Tuesday, 27 October 2009

HonourAndDarkness Halloween Havoc!

The witching season is well and truly upon us, and the shops and buildings around Nazgul Towers are positively blossoming with cobwebs, witches hats, ghoulish masks and other signs of the festivities to come on October 31st.

One of the activities underway in the deepest dungeons of Castle Nazgul is the traditional art of pumpkin carving, a skill possessed by few and requiring a good eye and a practiced hand to execute well. Mrs Nazgul is something of a 'dab hand' at this arcane practice, and has been known to decorate pumpkins to such high standards that they've appeared in restaurants and on cruise ships, let alone in our crumbling edifice perched high overlooking the graveyard.


This year - as a special tribute to Alex - Mrs Nazgul has carved some pumpkins in the fashion of band logos from some of Alex's projects. Here, as a world exclusive *cough* are those very pumpkins lit up for your delight. And you can blame Nazgul for the somewhat fuzzy photos - well, you try taking pictures of pumpkins in the dark, with only a candle for accompaniment....


So here, to take readers of the Blog through to Halloween night itself, we have:

HROSSHARSGRANI (new logo, rating: easy!)


URUK HAI (old logo, rating: Medium!)



RAVENCLAW (standard logo, rating "****ing difficult"!!)



There's more shots of these delightful pumpkins available with a variety of coloured lights (in the case of Uruk Hai) so should you like to see them, and have Nazgul send you them for wallpaper or other uses, then drop me a line.

Oh - and you should see what Mrs Nazgul carved on the huge pumpkin that we got for the centre-piece of our Halloween display.....

HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Eastern Front


The Eastern Front

The logo at the top of this post may well be familiar to a number of you as it is the symbol for The Eastern Front, the Israeli record label that has released a number of albums by Alex over the years (see photo 2). The label is run by a pair of thoroughly nice people - Nazgul sends hails of friendship to Igor and Tanya - and in the spirit of developing this little area of the Internet devoted to Hugin's works a little further, Nazgul recently took the opportunity of asking a few questions about the label and its relationship with Alex...

Q1. Tell me a little about The Eastern Front (and sub-label T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!!) - what are your hopes and expectations as a record label?

A1. Well, first of all we would like to thank you for the interest in our label. The Eastern Front was born in 2004 while its experimental sub-division T’an! Kaven!! Ash!!! (which means Load! Target!! Fire!!! in Hebrew) was born later, in 2006, as a desire to experiment with experimental music. We separated the two lines strongly between both labels: if The Eastern Front releases deal with more neo-folk, martial, industrial music, T’an! Kaven!! Ash!!! deals more with all kinds of weird, experimental, noise or even absurd music. It could be experimental jazz like Igor Stevanovic mini-album, it could be weird ambient like Maurizio Bianchi and Siegmar Fricke album, it could be very harsh noise like Kadaver albums. But all in all, no one of these albums could not be squeezed into The Eastern Front label line, that is why T’an! Kaven!! Ash!!! was organized. We have no too many expectations about the label, it is not a commercial enterprise and actually what we do we do for our own pleasure. Recently the situation with CDs sales has become worse and in order to cover the expenses on our pleasures we have to be more severe in choice of albums offered us to be released. Nonetheless, we'll keep working and producing music and we hope nothing serious will prevent us from doing this in the future.

Q2. How did The Eastern Front first come to know about Alex and his projects, and how long have you been working together?

A2. It was long time ago, we got a letter from Alex and as we were well aware about his other projects like Uruk-Hai and Hrossharsgrani we were pleased to start working together. Moreover, we became not only partners but good friends and days spent in Linz with Alex, his lovely wife Elisabeth and two sweet kids will be always unforgettable for us because they were very, very good days! You know that Alex has a label too, and our partnership as labels is constant too.

Q3. When - and why - did you first decide to release his Bonemachine material?

A3. The answer is very simple:))) "Vogelfrei" is one of the best Bonemachine’s albums in our opinion and we did not want to miss it! When Alex sent it us we had no doubt, we loved the music, we loved the artwork for this album which Alex prepared, and we loved the concept of 3 parts release. We developed it into the special edition of wooden box and we are totally satisfied with this release. It was rather small edition, so naturally it is sold out quite for a long time.

