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In a certain light, the success and quality of Taake is proof that the classic Second Wave sound is timeless. It matters little that multi-instrumentalist Hoest's vision would have been more historically relevant had it been released five, even eight years prior. Had Nattestid ser porten vid been released earlier this year, I think it would have just as much of an effect. The same could be said for the other true masterpieces of classic black metal; it's the less-good ones (of which there are many) that cling to their historical context to stay interesting.
Part of the reason I identified Taake's debut as a masterpiece from first listen onward was precisely because I was already so familiar with their chosen style. Lo-fi, grim sonicscapes have been a staple Norwegian export for decades now, and Taake fit the bill snugly. I could tell from the start it was a masterpiece because, in spite of the genre's crowdedness, Nattestid ser porten vid sounds fresh and distinct. Is it due to Hoest's ability to integrate melody effectively into his work without relying on Dissection-type leads? Or the fact you can hear the bass in the mix? Ultimately, I think Taake earn their acclaim by the sheer brightness of Hoest as a composer and songwriter. His ability to give his work the compositional weight of classical music, all the while staying within Second Wave parameters is an experience I've very seldom ever heard in black metal.
Possibly barring the self-titled release, exceptional songwriting is a granted throughout Taake's career, but Nattestid ser porten vid is definitely one of the best examples. The homogeneous titles may give the impression that the songs are movements of a greater whole - and the near-seamless flow of the album does corroborate that impression - but Hoest's innate grasp of harmony and melody gives every track enough earworms to become memorable on their own. It's worthy to repeat that Taake doesn't use typically melodic Dissection techniques to incorporate their melodies. Hoest keeps the guitar very focused on rhythms and traditional tremolo leads, and he uses both to create instantly recognizable, distinctive melodies. Even if they lack much in the way of proper names, each of these songs have burrowed their own place into my head. "Vid I" kicks the album off with all of its best traits front and centre. "Vid II" uses an unexpected time signature, throwing me for a loop each time I hear it. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the bass so nicely highlighted in "Vid IV", and the quasi-cinematic atmosphere of "Vid VII" caps the album off in a quite possibly perfect manner.
I could mention more of these particular moments, or further approach songs on their own, but Nattestid ser porten vid seems so presented that the only fair way to think of it is as a whole. In truth, most of the time I'm listening to the album, I'm not thinking of the tracks changing. The album appears as a stream of music, and the tracks are distinguished by which gorgeous melodies are being highlighted. So, so many bands attempt to fashion albums as a singular work of art rather than a collection songs. In most cases, this is a very misguided thing to do, as bands most often try to get that impression across through needless intros and filler interludes.
I would consider the songwriting on Nattestid ser porten vid to be incredibly innovative, even if it sounds traditional by all means on the surface. Taake's way of playing the music, on the other hand, is very traditional, and I think the fact that they're trying to conjure the early 90s with their presentation lends extra weight to the compositions. No element of the performance here is very showy; Hoest's guitars are scathing and well-performed, and his shrieks are on-point, but it's not the sort of thing any of us haven't heard before. Drummer Hans Helander (listed here as Frostein S. Arctander) was brought in by Hoest as a session musician. I don't think there's anything wrong with his part now, but I had the vague impression I was listening to a lo-fi drum machine the first time I heard the album. Certain drums are muted instantly. There's not much resonance to them outside the abundant stream of blastbeats. I don't think this has to do with the drum performance so much as the way it was produced. In the end however, that minor gripe subsided within a few listens. Nattestid ser porten vid is meant to sound old school and ice cold, and it achieves that impression in every possible regard.
