Wednesday, 30 September 2009

AUFRECHT IM TRUBEN SCHLAMM DER ZEIT

Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Aufrecht Im Truben Schlamm Der Zeit (Literally: Upright In The Muddy Slime of Time)
Format: Split CDr release with N.Strahl. N coming in a mini-DVD style case on the Tosom Label (Germany) from 2008, catalogue reference TOSOM37. Comes with three inlay cards (one for each band, one with edition number). Total running time 54 minutes.
Edition: Limited and numbered to 150 copies only

Track Listing:

01. N.STRAHL.N * Im Trüben fischen
02. N.STRAHL.N * Bergen und Brechen
03. N.STRAHL.N * Halten und Walten
04. B-MACHINA * Zeitgeist

An intriguing release from these two bands, on the German Tosom (www.tosom.de) which are a new label to me but who package their products very nicely and who have a very readable webpage to boot.

Indeed, their own description of this release is a useful starting point to forming an impression of it:

"This is the fourth TOSOM release with the name of N.STRAHL.N on it. And I hope this will be not the last one. This time with a split release with B-MACHINA from Austria, which is the new name for the Industrial act BONEMACHINE. Both are very busy projects with many releases and both have in the past created fantastic sounds and music that I don't want to miss. 3 tracks by N.STRAHL.N, with a total time of 29 minutes, using field recordings to created again his own music world. B-MACHINA with a 25 minute Ambient Industrial track."

And "ambient industrial" has to be about the only description that this B-Machina track could fall under. Not in any way harsh nor discordant, it lulls the listener along with some fairly gentle industrial touches and a murky, slightly underwater feel for the ambient part. Indeed, some of the early part of the 'Zeitgeist' track put me in mind of playing the original Pac-Man arcade game whilst submerged in a builders skip brimming with water!

Rather helpfully Tosom also put some internet reviews of their releases on their web-pages, which has saved Nazgul a little legwork to bring you some other views of this release. Most are in German, however, which is to be expected but sadly my translation abilities can go somewhat awol on these occasions. Here, therefore, is the sole English commentary, from the post 648 of the Vital Weekly webzine:

"N.Strahl N. has had a couple of releases, among others on Tosom, and here he teams up with B-Machina, whom we knew before as Bone Machine. Its a split release, with N. Strahl N. doing three tracks, lasting almost thirty minutes and B-Machina one track of about twenty-five minutes. M. Lohr, the person behind N. Strahl N. has come some way to move out of his noisy, industrial textures and now cooks up something that is much more interesting. Build on the foundations of field recordings, machine hum and water dripping, but also the repeating beating of laundry in the machine. His take on field recordings is quite different from the usual stuff in the field (pun intended). More 'industrial' than his peers, and more into the beautiful ugliness of sounds around. B-Machina plays one piece of twenty-five minutes dealing with synthesizers and tape-loops of an unidentified rhythmic nature. Its nice, but throughout there is not much variation to be spotted in this piece, making it unnecessary long and minimal for the wrong reasons."

The ever reliable Club-Debil website also venture a view (and hold onto your hats, Nazgul's going into babel-fish mode):

"On this sound-recording, B-Machina (Bonemachine) and N.S.N [investigate] its zeitgeist characterizing the subject of time by the example of the current period. Two quotations - one from the English author and Science Fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, the other from Goethe, show immediately what the artists of purported zeitgeist hold. The sounds that these thoughts illustrates is typical for both projects ... B Machina presents itself a "more fully" in the sound with an ongoing synthetic background. Differences to N.S.N are to be assessed actually only in an exact listening, it does not make for a "hard" transition between both projects."

Hmmmm.....not sure that actually made a lot of sense, but that's elementary German for you!

Not being in the least bit abashed to plough this furrow to the end, the well known German review site, Kulturterrorismus, says of the release "B-Machina (this time only represented through Alex, without Max) produce the 25 minute piece 'zeitgeist' with a tightly atmospheric path that may be called 'rhythmic drones'. The easy monotony within 'Zeitgeist', which the Drone style entails, the balances through an emotionally impressive mood."

But now my brain aches! Perhaps not the catchiest tune in the world, but for the concept at large and within the tendencies of the genre, a highly enjoyable piece of background ambient assault!