Q4. Who had the idea to design the great wooden box-sets + contents for 'Another Time' and for 'Vogelfrei', and where were they made? Were they expensive to produce?

A4. The idea of wooden boxes was our one. We are great fans of special editions as they have that individual, so-called 'non-factory' touch, they always generate somebody’s ideas and desires and actually they are valuable rather by their spiritual investment than by their financial investment. Though, certainly, the production of (in our case) wooden box is not cheap, the boxes are not produced mechanically on some factory in China (sorry) but individually designed and cut out manually by a joiner. The process is rather long: first we think over the concept, sizes and design, than bring to a joiner, than bring to a laser poker-work master, than manually varnish it twice. As a rule it takes more than two months to complete the work with boxes... As a result the box itself (without content) costs about 10-20 Euros, so yes, it could be called expensive production but it brings more satisfaction than factory-produced regular CD.

Q5. Can you tell us what other projects of Alex's you have released?

A5. Besides "Vogelfrei" and "Another Time" by Bonemachine we made Uruk-Hai’s "Upon The Elysian Fields", Wach’s 4 version album "The Fear" on T’an! Kaven! Ash!!!, and there was also a Wach track on "...where tattered clouds are stranding." Also we released the "Weiss" split album between B-Machina and Miel Noir on The Eastern Front.

Q6. Do you listen to Alex's music as fans yourself - if so, what are your personal favourites from his releases?

A6. Yes, sure, all that we release is first of all a personal preference, personal taste, if we would not love this or that album we'd never release it. Moreover, in order to release something we need both to love the music. If one of us doesn't like it, as a rule the album is not going to be released. We are not sure it is the very correct way of work of a label but thus we decided for ourself and this what we hold on. We can point out that our favourite album of those which we released is "Vogelfrei", and of other work Elisabetha's "Über Das Prinzip Der Unschuld / Lesungen Zum Prinzip Der Unschuld" released on Beverina Productions.

Q7. Are there any plans for future releases with Alex in the pipeline?

A7. Yes, we think so. There is one project which we are planning to release, just currently we don't want to talk about because what is on air is not on land :))))

Q8. do you have any personal message or thought for Alex that you'd like to relay via the HonourAndDarkness Blog?

A8. First of all, it is great that your Blog exists, it's a matter of enthusiasm and not many people today are ready to dedicate their personal time and energy to such the things. And we just wish Alex to keep composing good music and wish you not to lose your interest and passion and to keep writing and informing all the people for whom it is important. Thank you very much once again!

I think it should be evident from this that both Igor and Tanya have a great passion for the work that they do with their labels, which is shown to the rest of us in the quality of the finished products and in the care and time that crafting them clearly takes. Nazgul thanks them both for sparing the time to answer his questions, and hopes you found this an interesting piece.

Check out what The Eastern Front has to offer for yourself at http://www.theeasternfront.org/

Friday, 23 October 2009

VON BLINKENDEN SCHWERTERN IM REICHE DES NORDENS




Band: URUK HAI
Title: Von Blinkenden Schwertern Im Reiche Des Nordens ("Of Gleaming Swords In The Land Of The North")
Format: Split release with US band Arkillery, produced in both tape and CDr version, released in 2004. Tape copy released by Eclipse Of Live Promulgation (Germany), catalogue reference EoLP019. CDr version presumed self-released.
Edition: Tape copy limited to 250 hand-numbered copies. CDr pressing unknown

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
01. Gondolin Falls (Parts 1-3)
02. Nebelberge (Part 1 & 2)
Arkillery
03. Odin's Wolves
04. Horns To The Sky

The second of Uruk Hai's split releases with Krom's Arkillery project, the two tracks on offer here will be familiar to fans of the band through their appearance on the "Honour" demo of 2004. The two Arkillery tracks are different ones to those recorded on the self-titled "Uruk Hai / Arkillery" split CDr reviewed elsewhere in this Blog (also released 2004).

