Ominous signs spell out the slow and slinking doom of deeper-festering pestilential harass when scried, traced along sigillum contra dei and expressed in four pieces from two conjoined sects of purest eternal black metal. Nigh twenty five minutes and ten inches of Taake alongside sorely underrated masters Deathcult arrive as rare gifts from insular greats on ‘Jaertegn’, the second fistful of grace from the former this year and the first glimpse of the latter since 2017. A split EP and an item meant to solidify bonds and restate their unchanging reap of life on Earth, receive two rituals as one and become death’s worship.

Or, sure, just collect it! I’ve been buying everything Taake since ‘Hordalands doedskvad’ released in 2005 and my affection for Hoest‘s work hasn’t waned in the slightest, the Bergen-based musician is a singular unwavering force and, as I’ve stated numerous times, one of few artists who’d pull me out of my retro death and thrash metal obsession towards all manner of the black arts past and present. ‘Jaertegn’ begins with a piece (“Slagmark”) that absolutely embodies the artist’s capacity for guitar riffs that manage the unearthly plunge of Norwegian black metal’s artistry, slashing born from insular darkest empowerment aligned with evolved orchestration that has matured beyond the teenaged savant-rhythms of the early 90’s movement he’d been a part of. This song is sugared adrenaline for the mind, a blissful set of movements as satisfying as shattering glass that’d feed forth with Taake‘s signature hand-woven grooves and warped jangling spiritus. ‘Slagmark’ is brilliant in that it’d wrench my mind into a horrifying fish, eager to feed from each buzzing flick of the guitar as if it were flaked sustenance. The cover of Darkthrone‘s “Ravnajuv” illuminates its ‘Total Death’-era deadpan anti-Christian poetry with brighter guitar textures without breaking the statically-charged flood and ringing dread of the original, emphasizing the last two minutes of the song beautifully.

Deathcult is a newer obsession that’d arrived in my periphery with the exemplar rip of ‘Cult of the Goat‘ (2017) and it’d seem their vile, reprehensible, cultic offense is still very much alive and active judging by the whip of “Der Würger”, a menacing tunnel-blasted curse the builds towards a semi-melodic climax of harmonized rasp and incantation. Of course it is worth mentioning this song isn’t particularly produced and burns without the clarity of their second album, juxtaposing strongly with Taake‘s material in sound but fittingly set in style. Their cover of Beherit‘s “Black Arts” from ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ is well-chosen for its ominous groove but they’ve given it an early Samael-esque clarity, extended very gently the endpoint with more aggressive vocals that still allow the guitar to complete its ritual. A very simple and effective cover again with great reverence for the source material, I appreciate the restraint as the urge to try and overdo such a simple guitar progression is surely a maddening one.

The shared vision, attitude and union of these two artists, Taake and Deathcult, makes great sense both sonically adjunct and in terms of where their steadfast and sealed allegiances to Norwegian black metal lay. I’d probably lean towards Taake‘s side for the sake of being a fan for fifteen years but no doubt this split as well as the recent one with Whoredom Rife have been exceptional gifts while headed down 2020’s road. ‘Jaertegn’ comes with a high recommendation, particularly to the initiated. Otherwise I’d advise contextual full-length spins if this split serves as your introduction to either artist.

High recommendation.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
ARTIST:Taake / Deathcult
TYPE:Split 10″ EP/Cassette
LABEL(S):Edged Circle Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 10th, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRES:Black Metal

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