Saturday, 25 April 2009

ELBENMACHT

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elbenmacht
Format: Demo CDr, never officially released by Hugin
Edition: Unreleased - this is the only copy in existence!

Track Listing:
01. Intro 0.42
02. Lebenin 9.26
03. Elbenmacht 0.45
04. The Plague 7.11
05. Uruk Hai (part III) 0.34
06. Long Before I Die 3.35
07. Growth Of A Black Flower 2.49
08. Pagan Spirit 1.37
09. Dragonfire (demo version) 10.06

Something of a fan's dream this one - an Uruk Hai demo CDr that as far as I'm aware was never officially released by Hugin. As such this could be a unique version, or certainly one of a very few pieces actually committed to CD.

As intrepid readers of this Blog you're entitled to an explanation of this momentous event: after all, to those that care it's the equivalent in many ways to suddenly finding yourself in possession of an entirely unknown classic-era Venom album, or - for those of us raised in the era of 8-bit computer games for the ZX Spectrum - discovering the Holy Grail of Ultimate Play The Game releases 'Mire Mare'. Aah yes, the early 1980's ....

Anyway, Nazgul digresses. In conversation with Alex one evening I was pursuing one or two items from the Uruk Hai discography that I had yet to claim as my own. In passing, Alex happened to mention this particular demo, never released, that contained recordings in the period 2002 to 2004. He also casually mentioned that he'd be happy to stick them on a CDr and send them over to me, which he duly did. Now consider: draw a parallel to any other musician that you hold in high esteem suddenly revealing that he has a demo that hasn't seen the light of day before that he's happy to send over to you - Mr Average - just because you're interested in his music. It doesn't really happen often in the real world, I'd venture - do you suppose Lemmy has a few songs as yet unheard to the world that he'd bung on a CDr for even the most fervent fan? I guess it might happen, but I wouldn't bet the house on it. To me, this is yet another example of how Alex treats his supporters and fans - you really couldn't ask for a more supportive guy, or a more pleasant person to know. This embodies the true spirit of music to me, and I feel very privileged to know him and to be writing this Blog today.

Now, some of these tracks may be familiar to you - for example, track 4 'The Plague' appeared in 2006 as a bonus track to the tape version of "A Vikings Tale" whilst 'Dragonfire' subsequently surfaced on on the 2005 "Dragons Of War" release on Padre Adamo's Dragon's Breath label. Equally, 'Growth Of A Black Flower' has appeared as a bonus track on an Uruk Hai release too....although Nazgul can't quite put his finger on the release in question. No excuses, it's a Saturday and Nazgl has found a small supply of Jack Daniels and Coke to work through....

As to the rest, well there are some short works-in-progress on this demo, including 'Uruk Hai (part III)' and the title track 'Elbenmacht' itself. There is naturally a limit to what can be achieved in under a minute of playing time, yet even in such short pieces there is a clear Middle-Earth atmosphere being developed. More concrete is the second track "Lebenin", which is frankly excellent - brilliantly evocative synths creating an ambient soundscape of pure Tolkien-esque majesty.

Cruel as it may be, I'm going to eulogise in silence for the remainder of this CDr....I'm sure in time the demo will find a formal release, and become a part of the official canon of Uruk Hai releases out there. Until such time, Nazgul will listen and reflect on the music within as a tribute to the honour and friendship of a certain Mr Wieser of Linz, Austria...and long may that flourish.

TIEFENRAUSCH

Band: CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE
Title: Tiefenrausch (literally - 'depth intoxication')
Format: Self-released CDr in 2007 with two variants: first 10 coming with flip-over calendar and 2 magnets, remaining pressings without. Both versions with blue CDr disc in 'ejection-style' case plus business card and A5 prints.
Edition: Limited to only 44 hand-numbered pieces in total.

Track Listing:
01. Hydra 7.07
02. Burning Water 6.16
03. The Dream 5.38
04. Burning Water (video)

I've said it before, and doubtless will say it again - no one packages a CDr release like Alex Wieser. This COI release comes in two formats, the first 10 of this limited edition of 44 coming with the addition of two stylish magnets and a flip-over 2008 calendar "Echoes Of The Deep." This latter addition is actually a rather nice idea, each page having a unique photo motif following the submarine theme of the main design. Very atmospheric photographs accompany each month, which in the order January to December bear the titles "Contact, Eternity, Deeper, Ice Age, Waves, Launched, Far Away, Echoes, Attack, Memories, Burning Water, & Back Home."