Well, there's not much to say about "Gondolin Falls" or "Nebelberge" that Nazgul hasn't said already - they are both immensely tranquil and relaxing pieces of ambient art, perfect for drifting off to sleep to (and Nazgul intends this in a positive fashion, rather than implying it's music that will put you to sleep!) or to have playing in the background. Really, restful and mellow would be an understatement, so it's always good to have them to hand at the end of a stressful week.

The CDr version is a pretty rare beast - Nazgul's came direct from Alex himself, hence the dedication on the cover, and in point of fact it's still mint and sealed (the same tracks being present on the tape version the need to actually open the CD wallet was avoided in a classic case of collector-mania!). The tape copy, by the way, is #133 of the 250 made by EoLP. I must get around to checking with Alex the actual copies pressed of the CDr version - Nazgul would imagine it's a fairly small number though....

20 things you never knew about ... REVEREND KIM

20 things you never knew about ... REVEREND KIM

Celebrating in style a record number of in-month postings on HonourAndDarkness, here is the second in Nazgul's intermittent series profiling a few of those significant individuals in "Hugin's world of music". The subject of the questions today is Reverend Kim, enigmatic partner in crime behind WACH and contributor of many a splendid design or photograph for a number of Alex's releases.

Read on for an exclusive take on how the good Reverend will cope with Nazgul's bizarrely random 20 questions...

1. Full Name and date of birth?
********* *****, aka Reverend Kim, born 29th June 1980
2. Place of birth?
Salzburg, Austria
3. Favourite film?
Old Boy
4. Favourite food?
Fondue
5. What did you grow up wanting to become?
Rock-star
6. What has been your proudest moment?
I'm proud of every day I survive
7. What was the first album or single you ever bought?
Album: Lenny Kravitz - Are you gonna go my way
Single: Guns N Roses - November Rain
8. If you were elected king of the world, what would be your first decree?
Love your next ones and live together a live without hate and envy
9. What song do you wish you never had to hear again (your own or anyone elses!)?
Emilíana Torrini - Jungle Drum
10. What album or release of your own has been the most difficult to complete,and why?
My current (in my hard rock band), it takes so much time and energy cause we want to achieve a certain (perfect) quality in our songs and not make some bunch of noise.
11. What album cover is your favourite (any band)?
Mmm ... Guns N Roses - Appetite for Destruction
12. What album cover of your own work is your favourite?
The current I'm working on is always my favourite, it's exciting and new.
13. You are hosting a fantasy dinner party - who would your 4 guests be (anyone,from any point in history) and why?
Eugene Hutz, Jennifer Weist, Lady Gaga, & Pamela Racine. Why - I don't want some lazy high-class dinner party, I want some action and party 'til the morning.
14. What book has most influenced your life?
Langenscheidt German / English Translator
15. Which individual has most influenced your life?
Slash, as he has been my idol as kid it has influenced my life-direction and life-goal
16. What has been the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Grasshoppers, and it was damn good
17. Do you believe in life after death?
No, but i do believe in reincarnation
18. How would you like to me remembered after you die?
I don't care what other people think, not now and not when I'm dead
19. Which piece of music would you have played at your funeral?
Diamanda Galas - The World is empty without you
20. You are stranded on a desert island, and can choose 3 records, 3 books, one companion and one luxury item - what would you choose?
No books, instead I take 6 records: [there's always one!]
Guns N Roses - Appetite for Destruction
Tin Hat Trio - The Rodeo Eroded
Rammstein - Reise Reise
Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta
The Tiger Lillies - Punch and Judy
Def Leppard - Vault
Companion: my wife
Luxury Item: my James Trussart Steelcaster Deluxe Guitar

RAVENCLAW > Promotional flyers


Band: RAVENCLAW
Item: Promotional flyers from Atlantida Productions

Fresh from Nazgul's miscellaneous file are these 4 Ravenclaw promotional flyers, destined in their day to be stuffed into envelopes and parcels issued from Atlantida HQ to be perused and discarded by customers around the globe!

