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What do you do after releasing a trio of the finest black metal albums ever to grace humankind? The options are limitless: throw in the towel while you're on a high note and be remembered forever with people pining over what might've been. Try to one-up yourself by expanding on those early-career ideas to make something even more brilliant. Return to your roots by dialing things back to simplicity you feel you've lost as the years and expectations have bore down on you. Release some kind of gawdawful electronica abortion and hope people discover it on YouTube years later and go, "holy shit they did WHAT now? ahahahahaha" as some sort of bizarre self-flagellation experiment. Or, you could do what everyone most fears: "reinvent" yourself by releasing some definitive statement of an album, an obvious attempt at declaring your own earlier efforts as mere warm-ups for this, your most beautiful baby, the album you've always wanted to make but couldn't until now. Name that album after your band, so that people know you're fucking serious about it. Then, have that album be so stankass that the Poopsmith himself wouldn't go near it.
A bit hyperbolic there, yeah. I did opt to give this thing a just-barely-positive review score, after all, which means on the whole it's just vaguely better to listen to than nothing at all as far as I'm concerned. But let me make it very, very clear: Taake (the album, mind) really, really toes that line closely.
Small aside, which I realize really irritates people who just want to know about the goddamn music, already, so I apologize in advance: over the years I've noticed some sort of strange fascination many folks have with trying to be "objective" in the course of reviewing a piece of music. This really does not compute for me; the most "objective" thing you could do in any music review would be to say nothing at all except to type out the booklet contents and link to the album audio or something like that. Reviews are, fundamentally, attempted written expression of one's subjective experience, and while I can probably sit back and say that the self-titled Taake album is probably better in some imaginary detached listening experience than a lot of albums I've rated somewhat higher than it, when taken in the context of entirety of the Taake discography I can't help but be peeved by this thing a fair bit more than I normally would.
It all starts innocently enough, with Hoest howling out some evocation to the dark lord that's probably really about his ghost cat or something, then in come some kind of standard Taake-ish grim guitars, but after the big brazen intro thing resolves into the real meat of the tune, it feels like kind of a dull b-side version of the previous album. The riffs are a bit too busy here, a complaint that kind of places things in a similar zone of mild dissatisfaction that I get from the band's sophomore, but while this song gets something like a passing grade and a disinterested "meh, it's a Taake song I guess...that sad part in the middle was pretty good I reckon" things only get worse as the album stumbles on. Track two blasts out of the gates with a pretty savage riff that's part classic Taake and maybe part something you'd expect from Hellfire-era 1349, albeit with this kind of dead-eared rubbery production. A few minutes in and the track is still just happening, bursting with...really predictable vocal patterns and a surprising lack of depth to the instrumentation. Where are the melodies? Where's the adventurous rhythm section? What happened to Hoest's knack for fleshing out compositions with all sorts of interplay and nuances that reward repeat listens with such rich depth of musical character? Alright, Hoest's rasps sound as good as ever, granted pushed further away from your ear than they ought to be, but the vocal patterns are about as inspired as Transformers 4: Many Objects Moving Very Fast Through A Nonsensical Plot. Just over two minutes in (feels like an eternity, though) and things slow down to this bridge-like crawling section that just goes on and on and on and on and on and I can't remember if the last word I typed was "on" or "and," which suitably captures the mental state this dullness pounds your brain into.
It's just so fucking DULL. I'm not one to follow metal gossip on the internets so maybe Hoest whacked his funnybone real good on the really pointy corner of a brand new marble countertop halfway through the recording sessions but the abundance of sleepy powerchord riffs on Taake is baffling. "Lukt Til Helvete" is another fine example of the impressiveness with which this album takes big ol' shits on its own good ideas. Start off with more kind of b-side Taake stuff, then play this awkward bumbling powerchord transition part just for goddamn ever before doing a decent hyperspeed bridge. But hell, even the tremolo parts continuously suffer from half-baked melodic ideas that never seem to resolve themselves in satisfying ways. Every time you're about to complete the fist pump the melody turns around and walks headfirst into a wall and you just slowly put your fist back down at your side and glance longingly at the bar.
