Studio delivered a stunning sound, very powerful, very deep and perfectly suitable for such emotional music. In my opinion this album is one of best productions, which came from this studio – everything, starting with a killer guitar tone and finishing on the great sounding drums, has been amazing and only helps in listening to the music.
If one needs a conclusion, then there can be only one – “Hordaland Doedskvad” is a fantastic record, really. Being a fan of black metal, Norwegian bands especially, I will always treat this album as one of the most thrilling pieces of music that have ever been created up in the North. Obviously I’ll always love “Bertgatt”, “Nemesis Divina”, “Again Shall Be…”, “Under a Funeral Moon”, “Seen Through the Veils of Darkness”, ”Moon in the Scorpio” and “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”, plus many more, which I’m not gonna mention now, all those albums are perfect. And “Hordaland Doedskvad” is among them, as equally memorable and classic. This is just pure CULT!
Standout tracks: “Part I”, “Part III”, “Part VI”
Released in June 2005 by Dark Essence Records, Hordalands Doedskvad is Taake’s third album. This album is considered to have elements from different styles of black metal crammed into it. First of all this album is an absolute masterpiece and no other black metal band has managed to get as much variety in one album than in Hordalands Doedskvad. It took the best elements from different styles of black metal and created some of the best black metal ever. Also, this is the only album that Høst has allowed other people to record this album with him.
First thing to mention about this album is that there are so many things crammed into it and it doesn’t feel clustered. The music flows extremely well throughout the course of the album. Unlike their previous album which seemed to be influenced 80s rock and metal, Hordalands Doedskvad sounds like it was a lot more influenced by early black metal settlers such as Bathory and Mayhem. Also they have mixed three main styles of black metal into their music; Traditional black metal, folk black metal and atmospheric black metal. The best thing about it is that the music flows extremely well and there is no point within the album where it feels like this perfect flow is interrupted by anything. Also the songs are constructed in such a way that when listening to this, it almost feels like you’re on an adventure. This is the feeling you usually get from a folk band but no other band does it like Taake does it. Apart from the clear folk influences it’s the number of transitions and different the styles and alternating tempo which is what truly creates this feeling of adventure. The variety in this album is excellent as well, every track is totally different from the last so it doesn’t sound like you are listening to the same thing twice in a row. Even the emotions and atmosphere is differs from song to song. Also they make use of a wide range of instruments; from your standard band instruments such as guitars and drums to pianos, all the way to digitally modifying the sound. This only makes the album’s music even better and more adventurous. The adventurous feeling you get from listening to this master piece is what is responsible for the success of the album and is the definite highlight overall.
Musically these guys are technically awesome as well, the sheer speed of some parts are absolutely amazing. The music itself is tremendously tight and technical. I couldn’t even pick up any off beats while listening to this. I think it was a great idea to have more than one person creating all the music because all of the musicians have great skills. The vocalists are; well trained and transition constantly from high pitch shrieks and screams to some growls. Although they use their growls very little throughout this album there were two different styles they utilize. The first one sounds like your generic death growls which are used for faster sections of an album and the other style they use sound like a death growl but someone has punched them in the diaphragm while that happened. It sounds like an inward death growl. This adds a little more variety to their vocal styles. The guitar work is brilliant as well. The tuning and distortion of the guitar is setup so it can be played to sound like 80s music and folk music. Usually the 80’s influences come in the slower sections of the album and the folk elements are shown during the quicker parts. Although the guitar work and vocals are excellent the drumming is legendary. The blast beats on this album would have to be the best out of any album to date. The speed of the drumming at times can get overwhelming and the music sounds extremely energized. Also, the drumming is seemingly perfect with no off beats or anything. Also they doubles aren’t used often but they are of respectable speed as well. The drumming is the definitely highlight when it comes to these guys musically because it brings all elements together very well.
These guys aren’t always about sheer in your face brutality, there is definitely some emotion here as well and the atmosphere is another important element to this album as well. There are two main types of atmosphere in this album. The first and more noticeable one is that it sounds like the music is painting a picture in your mind of the landscape in Hordaland. The music has a sense of scope and scale. It’s almost as if you were looking out at the landscape seeing the mountains and rivers out in the distance. Also as part of this, the transitions from quick to fast sections mounts a better experience along with the use of many different instruments and styles. It’s really quite hard to explain the feeling you get when listening to this album because in this case the beauties of this album speaks for itself. The second type of atmosphere present in this album is the classic raw atmosphere. This is when all the influences from bands such as Bathory and Darkthrone come into play. They just use the ordinary style of raw atmosphere that many other bands use, high pitched guitars with an immense amount of distortion. Also they don’t use palm mute riffs instead they carry the sound on for a very quite a while. Typically, in this album this sort of atmosphere is usually done during the slowest sections of tracks. This adds to the already great variety of music and sounds. This album should definitely not be mistaken for sounding evil and grim because it is the total opposite. Actually, it the happiness in contrast with the more serious sounding parts in some tracks contributes extra to Taake’s trademarked charm.
