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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