Nazgul was delighted to receive this signed and dedicated copy (#20 of the 150) directly from the hand of Hugin himself.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

UBER DAS PRINZIP DER UNSCHULD



Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Uber Das Prinzip Der Unschuld
Format: Released as a digipak CD (in a normal edition, and a limited edition with bonus 3" CDr "Lesungen Zum Prinzip Der Unschuld") by Beverina (Latvia) in 2007, cat ref bp050, and in a cassette-tape pressing on the Sabbathid Records label (Japan), cat ref hoof035. The tape version has a extra track on it, but a shorter, changed running order.
Edition: Standard digipak CD in pressing of 500, with the limited edition with bonus disc only running to 25 copies. Tape pressing was limited to only 100 unnumbered copies.

Track Listing:

CD pressing:
1. Intro: Agonie (oder der Übergang in’s Nachtreich)
2. Ein Traum in einem Traum
3. Folterqualen der inneren Hölle
4. Morella
5. Das vorzeitige Begräbnis
6. Die Glocken
7. Outro: Der Eintritt des Todes

Tape pressing:

Side A
1. Intro: Agonie (oder der Übergang in’s Nachtreich)
2. Ein Traum in einem Traum
3. Folterqualen der inneren Hölle
4. Das Ovale Portrait (cassette-only track)
5. Outro
Side B
6. Morella

If this title seems vaguely familiar to you, then it's probably because we've indirectly come across this particular release before - the limited edition 3"CDr bonus disc was reviewed back on 13th March 2009, whilst the different version of "Morella" (with vocals) released by Canadian manic Keegan Irvine through his S*F*M label was covered on 2nd June 2009. Here, however, we get a chance to consider the full album "Uber Das Prinzip Der Unschold" (loosely translated as "The Principle Of Innocence").

You might recall that Nazgul was pretty effusive for the 'Morella' track back in June, noting that it was "a glorious slap in the face for all those who thought that Hugin would never progress beyond the early "bedroom days" of self-produced DIY demos.....this is a fabulous song from a fabulous album, and for all nay-sayers out there who thought it could never have come to pass I encourage you to seek this out and digest it with a healthy portion of humble pie."

Well, you won't be surprised to learn on the basis of that comment that the entirety of this full-length release is of equally high-quality, and really does come recommended to listeners who fancy a more relaxing and uplifting performance. However, it's not just Nazgul who is giving this review praise, oh dear me no. Let's consider the review of this release at the acclaimed Heathen Harvest website:

"Yes, [Metal Archive] says they play black metal, but with this release the band took a complete turn in their musical journey, and create music in the regions of neoclassical, martial and ambient. One of the band members however might ring a bell here and there. Alex Wieser, who is also known as Hugin, also creates or created music in Uruk-Hai, Folkearth, and several other projects. For the second track on this disc the familiar poem 'A Dream Within A Dream' by Edgar Allan Poe has been used, in a German translation. The song starts off with a dramatic and melancholic neoclassic tune before it turns into nice epic martial music. The song fades to thunder, before the first melancholic neoclassical tune starts again, now immediately accompanied by a vocalist saying the poem. This combination is continued until the song fades out, with some more thunder.

Besides this track, the only other track that has vocals is the second one. This track is substantially longer, nearly twice as long as the first one, and begins again with thunder and a martial tune that sounds very similar to the one from the previous track. It's not strange to think one is listening to the very same song still. The performance of the vocalist, Seigor, is very powerful, and I would like to hear more of him. If one needs to have someone to read poems out loud to music, this guy is a recommendation. The following three songs are musical interpretations by U.B. of some more of Edgar Allan Poe works. The first two are two short horror stories, which is of course a perfect setting to create dramatic neo-classical music for.

Even though 'Morella' is nearly 30 minutes long, and 'De Glocken' 22 minutes, they have plenty of variation to not become too boring ... It's good music to have in the background, and probably even better when you're familiar with Edgar Allan Poe's works that have inspired the songs on this album.

Overall, it's a pretty good start for this band in the neoclassical area of music. If they improve, and make something that's more suitable for actively listening, this can be indeed very promising. The creativity is there, and so is the ability to produce a coherent release within a theme (Edgar Allan Poe). Keep an eye on this band..."

Which is all fair enough - this is by no means a 'metal' album but by golly it's a spectacular piece of music overall, and if you're not adverse to some contagious piano melodies and Edgar Allen Poe atmospherics you really ought to give it a try. Indeed, copies are still available from the official distributor www.evildist.com including (at todays date at least) their very last copy of the limited edition version too, which is probably the only place you'll find it now.

