Genre: Black Metal
Country: Norway
Company: Dark Essence Records
Year: 2014

I won’t boggle to state that Taake is one of the best black metal bands to emerge from Norway the last two decades or so, and Hoest being one of the most respected musicians in the scene as well. Possessing a unique style that can be spotted among a sea of mediocre bands, they have maintained high level productivity in all their albums and I’m still waiting for something not so solid by them to listen. The new album Stridens Hus is a dominant piece that glorifies the sound of the band, as well as daring to explore new aural territories, disproving unneeded firmness completely.

Taake has always paid their respect to tradition and the frontman’s iconic appearance is featured in all of their albums’s covers so this would not come any different. The cover of Stridens Hus (whose title translates to “Struggle House”) picks the band’s logo and a hooded photo of Hoest, as simple and as powerful as that. He has once again composed the music of the whole album, but this time other members have helped to the recording process for the first time. So far, all the studio work was done by Hoest and the shows were held with the help of session members.

The production of Stridens Hus is similar to it’s predecessor from 2011, Noregs Vaapen, highlighting the cold sound of the guitars and the harsh vocals. The album was handled by Bjornar Nilsen at Earshot Studios in Bergen, who has also worked with countrymen Vulture Industries. It’s more the sound that is pleasant and distinct of the band, as well as the absorbing compositional edifice, for which I was confident before listening anyway. An applicable first taste of the record was offered by the Kulde EP, which was released a couple of months before the full length and was sold during Taake’s European tour at the time.

I believe the main musical influences of Hoest are more present with this new album, especially in the song writing section. Kulde contained a cover of “Cold” by the Cure, which is unusual of the band till now, since they used to perform tracks by classic Norwegian black metal bands so far. More elements of atmospheric goth rock / post-punk can be found in several moments of the new record, especially with the clean guitar melodies that come and go in almost all the tracks. It is an intriguing addition that may catch a listener by surprise (not as much as a banjo, but still whimsical) and it feels quite decorous with the rest of the music.

Hoes’t sparkling vocal offer decorates the top of the instrumentation marvelously, compiling the known cutting shrieks and the deep clean whirrs and whispers, like in “Det Fins En Prins” and “Orm”, the latter having a strange yell-like moment towards the end. The most characteristic part of the album apart from the vocals is the guitar work, which contains cordial black metal riffs for the most part, adding an ounce of dissonant repetition (see the beginnig of “Stank”). The tempo changes are excellent and different parts blossom and co-exist perfectly in the record.

Personally, at first listen I thought I would prefer more of the fast-paced havoc that goes on in the intro of “Kongsgaard Bestaar” and in “Vinger”, because they contain this aspect of the band that I really like. However, Stridens Hus will grow on you the more you listen, it is efficient and consistent, concluding to fourty three minutes of fascination. The music progresses naturally and it flows as if this was one long track and not a pack of independent compositions.

All in all, it seems like Taake have expanded their music more with this record and introduce new ideas that do not disappoint after all. Noregs Vaapen is an album hard to top and I don’t think one should get into such comparisons, since Stridens Hus is different and holds several amazing bits, developed by the band with notable talent. There is no filler track and no sloppy work done whatsoever.

5/6