The sheer amount of variety throughout this album is awe-inspiring. This album is a definite master piece and should be in some kind of hall of fame. There are so many great tracks in this album and they are assembled in such a way that they are used to their full potential. I have to say that utterly 100% of this album is worth listening to because each track is unique and different from the last. Taake has chosen a very odd style to title this album. He chose to title it in parts, I’m not exactly sure why he did this but it definitely infers the adventure concept behind the music and may even suggest a story line. The first track which is appropriately titled Part I is the big bang that softens up this listeners, it is an excellent track that exhibits everything a Taake fan would like in this single track. Also this track itself sounds like a small adventure, with its numerous transitions and different tempos no one can complain about variety. Also the song is structured so that it is in separate parts, kind of like episodes in a movie. Also there is a sense that they are arranged in chronological order. Not only that but it is one of the tracks that sounds happy and presents you with a euphoric feeling whenever you hear it. Overall Part I is a masterpiece. What really is surprising is that Part II is nothing like Part I, it has a completely different song structure and style of music. The only thing that stays the same is the vocals. Although Part III starts off slow and dark, it is the most folkish track on the album. I tell you what, as soon as the slow section of the song has ended, it blasts into some awesome black metal. The blast beats on this track are the best out of the whole album. Part VI is another adventure track, spanning 7 minutes which leaves space for some epic black metal and variety. The last track to mention is Part VII, it is the longest track in the album and is also a great track with a mix of emotional sections along with extremely fast sections. Overall, there isn’t really a stand out track and they are basically all evenly weighted in terms of quality. Also recording quality is crystal clear. It is good to have a black metal band with high quality recording, which is another thing that makes this album standout from the rest.
Overall, Hordalands Doedskvad is an absolute master piece. This album should go down in black metal history as being one of the most influential albums in the 21st century. Although the music itself doesn’t sound so original, what Taake did with the music is original. This album has broken new ground and has set the bar insanely high for new upcoming bands who wish to play in the same style as Taake. It is because of this album that Taake has become so famous. Also Høst take this one alone either, this is the only album so far that he had a complete band behind him which in itself is epic. The level of musicianship and tightness of the band really worked well and it’s a shame it was an only one night party. Also the best thing about this album is the sense of an adventure while listening to it. It is constructed in different parts so it has the full effect on the listener. I recommend the tracks Part I, Part III and Part VII because they might be a little better than everything else on the album If you would prefer a more easy listening style of Black Metal try Part V . But despite of that, all of the tracks are worth a go and are of gold standard. I would like to recommend this album to anyone who likes any form of melodic metal but mainly to black metal fans in general. This album is virtually perfect and it should go into some kind of hall of fame. That is why it receives the prestigious 20/20.
written for www.spirit-of-metal.com and www.miniradman.blogspot.com
Taake is an interesting band. Hordalands Doedskvad was the first ‘extreme metal’ album I heard, and it is still one of my favourites, with possibly only ‘Over Bjorgvin Graater Himmerik’ (also by Taake), the legendary ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ by Mayhem, and XIV Dark Centuries’ ‘Den Ahnen zum Grusse’ going close to rivalling this piece of musical mastery.
The releases that make up my so-called ‘favourites’ are an interesting mix. Apart from the Mayhem classic, released in 1994, these albums were all released post-2002. This highlights a problem of black metal, stemming from the end of the “second wave” of the Norwegian Black Metal movement. There has been no evolution, no breakthroughs, yet also no bands playing – literally to the core – black metal, whilst also bringing something new to the genre. Many bands have tried, until they ended up not playing black metal. This was the problem of the late 90’s and early 00’s.
Until Taake came along.
Whilst Hoest released a couple of releases under the name of Thule (see Der Vinterstormene Raste for the better of the two IMO), he didn’t release a real gem until 1999 with Nattestid Ser Porten Vid. That, and Over Bjorgvin Graater Himmerik took me quite a while to immerse myself in, taking many listens until they reached the level where they are at now, being a pivotal part of my musical listening experience. But it was Hordalands Doedskvad which introduced me to the scene, and the musical creativity that exists in the black forests and mountains of Norway. Listening to this for the first time was like my first day of school. I had been dreaming of the moment for so long, that moment where I instantly found a new life, but I never knew what to expect until it had already happened. I knew Hordalands would be hard, would be evil, would be dark, inevitably it would be BLACK. However, I didn’t think I would be writing a review for it, I didn’t think it would change my life, and I certainly didn’t think a piece of music could literally touch my soul.