"Doedsjarl" basically sounds like a mid-era Darkthrone song except more annoying, with grating vocal repetition and a lazy as fuck break in the middle that's basically the same riff as the riff he just played for the whole first third of the song only a little slower and with one different chord. Man, you know, I'm typing this stuff out and feeling like a real asshole bitching about a band not having enough riffs or for being too simplistic or something, but while there are plenty, PLENTY of black metal bands that really thrive on minimalism, Taake has never been one of those. The lack of bombast, the lack of romance - it sucks all of the wonder and charm out of the music.
So, this just feels empty. The four-chord aggro stuff, the three-chord sad guy atmospheric black metal that comes later in the album...none of it works, and my mind is constantly torn between wondering if this is stuff that somehow never made it far enough in the usual Taake creative process to get the extra help it needed to be really worthwhile, or if it's more of a really forced push toward a simpler, more direct sound incited by who knows what sorts of misguided artistry or market forces or whatever it may have been. Every good idea here that nearly reaches full gestation gets railroaded either by those undercooked melodies leading everything astray, or by the intrusion of those decidedly un-Taakeish minimalist powerchord excursions. It's not just that Hoest does this stuff, either, it's that he was apparently so bloody confident in how good it is. The powerchord stomp that closes out "September Omsider" just goes on forever and ever, like the guy thinks he's just shat out a musical gold nugget.
And it fuckin' pains me to think of Hoest on those terms. Having experienced the magnificent heights of his music both before and after this album, having witnessed his dedication to quality and artistry in the flesh, the reality of this album's failures is all that much harder to swallow. It's not the accidental success (or, rather, irrelevance in the presence of such excellence of songcraft) of Noregs vaapens' experiments, and it's not the perserverence of the classic Taake sound despite the hammering upon of that same unfitting experimentation that we later got with Stridens hus - it's a straight-faced attempt at distilling the Taake sound down to some more primal essence yet doing not much more than boiling off the volatile magic in the process. Taake's low point, without doubt.
Taake is one of those black metal, which definitely have their own, unique and characteristic style and sound. Once you hear even a short fragment of their music, you just know it is Taake, if it’s not due to the specific production, which the latest albums of the band had, then it will be due to the characteristic style of riffing and arrangements or even for the charisma and vocal sound of Hoest – the leader and the only member of Taake. I must say that Taake is also one of those Norwegian black metal bands, which never failed me. All the releases with their logo are unique and killer, and that is not changing ever since the debut LP “Nattestid…” (demos suffered for bad productions, but the music was usually also quite good). And the previous LP – “Hordalands Doedskvad” from 2005 – was for me just a pure masterpiece, I sincerely think this LP belongs to the best Norwegian black metal releases of all time and surely it is also one of my top three black metal albums of the new millennium. So, obviously my expectations for “Taake” were high. And I’ll be honest with you - Hoest did not manage to compose an album, which would be as good as “Hordalands Doedskvad”, but that doesn’t mean “Taake” is weak and useless. No, it is still damn strong and great LP, it is just not as fantastic and perfectly executed and composed as “Hordalands Doedskvad”.
“Taake” is fairly long album, closed within 46 minutes in its normal edition and with additional few minutes for the LP version, as it contains a Burzum cover. And I guess I do not have to say that owning the limited LP version of “Taake” was obligatory... I really like the whole ascetic design of the LP; without such fireworks, which you can find on the albums of Watain or Deathspell Omega… it is just plain and simple layout. Even the front artwork – which depicts Hoest’s photography – is simple, but very effective. The vinyl actually has a different front cover photo than the CD version, but I really like both of them (the one from the CD version comes on the huge poster, which this double LP includes…). Simple, but damn effective – and so traditional for black metal releases, as if you think how many classic Norwegian albums had band photography on the cover, starting with “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”, through “Pure Holocaust” and finishing off with “Rebel Extravaganza”…
I already mentioned that “Taake” does not match the quality of “Hordalands Doedskvad”, which is a shame really, but at the same time it still is so damn strong and great LP that it makes a great impression. But I must admit that sometimes – here and there – a slight monotony gets in the way and disturbs with contemplation of “Taake”. Something like this never happened on “Hordalands Doedskvad” and that’s why I prefer that album over “Taake”. I don’t even think that the problem lies within the quality of the riffs, but maybe it’s because such a big part of the album is slower and sometimes the songs tend to be slightly too long…? Or maybe Hoest just didn’t have so many killer ideas for the music and arrangements as he had for the previous LPs?
