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                Hard Luck Bar

                 Feb 23 2016

   Originally slated to play Toronto on June 16 2016, Bergen Norway's Taake finally got their travel visa's dealt with for a much anticipated rescheduled North American tour.
Not that they were out of the Norse woods yet. Even the new date at Toronto's Hard Luck Bar was delayed while the crew sorted out some sound issues.  Finally the ghoulish looking five man group took to the stage while patient crowd members rushed to fill the floor space directly in front of the band.
   Opening with the swinging riff-filled"Nordbundet" and "Du Ville Ville Vestland" both from 2011's superb Noregs Vaapen album the band, led by visually captivating front man Orjan "Hoest" Stedjeberg, immediately commanded attention. Although Hoest's expressive lead vocals with just a shade of echo were excellent, he did motion for more volume in the direction of the sound desk.
   Early in the performance, Hoest shed his shirt to reveal a large tattoo of  the 1990 German horror film Der Todesking icon proudly emblazoned on his ribcage.
An even more terrifying visual component was supplied by the guitarist positioned at stage right who glared at the crowd throughout the set with seemingly murderous intent in his eyes. Apparently refraining from appauding was not an option.
  Throughout the 75 minute set it was clear that Taake are one of the few contemporary bands still maintaining classic Norwegian black metal values. Where other groups have altered and made adjustments to their vision (not without merit mind you), Taake are as close as one could get to experiencing early Mayhem or say vintage Darkthrone at this later stage of the game, especially vocally. They also firmly insist on all lyrics being delivered in a distant dialect of their native language.
  An audience member directly in front of the vocalist repeatedly held up a small Norwegian flag. Oblivious to the meaning behind the gesture (perhaps getting it signed?) Hoest finally snatched it from the fan and just as quickly threw it with disdain into the surging crowd.

  It wasn't all icy grimness. The band offered up a fun cover of the notorious GG Allin's "Die When You Die" from his pleasant 1988 album Freak, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies to the delight of anyone in the crowd familiar with the seemingly odd choice. Also the brief introduction of a banjo during " Myr" added a different tone although it was quickly swapped out for a more traditional metal weapon of choice: a Gibson Flying V.

  After the show, a polite and friendly Hoest apologized to myself for the cancelled 2015 North American tour and late start to the Toronto show. Also expressed was genuine concern as to how the vocals sounded in the club as he was unhappy with the monitor mix he was hearing onstage. He also warmly accepted compliments on his vocals being true Norwegian black metal without outside influences. Offstage Hoest is as easy going and communicative as his stage persona is confrontational and threatening but we'll keep that little secret between us, ok?


  RL 2016.




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