Cold Spring Records provided the following on the CD version of this album:

"The 14th release of this Austrian act. "Is there a desire to live a life after you awoke? Do you wish to flee? Are you strong enough to be your dream? Are you ready to give up what you think is reality? Can you leave behind your faith and to focus the light of your eyes on perception. You must be willing to learn to live again and to bear the pain of thousands of aeons. Pain will be a friend on your side. You will bring death to your loved ones and this will be the sin of your love." 80 minutes of Neoclassical, Martial and Ambient music with medieval elements. Limited to 500 copies in an elegant gold digipak. Very reminiscent of Von Thronstahl and Blood Axis in places."

Very, very different from most other releases that Alex has had a hand in, but regrettably it appears that the Elisabetha project may now be defunct. That would be a great shame, for whether or not this neo-classical interpretation of the band was a commercial success the quality of the musicianship shines through. Still, like all good vampires, perhaps this one is just sleeping at the moment....

Saturday, 26 September 2009

URUK HAI > Mystic Forest magnetic poster

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Mystic Forest
Format: A4 sized magnetic poster, created by Hugin in 2008
Edition: Only 3 made

Well, something a little different for you today. This is a very limited run magnetic poster called "Mystic Forest" which came in a vanishingly small quantity of 3 units worldwide back in around May 2008. Perfect for advertising the good name of Uruk Hai on your fridge, or even for use as a mouse-mat should you feel so inclined.

It has a similar artistic feel to the Uruk Hai / Moloch split release "Vereint durch die Kraft uralter Wälder" also released in 2008 (and yet to be covered in HonourAndDarkness....but fear not, it's coming). Some of those photos were taken (so Metal Archives helpfully tells me) by Pr.Sergiy (Sergiy Gordiuk) in the forest of Ploskyriv in the Ukraine, so perhaps there's a link or perhaps not. Either way, any fan of trees and woodland (count me in!) will like this creation.

And have you ever seen another one? One of the rarer items in Nazgul's burgeoning collection..!

Friday, 25 September 2009

TRUMMER AUS STEIN


Band: HEIMATLEID
Title: Trummer Aus Stein (literally 'debris from stone')
Format: Cassette tape only release on the Chanteloup Creations label (France) in 1999, no catalogue reference, with 2 bonus tracks. An original 7 track version may also exist via Irrlichter Distro (Germany). Colour photocopied fold-out inlay, tracks recorded at Hugin's W.A.R. studios in June and July 1999.
Edition: Only 100 hand-numbered copies of this particular version

Track Listing:

Side A
01. Heimatleyd (intro) 7.57
02. Trummer Aus Stein 8.16
03. Wittverg 6.34
04. Asgard 3.35 (Chanteloup Creations bonus track)
Side B
05. Steine 10.15
06. Heil Dem Volke 4.04
07. Weit Entfernt 5.22
08. Nach Britania 2.31
09. Steine II 4.01 (Chanteloup Creations bonus track)

Well, here's something of a celebratory Blog entry! It's rare that new projects from Alex come to light, as his 'main' bands and projects will be well known to you all. Recently Nazgul was proud to publish a piece on Alex's Grindcore project Guts For Dinner and their sole demo, and here Nazgul is equally proud to unveil to the world the Heimatleid project, of which little is written anywhere in cyberspace as yet.

Careful reading of the B-Machina MySpace pages (http://www.myspace.com/warandtime) shows that in the 'General Info' section it is recorded under the band's history the following: "Founded: 1999 known as HEIMATLEID from 2001 BONEMACHINE now B-MACHINA Style: Mediaeval Industrial". On this basis one might reasonably suppose that this project would be playing music akin to that found on early Bonemachine releases, such as "Destination: Hell" and others. But wait, dear readers, for you would be wrong in such musings, as was Nazgul when he first received this tape and also made such an assumption.

It might be timely here to note for the record that the existence of this tape in Nazgul's clutches is a direct result of the kindness of two individuals specifically: Firstly, Skogen (founder of Chanteloup Creations) who very patiently dug this tape (and others) out of his archive for Nazgul following a pleasant exchange of emails, and also Hugin himself who unselfishly traded with Skogen to obtain it and then was kind enough to forward it to Nazgul for his collection. Gentlemen and scholars, both!

What you do get on this 9 track tape is what is, to all intents and purposes sonically speaking, something equivalent to a long-lost Hrossharsgrani demo! All of the same elements are there - the pounding symphony of the war-drum percussion, the unexpected interlude of piano and strings, the deep and gruff vocals so typical of early Hross' material, and that panoply of synthesiser, both melodious and apparently discordant all at one and the same time.

This probably should come as no surprise, for on one of the very earliest Hross' demos - "Feuer & Eis" from May-June 1999 - the lead-off track is none other than one called 'Heimatleid'...