I have the two versions, as illustrated in the photo above, being #4 in the limited first 10 edition (left side of image), and then #43 in the 'standard' edition.

In a sense COI is a project still finding its feet. The more established AW projects will feature in limited editions of perhaps a 1000 nowadays, with a ready audience for the ambient epics that ensue through Uruk Hai or Hrossharsgrani. The electronica of COI is still something of a new entity on the scene, and hence I suspect the more tentative pressing volumes of this particular venture.

But let me tell you this - for such an EP as this, you could surely find a huge market given the quality of music on offer. The lead track 'Hydra' will be familiar to past readers of my Blog as one of the tracks on the "Horproben" promo-CDr, and its mixture of synths and violin in a pop-classical blend is as lush and regal as ever before. Second track "Burning Water" maintains a more hypnotic rhythm and is much more in the electronica school of music. The video for this is also rather funky, with the colour of the water being altered from blue to yellow/red with great effect. Final track "The Dream" is an out-and-out dance-fest, and anyone listening to this without tapping their toes is either dead from the waist down, or seriously in need of chilling-out!

Despite the limited availability of the piece this release has garnered some positive press on the Internet, notably at Heathen Harvest who sagely concluded:

"This is a very nice collectors item release, and with an upcoming full length album on Beverina Productions, I'm interested in what that will bring"

Probably a step too far for the avid black metal / viking hordes who embrace the old-school Hrossharsgrani projects, and possibly too left-field and commercial even for the fans of the neo-classical face of Elisabetha, nevertheless I'd encourage you to suspend any inherent dislike of trance/dance music and give this one a spin.....the results are to say the least impressive.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

APOCALYPTIC STREAMS [V/A]

Band: Various Artists [WACH]
Title: Apocalyptic Steams
Format: CD release on the Apocalyptic Radio label (Germany) catalogue reference AR032 in 2008
Edition: Limited to 250 hand-numbered pieces.

Track Listing:
01 Steel Hook Prostheses - Choosing Death
02 MX Nihil - Antisexassault
03 N.Strahl.N - Antidot
04 Noiseconcrete - Harakiri
05 Brechen - Narbe
06 Errare Humanum Est - Naked Religious Truth
07 Tod Durch Arbeit - Happy Workers
08 Praying For Oblivion - Umspanner II
09 Atrox - Shadow On Phobos
10 Wach - Experiment Heimet 6.15
11 Moral Fraktal - Mantra
12 Antracot - Inferno
13 Vronthor - Deformity Society
14 Kadaver - The Pale Face Of Horror

A hard to find compilation CD from the Apocalyptic Radio label, well known and regarded for their releases encompassing Dark Ambient, Power Electronics, Noise and Experimental Sound genres.

Our principal interest in this compilation is at track 10, where WACH make an appearance with "Experiment Heimet." Once again, it's time to fear for your sanity as Reverend Kim and Herr Insomnia take to the airwaves with a brooding and pulsating electronic ambient assault that is both dark and intense in nature, and uncompromising in approach.

Unique to this release, it's a great track for generating an unsettling atmosphere! And here's todays 'top tip' from Nazgul: play this at just-audible levels late at night when you have friends over for a splendid psychological reaction!

The entire CD was well reviewed at the Heathen Harvest website, where their specific comment on the track in question was thus:

"Apocalyptic Radio is a label housing a wide variety of electronic artists such as Crossbreed, Shadow Theater and TZII. Mostly composed of Power Electronics and Noise this album might seem quite straightforward in dealing with genres, but still in the midst are a few really great really dark ambient acts such as Atrox and Wach"

and by the gods, how right they are. From 'murky' beginnings to a steadily building crescendo this is a very good listen indeed.

My thanks to Herr Insomnia for sending me #43 of this limited release as a gift some months ago, along with a number of other items that I'd been seeking.....a corker if ever there was one!

NOVASAK / BONEMACHINE split tape

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Untitled - Novasek / Bonemachine split tape
Format: Cassette tape only release on the W.A.R. label (WAR031) in 200?. The tape case has a unique piece of circuit board stuck to the face, each tape being different. Laminated inlay card with track details and edition number.
Edition: Limited to only 16 hand-numbered pieces.

Track Listing:
Novasak side:
01 / 02. Drowning While On Fire

Bonemachine side:
03. Black Sky

A work of genius, for all the right reasons!

