If one were to make a list of black metal bands that keep their style consistent, by the book, and devoid of any real surprising changes, you’d find yourself compiling one hell of a collection of names. You might even be able to fill an entire book full of culprits, which is funny considering black metal is supposed to be a genre that takes any rulebook and burns it to ash.
One band you could not put on that list is Taake, the one-man killing machine based in Norway and driven by the enigmatic and mysterious Hoest, a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “conventional.” Over the course of six records and two decades as a project, the music has been black metal to its core, but it also added many different colors, styles, and tastes into his madness. The music never has been predictable, sometimes making people turn their heads at what Hoest blends into his formula, but he doesn’t compromise and refuses to put parameters on his artwork. That same thing carries over into his new opus “Stidens hus,” an album released late last year in Europe by Dark Essence and that is seeing a domestic release this year by Candlelight Records.
Now, it’s true Hoest has had a past that’s been a little bumpy. There was prison time for an assault charge. There also was, let’s call it “Swastika gate” since we have so many controversial gates going on, where he emerged on stage in Germany with the Nazi symbol painted on his chest. He has since adamantly denied his band has anything to do with Nazi sympathies and that his actions were more to shock than anything. Fine. Benefit of the doubt as it seems to be an isolated incident, and all of that can be put aside while discussing these seven new cuts that should be judged by their musical merit alone. That might seem a little odd considering a certain essay that ran on these pages a couple months back, but I don’t think Taake should be viewed as a band that is truly harmful to anyone and instead should be considered another black metal band that espouses darkness and misanthropy to release those dark elements into the world. OK, well maybe there is one way that Taake is conventional.
Opener “Gamle Norig” gets the proceedings off to a rousing start, with the guitars churning, melody sweeping in like a storm, and the vocals sounding creaky and vicious. The song’s pretty damn catchy, to be honest, and eventually the music goes into space and messes with your headspace. The track really begins to soar, sounding a bit like Rush at points, and the final minute explodes and blazes a path toward “Orm.” There, strong riffs and harsh growls mix together and conjure a sense of dread, with strange, prog-fueled movements, cool guitar leads that lean into textures slides, and gothy, wordless vocal melodies and murky strangeness creating a bizarre atmosphere. “Det fins en Prins” begins with guitar shrieks that pierce the ear drums and riffs that chug and thrash heavily. The song smothers over its 8:03 running time, with fresh, incentive melodies, ferocious growls that rage out of Hoest’s mouth, and boiling and buzzing riffs that push through to its psychedelic conclusion. “Stank” grinds ominously, with relentless pounding and a tempo that gets uglier as it goes on. The tempo breaks into a punk-fueled section that twists into spacious, surfy guitars and then back into the thorns.
“En Sang til Sand om Ildebrand” is an instrumental track that rages open, with melodic bursts sending colors spurting over rock, the bass lurching and slithering, and whispery vocals adding a serious chill to the air. The riffs begin to dominate again, with a frosty atmosphere emerging, more blistering punishment, and a dark, fever-rich adventure coming to a raucous end. “Kongsgaard bestaar” just explodes, with fierce, creaky growling returning, with the melodies going chilling and freezing. There’s a calm that blows in, but that’s temporary as the attack gets back into seeking blood, weird noises shoot in and confuse, and some of the playing actually feels sunburnt and shimmering. Closer “Vinger” opens with simmering riffs that eventually lead into speedy passages, the growls are vicious and devastating, and more punk-led playing shakes you to your core. There are weird sounds stitched in here that are like barnyard noises, but who knows what they really are? The track concludes with scraping growls, wailing melodies, and a finish that slams shut and leaves your hand jammed hard in the door.
Taake remains one of the most interesting, riveting bands in all of black metal, and this a project that truly never repeats itself. “Stidens hus” is another fantastic entry into the Taake canon, and it’s so multi-layered and furious, you’ll probably need several visits in order to absorb it all. Hoest has struck again, making black metal a more unpredictable, exciting place, and no matter what you say or think about this artist, you can’t argue that he defines the rebel spirit that’s supposed to be the heart of this music.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/taakeofficial
To buy the album, go here: https://www.manicmusiconline.com/
Or here: http://karismarecords.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/
Or here: http://www.darkessencerecords.no/