Taake - Kong Vinter album review

Bergen’s man of the mountains continues to cut his own path

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With Gorgoroth now past their prime, Abbath practising his Diamond Dave pose and Enslaved going prog, Taake – or should we say their overlord and sole performer in the studio, Hoest – pretty much remains the last band standing in their native Bergen, seven albums in. This being said, Kong Vinter isn’t exactly your typical Norwegian black metal album as there are only a few actual, proper staccato riffing and drumming uproars to be found. Despite Hoest performing everything by himself, you can hear the instruments being plugged and amps humming as if we were in the rehearsal room and he wields his four-string axe as Lemmy would have done: defiantly and with attitude instead of just following what the guitar does. Like its predecessor Stridens Hus, Kong Vinter is his definition of black’n’roll but Now, Diabolical – i.e. ‘Let’s grab the mainstream’s throat with go-go dancers and see what they got’ – this ain’t. And this is where that whole ‘Bergen-bred’ element comes in: this is not Oslo-made; there are no big cosmopolitan city vibes here. So even if there’s a huge rock’n’roll aspect underneath those distorted basslines and an actual sense of groove, Kong Vinter has an ice-cold heart, as if it was executed under the spiritual guidance of cheap booze and a few Venom and Mötorhead posters – and in a remote cabin far from civilisation, eyes set on the next towering mountain covered in mist. The exclusive use of his native tongue and its scarcity of his vocal parts only emphasises that sense of isolation. While that spontaneous, loose and secluded feeling can sometimes be a tad directionless, like during the eight minutes of Fra Bjoergegrend Mot Glemselen that wander aimlessly, it’s also what makes both Taake, and this album in particular, very unique. And very Norwegian