TAAKE - Taake (Svartekunst Produksjoner - LP 2008)
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