Packaging - excellent: the unique nature of the glued-on piece of circuit board makes this visually completely different from anything else in my collection, and whoever had that brainwave deserves a pat on the back. Obviously makes it a bit of a bugger to stand up on a shelf (as the weight is not evenly distributed) and won't fit in a cassette rack, but that's the price to pay for cutting edge design! Edit: Alex has just emailed to comment that it was really hard to cut the circuit board to achieve this effect, and that it's something he's not inclined to try to repeat!

Availability - not a hope in hell! With only 16 being made, they are all long sold out and I've never seen another one for sale anywhere. My copy is #7 of the 16, and I've only seen one other copy (number unknown) in an online review of this at the German website www.club-debil.com/fanzine/rezis/tontraeger/novbonem.htm and the circuit board fragment there is markedly different from mine. I wonder, did anyone think to take a photo of all 16 tapes when they were originally made...that would be worth seeing!

Music - well, this is one of my personal favourites from Bonemachine! You really can't try and put into words the ambient and noise-related nature of the music on here, save to say that it's both catchy (with a simple but rhythmic synth riff overlaid by static later in the piece) and occasionally brooding and mysterious. I love it and quite happily play it whilst busy on other tasks as it is balanced just right to be lodged in your brain to hum along to without being so intrusive that you lose focus on what you're supposed to be doing!

Novasak - an American band, the experimental noise project of one Todd Novosad, the guy running the Swamp of Pus label. As usual with split releases I'm not putting much emphasis on the non-Hugin side of the album, but suffice to say it's both entertaining and pretty much what you'd expect from this project.

Conclusion - I'm really, really pleased I managed to snare this one when I had the chance, as I don't suspect it would be easy to find another to replace this. Equally, the track 'Black Sky' seems pretty unique to this release too, so I really must give some thought to making a back-up copy just in case my trusty death-deck decides to eat the tape....perish the thought.

Marvellous!

DER PFAD ZUM TOR DER TOTEN

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Der Pfed Zum Tor Der Toten
Format: Released on both cassette tape and CDr format in 1999 on the W.A.R. label (WAR004). The tape version has three additional bonus tracks. The CDr pressing has hand-designed inserts within the cover depicting track listing and illustrations, plus a photo of Hugin with a guitar.
Edition: CDr format limited to 200 hand-numbered pieces. Cassette version originally limited to just 33 pieces.

Track Listing:
CDr version:
1. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten 15.10
2. Schönheit Gibt Es Nur Im Kampf 7.40
3. Schwerter & Äxte 10.10
4. Heimfahrt Nach Hördaland 6.10
5. Barbarenblut 5.02
6. Bußfertigkeit 11.21

Literally translating as "The Path To The Gate Of The Dead" this 1999 demo from Hrossharsgrani is somewhat unusual in the general body of Hugin's music in that there is a predominance of electric guitar in the mix, together with some blast-beat style drumming. Overall therefore a 'traditional' black metal ambiance is created on this release, differing to (and pre-dating) the more epic Viking saga-esque keyboard driven pieces that followed in the early years of the new Millennium. As Hugin himself said in a rare online interview with Succubus at the website http://www.thesummoning.free.fr/ about a later album:

"We always try to put the spirit of the ancient ages and of some long forgotten legends into the music of HROSSHARSGRANI. Its not just a musical evolution its more the personal feeling from the time we recorded the songs. Maybe someday in the future we [will go] back to the roots and do some raw and primitive Black Metal"

Sadly for me I've yet to find the cassette version of this, so once I have it safely ensnared within my collection (it's only a matter of time!) I'll post a separate Blog and look at the 3 bonus tracks on it. For now, we'll concentrate on the 6 tracks that both CDr and tape releases share as edition #7 of 200 gets an airing on Nazgul's death-deck....

On a first, casual listen it would be relatively easy to be dismissive of this demo - the drums are a tad repetitive (and not always entirely in time with the music) and the tracks in the main are lengthy affairs that might try the patience of many listeners. But the thing about many of Hugin's projects is that if you give it sufficient time - allow the music to wash over you for the first few listens and then take a proper listen on subsequent spins - you do appreciate what the man/band is trying to achieve (on this demo, Hugin plays all the instruments and there are no guest players as on later releases).

