These two bands have signed a musical ‘pakt’ and have been fellow Norsemen entwined on their separate journeys for some time. Like Hoest, V. Einride is a multi-instrumentalist who composes all his group’s material although is joined by ex Bloodthorn throat-slinger K.R. vocally. Einride has also been involved in the past with groups such as Keep Of Kalessin, Goat The Head and live incarnations of Gorgoroth, Vermod and From The Vastland. I am sure Hoest really needs no introduction. That provides the scene for this new 4 track split EP which you are probably looking at hearing yourself via Bandcamp rather than picking up the 7” on tour for the moment for obvious reasons.

It’s Taake up first as far as order on my digital download is concerned and the ever ‘unbeatable’ Hoest kicks off proceedings with ‘Ubeseiret’. The guitar work is pretty much instantly identifiable as it thornily wraps itself around you and squeezes with the vocals craggy and harshly filling in the spaces. Its fluid, progressive and brackish with a solid heft and bounce around it. There are slight folky nuances within the melody and it is exactly the sort of song one would expect from Taake. There are some strange underlying cries if you listen carefully and a neat bass break and crash of thunder giving it a sense of atmosphere amidst the neck cracking faster pitched speed. There’s also some excellent acoustic guitar towards conclusion. Now I knew the second number was a cover of a Sisters Of Mercy track but did not know which one before I grabbed this myself. It was a pleasant but not unexpected surprise to see that Hoest had not gone for anything latter or trendier off the more recent stuff (well I still look at Floodland as recent). Originally and yep I have the vinyl released on Merciful Release MR027 as the b) side of the well-known and catchy smash Goth anthem Temple Of Love, Heartland is the much dourer companion piece. Taking on a droning doom like bass fuzz the sudden realisation of what you are hearing should suddenly hit. Obviously instead of the richer Eldritch vocal parts of the original the raspier delivery may have the purists of the original taken aback but as the full musicianship joins the fray the catchy melodic twists and turns of the original will quickly embed long possibly forgotten memories and old or new to the song you should find yourself quickly joining in and the song stuck in your head for at least several days.

The first reaction as Whoredom Rife’s ‘From Nameless Pagan Graves’ piles in will no doubt be “oof!” This is namely due to the fact that the mix is one hell of a lot more powerful than Taake’s material and seemingly prospering from a much fuller production. Everything flies in without a sense of remorse. It gallops away with thundering gravity and bristles with violence. The vocals are full and strong and drumming vigorous and powerful, everything about it is basically delivered at full pelt and the recording fair knocks your block off. If you are new to the group it will certainly give you the inclination to check out previous material as the feral assault and spiky guitar tones rigorously attack. A slower section injects a palpable and brooding malevolence and this strikes as utterly true in the Norse sense taking back to a time the second wave of bands were decimating the musical world with darkness and danger. This and the slower but no less all-consuming ‘En Lenke Smidd i Blod’ are both over the 6-minute mark giving you plenty to digest and this link forged in blood is a totally commendable one for lovers of Norske Svart Metal.

(8/10 Pete Woods)