TAAKE – Kong Vinter
Sticking to tradition and presenting us with seven rather lengthy and nasty compositions, "Kong Vinter" opens with the razor-sharp and unpredictable "Sverdets Vei", which immediately sets the tone and mood of the record. The energetic and epic "Inntrenger" is both powerful and hypnotic while "Huset i Havet" and "Havet i Huset" are vicious, bleak, and grand in scope. "Jernhaand" is a menacing and unsettling piece whereas "Maanebrent" is otherworldly and rather enchanting in a pretty creepy way. Album closer "Fra Bjoergegrend mot Glemselen" is a transcendent musical experience that defies words – you need to wrap your head around that one yourself.
As raw and ragged as some sections and passages are, there is constantly that unique sense of melancholy present within the compositions, which spawns an interesting dialectic between the cold and sinister on the one hand and something slightly more warm, organic, and moving on the other. Countless conflicting and differing moods and feelings are pulled together only to be pulled apart again. The music is riddled with contrasts that force you to sit up and pay close attention to what is going on. There is always that sense of not knowing what is lurking in the shadows when it comes to Taake, which is what makes it so enticing and morbidly appealing. On top of that, "Kong Vinter" boasts one of the strongest and most fitting productions of the band’s career to date, which is to say that each instrument is allowed to breathe while retaining that overall sense of something claustrophobic and oppressive that permeates the entire foul affair. This is Taake at its most dynamic, focused, and varied.
"Kong Vinter" is a superb record that is damn-near flawless. Everything is executed perfectly and the album is testament to just how spirited, emotionally engaging, and wonderfully morose Taake’s sound and identity have now become. Filled to the brim with shades and nuances, this is so brilliant that only a mother could hate it. This is not only the best black metal release of the year, but one of the very best albums of the year regardless of genre. Period.