TaakeWell this one is kind of self-explanatory once you get past the Norse and the title which translates to Tombs, Crown and Thrones. It’s an album that celebrates 20 years of Taake (and weren’t they damn naughty teens) with 20 songs over 2 albums. The selling point is that these are tracks for those looking for rarities beyond the available albums as it comprises all the songs from vinyl only releases, some unpublished numbers and a couple of exclusives allowing you to pretty much collect all those tracks you were wishing to get without resorting to the likes of silly money on auction sites.

As with all these sorts of things it could well be a hit or miss affair and that is all probably down to how much you like Taake in the first place. Well I certainly do and find the cult of Hoest one of the most intriguing. You never know quite what you are going to get from him but it is always of consummate high quality which is sometimes overlooked by his ensuing notoriety. Taake are one of those bands that the annoying hipsters turn up in force for as they have read about them in their glossy magazines hoping that something is going to happen, of course they have no comprehension of the music and this is just one of those unfortunate signs of the times. Sigh!

Anyway let’s get onto the music and the first thing that is the focus here are the two new tracks. Immediately as it swings into action ‘Et Pust Av Oeyne’ blazes away with rampant driving riffs thick and heavy along with those excellent rasp-filled sharp and craggy vocals. Melody is right up front and it surges even faster, ploughing along with a punk etched filthy bombast. Perfect, you can bounce around like mad to this and spew up your cider in the process. It slows right down taking into different textures but then almost as a continuation second track ‘Hov Van Stein’ complements with the more depressive musical flow and melody spilling into it. It’s all really good although it does seem like one piece of music rather than two in a way and on first couple of listens I did not see any differentiation between them until we are hit by some deranged, lunatic groans and cackles from the vocals. Following on from this will be a gem as far as many are concerned as the first song of five from 2011 EP ‘Kveld’ ‘Nordbundet’ features both Niklas Kvarforth and Nocturno Culto and if that sounds like a match made in hell it is! The EP is gold if you did not pick it up before and it features alternative versions of album cuts such as ‘Hordalands Doedskvad 1’. If you already have the recent release the tracks which comprise quarter of the album are not exactly going to be essential for you. As I can only find it on MP3 or sold out on 300 edition vinyl I guess that is not a huge issue and it is certainly new to me. The quality of the songs cannot be questioned either and this material for me is very much a highlight of the double disc.

After these at the end of the first disc and with some on the second come all the covers. These include great tributes all expertly played and delivered to the likes of Burzum, Emperor, Destruction, Von and the brilliant ‘Die When You Die’ GG Allin number which blew me away on the Godreah ‘Swine Of Hades’ disc and has fast become one of my favourite covers ever. Capturing the essence of that madman was never going to be easy but Hoest excels with shit smeared finesse. Also I should mention the tribute piece to Jorg Buttgereit’s seminal movie Der Todesking. This sounds different from the version of the main theme featured on the Taake / Amok split and somewhat different but recognisable from the Daktari Lorenz original, which I have. Perhaps it’s a newly recorded version especially for here but the man who sports the Death King tattoo is entitled to do it however he wishes.

Going back to the start of the second disc we get various live tracks. Not complaining at all about them and again all excellent but it makes you wonder if it might have been a better idea to make this a single disc and deliver a special live album a couple of years down the line. Live tracks are never as good as being at the shows themselves especially when they are so bloody good as far as Taake are concerned and the irony here is that the current tour is not touching the UK, cheers! This just pretty much leaves a 1997 pre-mix of the instantly recognisable and superb ‘Nattestid ser Porten vid 1’ and the 100 minutes or so of music is done.

So there is little to fault here and musically this is an excellent compilation worthy of picking up if you are a firm fan or new and wanting to discover more about the band than the mischief that seems to follow them. Happy bloody anniversary and here is to the future however long it may continue.

(8/10 Pete Woods)