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Continuing where "Nattestid..." left off, 2002's "Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik" saw Hoest push his unique brand of folk-influenced True Norwegian Black Metal even further. Gone was the razor-thin Grieghallen production job, and the melodies were brought into focus to a stronger degree. While this more sophisticated take on Black Metal might have alienated some underground-minded fans, it's difficult to deny that "Bjoergvin" was a big leap forwards for TAAKE.
Where contemporaries like CARPATHIAN FOREST were headed for a punk-injection in their already raw musical veins, TAAKE championed epic sweeping melodies. In contrast to the truly big 'uns, they spared us from cheesy synthesizers and bombastic battle-metal, somehow capturing a strong nationalistic spirit in their riffs. These traditional melodies are perfectly contrasted by the extremely harsh and vicious snarls of mainman Hoest, who sounds like he's spitting fire and brimstone with every gruelling syllable. As a side-note, "Part III" contains the single most unintentionally hilarious mouth-harp ever, which luckily still isn't enough to break the spell.
Like its predecessor, "Bjoergvin" is more of a single concept than a collection of songs, but each of its seven parts have a strong individual character. The memorable riffs are too many to count, some of them even are of the unbelievably catchy variety. There is little repetition, and the melodies are allowed to evolve and ascend freely. This results in an tremendous piece of art that has rarely been rivaled within the genre, and that would prove almost impossible to follow up.
There is virtually no excuse to not already have acquainted yourself with this modern classic, but if you're still one of the unbelievers, now is the time to pick up a copy of the re-release. The ideal setting for listening to TAAKE would be while wandering amongst the fjords of Hordaland, but with a powerful set of speakers you can transport the fjords directly into your own living room!
(Online November 29, 2009)
Written for the Metal Observer