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After making the switch from Thule to Taake in ’95, the creative force behind this still primitive one-man black metal outfit, Hoest, spewed forth this two-track demo of rough, close-to-indecipherable 90s Norwegian black metal. The material was raw and muffled, but more importantly was beginning, ever so gradually, to explore new territory in a genre that by the time of its release had begun its inevitable expansion into the minds of more and more metal and non-metal legions around the world.
Taake’s later albums would eventually become quite popular within the realms of black metal, largely due to their creative and interesting blend of melody with a dark and somewhat sinister atmosphere, as well as an infusion of traditional metal inspired riffing. And while this early incarnation of the band’s style was still heavily influenced by such Norwegian heavyweights as Darkthrone (just listen to the opening riff on the title track), like a teenager trying to mould their own individuality from the overbearing influence of their older siblings, Taake’s unique brand of black metal was gradually starting to extricate itself from the crowd. The melodious and bouncy riifs, shrieking vocals and excellent drumming that would so strongly characterise their later material was still very present here, albeit constantly stuck between the walls of cold, Darkthrone-esque passages and suffocated under the blurry production.
Which brings me quite nicely along to my next point (wouldn’t you know it?). The production is basically what you would expect from a mid-90s demo from a then-unknown black metal band; fuzzed-out and drenched in reverb. The whole album is enshrouded in a thick blanket of fuzz; the instruments all huddled underneath in a dark, messy and clamorous pile. The guitars are the most prominent aspect here, as with all future Taake music. Breakneck tremolo picking juxtaposed with bouncy, soaring melodies. The mixing can be very uneven though, with the guitars suddenly dropping out at about 2:40 in Eismalsott, for example, and shifting in volume in various other parts throughout the two tracks. The drums sound as if they were recorded under water, with the bass drum being a deep, distant thud that quietly makes its way to the surface to drive the demo along, while the snare dimly echoes just above the murky water. Hoest’s vocals, as usual, are still a delightfully vicious rasp, shrieking and writhing above the din, while the other instruments continue to clatter away in the deep.
Overall, this is very nice start to Hoest’s journey through the fog. Musically, it primitively begun to hint at the path that Taake would eventually head down, while still retaining the obvious influences it had garnered from the work of its countrymen that had gone before. The production is extremely low-fi. Not unlistenable by any measure, but if poorly produced demos aren’t your thing then I would suggest you fly on by to their next release, Koldbrann I Jesu Marg, which boasts a much improved production as well as a general improvement in song-writing, methinks.