Stridens Hus

Written by: EW on 29/12/2014 12:47:57

Without doubt the most pre-eminent name today under the ever-controversial banner of ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’, the one-man band that is Hoest of Taake has built an immense reputation that almost precedes the musical qualities contained within a discography six albums strong. It seems, for now, the complaints of racism, nationalism and um, exposure, have been put to bed, allowing the intense live persona and high quality recorded product of Hoest to become a much more admirable topic of discussion; justifiably so as 2008’s self-titled and 2011's "Noregs vaapen" are two of the strongest black metal releases in years. Hoest’s technical abilities and imaginative knack for twisting the confined templates of the genre reached a peak in those two LPs that is not realised in the same manner here on "Stridens Hus", as a cleaner production and more predictable template soften the punch of these seven songs. Coincidence it might just be, but with Hoest recently appearing live shrouded deep within an enveloping, menacing hood, a similar sense of withdrawal appears to have overcome the music.

It should be noted that all seven tracks sound considerably longer than the 5-6 minutes most are (only "Det fins en Prins" at 8 minutes falls outside). Unlike numerous Norwegian BM practitioners who have blindly followed templates laid down by Darkthrone, Gorgoroth et al, the music of Taake has always been steadfastly busy and flecked with positive up-scales in note patterns, as heard often throughout this record. The soloing in "En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann" and "Orm" is not the only occasion when my mind is cast to fellow Norsemen Kvelertak, a band with whom Hoest has previously collaborated and appears to have taken a subtle punky influence from, although these instances are as noticeable for the very particular guitar tone heard which rests from far the predictable strained, trebly sound heard almost universally within black metal. Take "Kongsgaard bestaar" where the opening is of fluctuating, recognisable power chord patterns played at hypnotic pace, but this is quickly superseded by a downscaling of the distortion in a manner that would not be amiss in Shining. Repeating the pattern throughout the song, it adds to the uniqueness of Taake but lessens the impact that following track "Vinger" immediately commences with. Strongly influenced by Darkthrone, Hoest’s oxygen-starved howl kicks off a hammering rhythm interspersed with brief moments of very Nocturno Culto-esque finger-tapping as a knowing means of diversion from the core; the track also quietly adds some interesting percussive ‘trotting’ (for wont of a better descriptive) sounds. Like "Orm", where the mid-song solo has more than a touch of banjo twang to it, these two play in the joyous ‘fuck you’ attitude which has made the last LP’s "Myr" such a notable ride.

In an album of contrasts, where "Stank" plods on without really reaching a crescendo, "En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann" kicks off with greater purpose and displays Hoest’s talent for penning riffs that sound as if pulled from the very canon of Norwegian black metal yet which sound fresh and new. The foot-tapping tempo of these ensure an easy appreciation but it all just doesn’t match the high notes of Taake past - an impressive offering from one of the genre’s leading lights of underworld antagonisms but shorn of the sharpened spite making previous releases more delectable.


Download: Vinger, En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann
For The Fans Of: Kvelertak, Darkthrone, Shining, Kampfar
Listen: Facebook

Release date 08.12.2014
Dark Essence Records

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