TAAKE - Noregs Vaapen CD
Genre: Black Metal
You know TAAKE has hit the mainstream when you meet a young, plump, southern girl at an out of the way strip mall nightclub sporting one of his t-shirts claiming them (well actually Hoest is the mastermind behind TAAKE and he adds session players to fill certain spots) to be her all time favorite black metal band. Now for some people (re: idiots) that might be a bad thing but not me. I say the more people giving Hoest his due, as well as recognizing the greatness of extreme metal/music without wanting to water it down like an indie rock loser/hipster retard, the better. Not many people know that his full length debut Nattestid Ser Porten Vid from 1999 is an out right Black Metal classic. You can also toss in Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik from 2002 along with Hordalands Doedskvad from 2005 as essential TAAKE releases. Of course Hoest has not made things easy for himself. Whatever acclaim for his audio output has been over-shadowed by his other exploits. The guy did short time for assault but is most infamously known for going on stage in a German club with a swastika painted on his chest. Granted things like that are more juvenile in a wanna-be an offensive bad boy sense that actually pushing boundaries by getting people to debate unpopular ideas. Still it's sensationalism that sells for a little while at least then the losers go back to listening their crap and the adults can return to the room.
Which brings us to TAAKE's post 2005 output and this release here. If you take out the various EPs and Split releases he did in 2006/2007 and concentrated on 2008's self titled release and the Kveld EP from earlier this year you notice a pattern. TAAKE has been morphing into an accessible sound which is more acceptable to people who actually hate Black Metal. That's not a jaded or elitist opinion on my part either since the promo press which accompanied this contained a dozen or more quotes from scribes on other websites and as well as print media all praising it. Yeah I'm late to what could be referred to as metal media choir practice. These accolades are from people who over the years regularly crap upon traditional blackened extreme metal and go for the light hearted stuff because, well, they're pussies. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's not like it was their choice to be pussies. They were just born like that.) Some quotes were even using the exact language written in the promo press release which in my not so humble opinion is shameless unoriginal thinking on their part. Lets get something straight, stretching the blackened template by including non-BM influences as well as instrumentation is nothing new. So what if Hoest includes a banjo at the halfway point of the song "Myr" as if it's Hee-Haw in corpse paint. CARPATHIAN FOREST use to include saxophone with mixed results. There's countless numbers of blackened pagan/folk acts who include various woodwinds and non metal acoustic stringed instruments. The most important questions are whether or not the music enjoyable and does Hoest do a good job at melding genres? On Noregs Vaapen, Hoest sounds like he's accomplished this by keeping the traditional blackened parts simple that way to easily incorporate the outside structures to meld together well. On a whole I think he nailed it but then again so had SATYRICON before and they were called 'sellouts' by the corpse paint police.
As far as Noregs Vaapen being called one of the best black metal releases of 2011 (according to former hot topic clerks now unemployed college grads and writing reviews for well known websites) I think that's pushing it a bit. Maybe it's the best 'those people' have heard and since I've heard more releases than them than their opinions are invalid. It's a good release for sure. Hoest doesn't waste anytime as the opener, “Fra vadested til vaandesmed”, literally charges out of the gate with melodic ferocity. It's the most blackened cut on here and with the thick production value even the repetitiveness of the riffs doesn't bore you to death. “Orkan” follows suit but with a mid-point hard rock sounding break, the first of many more as the release continues on. Strangely "Nordbundet” starts off with that same hard rock sounding break which was in “Orkan”. Hoest also adds a sludgy groove breakdown to keep you off balance. The totally impressed out there don't know that Hoest has done that same thing on every full length. Hoest also knows how to bleed his songs together well simply because they start out as long jams which he 'cuts' apart. Noregs Vaapen might officially contain seven songs but in reality it's three long ones broken up. Unfortunately reality is a concept which overwhelms both elitist kvlt black metal forum snobs as well as the clowns in mainstream metal media. “Du ville ville Vestland” repeats the same formula of “Orkan” by starting out with simplistic black metal styled riffs then switching over to something more NWOBHM sounding. "Myr" is another good cut that also contains the above mentioned banjo solo which has the scribes in the mainstream metal media wetting themselves over. Luckily they have more than one set of underoos to wear to bed. I'll stop here because the release continues on in the same pattern I've already described twice now. Well "Helvetesmakt" might be the exception and the final also longest cut on the release, "Dei vil alltid klaga og kyta" pushes on power metal epicness. All in all as I said earlier, Hoest nailed it. Unfortunately once you've played this a few times the excitement wears thin.