It's not to say that this is a full-on Black Metal blast-fest, however! The opening track kicks off in lavish style with a created scene of what sound like werewolves chasing and feeding on a poor unfortunate on horseback, the third track 'Schwerter & Äxte' begins with a most excellent sampled choral piece for around two and a half minutes, and whilst I couldn't put my hands on where it is sourced from you'll know it when you hear it, and you'll enjoy it too!

The principal difference to listening to this demo is that the memorable riffs are often the guitar ones and not deriving from keyboards, and this is a great thing if you want a change from synth-driven music once in a while. Each track has its own style and panache, and whilst the drumming occasionally grates I would suggest this early representation of the Black Metal side of Hrossharsgrani is well worth seeking out for those interested in this genre.

Stop Press!! I also recently discovered that the original CDr release came in a coloured jewel-case and had a rusty nail enclosed as a gimmick! Clearly my copy - a bargain on eBay many moons ago - had lost these attributes. For shame! Alex - if you're reading - have you got any spare nails left lying around..... !!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

ISTEN SZEK!

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Isten Szek!
Format: Cassette tape on Werwolf Productions (Italy), catalogue reference WP014, released 2001. A CDr version with alternative cover artwork apparently also exists.
Edition: Cassette version in a hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:
01. Isten Szek! 45.46

Well, it's been almost a week since Nazgul last updated the pages of his Blog, so with no more ado let us proceed down the examination of this interesting Elizabetha demo tape from 2001.

And it is interesting in as far as it is very much removed from the Elisabetha demos preceding it, which readers of this Blog will know follow the 'radio-play' dramatization approach to the Dracula/vampyric legends of Eastern Europe. This particular release is almost wholly music, virtually a 180 degree turn from the predominantly spoken-word releases that came before. So what does that lead us to conclude, you may well ask?

Well, taken on its own merits it is a perfectly good addition to the Hugin canon of work - a rich and atmospheric wander through strange electronic/synth landscapes and ambient scenes, leading to an overall feeling of unease and foreboding due to the nature of the occasionally discordant passages and pseudo-vocal synth pieces: some of these sound like tortured souls screaming for mercy....

The piece kicks of with a rumbling, gloomy segment vaguely reminiscent of the introduction to Sabbat's classic "History Of A Time To Come" and follows on with a dirge-like drum, which in turn leads us into a dungeon-esque feeling of containment and shadowy corners through the ambient synth pieces. Throughout the demo this feeling of an uneasy 'lurking fear' is cleverly portrayed, and sets the tone for the general 'Gothic horror' of the album.

The drum makes periodic reappearances throughout the lengthy single track, and by the end of the piece the almost hypnotic nature of the rhythm will have you marching toward the window to let in the vampyric figures that surely await you outside the frosty panes of glass.....

"Isten Szek" itself is a term that refers to "God's Seat", the mountain in the Borgo Pass (south of Mount Bargau) identified to Jonathan Harker by a fellow passenger (who crosses himself reverently after the event) whilst he travels by coach and horses through Transylvania in Bram Stoker's classic 'Dracula.'

Perhaps the one drawback with this demo is that the lack of vocals puts the album almost into territory that could be occupied by some of Alex's other projects: there is almost an industrial rhythm to some of the synth pieces that could be found on a B-Machina release, whilst some of the ambient elements would be at home on a Hrefnesholt demo. By losing the distinctive and dramatic narrated vocals the demo becomes less defined, less an Elisabetha piece and more a generic piece of ambient art.

It still makes for a good listen, mind you, so in that regard I'm more than happy to give my tape (number 45 of the 66, trivia fans) an occasional spin on the ol' Death-Deck.

And I'd suggest you should do likewise....

Saturday, 11 April 2009

IRA DEORUM OBLIVIORUM [V/A]

Band: Various Artists [Uruk Hai]
Title: Ira Deorum Obliviorum
Format: CDr release by Polish label Old Temple (OLD8) in 2006. Released in a non-standard way in that it the inner pages are printed on a special translucent carbon paper with both gray sides of booklet connected by hemp rope.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of only 100 pieces

Track Listing:
Vinterriket
01. Stille 1
02. Stille 2

Uruk Hai
03. Mount Doom 20.45

Nak'Kiga
04. Swit Stowianskiego Stonca

A really beautifully created item from the Polish Old Temple label, with semi-transparent inner pages showing unique and atmospheric artwork alongside lyrics and poetry associated with the tracks. This split album features well-known German ambient Black Metal band Vinterriket and little-known Polish band Nak'Kiga, and jolly good they are too, but of course our primary focus is on the Hugin contribution, namely Uruk Hai and their lengthy "Mount Doom" track.

