Et Hav Av Avstand
Review by Fernando on July 28, 2023.
It’s about damn time!! After a very prolonged 6 years and with teases in the form of splits, the mighty Taake is finally back with his eight LP Et Hav Av Avstand. One of the few and truly outstanding flag bearers of “true Norwegian black metal”, Taake has remained uncompromised and unrelenting after a substantial three decade spanning career. So, with all that preamble out of the way, what has good old Hoest brought to the table this time around? Is it more of the same, an unorthodox swerve, or a bit of both?
For starters and most importantly for any adept of the “trve kvlt” this is indeed and unmistakably Taake through and through. If you want cold, hateful riffs, screeching vocals with grunts that will make Tom G. Warrior nod in approval, Hoest’s got you covered, as all the major trademarks of Taake’s classic sound are here and then some. Speaking of that, this is the most refined, technical and even ambitious Taake album since Noregs Vaapen, even the production quality shares that same crisp sound where every instrument is audible, but with a bit more grit so as to keep with the overall harsh and mournful sound. The obvious feature of this album being more technical and ambitious is the song lengths. 4 tracks and most of them are over 10 minutes long. Now Hoest is no stranger to long songs, almost all of his albums, barring three have had songs with that length, but this is the first time three quarters of an album exceed the 10 minute mark and for some people that can be the best thing ever, or a sign of absolute self-indulgence, but this is where the album is truly outstanding, as Hoest’s songwriting is at a level where he can make songs this long, keep them engaging and dynamic while also standing firmly into his Norwegian black metal roots and essence. That being said, this album doesn’t have overt folk instrumentation, and no banjo solo, but this record really doesn’t need bells and whistles, as Hoest was able to use the bare minimum to make a very compelling album.
From a musical perspective this is indeed the most progressive Taake album yet. Aside from the very long song lengths, each song’s composition is very dynamic with shifting time signatures and multiple sections to either create and enhance an atmosphere, or as a break between harsh blast beats. A significant element that Hoest has been adding to his music for the past 2 albums which he perfected on Et Hav Av Avstand is how he experiments with both trad metal melodicism and elements of goth music and post-punk. Particularly in how he leans into morose harmonies and atmospheric passages, and in this record you will hear some of Hoest’s best guitar and bass work, as he seamlessly switches between Iron Maiden-esque riffing and Mercyful Fate inspired soloing to some excellent gothic melodic passages that are appropriately melancholic and dejected without veering into cheesy excesses as the music even on it’s more depressive moments remains firmly in the realms of black metal and the album is fierce from beginning to end. The opening track ‘Denne Forblaaste Ruin Av En Bro’ is an excellent sampler of all the album’s strengths and an outstanding mood setter. If this 11 minute mammoth doesn’t have you hooked by the 3 minute mark then I don’t know what will. However, while Hoest does indulge into his non-metal influences for this record, before the end he still proves he can make vintage black metal, as the third track ‘Gid Sprakk Vi’ is classic Taake refined and sharpened, and it serves as the perfect middle break before the final and absolute best track of the record, ‘Et Uhyre Av En Kniv’ and you can tell Hoest knew this was something else, because the album closer is also its lead single, and indeed this last song, much like the first, displays all of the album’s strongest qualities, but whereas the opener is an epic and fierce rager, the closer is somber and overwhelming, a perfect balance and an excellent way for Hoest to sign off.
Overall, Taake continues to be one of the most consistent and exemplary acts in black metal and while at this point Hoest could coast by on legacy alone, the fact that he’s still able to deliver music this good and boundary pushing in his mid 40’s and after three decades is a testament to his skills and devotion to True Norwegian Black Metal at its best. The 6 year gap was well worth the wait.
Best tracks: ‘Denne Forblaaste Ruin Av En Bro’, ‘‘Gid Sprakk Vi’, ‘Et Uhyre Av En Kniv’
Rating: 10 out of 101.64k
Review by Vladimir on July 19, 2023.
I have to say that the year of 2023 has been very fulfilling with amazing metal releases, with black metal albums being quite surprisingly the most anticipated ones this year. Among so many great albums from the black metal genre, one of them that’s surrounded with immense hype would definitely be Taake’s new album Et Hav Av Avstand. People who are familiar with classic Norwegian black metal bands, are obviously familiar with Taake and their cult status in the scene, so I believe that this band requires no introduction. Taake is set to release their eight full-length album Et Hav Av Avstand on September 1st via Dark Essence Records, with a total of 4 tracks. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when Taake put out a new single 'Et Uhyre Av En Kniv', while also announcing the release of their new album, especially since their previous seventh album Kong Vinter was released 6 years ago and all we had were three splits that filled the gap. Fast forward to the present, this new album is on the horizon for crazed fans of Norwegian black metal like myself, which got me quite excited because I’ve been a Taake fan for some time and I was really looking forward to hearing this bad boy. So, is this album worth your while? Let’s find out…
From the very get-go, as the first track 'Denne Forblaaste Ruin Av En Bro' kicks in, good old classic Taake is already rocking out. Tremolo riffs with the additional dose of “in your face dirty rock ‘n roll” are absolutely banging with dynamic arrangements, going through these various tempo changes, along with the drums that often switch between fast drumming, d-beats and mid-tempo drumming, while Hoest’s signature dry and frozen harsh vocals just add so much grimness to this devilish brew. The second track 'Utarmede Gruver' has probably some of the catchiest headbanging riffing and drumming that will definitely provide more than just wild entertainment, while also presenting a slow but moody mid-section with a hammer-on riff that really sets up the cold misty tone of Taake. The third track 'Gid Sprakk Vi' is surprisingly just 6 minutes and 15 seconds long, thus being the shortest track of the four, though I’d say that this track is a good moment for fans to catch their breath before the conclusion with the last track 'Et Uhyre Av En Kniv' which is the longest track with its length of 13 minutes. Something that’s always been the tradition with Taake is the lengthiness of their songs, which wonderfully use this opportunity to introduce at least a dozen riffs that will keep your attention and make you completely oblivious to the fact that you were listening to an eleven-minute song due to immersing yourself. Hoest obviously knows how to make his songs engaging and entertaining from start to finish, while also balancing things on a moderate scale to prevent listeners from getting bored to death and obviously doesn’t want to make them feel exhausted as if they were just listening to an extremely long riff salad. Ever since I started listening to Taake in 2019, I never lost interest in the band after all these years and I am still madly in love with their oldschool sound. Something that feels a bit strange about this album is that it somehow feels incredibly short, despite the fact it comes around the length of 42 minutes. After getting completely drawn to this album’s magic, you quickly reach its conclusion before you even know it’s over, which may be my only downside of this album. Overall, I think that you can overlook this small issue, because if you really feel what Hoest does on this album, it still really does a great job at being what Taake is best known for. Production-wise, Hoest maintains the sacred tradition at making the albums sound vintage and moderately raw, with a dirty guitar tone and raspy vocals that are always Taake’s strongest points and they do in fact shine on this album.
Although I felt really underwhelmed by the fact that this album was over before I even managed to get a hold of what was going on, I still managed to enjoy it for what it is. It may not be the best Taake album, but it’s obviously not trying to reinvent the wheel or attempt desperately to be the greatest of them all, because it is in fact a good Taake album and I think that you will definitely enjoy it when it’s released on September 1st, amidst the forthcoming autumn sorrow and cold. I have to say that I highly respect the fact that Hoest is one of these rare occasions when a musician stays faithful to the band’s roots and still manages to create some banger riffs at the age of 45.
Rating: 8.5 out of 101.64k