Happily, for the history books, these shots show some of the "Pure Viking Art" that was being advertised for the "Where Mighty Ravens Fly" album release, representing (from top left photo downwards) what you might refer to as the 'viking with longships' design, the 'battle scene' design, the 'dragon and castle' design and the 'flag' design!

Of course, Ravenclaw as a project is now long defunct, so these little nuggets of history will have to suffice as (very) occasional updates for HonourAndDarkness fans to enjoy.

BONEMACHINE / JeFF split

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Self-titled split release with JeFF
Format: Released by Altsphere Productions (France) in both cassette tape (ALT046) and CDr format (no catalogue reference). Altsphere is run by JeFF. The artwork between tape and CDr is different and the tape carries 2 bonus tracks, one from each band.
Edition: CDr in hand-numbered pressing of 70 copies, tape hand-numbered to 100 copies.

Track Listing:

Bonemachine
01. Bittere Erkenntnisse Durch Nahtod
02. Holle Modern
03. Military Desaster
04. Volksleid (tape-only bonus track)
JeFF
05. I'm Possessed By The Devil
06. Under A Noise Spell
07. Let Me Explode (tape-only bonus track)

Nazgul likes the concept of tape and CD releases for the same album containing different artwork and tracks - makes the hard life of a collector so much more worthwhile!

This particular split release from our Austrian industrial heroes Bonemachine and French individual JeFF - who describes his work as "under the influence of all musical scenes from classical music to grindcore" - is a rather tasty morsel, and contains some good tunes and memorable moments.

The JeFF tracks in particular are very easy to listen too, but contain a real kaleidoscope of sounds and effects that keep the listener actively waiting for every subsequent second in fevered anticipation. The Bonemachine tracks too are very good - opening up with 'Bittere Erkenntnisse Durch Nahtod' there is a short period of distant background noise before an industrial sound (reminiscent of the pumping 'heart' of a machine) kicks in, overlain with a truly memorable piano melody that is both oh-so-simple yet devastatingly effective and atmospheric at the same time. Once heard, never forgotten!

'Holle Modern' is a shorter, more industrially focused piece, whilst 'Miltiary Desaster' will be familiar to readers of the Blog (in name, if not in sound, depending whether you've ever managed to track it down!) as the opening track on the "Bombardements" mini-CDr. Ten minutes plus of Winston Churchill and a sparsely played piano over ominous ambient noise background effects...

Tape-only bonus track 'Volksleid' had Nazgul scratching his head for a moment - that off-kilter drum beat opening sounded all too familiar, but from where...? A-ha, it's one of the bonus tracks on the "Vogelfrei" albums (Series 3, trivia buffs), and indeed it might also be worth noting for the record that 'Military Desaster' also appears on this same album, in the Series 2 bonus tracks section. Nazgul must really get on and cover Vogelfrei soon, it's a great album in a stunning wooden box-set.

During the preamble of writing this update, Nazgul dropped JeFF mainman Jeff Maurer a quick email to see if he had any particular recollections of how this split release came into being. JeFF was all to happy to oblige, and recalled the following:

"I used to have a little DIY no-profit label/mailorder so I made some trades. One day I received Bonemachine and Elisabetha stuff and I decided to contact Alex. We did some trades and we both liked the music of the other. So I asked him to made a split and it came like that."

So there we have it - the underground scene is alive and well. Check out JeFF's webpage at www.altsphere.com for more, including some cool downloads.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

20 things you never knew about ... HUGIN

20 things you never knew about ... HUGIN

Nazgul thought a brief and eccentric interview with Hugin might be just the thing to ward off the onset of the winter blues, as the skies begin their transition to leaden grey and autumnal browns and greens start to give way to bare branches and snow-capped mountains.

So here it is - the first in an irregular series of Q&A with pivotal figures in the world of all things Hugin, beginning with the man himself. It's a bit of fun at the end of the day but for all those who've pondered about our mysterious hero, Nazgul commands you to read on - you may be surprised by some of the answers...!