The intense scream that begins the journey is what turns off most of my mates who I make listen to this, but it draws me in, to a point where any ‘death scream’ is a disappointment. I don’t want to list a song-by-song review, but there are key points in songs which I really want to point out. From intense blast beats and riffs, to the drums merely acting as an instrument to keep the beat, and not submissively beat your skull, to the bass adding strength, and then the vocals. WOW! They are what makes this album. The passion, the viciousness, and the addition of Nattefrost on some songs really make this album so outstanding.
But, what are those key points, the key pieces of melody, you may be asking? Part I, at 4:10 features some extreme growls from Hoest (definantly not the harshest on the album, however), but then dramatically slows down in tempo at 4:30, introducing a short but amazingly sweet piano interlude, and at 4:58 just really sets the mood for the next entirely incomprehensible Norwegian ‘singing’ that is probably the highlight on the album for me. I listen to Part I probably twice a day just for the 20-odd seconds of piano!
Part V also offers something for the worthy. It is quite a different tempo to the rest of the album, I feel. At 1:20 you may hear something that, if slowed down to maybe ¾ speed, could VERY easily be present on a Billboard album. It’s a rock kind of breakdown, and this feeling continues throughout the song. The drumming is more of an addition to the soundscape the guitars are producing, instead of merely being blast beats in the background! It adds feeling to the song. You could put Dave Grohl behind the mic and it would be a Foo Fighters song, the musicianship is THAT good!
Overall, the guitarwork is exquisite, the drumming is amazing, and the vocals are breathtaking. Although I couldn’t understand a single thing said over the entire album (except for the obligatory ‘HEY’ and ‘OH’s’ throughout), it was one of the most rewarding musical experiences I have ever felt. This album opened up a new world to my ears, one that I haven’t left, and don’t plan on doing so. This is quite possibly one of the most intricate and spectacular releases I have bought in the last 3 years, and that’s saying a lot!
From Hoest’s first morbid shriek of "Hellnorsk svart mitaal!!" (or something of the like), "Hordalands Doedskvad" grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go until the end of an epic, unforgettable experience. This is straight up melodic black metal with a strong Norse folk influence along the lines of Windir and the early works of Dimmu Borgir. In other words – Awesome stuff.
The guitar work is, how can I say…Fucking impressive for black metal. Complex, inventive, original, folkish, melodic and brutal. What more can one ask for? There’s even a strange, dare I say “indie” type riff in the middle of Part V which couldn’t have been done better by the likes of The Strokes or Razorlight themselves (Haha!). But don’t get the wrong idea, Taake does not make crap, soft mainstream music. On the contrary, the riffs on this album are some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. From true black metal to experimenting with clean guitars and even a BIT of the piano, the riffs are extremely captivating and well done.
The production is quite clear and works brilliantly with the music, and quite a few session musicians are used on this album, like Nattefrost from Carpathian Forest. The drums are well crafted and extremely precise. The rhythms are also very fresh (not just a wall of blasting) and complement the music perfectly. The bass does some amazing work – walking riffs in particular that feature breathtaking “Viking” type riffs. The vocals are top notch! Hoest really delivers with his harsh yet accessible screams.
It is almost impossible to pick out a single stand out track, but my favourite tracks are Part I and the instrumental track that is Part VI, as they exhibit a vast diversity and abundance of riffs and different progressions in their many sections.
“Hordalands Doedskvad” is one of the best black metal albums I have ever heard. It is a pity that more people do not know about Taake and the extraordinary works of Hoest. This album proves that quality Norwegian black metal is still in our midst!
I was never too into Black Metal after a bad introduction to it, but I got on the right rack and recently gave Hordaland Doedskvad a listen. This is one of the best Black Metal albums I’ve ever heard, and it’s up there with my favorite releases from bands like Horna, 1349, and Windir.
This release by Taake is not the type of Black Metal that I expected it to be. I was thinking of something along the lines of Darkthrone or Epheles. I was immediately rushed by a sheer wave of brilliance once I started up this first song, cleverly titled “Hordaland Doedskvad Part I” (like true Taake fashion, the songs have no individual names, they are just chapters in a trilogy that ended with this release).
The musicianship here is very varied. It has both melody and brutality, as well as the use of the entire guitar, unlike the same four chords played over and over again on Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. The musical spectrum displayed on this album is astonishing, especially from the Norwegian Black Metal scene, from which many bands have duplicated Darkthrone’s style. The drumming is nothing special, though Black Metal drumming never really was. The vocals are the trademark Black Metal guttural, pained scream. Typical vocals and drumming, but it is all executed perfectly. I noticed that the whole album has an early Celtic Frost sound to it, which helped boost it up in my appeal to it. Don’t misunderstand; this is not a rip off. It just has the same feel as To Mega Therion.