1999 was a surprisingly bright year for Norwegian black metal, considering the laurels of the Second Wave had long since settled. We got At the Heart of Winter that year, we got Arntor, and we got Nattestid ser porten vid. To the would-be historians that require historical significance to factor whether an album is 'great' or not, I'll part ways on the following note: Come the turn of the millennium, black metal is Scandinavia wasn't dying, but it was changing. Industrial and avant-garde influences were becoming the way for bands to stay their edge. Taake may have learned lessons in melody from more contemporary sources, but Nattestid ser porten vid does sound like a bold rebellion against the tides of change. If anything, it took more conviction to stay true to form than it would to comply with the trend of experimentation. Of course, the context is nil compared to the essential quality of this album. Regardless of when it actually came out, Nattestid ser porten vid is one of the finest traditional black metal albums I've ever heard.
I find this album more intense and less diverse than the later ones, so it can be a quite monotonous affair. Actually, except a few moments of diversity, everything is basically the same, from the riffs, the song structures, the vocals, the drum patterns, and the somehow audible bass. Of course, taken alone, the songs are powerful, intense, with hints of melody, and venomous in the delivery, but as a whole, they seem to blend in each other.
For me, the most memorable tracks are the first one, due to the presence of a choir, strongly influenced by Viking metal, with its upbeat and quite joyful melodic line. The next one is the instrumental, purely because of that. Maybe the drums have a different beat at a point, but nothing outstanding. The sixth song is also somewhat different, due to a more sinister sounding riff, played a number of times, first on the 0:45 mark.
The rest of the album doesn’t even to seem all that dark and evil, but instead portraying some sort of journey, maybe a march to battle, having that strong Viking metal vibe. The lyrics are in Norwegian, which does not help, with the exception of the +10 million Scandinavians who know the language. If there was an attempt to make a concept album, then maybe I can say that, at their stage, the effort was pretty bold, and with potential. Otherwise, nice try, but the next album is much better.
You know you've come across a record meant for only a very small and select group of folks when just about all the really important information you need to understand and appreciate the music in full is not only written in Norwegian but in the Runic script once used for writing Old Norse. That should give you some idea of Taake's determination to hoe their own lonely furrow in the diverse black metal landscape. The music certainly makes no concessions for the faint of heart: the entire recording is a single epic broken into seven parts all sounding much alike and, apart from tracks 1 and 7, not boasting any really distincit melodies.
The direction is towards the heroic and the presence of male choirs on tracks 1 and 7 gives the album a masculine but not macho quality. In lesser hands and with a different style of music, the album's concept might have become cartoony and camp but Taake's commitment to the lo-fi / minimalist aesthetic of BM makes "Nattestid Ser Porten Vid" a stunning work to hear. The production is clear but steely and cold. The throaty singing is harsh, grating and severe while the guitars concentrate on driving the music on and on, twisting all the while, so that the overall effect they create is of a continuous blizzard. Fire, ice, steel and perhaps that fatalistic North Germanic worldview of an individual pitted against the implacable forces of Nature who occasionally wins only to be struck down and killed in the end inform the spirit of this recording. Track 7 in particular sums up what I like about "Nattestid ..." - the epic and heroic aspects of the record's concept are balanced by dark music that concentrates on getting the job done with few silly frills and is all fast, savage and turbulent. Everything you hear is lean and austere. This is what I call good taste!
An original version of this review appeared in The Sound Projector (Issue 14, 2005 - 2006) which is now out of print.
Taake managed to elude me for so long that it’s not even a joke: many others have fallen by the blade of maturity, but these guys ended up shitting one out just before the end of the millennium. Check that out; December, 1999 – the only way they could have been anymore lazy was releasing it on December 31st, but I’m pretty sure it was cold enough in Norway and things were bogging down quite a bit. Høst may have been the last one to turn his homework in, but he likely didn’t get any sleep over it. I can tell because I’m giving him an A+ with an extra dose of ass-kickery that obliterates a good percentage of his peers.
My only complaint is with the production job – there’s this constant fuzzy distortion whenever the guitars are even touched. It makes everything buried behind this thin layer, but then again it always takes a little bit of time for me to really look past it and get into the music. Obviously there are plenty of albums that have way worse of a job like Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal and Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, but those are still bearable and house some pretty killer music. Looking back at this in comparison to those, it’s a small issue that you’ll certainly get over, as I did well into the first song.
