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The best in a while - 89%

Memnarch, March 31st, 2012

Taake seem like they’ve been around forever, when they are in fact relative latecomers to the Norwegian black metal scene. “Noregs Vaapen” is their fifth full length in thirteen years and while not the most prolific of black metal bands in terms of releases, it appears Hoest is a firm purveyor of ‘quality before quantity’, and it certainly shows. They’ve never released a bad album, and certainly some of them such as “Nattestid” deserve to be mentioned in the same upper echelons of Norwegian black metal as say “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanis” or “Pentagram”. They’re one of the few black metal bands from Norway these days still worth giving a damn about, and “Noregs Vaapen” continues this trend, forty five minutes of first class black metal as infectious as it is ruthless and devastating.

Taake have always been heavily riff focused in their approach to black metal and this is no different; straight from the off Hoest spews out some fantastic catchy and almost up-beat cold scything riffs and together with his unmistakably crude vocals culminating in what can only be described as raw and raucous yet extremely ‘rocking’ black metal. Just listen to ‘Nordbundet’ and you’ll see what I mean or even ‘Du Ville Ville Vestland’ with its thick bass, soloing and groovy riffing which close it out in such a fashion where you can really see the Heavy Metal influence seeping through. Talking about the bass, it’s refreshing to have a firm and tangible bass presence on the album, something that’s missing from so many Black Metal releases; it’s strikingly effective in this style of black metal and really sets it off.

It’s all extremely high octane and fast paced stuff, from the opener right through to the end, the sheer energy pours out of “Noregs Vaapen”, this is chiefly due to the ever changing dynamic riffing of Hoest’s and overall general diversity that’s threaded throughout the whole album; no two songs sound too alike which is a big plus in this genre. One aspect of this release which i can’t go without mentioning is the track ‘Myr’. We all know Hoest is a rather controversial and enigmatic character, and in rather unexpected fashion and completely from out of left field we have motherfucking banjo. Ok I’m sure to some of you will run around screaming ‘scandalous!’ for such an instrument to be present in an otherwise fairly traditional rooted act, but let me tell you this actually works surprisingly fucking well as a unique touch and doesn’t at all come across as a cheap gimmick. Is there a future in bluegrass black metal? I guess we’ll have to see, but if it at all sounds like this I’m game.

The attitude just oozes out of “Noregs Vaapen” from every pore, there’s not really a weak track here. Admittedly it’s rather slow to start but by the end it’s absolutely blazing. It’s crowded with riffs and if you like your black metal more ‘Metal’ than ‘Black’ there’s a lot on offer here. The best Taake release since “Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik” and a more than worthy addition to their continuously impressive back catalogue, so if there was ever a reason to buy it then there you go. Plus it has motherfucking banjo. Ergo that automatically makes it amazing.