Taake - Stridens Hus
Dark Essence Records
Black Metal
7 songs (43:34)
Release year: 2014
Taake, Dark Essence Records
Reviewed by Goat

For an act that's so often stated to be the very heart and soul of Norwegian black metal, Taake is all too fond of leftfield moves. This, and other albums from Hoest in the past, have made departures from what I, at least, consider to be the traditional northern darkness – the ridiculous/awesome/ridiculously awesome banjo solo on Noregs Vaapen alone is proof that Hoest is marching to the beat of a different drum. Which is hardly surprisingly to long-term fans; each album is a reflection of Hoest's soul, a self-portrait of the artist (as seen by the cover artwork choices alone). Black metal, but done his way. Obviously, the emphasis is on the black metal – nothing here would cause any serious raised eyebrows among the most faithful. Yet this is an album from an artist at ease with himself but willing to push himself, resulting in something of a meandering, proggy approach to songwriting that makes songs seem slightly unfocused on initial listens but more hypnotic and enticing with familiarity.

No, there are no banjo solos this time, sadly, or even Attila Csihar or Nocturno Culto guest spots. Yet what we have is a solid album of black metal that is both traditional but just different enough to keep experienced ears interested. It's always worth pointing out that Hoest is, unlike some, actually very talented at black metal composition, as opener Gamle Norig proves with its immediately hypnotic blur of riffs, developing as it grows more melodic and moves seamlessly into the almost rocking Orm. That, too, develops into something else, adding viking-esque backing chants and growing more epic to the point where a shift into Falkenbach territory doesn't sound like a stretch. After that, Det fins en Prins may feel something of a step down with its return to more traditional blackened pastures, although the eight-minute track has a trick up its sleeve, turning more proggy as it continues through a delightful instrumental section for much of the second half.

As you listen, you realise that nearly every track has some hidden little touch of individuality to it, which makes listening to Stridens Hus something of a joy, and which make otherwise solid songs into something more terrific; the little Morricone-esque slide guitar jangles and a lovely solo on Stank, for example. Sure, you could argue that these touches take away from the album with their seeming randomness, but they're enjoyable as they are and work in context, which is all that's really needed. And when they're backed up by above-average black metal stormers like En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann and Kongsgaard bestarr (especially with the latter's dip into slower, almost doomy territory) you're left with a black metal album that is very good indeed, if not revolutionary.

Killing Songs :
Gamle Norig, Orm, Stank
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Taake that we have reviewed:
Taake - Noregs Vaapen reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Taake - Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik reviewed by Kyle and quoted 93 / 100
Taake - Nattestid Ser Porten Vid reviewed by James and quoted 90 / 100
Taake - Taake reviewed by Charles and quoted 72 / 100
Taake - Hordaland Doedskvad reviewed by Daniel and quoted 96 / 100
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