Taake (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈtɔːkə], TAW-kə) is a Norwegian black metal band from Bergen, formed in 1993 and originally named Thule. The band's one continuous member is Hoest, who writes and records most of the music. He has released six full-length albums and several EPs. The band describes itself as "True Norwegian black metal", and Hoest said that he wants to "awaken national pride and cultural nostalgia in my Norwegian listeners" as well as to remind people "that Hell is right here on Earth and that humans can be demons". All lyrics are in Hoest's native dialect and are printed in Norse runes. "Taake" is the old spelling of the Norwegian word "tåke", meaning "fog".
In 1993, Ørjan Stedjeberg (then known as 'Ulvhedin'), formed the first version of the band Taake under the name Thule, together with drummer 'Svartulv'. Thule released two demos, Der vinterstormene raste in 1993 and Omfavnet av svarte vinger in 1994. Shortly after, the band changed its name to Taake and 'Ulvhedin' adopted the new pseudonym 'Hoest' (meaning "autumn" or "harvest"). In 1995, the released the demo Manndaudsvinter in 1995. This was followed in 1996 by a 7" EP called Koldbrann i jesu marg.
Album trilogy (1999–2005)
Between 1999 and 2005, Taake released three full-length albums. They are a trilogy of concept albums linked by the topics of "death, Norway, and the devil in man".
The first full-length album, Nattestid ser porten vid, was released by Wounded Love Records in 1999. The album was written entirely by Hoest, but he brought in a session musician, 'Tundra', to perform bass guitar and drums. It was recorded throughout 1997 and 1998 at the Grieg Hall.
The second installment of the trilogy, Over bjoergvin graater himmerik, was released in 2002 by Wounded Love Records. On this record, Hoest surrounded himself with a band: second guitarist 'C. Corax', bassist and pianist 'Keridwen', and drummer 'Mutt' (Gaahlskagg, Trelldom, Sigfader).
The final installment of the trilogy, Hordalands doedskvad, was released in 2005 by Dark Essence Records. It features second guitarist 'C. Corax', bassist 'Lava' and drummer 'Mord'. It also features several guest vocalists, including 'Nattefrost' (Carpathian Forest), 'Nordavind' (Carpathian Forest) and 'Taipan' (Orcustus).
Brief hiatus and regrouping (2005–present)
Over the following three years, Taake released four short EPs and played a few festivals (most notably the Hole in the Sky Festival in Norway, with Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved on guitar), but according to Hoest, Taake was "on ice for a while".
Before the 2006–2007 European tour, Taake revamped their official homepage. Following the infamous March 2007 show in Essen, the band were removed from several festivals and received much backlash. At the same time, Lava, who had been bass guitarist since 2002, left the band.
In 2008, a fourth album was released, recorded entirely by Hoest and simply named Taake. The album was recorded for Hoest's own label Svartekunst Produksjoner, and was distributed via Dark Essence Records.
In 2011, Taake released the EP Kveld, featuring both new and re-recorded songs. This was followed shortly after by Taake's fifth full-length album, Noregs vaapen. Hoest collaborated with many prominent Norwegian black-metallers for this record including Attila Csihar, Nocturno Culto, Demonaz and Ivar Bjørnson. It was again released on his own label Svartekunst Produksjoner to much critical acclaim. The album was nominated for the prestigious Spellemann award in Norway for top metal release. This nomination was met with some derision due to anti-Islamic lyrics.
To mark the band's 20th anniversary, Taake released the compilation album Gravkamre, kroner og troner in 2013.
Taake played their first show in the United States in May 2014 at Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore.
In 2014, Taake released the sixth full-length album Stridens hus and the EP Kulde through Dark Essence Records. In support of this record and as a follow up to their successful show in Maryland, Taake announced an East Coast US tour for the first time in their history, to begin in June 2015.
In 2006, Hoest served a prison sentence for assault.
In March 2007, during a concert at Essen in Germany, Hoest appeared on stage in corpse paint with a swastika painted on his chest, above an inverted cross. In Germany, the use of the swastika is forbidden by law, and the remainder of Taake's German concerts were cancelled. Following the incident, Hoest stated on the Taake website:
Taake is not a political Nazi band [...] everyone should know by now that our whole concept is built upon provocation and anything evil [...] we truly apologize to all of our collaborators who might get problems because of the Essen swastika scandal (except for the untermensch owner of that club; you can go suck a Muslim!)
In January 2008, Hoest stated on the Taake website:
I've clearly stated that Taake is certainly not a political Nazi-band, yet some people seem to still insist that we are [...] I do realize that it is rather unforgivable to display a swastika in Germany, yes. On the other hand I strongly feel that Black Metal bands should allow themselves to use any kind of destructive/negative symbolism, as the basis of this expression is above all: Evil! Black Metal is still not, and should never become, harmless like all other styles of housebroke metal. Frankly, I find it preposterous that we get away with lyrics about murder, torture, rape, necrophilia and suicide, but get boycotted for wearing a symbol (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the band's concept) on one single occasion. A part of our mission is to invoke negative feelings, so I found it quite appropriate to remind our German audience of their biggest shame.
When Taake was nominated for the 2012 Spellemann award, the band was criticized for anti-Islamic lyrics in the song "Orkan". It includes the line "Til Helvete med Muhammed og Muhammedanerne; utilgivelige skikker" ("To hell with Muhammad and the Muhammadans; unforgivable customs"). Hoest replied that "Taake has never been a political band, and we do not encourage either violence or racism," and said "our view, in the name of freedom of expression, is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam. Incidentally, Christianity is mentioned in the same lyrics, but that doesn't seem to have been given any emphasis".