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The tangible quality of Taake is, unlike many of its predecessors from Norway, the overall sound and ideal has never found compromise or subservience to the ‘black metal machine’, even though it has changed slightly with each volume. Noregs Vaapen is an album that comes galloping out of the silent brush with riders waving swords held high, laying putrid waste to anything even remotely animate in its way. Taake may have stability issues with lineups, but the more unstable element to the music is the mindset Hoest and company bring into the studio with them. Each and every time Taake produces quality black metal. Well-produced and able to (un)comfortably retain the ‘traditional’ dark sound, Noregs Vaapen is the quintessential volatile album; the despair and violence captures on digital medium an irreparably abused temperament that simply has to be heard to be understood. The fact that Hoest handled this entire album himself proves the point that if you want something done correctly, you should rely on no one but thy self. This is probably the best example of black metal weeding out the hipsters; it is most certainly not for just anyone, and unless you actually understand the concept of the medium you’ll more than likely claim total reverence for this album but miss the point completely.
In my ever humble opinion this is one of the best black metal albums of the year due in no small part to the dense audio fog emanating from the music that carries with it some severely antagonistic tones. The lead in from “Fra vadested til vaandesmed” to “Orkan” is so easy, yet manages to separate the two thoughts nicely and with one simple slash of the blade. The thickness of the drumming and the bass underneath are also happy surprises throughout. “Nordbundet” captures this quality perfectly by affording us a ground view of the sinister vibe that rings in the head a few minutes after it meshes into “Du ville ville Vestland”. This album takes a few unexpected turns and actually feels as if you’re riding an unbroken horse through a black forest and leveling anything within arm’s length. To say it’s a rush to hear is really simplifying the experience, but for lack of a better, more illuminating term it will have to suffice. Hoest has always provided a myriad of devices that hone that evil tone, but when the banjo sound kicks in at the ¾ mark in “Myr” you can’t help but smile and think of how well it fits! Without the incessant tempestuousness of speed and this outdated ‘necro’ sound, Taake proves once more that the beauty of true black art lies within the recesses of a mentally riddled reserve. The transitions from speedy horror to slower, funeral-parlor gloom are natural bedfellows with this movement, but all too often they are left tattered and abused in the mixing process. Such is not the case with Noregs Vaapen; its strengths lie solely in the basic causality of the concept, left naked (if buffed) for the true fan to understand. By the end track “Dei vil alltid klaga og kyta” you can hear the Hellhammer influence from years past joining with the vibrancy of some suicidal black/gothic sounds that cover the entire range with strategic ease without giving in to temptation by plasticity. It’s just a terrific album from start to finish.
I’d have to say that my favorite track on this record is “Du ville ville Vestland” with its very mid-tempo feel that borders on ‘black power’ metal (more inane terms…), but don’t let this little tag from yours truly frighten you off. This is a very well-crafted album from the mind of one of Norway’s last remaining musicians that carries the black metal flag as a tattered and bloody symbol of what once was.
(Originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)