Very few of these must still be around I'd wager - this is #17 of the 100 - as Skogen had but this one copy left and I've never seen one anywhere online or otherwise before it turned up. Oh, should you be wondering, Hugin's dedication on the front of the cassette case reads "The old castle of Wildberg near Linz".

The bottom line is that if you enjoy the raw, early releases of Hrossharsgrani (circa "Kampf", "Krieg" or "Lieder Aus Mittelerde") then you - like Nazgul - will think this long-lost demo to be the bee's knees. Heimatleid the project (which literally translates as 'Homeland Sorrow', or something of that nature) is a remnant from history of a style of pagan art that is well worth hearing, and which is certainly worth celebrating more widely. Let the good word spread!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

NACHTKRIEG



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nachtkrieg
Format: CD pressing on the Dungeons Deep label (USA), cat ref DDR012, released in 2009. A split album with US Black Metal horde Forgotten Land, whose sole member Lord Tetrarch (aka Lord Raven) is the owner of the Dungeons Deep label.
Edition: Presumed unlimited, no edition number visible or advertised

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
1. Blood of Heroes 29.39

Forgotten Land
2. Nachtkrieg 11.52
3. 2911 Fell Winter 4.38
4. The Silent Tombe 9.15
5. At the Gates of Internal Sadness 9.52


Gather ye round, friends of HonourAndDarkness, and listen to the tale that old uncle Nazgul has to tell about this release. Quite the obscure and hard to find release it is too, but not because of the usual restrictions on quantities pressed, nor because of it being an old and long unavailable item. Oh no, my friends, there is a longer and darker tale associated with this album, so charge your glasses, pull your chairs nearer the fire, and listen on....

You see, the only place this split CD was advertised for sale when released in January 2009 was through the Dungeons Deep website itself. Alex had not received his copies yet from Lord Tetrarch when Nazgul enquired after a copy, so taking the initiative your scribe contacted the label through their web-shop in February, sent off his $20 for the CD plus shipping, and sat in a state of suppressed excitement awaiting the arrival of his new acquisition. And he waited, and he waited....and he emailed Lord Tetrarch a few times (and was told a few plausible stories about delays due to house moves)....and he waited a little longer...and, well - you can see where this is going. In short, nothing ever arrived, no refund was ever offered or received, vague promises of items in the post turned to emails not being answered, and then a cold ominous silence descended. Many months had passed, Alex still had not received any CDs either, and all seemed pretty hopeless.

Quite by chance during this period, the only internet review of the album Nazgul had seen was written (by a certain 'GiganticBrain') for the Spirit of Metal website. Nazgul resolved to try to contact said author to see if he had a spare copy for sale, and whilst sleuthing for a contact address happened to come across the same chap on www.discogs.com with - you guessed it - his copy of this CD advertised for sale.

Following a good few emails and a well negotiated trade for both sides, some of Nazgul's treasured spare copies of Alex's work were winging their way across the Atlantic and in return not only did this CD arrive as promised, but also a copy of the earlier Forgotten Land debut "Ancient Runic Sorcery" on which Alex contributed the first track. A pair of rare finds indeed.

Nazgul is delighted to note that GiganticBrain is now a member of this Blog, albeit it under a different 'nom de plume', and once again offers his grateful thanks for the kind trade that led to this particular release finally arriving in the UK.

Now, to be fair, Nazgul's experience at the hands of Lord Tetrarach many well not be typical. Indeed, my trading partner clearly has had some massively productive trades with both the individual and the label, so I'd not want to lead you to the biased conclusion that Lord Tetrarch is a scallywag who'll run off with your hard-earned cash. Perhaps there were/are mitigating circumstances, and Nazgul would be delighted to hear from any readers with positive tales to tell if you too have tried to purchase this CD from Dungeons Deep. Nazgul merely speaks as he found, and with the notable exception of the 'Brain experience aside, the episode did leave a bad taste in the mouth....

So let us consider more wholesome matters - the 'Blood of Heroes' track from Uruk Hai. Despite its 2009 release, the song in fact dates from 2005 and spans a solid 30 minutes or so in length. Compositionally therefore, this fits into the discography around about the "Northern Lights" or "War Poems" era, although to these ears it's a much more sombre and measured piece of music than found on other releases of similar vintage.

Let Nazgul refer you to the words from the original Spirit Of Metal review, which depicted a story of the split CD telling the tale of a battle from outset to bloody conclusion:

"I really loved the atmosphere of Uruk Hai's track. It was very light and not necessarily happy, but certainly not depressing ... we move into the aftermath of this violent war with the epic ambient band Uruk Hai. The army served up vengeance to the other, with minimal losses on their side. This song describes it all with its title “Blood of Heroes”. This is the feast prepared for the warriors when they return home. The setting is a warm spring night, and the air is filled with content and festivity...."

