TAAKE, Nekro  (2007, Dark Essence)

The skull:
Stark and haunting, skully and spooky, moonlit and creepy, this is a very effective skull cover which would have been PERFECT without that stupid “True Norwegian Blah Blah” banner in the bottom right corner.

The music:
There might not be a more prototypical Norwegian black metal band than Taake. They’ve been doing it since 1995 and continue to this day, no major changes and no turning away from what they originally set out to do. This EP came out in 2007, and its main song, the 11+ minutes of “Hennes Kalde Skamlepper,” is as good an example of Taake’s sound as any. Cold, buzzy, reverb-drenched riffs, fast-and-faster rhythms, and your usual Quorthon-derived vocals on top (ie. the guy sounds like Nocturno Culto in Darkthrone’s early/mid ’90s era, but sharper and even more scathing). There’s a bit of ambient guitar landscaping in the middle of this lengthy song, and after it kicks in again there are some odd Skoll-like bass lines happening (think Ved Buens Ende). Shorter track “Voldtekt” opens up the EP; it’s a frosty, blazing sort of thing, akin to something off Darkthrone’s similarly single-minded Transilvanian Hunger. Taake also covers Von’s “Lamb” here, and it works well enough to draw the line of influence from Von’s primitive weirdness to the basics of “True Norwegian Black Metal.” Which, by the way, Taake boasts about playing on the cover of Nekro, in case there was any question about it. This little banner also adds “Piss Off & Fuck Off,” which I will do right now. It’s cool that they don’t ask us to die after fucking off, which is usually how it goes, you know?
— Friar Wagner


SCUM, Voyage into Depth of Insanity / Macabre Moors of Morgoth (1993, Sickness)

The skull:
Lit from above and deeply shadowed, this stark skull drawing is a nearly perfect example of black and white BDSery. No jaw, no logo, no title. The essence of Big Dumb Skull.

The music:
Original entry:
Friar Wagner collected this skull, but he failed to adequately record its provenance, so its identity remains unknown even to The Council. For close to two years, Friar Johnsen has labored to uncover the identity of the band, scouring the obscurest of mp3 blogs and frequently entreating for assistance, but he has so far failed in his epic quest. Friar Wagner has all along insisted that the band is a metal band, and supposing that’s true, the likelihood of it being a black metal band is close to 100%. The Council welcomes any and all information about SKULL157, the only mystery skull in the entire Skullection.

Update 2013-08-10:
It was only a matter of time, but finally the mystery skull has been identified! Thanks to Sami at Bestial Burst Records we now know that SKULL157 is actually a 7″ by the Finnish death metal band Scum. Like early Sentenced, Scum takes the Stockholm formula and adds a weird twist, producing something that’s mostly familiar without sounding entirely derivative. Both songs are excellent (and both appear on the band’s full-length debut, Mother Nature), particularly the slinky plodding bits of “Voyage”. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from the mystery skull when it was identified, but I’m pleasantly surprised by this discovery. Thanks again to Sami!
— Friar Johnsen