When: Fri., Feb. 26, 9 p.m. 2016
Formed as Thule in 1993 by a 16-year-old named Ørjan Stedjeberg, Taake is one of the best-respected survivors from the church-burning second wave of “orthodox” Norwegian black metal. Stedjeberg, who now calls himself Hoest, has been performing as Taake since 1995, and since 1999 he’s released a full-length every three years, covering all the fundamentals: scouring blastbeats, high-pitched shrieking, blizzardlike tremolo picking loaded with unstable dissonance, digressive song structures with a grandiose, ritualized feel, and a sort of pagan or satanist nationalism whose clearest expression is a rejection of “invasive” Judeo-Christian religion. The 2011 album Noregs Vaapen (“Norway’s Weapon”) has a relatively heavy sound, less icy and brittle than most “in the tradition” black metal, and departs from the trve and kvlt with irruptions of mandolin and Mellotron and a genuinely startling banjo solo. The 2014 release Stridens Hus (Dark Essence), whose title translates roughly to “House of Strife,” reverses that trend with trebly, compressed production, and buries its oddball flourishes deep in the mix—there might be a cimbalom on “Vinger,” and I think I hear acoustic picking of some sort on the outro to “En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann.” Despite the liberal use of rapid triple-feel rhythms, Hoest’s strictly regimented playing (he handles every instrument in the studio) prevents them from acquiring anything like “swing.” The occasional rocklike guitar solo or flirtation with major-key chords briefly gives the music an incongruously sexualized swagger that blazes like a red neon sign against its frenzy of cold gray distortion. Haunted, reeling, almost folkloric melodies create a triumphalist and celebratory mood that contrasts poignantly with the album’s maniacal, anhedonic focus and inhospitable bleakness. Stridens Hus lacks some of the extravagant flourishes and lurid harmonic colors of previous Taake releases, and sometimes seems simpler and more repetitive—but the change doesn’t feel accidental. The riffs move like an army of ancient ghosts in tight lockstep, singing as they march south across untouched snow.