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Damn, I have waited for this album for so long. And it’s not the fact that “Noregs Vaapen” was released three years after “Taake” what caused the problem… It’s all because Taake is such a special band and really important for me, being of the greatest black metal acts of the present and I just must have their albums on vinyl only, I don’t take any CDs or (sick!) mp3… So, I just waited for the chance to get LP. The problem was that nowadays – when the vinyl is in fashion – the prices went up so fuckin much… If I compare how much I have been paying for the LPs 10 years ago and how much some new LPs have been priced now, it is just ridiculous. I sometimes just cannot afford them and also I don’t necessarily wanna pay the money for one LP, which normally would be enough to buy even three other LPs, if you know what I mean. That greedy mentality of people involved in the scene and distros, who put ridiculous prices for the records just pisses me off and I will never let those greedy bastards earn some extra money, just because they say they wanna 25-30 euros for the record. Fuck you, greedy motherfuckers. I don’t care… With “Noregs Vaapen” it was the same… Every time I have seen it here in Poland, it was priced just too much… And so I was waiting for better opportunity, I wanted the LP badly, but just couldn’t agree with some prices for which people wanted to sell it. Finally almost year and a half since “Noregs Vaapen” was originally released I caught the chance by the throat and managed to pick my copy of the vinyl for something like 12 euros, which was great and a big fuck off towards the greediness of people, who sell records (and sometimes buy three, four copies of it, only to sell them later for tripled price... die in pain!).
So, “Noregs Vaapen” is in my hands… and well, the layout for this record is twin to the one from “Taake”, which is cool. Again the front artwork has a different photography of Hoest than the CD version (the one from CD version comes again on the huge poster, which is a nice addition)… and again the whole thing is very minimalistic, just black / white colouring, no extra graphics, just simple texts and that’s it. You cannot expect any fireworks in the graphics from Taake and you won’t get them. It’s interesting to notice though that the lyrics are written with latin letters, while the CD version has them all written in runs… It may not look as effective, but at least I can read some of these lyrics and translate them, if I want to know what Hoest screams about.
First time I have played “Noregs Vaapen” I was standing in front of the speakers and just stayed like that for few minutes, with my mouth opened, such big impression this music made on me. I mean “Taake”, the previous LP, was kind of disappointment really. Sure, it is good and solid record, but for me it surely doesn’t match the fantastic quality of “Hordalands Doedskvad”, which so far was my favourite Taake recording. And now, when I listen to “Noregs Vaapen” I feel the same ecstasy and thrill, just like when I have listened to “Hordalands…”. Man, I am very happy and satisfied, if I can write that “Noregs Vaapen” definitely is as great and fantastic as the third Taake album and for sure these two are now my favourite pieces of music, which Hoest has ever composed and recorded. “Noregs Vaapen” is just killer, right from the very beginning, which is “Fra vadested til vaandesmed”… But let’s be honest – how can you not get possessed by that infectiously melodic and catchy riffage from this track? It certainly is one of the best Taake’s songs ever composed and I just worship it, listening to it constantly, sometimes I just play this side of the vinyl like four or five times in a row, so bloody good it is. The whole song is just awesome, I like everything about it, including that mellotron (!!!!!) part in the end, which just sound fantastic. Besides, any song, which includes Nocturno Culto doing some guest vocals is an instant classic and worth being remembered. “Fra vadested til vaandesmed” definitely is a classic anthem.
“Noregs Vaapen” hosts some more guest performances, of which the most memorable – along with Nocturno Culto – is the presence of Attila Csihar, V'gandr, Skagg and Demonaz all doing some vocals. Plus there’s a guitar contribution of such Norwegian artists as Ivar Bjørnson and Lava… And finally some Taake live musicians also contribute in one or more songs with their parts.
But any of those guest performances wouldn’t rescue an album, if the music was shit. In case of “Noregs Vaapen” it luckily is not and what’s more, it is just fantastic. No single song on the album is filler, in my opinion, and each is excellent. I already mentioned “Fra vadested til vaandesmed”, which is the best song, but you also must really give an extra attention to such anthems as “Nordbundet” (for which Attila contributed a small dose of his incredible and unique voice), “Orkan” with its killer riffs… And what can I write about “Myr”, which is a killer track, but which focused everyone’s attention mainly for the bonjo lead part? Man, I can only say it sounds fuckin bizarre... I have never heard anything like this before and I don’t really know where did Hoest take the idea to use this instrument? It doesn’t sound particularly good – I like the sound of mellotron much more… Country black metal is not what I would like to hear again, but for sure Taake did catch the attention with this bizarre idea. Anyway, I like the riffing in this song a lot, it is truly awesome and the whole beginning reminds me Satyricon a lot, and Satyricon is one of my favourite black metal bands ever, so it is something really cool. Then “Helvetesmakt” – again, one of the highlights of the LP – has some parts played on mandolin... To be honest the whole album is just utterly interesting and fantastically written, I think this LP is also the most diverse of all Taake works so far, even within one song the riffing can change drastically like in “Du ville ville Vestland”, which has kind of traditional heavy metal part in one fragment, what surely surprised me a lot, but worked very well.
I guess I should also mention the vinyl only bonus track – Emperor’s oldie called “I am the Black Wizards”. Man, the line up for this cover is truly awesome (Hoest and Attila on vocals, Ivar from Enslaved on guitar, V’gandr from Helheim on bass and Thurzur on drums) and the final effect is very, very impressive. They have played this song very close to the original, but it sounds almost better and I really mean it; I love it totally. The vocal performance of both Hoest and Attila is just excellent and the whole song sounds absolutely fantastic, this is CULT!
Style wise I guess Taake doesn’t surprise with anything new (except the bonjo, mandolin and mellotron of corpse, he!), if we compare “Noregs Vaapen” to the previous albums, but the thing is Hoest composed just some of his best songs here. I had the very same impression when I have listened to Grave’s “Endless Procession of Souls” LP. You know, this band has already released so many records, some better, some less, but meanwhile this tenth studio album of theirs brought some of the best songs Ola and his band has ever recorded and it turned out to be the best LP Grave have done ever since “You’ll Never See…”. Taake may not have a history, which would go as back as to the late 80’s and the number of the albums they have released is not as impressive yet - “Noregs Vaapen” is “only” the fifth full length, but having also so many EPs and demos it proves that it is still possible to write some of your best music after almost 20 years of musical activity (yeah, 20 years if we add Thule, which was formed in 1993). Also the production for “Noregs Vaapen” is way, way better and more powerful than on any previous release, so really, fuckin well done Hoest, you rule… and “Noregs Vaapen” is an album, which is just a must have for all black metal maniacs. I am very happy that finally I had a chance to listen to it and I have it on vinyl… it turns out that the long waiting was very rewarding to me.
Standout tracks: “Fra vadested til vaandesmed”, “Nordbundet”, “Helvetesmakt”, “Orkan”
Final rate: 99/100