It’s a dismal summer here in America and normally about this time I’m getting ready to plan my annual trip over to Norway for August. Unfortunately, this year I’m stuck in the nation that can’t seem to understand how to properly wear a mask or move politics outside of public health so it’s going to be a long, hot, boring summer here in Pennsylvania. One bright spot though is the new Taake/Deathcult split releasing this month on Edged Circle Productions.
Let’s jump right in, shall we? Taake gives us an entirely new song here with “Slagmark.” Of course, because it’s Taake we know it’s going to be incredibly good and undeniably original. And it most certainly is, but I love how Hoest deviates a bit from the path he took in more recent years with the Stridens Hus and Kong Vinter records and decides to take us back a bit to the earlier years. Think more Taake circa 2002 and the Over Bjoergvin years. It’s a bit more mid-tempo, brooding and, at times, quite atmospheric. Four minutes in, of course, we get the signature Taake twists and turns in the track with the acoustic guitar and the cleaner sounds on top of the distorted. Lots of heartfelt melody and a rather blissful-yet-somber interlude for about 90 seconds that, like many of their songs, takes you away to a completely different locale. But instead of ending the track there, Hoest amps up the distorted guitars with some classic Bergen-style black metal riffing – again at mid-tempo. It’s not overwhelming, rather more reflexive. Now I know my readers and critics know that I am unabashedly a Taake fan, and that part is 100% true, but that aside, as a critic who’s been listening to this music for nearly four decades, I know brilliance when I hear it and Hoest is one of the most brilliant and gifted musicians alive today, be it in Norway or across the globe.
“Ravnajuv” is a cover, originally performed by Darkthrone on their Total Death record from back in 1996. Vintage Darkthrone from just a few years after their seminal releases from 92-96. Total Death often gets overlooked when compared to the first three Darkthrone black metal records, but there are some classic tracks on there and Taake gives us a very bleak feel with this cover. It is a bit more lo-fi in sonics than the first track on the record, but this makes total sense given the context of the song.
Deathcult’s “Der Wurger” is a right out of the 90’s Norwegian black metal playbook and it’s executed brilliantly. I love Skagg’s guitar tone on this record, with just the right touch of drone here and there in the tremolo riffing. Skagg also nails the vocal (as he always does) and it’s just mixed perfectly into the track. Thurzur contributes some particularly novel cymbal work in the middle of the song, changing it up just enough to add some additional texture and dimension. Hoest, as you might know, plays bass for Deathcult and he brings a different bass tone to this band compared to what you might hear in Taake. Deathcult features a strong catalog and, upon listening to this track a few times, I have to put “Der Wurger” up there along with my favorite Deathcult release, 2017’s Cult of the Goat.
Deathcult’s second track is a Beherit cover. The song is “Black Arts” and was originally released back in 1993 on their Drawing Down the Moon record. Though Finnish and not Norwegian, there’s no doubt that Beherit completely influenced so many Norwegian black metal bands today. It’s a primitive sounding song as written, and Deathcult keep that primeval vibe with their take on it. Undeniably Satanic, “Black Arts” is going to scare away many of the American black metal scene tourists who recently relocated to Brooklyn by way of Ohio. That’s a good thing and hopefully these crusaders of urban gentrification will go back to their Imagine Dragons more sooner than later.
Overall this 10inch split clearly fulfills its intention – to take us back to Bergen, Norway in the 1990s. How I wish I was there right now both in body and spirit. Because let’s face it, 2020 in America just plain sucks. The record is available now for pre-order in limited pressing here in North America. My suggestion is that you order it now because it will sell out as most Taake records do and then you’ll have to pay secondary market prices for it.
Jaertegn releases in the new few weeks via Edged Circle Productions which is the European label run by Stian “Iscariah” Smorholm who you might recall from his time in Immortal and Necrophagia. A label that promotes free speech and expression.