Review Summary: Taake's debut is essential for any black metal fan that enjoys a bit of melody.
My apologies, but on paper Taake’s 1999 debut, Nattestid Ser Porten Vid
, is probably going to sound like a typical, generic take on Darkthrone
’s formula: melodic-tinged Norwegian black metal without any frilly keyboards or female vocalists. But please give it a chance, though – frontman and main project-head Ulvhedin Hoest (what an interesting, weird dude) has a way of imbedding each of this album’s seven tracks with a natural sense of melody, emanating from the riffing guitars and coming forth from his classic vocal screech delivery in abundance. That’s right; take a note, because this is some of the best black metal with melodic sensibilities that you will ever come across.
What makes Nattestid
stand out from the two excellent Taake albums that would follow it, 2002’s Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik
and 2005’s Hordalands Doedskvad
, is its rawer production values and its containing, overall, a more venomous delivery from Hoest, be it instrumentally or vocally. The project-head jumps from allegretto-to-presto tempo speeds smoothly yet unexpectedly, adding variety to each of the seven parts of Taake’s debut album. On “Nattestid Ser Porten Vid I”, he often switches between a deep, clean voice to a harsher shriek, sometimes going all out with an extended howl layered overtop the driving guitar melodies – a move that returns often on the album; and on “Nattestid Ser Porten Vid IV”, he steps back and lets his instrumentals take control without any vocal accompaniment.
The drums have an interesting effect to them as well, as with each distinct clash of the cymbal, a phase of the melody seems to end, stapling it into your mind so that it may meet up with you again in familiarity with each future listen. Nattestid
does hold a very common sonic thread throughout its length, though, yet there’s always enough melodic distinction between each of the riffs and Hoest’s vocals to keep things fresh and interesting. The album’s forty-two minute length is to its advantage as well: in leaving the album, listeners will feel a sense of fulfillment and complete closure. You see, Nattestid
is not a black metal album that ends with you feeling like something was missing and/or out of place during a listen; it's a complete experience, never wasting any of its playing time.
You could say that you’ve heard something like this before, I guess – and thanks to much of the genre's saturation, you probably have. But you’ll find that Nattestid
’s initial grasp on you never fades, never becoming stale or predictable, ever retaining its atmosphere thanks to Hoest’s top-notch vocal and instrumental performance and its own perfectly placed production values. It takes the stereotypes of melody-tinged black metal that you already know by now and does them the right way - did them the right way in 1999, I should say, just before the subgenre started to get pretty old and predictable. Thankfully, though, as with such classics as Dissections
’ Storm of the Light’s Bane
’s Nemesis Divina
, you’ll find that the album never loses its appeal. It may not be as recognized as those classics, but Nattestid
is every bit as good and is an essential listen for any black metal fan that enjoys a bit of melody.