Indeed, the Uruk Hai track does convey this sense of a panoramic survey of a battlefield interspersed only with occasional bird-song and other ambient touches, ending with the gently rolling waves of a distant shoreline cleansing the soul and the ground of spilled blood. This is an entirely synthesised song - no guitar, no vocals, no percussion, lots of slow atmospheric build and layers of sound and 'emotion'. And by golly, it works like a charm.

Whilst we're at it, let Nazgul clear up a slight misconception on the Metal Archives site in relation to this CD. It states on the Uruk Hai pages that this "is Uruk Hai's last official release". Not true, as evidenced by subsequent releases in 2009 being issued. What the inlay of "Nachtkrieg" does actually say is that "It will be one of Uruk Hai's last releases of many", an understandable misunderstanding (if you see what I mean).

An excellent piece of ambient music - minimalist, almost spartan in nature yet replete with emotion and redolent with charm and panache. Let us just hope that a few more people get the chance to actually hear the bloody thing.

And Mr Fritts - if you're reading this, Nazgul would still like his $20 back, please.....

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

WE WORSHIP...volume 2 [V/A]

Band: Compilation featuring both URUK HAI and ELISABETHA
Title: We Worship...underground black metal compilation vol. 2
Format: Double CDr pressing through 3 Bulgarian labels (AMF Productions, Vogort Zine, & CF Productions) with 33 bands featured, representing a variety of countries including Bulgaria, Russia, Austria, Poland, Finland, Italy, Portugal and the USA.
Edition: Not known - presumed unlimited

Track Listing:
Of the 33 tracks on offer, the relevant songs are:

CD1, track 15: Elisabetha * Transilvanischer Hunger 07.27

CD2, track 7: Uruk Hai * Nebelberge pt. 7 & 8 08.12

Very often the problem with compilation releases is that they contain tracks you've heard many times before, representing solid work from the artist in question but ultimately only existing as collectors' fodder or manna from heaven to newcomers to a genre. For casual fans, they can represent poor value for money as you may already have the song in question on another release and have little inclination or available funds to stump up for it a second time.

On this - the second instalment in the "We Worship" series - the problem is neatly overcome for once, and as such it makes rather a good item to own and enjoy regardless of the fact that only 2 of the 33 songs on the album get any form of regular airtime on Nazgul's death-deck.

What we have here in fact are two unique songs from both Elisabetha on disc one, and Uruk Hai on disc 2, neither being available in this format elsewhere (including, surprisingly enough, on the 3CD collection of rarities that is Elisabetha's "Eternal Deathvastation" release). Cause for celebration indeed!

The Elisabetha track is "an unreleased Darkthrone cover" states the inlay, and not only that it adds a couple of minutes to the original Darkthrone version through the addition of a typically Elisabetha narrative interplay at both the outset and end of the track. It takes some guts to fiddle around with a 'classic' track in this manner, but not being a particular expert in the field of things Darkthrone I enjoyed this interpretation enormously. It's also a welcome poke in the eye to those who continually moan about Elisabetha not being a 'proper' black metal band - play this one loudly in the direction of those critics!

Somewhat more ambient in nature (and a refreshing change of pace from the non-stop blast-beats of the second disc of this compilation) comes Uruk Hai with their 'Nebelberge pt. 7&8' track, quoted again on the inlay as a "promo version to the forthcoming Uber Die Nebelberge Weit CD". As with all good intentions, this release may well have morphed into something else as it's not an album that old Nazgul is aware of....

This track is very much in the vein of the Uruk Hai songs from "Across the Misty Mountains..." release - slow and thought-provoking synthesisers, epic keyboard flourishes, tinkling bells and light percussion, and evoking an atmosphere of olden times and weary travellers making their way around Middle Earth.

It does sit rather incongruously in with the rest of the album mind you, and you've no sooner relaxed amidst its tranquil arias then it's followed by a hell of a racket from Finnish hooligans Arsonist Lodge, which is guaranteed to jolt you back from your mental trip to the harsh realities of life!

I've no idea if this release is readily available anywhere online, though I suspect some diligent hunting would track one down somewhere. It would be well worth the effort too, both for these unique tracks and the addition of an excellent track from Finnish band Nest.

