"Stridens Hus"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It will take multiple listenings to understand everything that's going on with "Stridens Hus". That in itself is usually a good sign that a band is doing something interesting.A rather notorious band in the black metal underground, Taake has been around quite a while, but this is my first really in-depth encounter with them.

A lot of the orthodox black metal adjectives apply here...."grim", "cold", "dark"...but to that standard sound, Taake adds a spirit of adventure and the unexpected that is quite refreshing. Many aspects of "Stridens Hus" could be called progressive. But not once does the album ever leave its strong black metal roots. This might make some of the real stodgy BM fans unhappy, but when the hell aren't those people unhappy? I mean, really?

"Gamle Norig" begins with simple, repetitive black metal guitar loops, but gradually begins to stretch itself. In fact, by the end of the song, it's quite a different that's fast and hungry. The song is much more complex than it first appears. The real shake-ups start with "Orm", which has a more melodic approach and contains some real twangy clean guitar that reminded me of what Jimmy Page did on "House of the Holy"! It's a startling diversion but one that works very well. That twangy guitar pops up again in "Stank"

Throughout the album, Hoest's howls remain very traditional BM. The underbelly of every song is Norwegian black metal of the 90's, but on top of that foundation, anything goes! "Stank" has a ton of extreme dissonance, "En Sang til Sand om Ildebrann" is a majestic instrumental with power metal and thrash overtones as well as awesome riffs and album ender "Vinger" is the most primitive and intense song.

"Stridens Hus" will make your head swim. It's cold and evil to the bone, but that doesn't mean its by the numbers. This is a challenging album.