Mount Doom itself, of course, was the volcano Tolkien's Middle-Earth universe, located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and approximately 4,500 feet high. Alternative names - and ones that may be familiar to metal-lovers - include Orodruin ("fiery mountain") and Amon Amarth ("mountain of fate").

Given the nature of the venue you might expect this track to be utterly black and depressive, reflecting the evil nature of both Sauron (who dwelt there) and the foul deeds committed on its slopes. In fact, whilst there are dark and brooding moments for sure, there are quite a few upbeat moments too musically speaking, so perhaps this song is to be viewed from the perspective of an Uruk Hai returning 'home' from war rather than from the perspective of a member of the Fellowship...?

Possibly due to (i) the lush packaging and (ii) the presence of Vinterriket this release has received a number of reviews online. With the interests of balance in mind, here are a few to give you a fair impression of this release:

"Vinterriket (literally translated ‘The Winter Realm‘) is dark and ambient metal band hailing from neighbouring Germany. Their music is most about nature, landscapes, seasons etc. and much in a black metal style. 'Ira Deorum Obliviorum' is a Latin title for this release containing not just those aforementioned German giants, but also Uruk Hai from Austria, whom I have never heard of before prior to the listening of this material. Third band featured here are Poland’s dark ambient black combo called Nak’Kiga.This music reminds me most of a tribal/war anthems creating this special chilly and deadly atmosphere filled with excitement and fear of dead. The sound is great [and] mind that this CDR is released in ... only 100 hand numbered copies. Sound and whole production part is professional and sounding fresh, so there’s absolutely no reason why you should not try to obtain your own copy of this rather unique and until now unheard material."

"This record is completely addictive and gives you the same type of guilty pleasure you feel while trying to walk through a real haunted house. you know its so bad but you just cant stop. Uruk Hai, plays music that should have been matched as the soundtrack to the movies these mythical beasts emerge from "The Lord Of The Rings". Uruk Hai places you in the middle of a land filled with magic, chaos, and beyond belief imagination. You will be catapulted right into the fight for middle earth! Nak'Kigai is the musical equivalent of a medieval fight to the finish. The soundtrack for the soul of a Knights Life. Spellbinding split, you will not be able to turn this off."

www.brutalism.com

"Uruk-hai is next with his unique ambient mixture based off of the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Here we find ourselves on Mount Doom where we are no doubt hearing the whispers of Sauron himself. This is a beautiful example of extremely minimal ambient that can still manage to tell a story without dialogue. Hugin has always been a master of this ever since the early demo days in 2000, and has come a long, long way since the cheesey casio recordings. Around 12 minutes into the track we get to begin hearing what I believe is Hugin's strongest attribute as a musician: His ability to create realistic styled chanting. I am not sure who would be taking over this roll in the literary since, certainly not the orcs, but it creates quite the atmosphere regardless. Beautifully done."

www.heathenharvest.com

Well, that probably says it all very succinctly - far better than my fevered scribblings I'm sure.

Uruk Hai fans will be well aware of the track 'Mount Doom' as it's popped up a couple of times elsewhere, both oddly enough in 2005: on the "War Poems" release, and subsequently on the "Northern Lights" album. This release in 2006 was the third time in two years that the song found its way onto a unique release, but hey - if it's a good 'un, why not?!

A great track for running late at night, either as background music whilst working on something (a Blog, perhaps....?) or simply for lying in bed in the dark to enjoy. There are plenty of moments to savour, from the mysterious distant snarled vocals at about 11:30 in, to the chanting phase (in fact, an amalgamation/reprise of the song "Ancient Pride" from 'War Poems'), with all the swirling and gorgeous synths that you should expect from a quality release from this project.

My copy of this release is #6 of the 100 made, and I notice that it is sold out at the label (http://www.oldtemple.com/) which is a shame, as few seem to come onto the market elsewhere. Although you can probably find the song elsewhere (as you will be able to find Vinterriket's "Stille" tracks, which seem to be his primary contribution to many compilations) the packaging is really, really nice and well worth a home in your collection for that reason alone. Keep on looking....