The very first riff heard is just so soul-piercingly cold and nasty that I shiver and coward in my chair. It’s like a blizzard brewing and these razor-sharp, tremolo-dicing melodies cutting me up; relentless but not uncomfortable or merciless. Aside from sounding vicious as hell, they’re very harmonious and catchy; there’s a throwback to Bathory in much of the tunes, which is lively in typical conditions – the difference here is that it’s devastating. The average tempo is blazing like an icy charge, so tremolo playing makes up the backbone of the music while the production just layers everything with a magical sheet of aura (even with the fuzz). I’d say it’s second to Infernus from Gorgoroth’s debut – very memorable, but not exactly as malevolent; no doubt, there’s still this haunting atmosphere eclipsing everything on the giving end.
Høst himself is a shrieky bastard on vocals: barbaric, bloodthirsty, ruthless, and just a tortured ghoul howling in the wind. It’s as if he’s wandering the mountainous countryside, weathering the storm without any aid. His screams sound so sorrowful in the distance and absolutely twisted when in a psychotic rage like on “Vid V.” He uses other pained forms to express his anguish such as groaning and almost screeching with a ton of stomach power (though it’s rare) – much like Kvarforth of Shining, but here it’s depressing and with Shining it’s almost laughable because Kvarforth does it constantly and it sounds so fake.
The atmosphere brought about primarily by the guitars and vocals are enough to withstand time, and the role of the bass somehow fits into all of this. Considering that black metal doesn’t necessarily get first dibs on production, it’s quite odd hearing the bass sound so vivid and possessed right alongside the nappy guitars – the quality is very deep and gurgled, contrasting quite a bit but allowing another layer to seep through. Most of the time it just follows with the rhythm, but the interest in forlorn melodies and Gorgoroth-wicked bass lines peak my interest so much that I it keeps me engrossed and attentive the entire time.
The last track pretty much takes everything graded thus far and blows me out of the water. The riff that kicks the whole thing off… I mean, I was giving him an A- for the content before, but this one track alone bumps it up to an A+. The drumming throughout the album is very chilly, backed by a drummer who stampedes without any forgiveness with the double bass. It’s constant blasting from the double bass while the rest of the kit is hit in climactic patterns flailing sensationally. The combinations are so beautiful, and with the lead tune it’s very captivating and grave. The At The Heart Of Winter-like break in the middle is the icing on the cake, right there – flawless and enchanting.
There are nods to Bathory and Scandinavian history blemished throughout the album and the soul provided for every second of it is something worth cherishing. I thought I liked this album, but now I just can’t get enough of it. Høst may very well be one of the best minds to spring from Norway, and even though he could be considered the slacker, he’s just become the scholar for the Norwegian Black Metal Class of 1999.
Towards the turn of the century, the first wave of Norwegian Black Metal had lost much of its original power. The old-timers' assault was coming to a halt, with bands like DARKTHRONE, SATYRICON, and MAYHEM releasing some of the weakest material of their respective careers, and as a result the rest of the world was quickly catching up with the norsemen when it came to grim blasphemy. The scene was in desperate need of a lift, and it would take something magnificent and powerful to turn this emerging trend around. After two rather generic and unspectacular demos, TAAKE exploded onto the Norwegian scene in 1999, with what would become the first chapter of the greatest Norwegian trilogy since DARKTHRONE's unholy trinity. This is the story of "Nattestid Ser Porten Vid", and the rise of one Ulvhedin Hoest.
From the first seconds of "Nattestid" it's obvious that we're in for a treat out of the ordinary, with a riff that could send chills down the spine of even the most seasoned listener. A fearsome scream follows, and soon we are all pining for the fjords. The secret to TAAKE's success lies in how Hoest and his ever-rotating group of comrades have found the perfect balancing point between pure raw aggression and grand sweeping melodies, not completely different to what DISSECTION was doing five years prior.
