Formed in 1993 under the name "Thule", Taake, which means "fog" in Norwegian, are a self-proclaimed True Norwegian Black Metal band who are most known for having a picture of their frontman, Ulvedin Hoest, circulate the internet with his penis out on stage (unintentionally, of course) through a split in his trousers while gurning down the microphone.

Oh, and they released some albums as well, which were all rather highly regarded not only for being very tr00 and kvlt but also for being remarkably inventive at a time when all things black metal are awash with so-called "norsecore" acts, being Darkthrone clone bands with deliberately awful production. But more on that later.

The band is primarily the solo project of frontman Hoest, as mentioned above; the rest of the band is rather unstable in its lineup and has included Vrangsinn and Nattefrost from fellow TNBM band Carpathian Forest, former Borknagar guitarist Ivar Bjornson (who in turn replaced the now incarcerated semi-permanent guitarist Corvus Corax), and former Aeternus bassist Lava. Indeed, Hoest himself now, following a brief spell in the nick for an unidentified reason, performs as the vocalist for the band Ragnarok, and has a connection to the French BM scene in that he has an even more obscure side-project called Vendigeit with the bassist of Black Dementia, a girl called Keridwen. About Vendigeit next to nothing is truly known, as it happens.

Speaking of which, there is a touch of the enigmatic about Taake. Their lyrics are entirely in Norwegian (of course) and are printed in the inlay booklet in runes. The album covers consist simply of a black and white photo of Hoest being grim and necro; on Hordalands Doedskvad he's handling a pair of skulls with his hair over his face, on their previous effort, Over Bjoergvins Graater Himmerik, he is standing in front of a forest gazing in a contemplative manner at the sky with a handful of chains in his fist. Pictures of the band members are often done in similarly "grim" manners, such as Hoest holding half a skull over his face in front of the Unholy... Frostbitten... Bathroom Cabinet..., or Mord (the current guitarist) thrusting an inverted cross in the camera lens. It must be mentioned that while on the one hand they claim to dislike the posing and silliness of bands such as Dimmu Borgir, about whom Hoest once said, "I refuse to waste breath on such a ridiculous band," they do seem to do a lot of it.

Their sound is similarly mysterious, in a way, and never the less interesting. Although they have the requisite 200mph blast-beat drumming and screechy, raspy vocals, not to mention the typical quivery, tremolo-picked guitar lines, they also, on their earlier works especially, feature some thrash influences. "Hordalands Doedskvad," however, has a more atmospheric vibe similar to the more experimental second-wave bands, such as Enslaved or Burzum's 1996 album "Filosofem." An example of this is the end of the track "Hordalands Doedskvad IV" (they're too kvlt to bother with song titles except on their very rare debut EP and the various splits they've done) with lines decelerating and lowering in volume, with the other instruments fading out, until one is left with just a single dying guitar sustain which gradually begins to break up. At this point, the track changes, and we are treated to thunderous blast beats and furious thrashing as the fifth "song" on the album beings. Indeed, in my view it would be inaccurate to refer to each track on their full-length albums as songs so much as parts. This is for two reasons - firstly, as I said, the tracks are simply named "I", "II", "III", etc., and secondly, a lot of the tracks melt into each other in such a fashion so it would be more accurate to consider each album more of a single 45-minute piece of music in itself which is cut up into "movements," so to speak, for conveniences' sake. Sometimes they also feature a grand piano or choral bits, or, in one memorable part, a traditional Norwegian mouth organ, allegedly, which makes a "boing" noise like that one of those springy doorstops gives off when you flick it. ph34r the 3vil d00rst0p.

Lyrically, I have no idea whatsoever as to what they're on about, since they are all in Norwegian. However, in interviews, Hoest has revealed that the albums' lyrics and music are all inspired by the mountainous, often misty (hence the band's name) terrain surrounding his home town of Bergen, and there are generally seven tracks on each of his band's releases (other than the EP and the splits), which, allegedly, represent seven particularly notable mountains in the vicinity of the town. Indeed, "Over Bjoergvins Graater Himmerik" is, or so he has said, a paean to the city of Bergen and the land nearby, Bjoergvin being an archaic name for the said municipality.

(On a vaguely related note, if we have any Norwegian-speaking noders on here who believe they may be able to decipher the lyrics, you can find them here.)

It is such a pity, in my view, that Taake have never found greater recognition beyond the indecent exposure mentioned above; they are nothing at all like the standard "norsecore" Darkthrone imitation band at all; a breath of bracing, Northern air into an otherwise rapidly decomposing genre, if you will. They have managed to stick to the original second-wave Norwegian sound, which makes sense as Hoest claims that he has songs he started writing in 1994 which are still only just being finished, yet come up with a distinct interpretation of their own without resorting to cartoon goth buffoonery or weirdness for weirdness' sake. In short, highly recommended, and I'd also check out anything that Ragnarok get up to while Hoest's involved with them as well.

Discography

Excluding compilations:

  • Koldbrann I Jesu Marg, limited-edition EP, 1995
  • Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, 1999
  • Over Bjoergvins Graater Kimmerik, 2002
  • Sadistic Attack / Nordends Doedsengel, split with Amok, 2004
  • Hordalands Doedskvad, 2005
  • Vidsyn vs. Taake, limited-edition split with Vidsyn, 2006
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