VETERAN


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Veteran (Eines Zukunftigen Krieges)
Format: Cassette-tape only release on the W.A.R. Productions label (Austria) in 2006, no catalogue reference. Tape came with mini-cover insert card, and is wrapped around with a signed seal showing edition number (which is also shown on the reverse flap).
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 30 copies only

Track Listing:

01. Heimatleid

02. Strahlung: Positiv

Yet another limited edition Bonemachine tape that has no other point of reference on the Internet. Try a Google search, or have a look at your usual reference points online. Zip. Diddly-squat. Nothing. Happily Nazgul is here to right this wrong, and to bring into the glare of the public spotlight this small offering from 2006.

Only two tracks on offer, the first of which is the seemingly ubiquitous track from Bonemachine in 2006, 'Heimatleid", previously reviewed in the coverage given to "Endzeit" and "Soldat" in this Blog. Once more, however, I fancy that this version is subtly different from its counterparts on other releases, although it's one of those songs that the more you listen to it the more variety you hear within it.

Second track "Strahlung: Positiv" barrels along in a wake of Geiger-counters, percussive effects and a cloud of post-annihilation radioactive toxins, and fulfils the Bonemachine mantra of compelling yet entirely indescribable music. Job done.

A super little collectable this (my copy is #19 of the 30) and as Nazgul thought the sash effect wrapped around the case to be rather iconic it's quite surprising that we've not seen it making a reappearance since then. Ah well, Nazgul likes this small unique touches of creativity - witness the circuit board cover to the Bonemachine/Novasek split release.

Monday, 21 September 2009

REIGN OF THE FALLEN ONE


Band: Dark Domination (featuring Hugin)
Title: Reign Of The Fallen One
Format: CD pressing on the Sabbathid Records label (Japan), released 2008 , catalogue reference hoof051. The intro and outro tracks were composed by Hugin, with the remainder of the EP being the work of Latvian Black Metal horde Dark Domination
Edition: Unknown, presumed unlimited

Track Listing:

01. Venus Rising (Hugin) 1.11
02. Astral World 5.03
03. Spiritual Alchemy 5:09
04. Dance of Succubus 1:09
05. In the Name of the Horned God 4:36
06. Reign of the Fallen One 4:42
07. Angel Enthroned (Hugin) 1:12

There's a well known aphorism that states "time flies when your having fun". Also true is that time flies when you've been busy, and Nazgul holds up his hand to plead extenuating circumstances that has led to the HonourAndDarkness Blog not being updated for rather a long time. Indeed, it was only this evening when an email arrived from an honoured German reader of this missive, with only a partly tongue-in-cheek remark along the lines of "get your finger out, you lazy sod". And so, without further ado, Nazgul has sprung into action with an update before another evening passes by to sate the ravenous demand of his readership...

What better place to catch up once again than with something unusual? This EP on the Japanese Sabbathid Records label is the most recent release from this Latvian band, and features 2 short intro and outro tracks from our hero Hugin, or "Hugin from Uruk Hai" as the inlay fondly describes him.

The mastermind behind this band is one Lord Messir, who Nazgul approached a while back with the intent of capturing some of his thoughts for this very post. How providential it was, therefore, to receive a reply from him this evening, just in time to avoid Nazgul being further roasted for his tardiness!

And so, without further ado, a brief Blog exclusive interview with Lord Messir about this particular release:

Q1. Can you tell me a little about Dark Domination - it's origin and beliefs?
A1. Hell! So…. DD is Latvian BM band since 1998. At the moment we are one of oldest bands in LV. The main thing from the beginning of band creation was to be in opposition to the christian church! And also we try to show our point of view about dark themes and occultism.

Q2. When did you first come across Alex's music?
A2. A friend from EvilDistro gave me his CD of project Elisabetha.

Q3. Which project of his (Uruk Hai, B-Machina, Hrossharsgrani, etc etc) is your favourite, and do you have a favourite track / album of his?
A3. Unfortunately I don't know all his projects that well (he has so many), so I have no competence to make any comments about that.

Q4. How did the plan to record together happen?
A4. After I got his CD, I ask my friends to ask Alex, maybe he want to record synth on our album? Alex answered that he had no time for that, but he agreed to make the intro/outro

Q5. How did the 2 tracks he contributed to your album come to be - did you give him a concept to work to, or did he compose with you?
A5. Yes, I told him a little bit of the concept for the album, & he sent some material from his studio.

Q6. Are you planning to record anything further together?
A6. Yes. I have one my unfinished project, for a long time. I asked Alex 1.5 years ago about his interest join to that project, he was agreeable, but some troubles delayed things….. At the moment we do not make any steps on this way, but I still hope that all will happen.