Overall, Hordaland Doedskvad is a large step up from Nattestid Ser Porten Vid (although it is still a fantastic album, and I have yet to get my hands on Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik). This entire album is brilliant, and I hope that Taake will continue to get better and better with each release.
For people who are not too into Black Metal or want to delve deeper into the depths of this genre, seek out this release. You won’t regret spending your money (or your time if you choose to download it) on one of the best albums to come out of the Black Metal scene.
"Hordaland Doedskvad" starts with a scream that pleasantly announces the total ass-kicking you are about to receive while listening to it.
One can expect the usual complexity of the guitars that Taake is known for, but this time around they're even more impressive; Hoest has further infused folkish sounds into his riffs while keeping true to the black metal style of previous work.
Another aspect of the music that has improved is the overall song-writing and "surprise" factor. Riffs change sporadically at unpredictable times, or stop abruptly to branch of into a new thought. This causes the album to sound somewhat chaotic and unorganized at first, but after a few listens the organic and natural flow becomes apparent. "Hordaland Doedskvad" takes the listener on an energetic ride and captures their attention throughout until the album finishes (which is when you'll be pressing "play" again).
The production of this album also deserves a mention; It is a few steps up in quality compared to "Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik", which makes it stand up and demand attention rather than sit out in the background as noise. Over-polishing is not an issue here, as the warm grit of distortion is at a perfect balance with the vocals while the drums drive the music forward from slightly behind. The bass is not always as audible as it could be, but it provides sufficient support for the guitars which are the main focus anyway.
Overall, this album delivers everything -and more- that one would expect from black metal-hero Taake. "Hordaland Doedskvad" is truely a masterpiece, and is (arguably, of course...) the best Taake release to date.
An eyebrow-raising first 30 seconds begin this work. Not being a fan of ‘putting away your remedial-high-school homework and grabbing a beer to pump your fist for the sake of metal while your mom’s not looking’ 80’s sing-along metal vocals yelling of the same word (in this case a hearty ‘yeah!’), I was given significant pause from continuing to listen to this. But the riff immediately following it put me in my place – and that place is a near-total sense of awe at the power, creativity, immediacy, and urgency of this at times laconic-sounding melodic black metal act.
For those not familiar with Taake, imagine the melodic sensibilities of the later Norweigan black metal greats such as Satyricon (specifically from the Shadowthrone to Nemesis Divina-era) combined with a sometimes very classical sense of harmony similar to Dissection or even Obtained Enslavement, and at other times a very broad and expansive organic harmonic sound definitely inspired by Burzum but sounding more akin to acts like Kvist and Shade.
Guitars are far and away the foundation and the focus of this body of work. Sweeping and epic lines of melody and harmony move erratically across the emotional landscape this album presents like packs of wolves. The melodic and harmonic aspects are far from being tied to any one influence or even genre – they seem to move fluidly and with satisfying arrangement between old-school 80’s metal flourishes and breakdowns (as in the riff that stands in staunch defiance to the preceeding one at 1:08 in the second song) to classically composed somber sections (the riff at 3:28 of the same song) that move energetically, to sections of epic and organic riffing as folk and jazz chords spin together like bizarrely-shaped cogs in a alien machine (such as the outro to the second song starting at 4:13).
This sensibility of hybrid-style riffing within the same songs is certainly nothing new for the band, but is more pronounced here than on any previous album. In this sense the album strikes me as thankfully being more forward-looking than stagnant, although it definitely still sounds like the same band…just evolved a bit.
For the fourth offering from a band to stay consistently well-crafted, fresh, and yet not alienating is a mark of true artistry that sets Taake apart from most contemporaries. The other factor is a deep emotional core to the music. The arrangement, melodies, harmonies, and tones presented on the album conjure up feelings not only of awe and might and darkness, but also of fragility, doubt, pain, and even confusion. The musical motifs here are epic not in the sense that they convey images of heathen Vikings triumphing in battle (they do that as well) but also a sense that forces larger than human are at work in a drama one can only portray but never fully reveal. That sense of the dramatic epic is present here. These senses of epic drama and emotional complexity are a central aspect of what makes truly outstanding black metal so rewarding to listen to, and this band continues to display that on this album. The album is not perfect, but is solid and enjoyable the whole way through.
However, this album does something to be desired. The most consistent critical thought that comes to me when listening to this is that most songs need more editing before being set in stone: riffs repeat too often and refrains of the simplest riffs, as opposed to refrains of sections of complex riffing, come sometimes too frequently and for too long.
Overall this album is a welcome addition to the resume of an outstanding modern black metal outfit. While not perfect, is it exceptional and worthy of close and frequent listening.