As the country and the weather goes to hell in a handcart it’s a relief to get into The Underworld this evening and take refuge from it all for a few hours. Taake are back and are one of the most prolific Norwegian black metal bands to grace our country, never missing us out from their hectic tour schedule. Whether this will still be the case in the future after we finally tumble out the European Union remains to be seen. Tonight, could well be the night that the music dies….
First up and only added to the bill a couple of days ago are the doomed mariners that are The Infernal Sea. They bring the coastal ruins to the stage swamped in their trademark seaweed green. Stay out the fog… not much chance of that as they smother the stage in dry ice and loom out of it wearing their trademark plague masks. Always delivering an icy atmosphere they plough into The Destruction Of Shum which appears to be a new song, giving us a lesson in melodic blackness in the process. It’s already fairly busy in here and the expectant hordes are summoned to gather down the front. ‘We are the dead’ is the call rasped out vocally and with a touch of doomed demeanour and cadaverous intent we are in little doubt of it.
The next sermon gallops off full pelt and injects groove getting people bouncing around. There’s quite a diverse range vocally some damn gnarly croaks particularly hitting the mark. There’s also a guitar solo and some particularly British bravado about all this. The Infernal Sea do a good job straddling the serious side of their black craft but also occasionally falling slightly more in the fun camp than the grim. It’s all well played and enjoyable as well as visually striking. Horns are held aloft for the ‘Agents Of Satan’ and as the set continues I can’t help thinking this occasionally strays into the acceptable side of things perhaps appealing to those who wouldn’t normally listen to black metal and designed for a main stage performance somewhere like Bloodstock as dusk falls. Having said that they finish with an utterly hellish number, slamming the gate and leaving us verily ‘Entombed In Darkness,’ job done!
Wode bring a completely different form of blackness down from Manchester and the quartet are also known to us via the shared duties of three of them in Aggressive Perfector. They come in all guns blazing and are fast, intense, thrashy and feral, displaying at times a bit of a wildcard core element to their sound. However, one describes them the reaction seems good and one has to wonder if after being stuck in traffic on this grim day has spurred them into this violent and cathartic on stage savagery. There’s some black gloved, classic stalking guitar lines and more than a touch of speed metal about things here reminding me that I did catch the aforementioned Aggressive P supporting Midnight earlier this year. The two bands do cross into same territories at time and are well lit on stage compared to earlier, the red lighting matching the anger perfectly. Had they brought some fans with them? Had there been ‘Fire On The Highway?’ The answer is possibly yes and the band are rewarded with a small but burly pit which had happily bruising away at each other. Wode also played a couple of new songs and although I had only just heard some of the old stuff prior to the show they certainly impressed and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Onto the main event and bodies are crammed up towards the stage and camera phones primed in expectation of the Norse invasion. Taake are tonight honouring debut album Nattestid ser porten vid from 1999 by playing it in its entirety. It’s not however going to be done in a traditional sense but rather with songs re-ordered, back to front, inside out and with others from the group’s illustrious history combined. First naturally as is the tradition it is time to hail Der Todesking a signature tune from the soundtrack of Jorg Buttgereit’s classic film of German morbidity. The band troop on Hoest arrives to massive cheers and they are off, the combined power of Nattestid IV and V knocking us practically off our feet. For the first couple of numbers Hoest weilds a mighty bass before dispensing of it and take over performing sole vocal duties.
The drive and sheer velocity and power behind it all shows why Taake are one of the best bands of their ilk both on album and live. It’s a floorless performance, the players here are all from a host of other bands but play faultlessly as Hoest’s savage barks ring out. Naturally the crowd go wild and its mayhem down the front as they kick into the classic strains of the swaggering Nordbundet driving people into more of a frenzy in the process. Get a beer, try and find a safe space (to drink and not spill it I mean) and ride the storm. Naturally the odd fetid death grunt is belched out and the stage is now a cold blue like hypothermia as they dip back through the ages again.
Vitriolic, bouncy hell-storms are peppered with more traditional pagan furrows and a slow down allows the glistening melodicism from guitar to really shine and glisten. There’s even a burst of folky medievalism and the music continues to rigorously sweep us along. Havet I Huset is aired from latest album Kong Vinter and its lurching skewed harmonics really stand out . Hordalands is also revisited with Doedskvad Pt. 1 and the band just plough headlong from one song to the next with barely a pause between. Occasionally Hoest shouts out the song titles at us but that is it, tonight seems to be about fitting in as much material as possible. I believe they may have come full circle finishing off with Nattestid I but it did all get a bit heady towards the end of the 75-minute show. As for any drama there was none here just a great show and the sudden urge to move to Norway. If only it wasn’t colder than here and the beer even more expensive.
Review and Photos Pete Woods