With folkloric themes and melodies heavily inspired by Norwegian tradition, TAAKE had found a previously untapped vein of melancholic yet hateful potential. The result is a true modern masterpiece that holds as many memorable melodies as it contains brute force, all furiously wrapped in a tin-foil production that still allows the individual instruments to shine. The lack of song-titles elaborates the album as a single concept, rather than a collection of individual songs, but every track still carries its own weight.
At this point it would be useless to attempt to further elaborate the majestic character that is "Nattestid", and therefore I leave you with one simple instruction. By all means, obtain this album, as well as its two equal-or-greater follow-ups as soon as possible. This is absolutely essential listening, and the Norwegian crowning achievement of the end of the nineties.
(Online October 10, 2009)
Written for the Metal Observer
I first came into contact with this band awile back hearing only a couple tracks, after that I had to buy the albums of which I sampled.
Here we have the Nattestid Ser Porten Vid album which is my personal favorite album of all time. This music gives me a feeling like no other, a sence of pride being from Norway.
Now, the music is very well crafted, that is most certain. The guitars, oh boy, the guitars; Hoest manages to craft some of the most well put together riffs I've ever heard. For example on the song Nattestid IV the guitars are so fucking majestic. I could play that song all day and still get the rise I get from it each time. The guitars are a key instrument in Nattestid Ser Porten Vid because they are the essence of the songs, they give it that powering feeling that is just totally overwhelmingly good. The vocals are something that also stand out on this record. Hoest's vocal style ranges from black metal vocals to folk/viking metal vocals and I just fucking love it. Speaking of which, on the first song Nattestid I there are folk vocals that are incorporated and compliment the instruments very nicely. The vocal ability of Taake is outstanding. Drums are very interesting in this release because the routines are rare and refreshing due to the fact they're played in a bit of a raw production and they're very creative.
Aside from the music, the art was something that also compliments the music well. Everything is in norwegian then translated into runes.
I would highly recommend fans of folk metal and black metal to atleast check Taake out and give them a shot. I think you all will not be dissapointed but very much delighted by what you hear. Buy it!!!!
100/100 A+ Norsk Black Metal
Taake is a band that I consider to be in the second wave of Norwegian black metal, they really got their stuff going in the late 90's even though they formed somewhere around the mid 90's. Norway has had trouble producing some original and excellent bands since the late 80's-early 90's heyday of Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Emperor, Satyricon, Immortal and Gorgoroth. Granted, those bands will always be in black metal history and it's a tough act to follow for any country (albeit France is the current ruler of the roost) let alone Norway. Some of the prior bands I mentioned are still active and some are sometimes "active" or preparing comebacks of some sort (i.e. Emperor, Immortal).
I always asked myself if Norway could ever produce that string of talent ever again or anything remotely close to it. Tsjuder is a second wave Norwegian band and they're a really good band that will be around. But Taake is something on a completely different league, this album drew me just from the album cover alone, so enigmatic, creepy and yet so indicative of what is inside. All the songs are untitled and only made in "parts 1, 2, 3, etc.". Musically I would compare this album to 'Dark Medieval Times' era Satyricon, maybe even 'Blodhemn' era Enslaved as well. But don't think for one bloody second that these guys are ripping them off, because they pull this off as something absolutely their own.
The musicianship is wonderful, the vocals are just sublime and most importantly the atmosphere created is something that raises goosebumps. The music has so much despair, anger and desperation that only a couple of bands can match that feeling, Burzum or Dissection comes to mind. This music has so much desire and hard work put into it that it wants to express itself to you without saying it directly. There are several Pagan/Viking chants and melodies thrown in to the predominantly black metal style in this album just to give you a wider range of sound and to keep you mesmerized.