Q7. What would you say about Alex and/or his work for the benefit of the HonourAndDarkness blog readers?
A7. Well, Alex is some kind of legend in that kind of music. I wish him all the best with health, with family, and a lot of success in music!


What a splendid fellow, and Nazgul thanks to Lord Messir for taking the time and trouble to answer his email.

As for the tracks themselves, well they are notably brief and fall into the mould of eerie synthesiser and echoing percussion prevalent that create a suitably unsettling initial atmosphere (and unsettling coda) for the rest of the album. By the way - the rest of the album is very enjoyable too, permeated with an evil intent and excellent musicianship that is well worth exploration.

Not the most common of CDs to find for sale but a search of the 'usual' distros should unearth a copy if you look hard enough. It's another string to the Hugin discography, this collaboration lark, and yet another reason for this Blog to exist....just to try to keep a record of all of this creative output, as it was one contribution that had passed me by rather until re-reading some of Alex's old emails the other evening. A salutary lesson indeed...!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

HROSSHARSGRANI > promotional flyers




Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
And what do we have here, Nazgul: A few promotional flyers advertising Hrossharsgrani releases

You've no idea how hard these sort of items are to find!?! What are essentially throw-away pieces of paper advertising releases for any early releases from any of Hugin's projects are like gold-dust to find as they all tended to be, well - thrown away. Such is the nature of publicity material - you either got it and discarded it, or looked at it and though "oooh, interesting..." and then discarded it. Such is the way of things.

Of course, deep in the vaults of W.A.R. there are doubtless stacks of promo-flyers and publicity material for all manner of projects and releases, but to find any out there in the big wide world has proven almost as tough as pinning down some of the most limited edition releases that Alex has issued.

Here are three of Nazgul's favourites - he happened to be rummaging through a box of his collectibles looking for something completely different, but as these surfaced from the depths it seemed a timely moment to celebrate some historical Hross' artefacts, especially as the "Krieg" demo has so recently been covered in this Blog.

And so, without more ado, let me introduce you to the three sheets of paper on display here, namely (in order of appearance):

  • the "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten" advertisement, hailing the band's 2nd CD featuring 6 tracks of "Barbarian Black Metal" at a price of US$14 (140ATS/20Dm in those halycon pre-Euro days);
  • the "Ancient Tales" flyer, promising (and delivering) "Black Viking Metal Hymns" for a mere US$17 (170ATS/25Dm/90FF); and
  • the almost impossible to find flyer for "Sagen & Gedichte" mCD - well, the CD itself is impossible to find now, let alone the flyer! - which retailed at the time at the bargain price of US$8 (80ATS/12Dm)

Oddly enough, it's promotional material that sometimes is the most prized in any collection, and Nazgul is no exception to this rule - it's those little things that can make a big difference!

So fellow fans of HonourAndDarkness - search those dark drawers and deep recesses of cupboards and desks: any such spare material for any of Alex's bands that you have old Uncle Nazgul desires from you...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

KRIEG


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Krieg
Format: Cassette-tape only release on the Chanteloup Creations label (France) from 1999 including one bonus track. Black & white photo-copied inlay, with hand-written edit for bonus track. Original 3 track release may have been on the Irrlichter Distro label (Germany) also 1999.
Edition: Chanteloup Creations version limited to 10 copies only
Track Listing:
01. Krieg
02. Mit Dem Schwerte
03. Schattenkrieger
04. Nachtmahr (Chanteloup Creations bonus track)

This 4 track tape release from the battle-machine Hrossharsgrani saw the light of day in 1999, and contains two tracks from the "Sagen & Gedichte" release of the same year plus 2 additional songs that seem to be unique to this release.

First things first, however: establishing this in the Hrossharsgrani discography! The dates of recording on the tape inlay show a recording period of 23/07/99 to 02/08/99 inclusive, whilst the CDr release "Sagen & Gedichte" records 23/07/99 to 24/08/99 inclusive. On this basis, it might seem reasonable to assess this tape as the earlier of the two releases, thus making it one of the very earliest Hrossharsgrani releases and one - certainly up until the date of this post - that has eluded the discography at the usually definitive Metal Archives site (though I'm fairly certain this will be put right shortly!)

The first two tracks on this release are from the "Sagen...." CDr demo, and are both familiar and as good as ever in that respect! Third track 'Schattenkrieger" is interesting, in as far as the title of course is that of the subsequent 2003 full-length Hross' release reviewed elsewhere in this Blog, and couldn't be more different from that style if it tried! This version kicks off with that famous John Carpenter piano score (although Nazgul is having a problem remembering whether it was from The Fog or from Halloween, but suffice to say it's tres cool whatever the film!) before launching into the sort of blood and guts Hrossharsgrani song that the album of the same name failed to deliver. I guess it's possibly the original inspiration for the 2003 release, but with all of the Hross' influences fully embedded.