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

SCHWARZES JERUSALEM

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Schwarzes Jerusalem
Format: Split CDr release with Austrian Black Metal band Elymas, released in DVD-case format by Smell The Stench (Australia), 2006. Elymas tracks recorded 1999, Bonemachine tracks between 2002 and 2006. Cover design by Hugin.
Edition: CDr pressing presumed unlimited

Track Listing:
Elymas
01. Intro
02. I Wear The Crown Of Malkuth
03. Satanic Soul
04. With The Smell From Hell
Bonemachine
05. Schall & Rauch 8.00
06. Die 4. Dimension 0.58
07. Raserei (Klangniederschrift Eines Krieges In 2 Akten) 7.36
08. Endzeitensturm 8.16
09. Flucht Nach Vor! 2.27
10. Akustische Impressionen Der Letzten Grossen Schlacht 5.30

As with previous split albums, I'm not going to cover the Elymas element of this 'Stench release in any great detail. Suffice to say, it's Black Metal from the Austrian horde (also of Linz) and is perfectly listenable stuff. I think the band may be largely dormant now, although there's an interesting website at http://www.elymas.at/ if you fancy a look.

Onto the Bonemachine tracks, and great balls of fire - this is some good stuff! What you have on offer here is a tale of two parts: industrial hell, and catchy industrial rock. There are a couple of 'noise' based tracks scattered across the album: "Die 4. Dimension" is an minimalist industrial noise piece reminiscent of the inner workings of a machine, whilst "Flucht Nach Vor!" has a somewhat more "industrial sci-fi" feel to it, with its laser-percussion effects.

The final track is connected to the 2006 film "The Nebula Dawn" by Yves Steichen and takes as its core theme the sampled sounds of war - air raid sirens, the whistle and detonation of falling bombs, the heavy machine gun fire of chain-fed guns, the screams of the victims of the conflict as they fall. I'll update this part of the Blog once I get a handle on whether this music featured as part of the film soundtrack, or was influenced by the film: there is a link on the film's web-page (http://nebula.kml.lu/) to the now-defunct Uruk Hai pages at Dragonsbreath.tv so clearly there is a connection here somewhere! Watch this space....

For me the highlight of the whole album are the three remaining tracks, which - with the right record company support - could lead to a couple of cracking single releases. "Schall and Rauch" kicks off with a short piece of big-band radio show music before morphing into a time-based motif (lots of ticking clocks, pseudo Floyd stuff) and orchestral build-up before...BLAAM! We're in the midst of a Bonemachine track with lyrics! And not just any old track, but a well-constructed and downright catchy one, with deep spoken word German vocals adding a sense of drama and menace to the overall song. Some really clever complementary samples in this one too, including haunting synths and female vocals that emphasise the chorus very nicely.

"Raserei" also has a similar spoken vocal approach, and also benefits from having a synth melody in the background near to the chorus that the mighty Summoning could have written, effective and atmospheric as it is. Again, a great mix of sound and samples, including the triggering of the chorus (pun intended) by the cocking and firing of a breech-action rifle. Also interesting with this song is the initial frantic riff and melody, which is very much in the spirit of the ska-new wave bass-lines of the early 80s!

"Endzeitensturm" is a notable song in that the first half is based on a 'laser-shot' rhythm and simple drum beat, before the latter half of the song changes mood completely and develops into a pseudo-cathedral sounding environment with haunting vocals in the background underscored by a piano. Very cool, and quite unexpected, and actually quite haunting in its nature...it's almost a little war requiem in its own right.

This CDr version from Leigh at 'Stench compliments a limited and numbered cassette tape version from Alex's W.A.R. Studio called "Zeit", which adds a bonus track to the songs list above plus another new song on the b-side of the tape. I'll be posting a separate Blog entry on this tape in due course.

Overall, a high quality Bonemachine release that I would wholly recommend to any fan of this genre. Drop Leigh an email at smellthestench@yahoo.com.au and invest the few quid that it needs to purchase this split album - a definite winner.

Monday, 6 April 2009

"We interrupt this Blog for a special announcement.."


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALEX

I don't think Nazgul is letting an arcane secret out of the bag by revealing that Mr Wieser - the principal subject of this Blog - reaches a significant moment on Tuesday 7th April 2009 by attaining his 40th year!

Readers will appreciate that the need for this Blog would not exist without the hard work, dedication and vision of this wonderful Austrian musician - pictured above (and a small prize is on offer for any of the followers of these missives to identify the release in question from whence it comes...), so let Nazgul be one of the first to proclaim "Barbarian Birthday Hailz" to Alex for the 7th, and for many more birthdays to come.