“Atternatt” is definitely my favourite song from the whole album. Its structure is quite simple, but very effective and it has some killer riffing, beginning with fast and relentless part, which is just amazing and then – somewhere in the middle of the song – it slows down drastically and the second part of it is more melancholic, if I can say so… but it is great all the time through. Then the second song – “Umenneske”, for which they even did some sort of live video clip – is OK, I like its main theme, with which the song begins (it actually is one of the best riffs from the whole LP), but somewhere in the middle of the track that small monotony, which I mentioned before, appears. Sure, those slow and epic melodies – characteristic for Taake – are fine and definitely they are essential for the style of this band, but maybe this song is just too long (over 8 minutes) and too much of it has been dominated by that slow, melancholic playing? I sometimes miss some more violent and aggressive side of Taake here, especially as the next song – “Lukt til helvete” – is also rather slow, mournful and not too fast. Don’t get me wrong – these songs are not shit; I still enjoy them and surely they provide many great impressions, but this is Taake and I expect a bit more from this band than from the average BM legion out there, something more influential and jaw dropping (maybe I have been spoiled too much by the previous LP??). This feeling finally comes with “Doedsjarl” – pure black metal aggression and bloodshed, played in classic Taake style. I think I can say that together with “Atternatt” it is my favourite track on “Taake”. Rest of the songs from the album basically follow the same path – so they’re either slow like “Motpol” (which I guess is the slowest track off the album, but at the same one it’s one of its best, quite catchy and with some excellent riffing) or “September omsider”, which is also very good song, again rather slow tempo wise, but with grim, cold atmosphere and some fuckin catchy riffs, what makes it hard to resist. Finally the last song is a 10 minutes long monolith called “Velg bort livet” – and this epic is surely a nice conglomeration of what “Taake” is all about, with slower and sometimes quite melodic and catchy riffs dominating, but also with some faster parts here and there spread all over this song. This is a very good finish to this album, I must say.
Oh, I said “Velg bort livet” is the final song, but I forgot that the vinyl version of “Taake” contains Burzum’s "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit" cover. And as you can only imagine and expect, it has been performed even better than the original, especially as it got a very good production, something what the original lacks a bit. I must say I like this cover a lot, especially as Hoest added some of his personal touch to it and it sounds great with his vocals, which are actually quite close to Varg’s. But you know, I really (really!!!!!) like Burzum’s “From the Depths of Darkness”, which contains his old songs re-recorded and that is probably why also this Taake’s cover, with such a killer production, makes me like it so much.
So, “Taake” is a long album and it is surprisingly slower and more melancholic and epic than all its predecessors, it is less violent and not as harsh in many ways, what I’ve found first as something almost irritating and disappointing. It took several listens, before I actually started to really like it. But that’s just because my expectations were so high after the masterpiece called “Hordalands Doedskvad”. I felt like the quality was raised so high that even Hoest may have difficulties in exceeding it… and I was right. “Taake” is not the best LP in his discography, but surely it is yet another good and solid album, which must be in your collection.
Standout tracks: “Atternatt”, “Doedsjarl”, “Motpol”, “Velg bort livet”
Final rate: 77/100
There has always been something about Taake’s albums. Even if you aren’t an avid Taake listener you can still tell what album a song is off of. Each album has its own distinct sound. From their very first full length release Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, and up to their latest full length self titled album. This album sounds a little bit more produced than all of their previous releases. The album still sounds like it was recorded “necro”, but then re-mastered. It resembles a teenager who doesn’t know which group to belong to, so they try to belong to both. In that sense, Taake doesn’t know if they want to stay true, or make a high quality album. On the plus side of the conundrum, it does make for a very distinct and unique sounding album, certainly different from all of their previous releases.
Many bands from Norway, primarily Mayhem, Burzum, and Immortal, have really changed their sound from the days of recording their first albums to their latest, and most recent albums. This change was not for the better. They exploited black metal with all the media it was getting for their own financial gain. Taake had never done this. They had grown their band by the music they produced, not the attention they had gotten *cough* Gorgoroth *cough*. They did not compromise their music to appease the masses. They just made great black metal no matter how many, or few fans they had. That is something they have done since day one, and have done so all the way up until this album. While it’s not their best release, they still made a great album with no limits.
