Noregs Vaapen

Written by: MGA on 06/12/2011 15:54:58

To be honest, I was never much of a Taake aficionado prior to listening to "Noregs Vaapen", Høst's fifth studio album. But having given the record several spins, give me a few weeks and I most certainly will be. To be brief, "Noregs Vaapen" is a cold, refreshing splash of Scandinavian water in the face. I have my own personal opinions on black metal, and the one sentence version is that the genre today can be broken into two camps; those that are over-saturating the genre with shoegaze/post-metal hybrids with varying degrees of success and failure, and those that are doing something else. Taake is doing something else.

It's not a dramatic departure from second-wave, traditional black metal, but it's enough of a varied approach to keep things relevant and worthwhile. The very first riff on opener "Fra Vadested til Vaandesmed" drips with Norwegian BM flavor, but it's a self-aware black metal that is neither copy nor caricature. The seven track journey from that point forward is one of twists and turns, where helpings of the traditional elements of the genre (tremolo picking, blast beats, bleak vibe) are matched up equally with less common elements of the genre, like black 'n' roll, soloing, and even a banjo.

Høst proves to be more than an adept songwriter, as each track drifts back and forth between that classic black metal sound and the "other" with impressive fluidity. "Myr" for example, weaves impressive banjo picking into the equation in a way that stands out – it is a banjo, after all – without ostracizing your ears.

The only real gripe I have with this record is that I almost wish it was separated into two separate albums, one devoted to the more upbeat and experimental and one for the more straightforward, depressive feeling common in traditional black metal. That the two distinctly separate emotions work well together on the same songs is testament to Høst's song writing prowess. Imagine the feeling you'd have if you combined the vibes of Kvelertak and Emperor on the same song; confusion. Granted, this is an extreme example – "Noregs Vaapen" lacks Kvelertak's hardcore, party black metal template and it doesn't quite have the I'm-about-to-die-in-the-snow bleakness of Emperor – but it does serve as a good representation of how varied the album is not only track to track, but within each song. That this variation can take place while allowing the tracks to remain functional as songs is an absolute achievement.

It would probably be greedy to wish that Taake would split the two styles into two different albums, but the idea that Høst would even be capable of that speaks volumes of the album he has produced in “Noregs Vaapen”. He has excelled at creating an album that draws from two distinctly different types of black metal while still doing justice to both. That this album exists – and thrives in its existence – pays further tribute to the fact that black metal is not a stagnant genre defined by confinements. "Noregs Vaapen" will be looked upon as a hallmark of this truth for years to come.

Download: Fra Vadested til Vaandesmed, Nordbundet, Myr, Helvetesmakt
For the fans of: Kampfar, Carpathian Forest, Ragnarok, Tsjuder
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 19.09.2011
Dark Essence Records

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