Joining me in honouring the guru of Pagan Battle Music I also am grateful to Leigh from Smell the Stench, who passed me the following to post:

"Hails Alex,
Hi mate, hope ya b.day is a great one and you have many more to come
thanks for the support over the years n friendship ya mate Leigh (smell the stench)"


and Padre Adamo, who sent the following greeting:

"Happy Birthday Alex!We met a few years ago and you helped me start my record label. I was a fan of Uruk-Hai and your projects and talking to you was and is a true honor. I do not have the record label anymore, but you will always be my friend and more importantly, my brother. We started MANWE together and even though we lost touch for some time. We are BACK! I truly believe that we will be lifelong friends and I hope one day to visit Austria and wish you a true in-person Happy Birthday. But, for now, this will have to do. Happy Birthday Brother! May you have many more years of happiness and may your valour continue! Cheers brother! - Adam Padre Adamo"


Have a great day, Alex

Nazgul

Thursday, 2 April 2009

HREFNESVINTER


Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Hrefnesvinter
Format: Original release on cassette tape in 2001 and released by Hallucination 'Zine (Portugal), catalogue reference HZ013. The track has subsequently been re-mastered into a 36 minute version and pressed on CD on the 'best of/compilation' release "Rabentanz", Smell The Stench (Australia), 2005.
Edition: Cassette in unnumbered pressing of 1000
Track Listing:
01. Hrefnesvinter:
(i) Epilogue-Hrefnesholt Part 1 02:22
(ii) Glorie Draconis 07:12
(iii) Hrefnesvinter 14:45
(iv) Marsch Zu Neuen Zeitaltern 03:54
(v) Prologue-Hrefnesholt Part 2 01:22

Well, it's been a while since we had a Hrefnesholt item on this Blog, so how fitting that we find here the original demo from 2001 of "Hrefnesvinter". I've been listening to both the original tape version and the re-mastered track, so comments that follow apply to both versions. It must be said that the 2005 version is definitely the superior in sound quality terms, and has been expanded beyond the original in most beneficial ways. Past readers will know that I do enjoy it when Alex revisits older material and gives them a contemporary 'lift' and this particular track is no exception to that rule!

The presentation of the original tape is actually very good - a cracking black and white illustration of a dragon swooping over mountainous crags on the cover courtesy of 'Heidi', and a professional inlay from Hallucination (with a full-length rear cover, which I always think looks cool - see photo above to see what I mean) with a cool photo of the man himself suitably armed with medieval weaponry.

Happily this is still pretty available online - type the album name into Google and you'll come across a number of distros advertising both the tape and CD versions and for piffling sums, perhaps $3 or €4 for the tape - so well worth doing a bit of shopping to avail yourself of this little gem.

"The 'Hrefnesvinter' release is essentially a lengthy song in 5 'chapters', and each has its own musical nuances and flavour. One online comment called it "minimalist ambient warfare", which is rather good actually so I'm appropriating that description as my own from this point on. Another very sensible online review (step forward the Resenas site) ran this description:

"It is almost impossible to describe this, this project created by Hugin of Hrossharsgrani and Uruk Hai is very similar to that he makes in Hross'... music based on epic fantasies, using samples of movies, of battles, and ... sounds and atmospheres that recreate in your mind those visions of dead and fantastic worlds, a trip toward the magic side of the old Europe, indescribable but interesting!!!"

And there, in a nutshell, you have the essence of this ambient experience. Heavily dominated by synthesisers and keyboards, some effective wind and rain sampled interludes, the odd burst of energetic female vocals, and a genuine trip for your imagination. Again, and I've said it before, you can't really expect to listen to this sort of music and have it do all the work for you in terms of giving you a catchy chorus or a riff you can hum on the way to work, and I'm certainly not going to try and describe the entirety of the piece to you here. Folks, it's music to stimulate your own imagination, to leave you to finish the canvass that the piece starts for you. Lazy listeners need not apply....!

So, the bottom line is this. The tape version (slightly muddier in sound) is the single track 'Hrefnesvinter', the CD version (and yes, I'll be covering that in due course in another Blog) offers a superior re-mastered sound plus other tracks, and both are accessible via various distros on this wonderful Inter-web thingy that we're all connected to. So - Nazgul commands you: go forth and spend your hard-earned on these treasures.....