In my opinion, the drums on a black metal album should not lead the band. They should just play with the beat, as black metal is more guitar and vocal oriented. The drum work in this album produced that. However, because all songs, besides Motpol, were approximately the same tempo, this made the drums sound too similar to the song right before them. Almost to the point where it sounded as if the drums were recorded once, and used on every single song.
While the guitars don’t hurt the album they don’t add much to it either. Previous Taake albums were primarily played on one string at a time to give the albums a more atmospheric sound. On this album the songs have a more aggressive feel to them, but at the same time keeping that evil sound Taake has always produced. No clean vocals, no moments were the song slowed down (except for the intro to Motpol). While the riffs are unique, they don’t really stand out very much in the sense that they aren’t very catchy, and that they blend in with the rest of the song. Mind you, that isn’t a bad thing, but with black metal being more focused on guitar than any other instruments it was kind of a disappointment. If you listened to this album from the first song to the last, it would be rather hard to tell when one song transitioned into another.
Overall it isn’t as good as Hoest’s previous releases for Taake. Perhaps it’s a taste of what is to come from Taake. That Hoest will start to release more aggressive, in your face, black metal albums in contrast to the more subtle, atmospheric releases. While there’s nothing wrong with experimentation in metal, I don’t think that the aggressive sound this album gives is really one of Hoest’s strong points. He has already proven to make great slow to mid-paced black metal. Let the extreme black metal be left to Infernal War, and Thunderbolt.
There are some things you can always depend on in this world. The price of living gets ever higher. Death is always on the horizon. Giraffes are mean. And Norway will always be the central hub of the black metal scene as we have come to associate it.
From within this bastion of barbarity, Taake returns for its fourth full-length excursion into the realm of pure Norse black metal. Untainted by the avant-garde intentions of many of their peers, this is execution in effect. Finely tuned black metal over seven tracks. Having already produced two of the decades best black metal album's in Over Bjoergvin Graater Hiimerik and ...Doedskvad, color me not so surprised.
Color me not at all. This is newsprint time. Caustic, scathing black metal indictments of the modern world, never veering from the path. Never dull. The mid-paced "Motpol", with its samples of screaming over finely wrought witchcraft. "Umenneske", with its thrashing, epic riffs. "September Omsider", which simply drops the hammer of its traditional roots directly onto your layman brain.
The production is phenomenal. Grim, yet clear instrumentation all around, vile and consistent vocal lines. And the album retains that elusive 'evil' which truly separates the quality black from the hordes of derivatives.
Another asskicking, another notch in the belt. Trve to form.
Being another True Norwegian Black Metal band, and another who have courted some serious controversy over the years, Taake will most likely be disregarded by all but the most blackened of souls as another act living off the hype and headlines with no substantial music pedigree to back it up. Hell, even I had dumped them unknowingly into this category prior to listening to their fourth, self-titled, album. Actually, whilst the controversy will forever stand against the name of Taake (or really frontman Hoest), "Taake" contains enough musical chops to certify Taake as one of the leaders of the crowd.
Too many suffer from having no knowledge of musical composition; when to slow down; how to slow down; and how to produce a BM album that bares an identity of its own without being too far 'out there' to repel the narrow-minded individuals that bands like Taake call their fans and whom would desert a band the instant they've ventured from the suffocating confines of the TNBM sound. "Taake" is a deeply layered record that offers far more than the usual Satan-worshipping and fuzzy discordant riffing perpetrated by Hoest et al's Scandinavian brothers. Album highlight "Umenneske" takes the best of Darkthrone/Burzum's bleak misanthropic sounds and slows it down to a doom pace better than anything Candlemass have offered in recent years. Not being of the suicidally miserable nature that Shining and Forgotten Tomb possess in their morose black droning, Taake belch forth the crusty, yet timeless sound of prime Norwegian BM, imbuing within it the essential requirement of nihilistic atmosphere in "Motpol" that alone can be the make-or-break for bands like Taake. This genuine portrayal of darkness is a credit to the songsmanship of Hoest. Not stopping at the bleakness within "Motpol" the song gradually transforms into a period of Nachtmystium-like spacey 'rock' soloing. As if to prove this feature wasn't that of a one-off, a 'black'n'roll' feel, mastered by Darkthrone of late but evident in much BM where not specifically attained nor recognised for it's inclusion, can be detected in "September Omsider" and "Velg Bort Livet" with it's touch of the old Enslaved about it, a band not unknown for their rock sensibilities.
