This album really pulls at the hopeful Romanticist inside me. When I was on tour with one of my old bands, we ended up camping in the woods of Pennsylvania. I put Taake and Ildjarn on my headphones, went for a stroll, and almost completely disassociated from my existence as a guy who has an account on myspace.com. Why I'm not currently a barbarian in the depths of Pennsylvania, I can't really say, but be thankful I'm here blogging instead.
Song structures are classically influenced in the vein of old Emperor. Motifs are established and varied through different permutations, thus creating, meeting & thwarting expectations. Put on Part VII, and enjoy the fine melody at 1:25. Almost every part in the whole song can be understood in the context of this part, either balancing the structure as a whole or building on the theme.
Melodies are composed in a contrapuntal style, with well-developed voice leading full of relevant motion. Credit Burzum for innovating and mastering this technique in the black metal idiom, but Taake, don't just imitate, they get it.
Drums on this record are ridiculous. I can't read the liner notes since they're, of course, in some weird-ass rune font, but wait it looks like Frostein Tundra Arctander is in fact credited with "batteri." Great. Tundra took a lot of cues from Hellhammer, and his parts are filled with tons of accent displacements and syncopated cymbal usage. And the important thing is that it's tasteful. Taake definitely isn't going for the ambient drumming approach of Darkthrone, but it's not like we're dealing with Dream Theater shirt-wearers either.
Possibly the best black metal record in the last ten years.