TAAKE/HELHEIM – Henholdsvis

TAAKE/HELHEIM – Henholdsvis

What could be better than two legendary Norwegian entities joining forces for a four-track split EP? Apparently, nothing. Brilliant black metal stalwarts Taake and the hugely creative Viking metallers Helheim surely need no introduction,  and besides,  the quality of "Henholdsvis" pretty much speaks for itself.

In Taake’s case, this is the third split 10-inch EP within a year or so (the two previous ones were with Whoredom Rife and Deathcult respectively) and thus concludes a trilogy of sorts – all of which has been of superb. Mastermind Hoest has conjured up two sparkling new tunes that encompass all the delightfully sinister characteristics and traits that one usually associates with the outfit while simultaneously embodying the unique spirit of Norwegian black metal. The great thing about these intriguingly layered and captivating compositions, namely "Brotne Bein og Mannefall" and "Ein Baat i Foss", is that they look to both the past and the future. They sound strangely familiar, yet they are anything but predictable. The bleak and windswept atmosphere of the tracks are beautifully complemented by author Arne Garborg’s thought-provoking words and evocative lyrics, and although they are introspective, they also possess an aura of grandeur. On a sidenote, if you are not familiar with Garborg, make sure you look him up on the web.

Helheim have always been musically adventurous and their stellar pagan/Viking metal records of the past are mandatory purchases if you ask me. True to style they have churned out something that is both exceptional and damn compelling, one of which is a melancholy cover rendition of Taake’s "Orkan" with clean vocals and the other a remastered version of their take on Emperor’s "Witches Sabbath". In the case of the latter, they have translated the lyrics into Norwegian, and although this piece originally appeared on an Emperor tribute disc back in 2012, the remastered version included on "Henholdsvis" is superior as it boasts a more dynamic sound. Also, the vocals are utterly intense and deserve praise.

"Henholdsvis" is an immersive albeit short listening experience and showcases the depth and vigorous nature of their song material and dedicated approach to the whole notion of crafting tunes with longevity to them. Effective, expertly arranged, and emotionally charged stuff here – and obviously highly recommended.