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After releasing the extremely primitive Manndaudsvinter demo in 1995, Taake returned one year later with this 12 minute EP of buzzing black metal, boasting an improvement in both recording quality and material. While the previous demo had shown glimpses of what Taake would eventually evolve into, Koldbrann I Jesu Marg marks a great leap for Mr Hoest as he finally began to chisel out the rough edges and sculpt Taake into the creative entity that it would later become.
The production this time around is much clearer, bearing more similarities with the following album, Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, although still retaining a much more abrasive sound than that album achieved. The deep, murky production that mixed the instrumentation into a muddy wall of noise on Manndaudsvinter and often made me think of soggy Wheat-Bix being slapped against a microphone has been replaced by a dark, buzzing, and viciously searing guitar tone that violently tears its way through the EP, rising and falling on the crest of its own destructive sound. The drums this time around have also been pushed further into the light, or rather taken out of the darkness, to give the EP a much more energetic and lively feel, rather than the dull thudding that permeated the previous release. Hoest once again gives a haunting and ghoulish performance on vocals, shrieking and howling his way through the three tracks with malice. His vocals, however, do not take quite the prominence they later would, rather seem to blend into the ceaseless buzz of the other instruments to add another layer to the cacophony. The bass has finally made an appearance too, echoing out from the haughty shadow of the guitars with clean, sombre notes that add a surprisingly melancholic tone to the EP that the previous demo lacked.
The song-writing here is the interesting aspect to note, though. Rather than slight hints at what Taake would eventually become sandwiched between layers of Darkthrone worship, Koldbrann... actually takes an enormous creative leap and escapes the trappings of Hoest’s pervasive early influences. The songs wind and undulate in almost a dizzying fashion; segueing from venomously sinister tremolo picked riffs, to bouncy melodic ventures down dark and confined passageways, to disconsolate atmospheric drudgery. Blant Sølv Og Gull I Mørket slithers, like a malign sidewinder, for seven minutes through an array of emotions and atmospheres, relentlessly drawing the listener in at every stage with its emotive riffing and powerful drumming, while Trolldom summons hate and melancholy with its baleful riffs and vocals. Marerittet, on the other hand, gives a short break to the constant movement of the album by providing a short bouncy riff-fest designed to make you bang your head and really just acts as a buffer between the two main tracks.
This EP is definitely an improvement over Manndaudsvinter, which, while being quite competent given Hoest’s obvious restrictions, was really just an early demo and nothing more. Koldbrann... has something special though, giving any Taake aficionado an intriguing look at where Hoest’s musical vision originated from. It’s still not nearly up to the level of brilliance that the debut would put forth in such a stark manner, but for what it is, it’s very good.