There is a fourth track on this tape - the Chanteloup Creation's bonus addition of 'Nachtmahr'. Nazgul liked this short piece a lot, with its tasteful piano introduction and full-on in your face approach that follows. Nazgul remains intrigued to the translation of the spoken word part at the end of the track though....

The fact that this shows as a bonus track implies that there might well be a three-track version of the same "Krieg" demo out there somewhere.....as yet unknown?!

Great early Hrossharsgrani stuff though, and one tape that Nazgul is indebted to Alex for both digging it for him from the vaults of W.A.R. Productions and taking the time to dedicate on the cover.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

LAND OF THE SHADOW



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Land Of The Shadow
Format: Split CDr from 2004 with Woodland's Edge, on the Subterranean Surreal Records label (cat ref SSR009), Woodland's Edge side called "Beauty Of The Beast (Walking Amongst Weeping Giants)". Two double-sided colour covers inlays included, one for each band (Uruk Hai cover showing in the photo) plus band logos on CDr.
Edition: Limited to only 100 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
01. Misty Mountains (Chapter 4-6) 18.52
02. Covered In Black Fog 7.07

Woodland's Edge

03. Cauldron Of Dissolution
04. Where Prairies Once Stood
05. ...And Life Flashed On By
06. The Climb & The Summit
07. No Heaven Of Glory Bright, No Hell Where Sinners Roast
08. Deep End Of The Abyss
09. By Baphomet Beloved

Sons of the hammer and the feather, in unity against the false god

You might imagine, given the number of past posts, that there are relatively few items left uncollected by Nazgul over the years relating to Alex's projects. To a point you'd be right, but there are still some prize items out there that have proven elusive over time and like all true collectors until they are located and snared Nazgul's quest will continue.

The CDr you are looking at here arrived in the post this morning from Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Nazgul has been looking for "Land of the Shadow" for years, never coming across even an image of the cover online to fuel his search. Alex didn't have a spare, emails to Woodland's Edge via MySpace proved fruitless. Distros the world over shrugged their metaphorical shoulders and went about their business. And then - quite out of the blue - this little gem surfaced on eBay with a buy-it-now price of $3.99! Suffice to say, Nazgul's pace of bidding almost broke his keyboard, and within 11 days the item had safely crossed the Atlantic to take up residence in Nazgul's horde.

In honour of this spirit of endeavour Nazgul dedicates this particular post to a friend and reader of this Blog - hails, Uglur - who has done sterling work updating the Metal Archive site with new items unearthed on HonourAndDarkness. These photos will doubtless be gracing the relevant entry in Uruk Hai's discography before the night is out, I'd wager! Many thanks, my friend...

Seven tracks by Woodland's Edge and just two from Uruk Hai may seem unbalanced, but the Uruk Hai ones are pretty lengthy and - to be fair - Subterranean Surreal Records is the label owned by Woodland's Edge anyway, based in Illinois, so you can't blame this one-man project for giving his own material a bit of an airing! Yes - both bands are one-man projects, although Woodland's Edge specialise in very guitar-heavy compositions rather than keyboard ambiance. In a rather nice gesture, both bands pay tribute to each other on the two separate inlays - "Uruk Hai like to hail the mighty Woodland's Edge" versus "In keeping with the spirit of this split with ambient war brother Hugin, I chose the more scenic and enchanting aspects of the metal toothed beast, Woodland's Edge".

The two Uruk Hai tracks are not entirely new: 'Misty Mountains (Part 4-6)' is a reworked version of older material with a new percussive introduction, whilst 'Covered In Black Fog' is the same song as found on the "Across The Misty Mountains" release on Stuka Sound (see past postings). The new version of the former is an excellent track and defines what the ambient sound for this project is all about, whilst the latter was originally a most enjoyable track and remains so, with its wet and murky atmosphere remaining intact.

Nazgul is delighted that this album has finally come his way, and has therefore decided to disrupt his own posting schedule to share it with you today. Indeed, September is being earmarked as the month of some very special posts, as recent items received from Alex via the former mastermind behind Chanteloup Creations (hails, Skogen) have brought some really rare stuff into the collection, including two bands pre-dating many of Alex's other projects and unknown to the Metal Archives website.

Uglur - you're going to be kept busy, my friend....