without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
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