This music is something so expressive, nastalgic and honest that only a few bands can really capture that feeling and unleash it on tape. Dimmu Borgir will never know what its like to make music this good. I found out of this band just when they released "...Dødskvad" in 2005 and I couldn't believe how good they were, how did I not know of them before? So the story was for them to release a trilogy and take an indefinite hiatus, but now it seems that they're active again to my delight. It's interesting that this band doesn't get more recognition because their music really stands up to anything that the prior bands in the beginning of this review have ever done. It's certainly on par with Scandinavia's finest work. A hail salute.
If I am not mistaken Taake is the Norsk word for “fog”. I could label their music as Black Metal, however, if one would open the inlay card this album, lo and behold before his eyes, every page is inscribed with runes. According to Høst (the founder of this band) in an interview, Taake’s 3 albums pertain to death, Norway & the Devil in man. Music wise I could classify them more as Viking Metal than Black Metal. Although I do not speak Norsk fluently, listening to this album is like taking a visionary trek through the cold forest of Norway marching along side with the spirits of the armor clad Norse warriors of yore. Taake can combine grace and brutality with ease, the music possesses complex tempo shifting brilliantly preformed. Their blending of Black Metal chords with Viking chats and the melody Scandinavian Folk music reminds me more of the elements of early Borknagar’s Viking Metal songs than Emperor’s Symphonic Black Metal or the necro style of Darkthrone for that matter. With current state of the Black/Viking Metal scene saturated with insignificant copycat bands, Taake is one of the few that stands out, I recommend you to patronize them lest you die by the sword.
Few albums such as this debut of the Norwegian pioneers Taake can claim to have instilled a new breath into an artistically dying genre, Norse Black Metal. Formerly known as Thule, this band released a considerable amount of demos and ep's until it reached the peak of its creativeness with this album.
Recorded in the renowned Grieghallen studios, the music posseses and ambient-like quality due to raw and full of reverb sound which is reminiscent of early Emperor recordings. The music itself points towards the first bands of the Norwegian Era; Darkthrone, Emperor, Burzum and Ulver are the backbone of the musical subconcious of this band, however Taake are far away from being called a rip off. Though the aesthetic of the band does not differ significantly from the "Norsecore" standards the music evolves in a manner possibly first to be heard until then. Taake's riffs and melodies resemble folk music in feeling and character and classical in the density and evolvement of the musical phrases; melodic, epic and tonal they transcend typical power chord riffs and move on to a way of synthesis we could compare to the baroque counterpoint (contrapunctum) meaning two or more series of partas (melodies) unfolding independently but combining themselves to create polyphonic music, thus enhancing the overall quality of the music. It should be said ofcourse that Taake were not the originators of this particular technique (it was Darkthrone and Burzum) but in Taake it is excecuted more developed, in my opinion.
So Taake managed to make a technical and musical breakthrough, but is this work destined to stand at the same height as the cornerstones of Norgwegian black metal namely Hvis Lysset Tar Oss, Transilvanian Hunger, Nattens Madrigal and a couple of others? The answer is no, but Taake were close. The quality of 1-2 songs does not reach the great level of chapter 1 and 3, Hoest vocals are not anything special, some riffs shouldn't exist, some others could be evolved more... Some details in other words that if they were paid the proper attention Nattestid would be the greatest masterpiece of the Norwegian scene at least from 1994 and on.
In conclusion Nattestid Sed Porten Vid is an album every follower of quality Black Metal should have; it marks the transision of black metal from rock-based music to a neoclassic and artistic approach without betraying the aesthetic, musical and ideological standards this music stands for.