Not all tracks on show offer such detailed analysis of the genres forefathers otherwise the mark being awarded could have been even higher. Taake aren't for everybody; Hoest's stupid idea to daub his chest in a swastika and his contentious apology for it afterwards have assured Taake's place in the annals of BM's badboys, a factor equally likely to draw some people to the band in the manner it will repel many more. But now that Darkthrone have thrown in the towel for producing their own self-styled 'TNBM' someone was required to take their place; with "Taake", Taake appear to have done just that.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Revewing this album is going to be tough because it's so different than the previous three Taake efforts. Gone is excess reverb found on Nattestid..., gone is the muffled guitar riffing on Bjoergvin..., and gone is the crunchy sound left on Doedskvad. Instead, it seems that Hoest has opted for a more clear (gasp! I know this may put listeners off at first, but really, it works) and crisp sound. It really is an experience.
Here we have seven songs, the first album of which to feature all original song titles rather than "chapters," or "parts." Atternatt picks up quite slowly, but has some quality guitar riffs. The first track isn't really representative of the album at all, so Umenneske is where it really picks up. Immediately, the first four chords let you know that Hoest isn't wasting any time. The chorus of this song will surely have the listener windmilling to the catchy rhythm and Hoest's almost tribal shouting. The only reason this album scored lower than a 95 was due to the last five minutes of this song. It slows down, and seems to drag, which really detracts from the rest of the album.
As stated above, the guitars are what really make this album great. The riffing is a bit more technical, while still retaining the primitive brutality the older albums had. It's somewhat hard to accurately describe. Picture a buzzsaw cutting through the truck of a giant oak, while sap is oozing from the core onto the blade, steaming. Take that, add some arppegiated triplets, some slick rhythm (especially the rhythm section of Doedsjarl), and you'll have a slight grasp as to what these guitars sound like. Hoest's abilities with the guitar have increased greatly, considering he had just been released from prison upon conceiving this opus of an album.
Also notable are the drums. They sound more organic than previous Taake releases. Whether they were programmed or not, in this style of black metal, sloppy drums are actually praised quite highly. Here, the drumming seems quite precise, never missing a beat or getting out of sync. The double bass seems to sound more filling, more bombastic than previous releases. This is quite a step up from Doedskvad, or even the Nekro EP, where the double bass sounded like ticks from a wet paper bag.
Vocally, things are pretty much the same. Hoest does a great job delivering the lyrics, keeping in tune with the instruments behind him. Exclusively, Umenneske and Motpol deserve higher praise for these are the two tracks where Hoest's vocals really shine above the rest. The anger and energy of Umenneske and the raw passion of Motpol, these are easily the highlights of the album.
It doesn't stack up to the majestic Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, but I can safely say that Hoest has chosen a wonderful direction to take Taake. Anyone who enjoys almost thrashy black metal (I'd even compare this to Carpathian Forest's Fuck You All!!!!) with catchy hooks, rhythm, and raw energy should definitely look into this. Hoest has never put out anything less than superb.
Producing needless, derivative and annoying shit (Read Nekro EP) has obviously affected Taake, and not for the better. This latest eponymous effort is by no means bad, but it fails to reach the previous, dizzy heights attained by the preceding three albums.
The problem is a distinct lack of grace. Taake made a name for themselves with Hoest’s carefully structured songs and perfect, inimitable riffs, sprawling into a kind of black metal that no one else was really doing, furthering ideas that Abigor had set down with the likes of “Nachthymnen…”. Here, the old school, straight up bombardment of Nekro is colouring those riffs, making them more instant and punchy, but lacking in any rememberability. That’s not to say Taake has turned into Darkthrone. The album is still refined, with the typical epic feel, with that slight folk touch, but songs like “Lukt Til Helvete” seem beneath the band, missing that certain something that made Taake who they were.
On the plus side, Hoest’s voice just keeps maturing and getting better and overall, the musicianship is flawless and while a let down, this is still Taake we’re talking about; he’d have to try damn hard to fuck an album up.
I like dirty black metal as much as the next person, but that’s not what I listen to Taake for. They are the band I turn to for something different, something smooth and intoxicating, like fine whiskey but sadly this is more like premium lager; still smooth, but not nearly as hard hitting and leaves me feeling sober.