Okay. First of all, this album bleeds with a true passion that is rarely ever seen in black metal, or in any music at all. This band is not just out to play because they like seeing themselves in corpsepaint. The riffs themselves actually communicate a sort of poetic wrath more intensely than almost anything I've ever heard, that even includes Dissection, Emperor, Immortal, only the best three black metal groups ever to walk the earth. If you play these songs, even on air guitar, it will put you in a trance. The vocals are very raspy, which is good, but coupled with the production it makes them sound a bit too abrasive, but a lot of black metallers will appreciate that. The drums are very audible but not overpowering or distorting the sound like they do on "A Blaze In The Northern Sky". I really can't say much to describe or justify the appeal of the album, but I can say that once I repeated the 7th song on it (i just call it Nattestid Ser Porten Vid VII) 8 times even though it was 9 minutes long. It's the highlight of the album, but the sound it has is shared by all 6 other songs. This has my full recommendation to fans of ANY type of metal.
After some time with degeneration in the BlackMetal genre, now there must come new hope, new bands and a new genre (the BlackMetal must reform finding the roots again). Any band up to the task? When "evolving" bands like Satyricon, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir want to try out "new ways", someone will feel the loss as I've felt it and create something genuin to fill out that void in one's heart. Taake is the name.
A mighty release with 7 tracks filled with absolute resigned non-aggressive blackness, Nattestid is cold to the touch and yet fragile at the same time. The Darkthrone-legacy lies inherited within the haunting rhythms; the far-off distant whisperings of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse make themselves reminded. Taake is with Nattestid a genuin piece of BlackMetal without carrying the obvious "evil" within itself (superficially & unofficially speaking!).
The key to higher praise (and grades) lies not within the atmosphere, nor its appearance nor performance - in the spectrum of spectacular songs entwined into one and another, the theoretical loss is that none of the songs differ from the rest as I'd hoped for. Sometimes an album needs a major performance to wake interest, especially when it comes to mainstream listeners. Nattestid has no real "killer", though for my sake it's nothing of serious importance.
I have trouble to see how Taake can fail to be one of the best performers within the today wide scene of BlackMetal. If they stay true to this fresh history-reflecting album, and manage another, I'd place much trust and vow it to be destined to be a masterpiece. Let Nattestid enlighten you. A superb first album!
Hail the true pagan warrior!!!...
When I heard all the buzz about this band being one of the greatest, ‘truest’ bands to come out in the BM scene after the mid-90s I was expecting something a bit more regressive, so I was pleasantly surprised when this disc finally arrived (something of a minor miracle in itself - the first three times I ordered it the place sold out between the time I ordered it and the time they shipped it!) and I heard technical black metal done right. The best way I can describe Taake is this: think about what Emperor was trying to do on "Anthems...", and then imagine they got it right. Not that they’re just following Emperor’s formula (new or old) for success - the two bands just share a lot of common elements. The songs are built on multiple textures, with a raging, churning ‘undercurrent’ of drums and razor-sharp guitar riffing, overlaid with classical-styled melodies and screechy-high vocals. While Emperor used keyboards and clean vox for their melodic drive, Taake is exclusively a guitar-based band, which only makes the songs even more impressive to me - clean electrics and even acoustics provide a lot of the melodic movement in songs (and even the bass in isolated parts - something Emperor never did - while the choir vox in Taake are mercifully restrained and sparse).
I realize I’ve probably described Taake too much in terms of another band, but they really do come across as unique in the one department that truly counts - song writing. While the surface elements of Taake are easily enough compared, it’s the songs themselves that are most impressive. They do have that classical/avant-garde edge because of the melodies used and the orchestration of instruments, but the overall mood stays grim and dark throughout, and never descends into the self-important pomposity that Emperor were guilty of even in parts of ITNE. "Nattestid..." is simply 42 minutes of dark emotion - and what more would you want out of a Black Metal album?
(Another plus is not only the complete lack of hype, it’s a complete lack of the ‘lack of hype’ hype so prevalent in BM nowadays - The packaging is very sparse, with lyrics written in an indecipherable ‘rune’ font, and there is only one photo of the songwriter with no listing of his name, only a listing of the session drummer/bassist and producer. There’s not even a track listing....CULT!!!)
(Originally published at LARM (c) 2000)