1. Full Name and date of birth?
Alexander Wieser, 7th April 1969 - ufffff it's too long ago :-(

2. Place of birth?
Linz, in Austria

3. Favourite film?
The Dracula movies done by HAMMER Productions in the UK

4. Favourite food?
Veggies + Fruits - meat is murder!!!

5. What did you grow up wanting to become?
A fireman, like my father was

6. What has been your proudest moment?
The birth of my children

7. What was the first album or single you ever bought?
KISS - "Creatures Of The Night"

8. If you were elected king of the world, what would be your first decree?
Destroy it all & start from the beginning, otherwise I think we can change nothing :-(

9. What song do you wish you never had to hear again (your own or anyone elses!)?

"I promise myself" - don't know the artist, it's so bad...!

10. What album or release of your own has been the most difficult to complete, and why?
"Black Blood, White Hand" [the forthcoming Uruk Hai album] because a lot of people worked on it:-)

11. What album cover is your favourite (any band)?
BATHORY's "Blood Fire Death" (Die Wilde Jagt)

12. What album cover of your own work is your favourite?
"The Battle" from URUK HAI

13. You are hosting a fantasy dinner party - who would your 4 guests be (anyone, from any point in history) and why?
Ghandi, Jesus Christ, H.G. Wells, & Jules Verne

14. What book has most influenced your life?
The Holy Bible

15. Which individual has most influenced your life?
My children

16. What has been the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Grasshoppers

17. Do you believe in life after death?
Sure!

18. How would you like to me remembered after you die?
As a good father of my children

19. Which piece of music would you have played at your funeral?
Edvard Grieg's "The Hall Of The Mountain King"

20. You are stranded on a desert island, and can choose 3 records, 3 books, one companion and one luxury item - what would you choose?
BATHORY "Blood Fire Death"
NICK CAVE "Tender Pray"
GUESH PATTIE "Labyrinthe"

The Holy Bible

My best friend Roland

A solar-powered freezer

HEIDENSTURM - update

Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Heidensturm
Update: Trade advertisement for this demo release

There are many things that please Nazgul - he's easily amused most of the time - but one of the more exciting things recently is a marked resurgence in the Hrefnesholt project. Now, call me odd ["you're odd" - HonourAndDarkness readership] but I've always had a soft spot for this particular strain of heathen ambience, so Nazgul is very excited to note some distinct activity in the vaults of W.A.R. in this regard, more of which in future Blog postings no doubt.

In the meantime, by means of mild celebration and because Hrefnesholt entries are all too seldom seen, here's a page advertising the original release of the "Heidensturm" demo that Nazgul covered back on 26 May 2009. Advertised through the Wandalen Distro Germanien - "No politics - only heathen pride" - at a very reasonable 4 Euros in price, it's a pretty substantial push for what was a very limited tape (50 copies). Bet you wish you'd bought one at the time now....?!

LONG FORGOTTEN TALES


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Long Forgotten Tales
Format: Cassette-tape only release on Werwolf Production (Italy) in 2004, catalogue reference WP016. Black and white xeroxed inlay, with rehearsal tracks recorded between 2002 and 2004.
Edition: Hand-numbered to 50 copies only

Track Listing:

Side A
1. March Of The Uruk-Hai 23.41
2. Galadriel 1.35
3. Black Orc Blood 4.31
Side B
4. Enter Durins Halls 11.53
5. Land Of Fire And Steel 10.17
6. Apokalypse (Ausklang) 0.56

Now this particular release was an effort to track down, let Nazgul tell you! For many years it was one of the few demo tapes that had eluded his clutches, never appearing for sale anywhere across distros and online retailers alike. Given the number of copies pressed (50, of which this copy is #18) it was certainly amongst the lower volume items from the band, although other tapes of a similar or earlier period (notably 'Honour') had turned up more frequently despite being fewer in number.

However, as one of Nazgul's old friends was oft to quote: "seek, and ye shall find". And lo, it came to pass that whilst scouring the trade list of a certain Dutch tape trader early this year there it was, the almost-forgotten "Long Forgotten Tales" tape in all of its glory!

So hails of thanks go to Daan, and here for your delight is said demo release, with a rather excellent cover illustration and a very interesting smattering of tracks.

Some will be familiar to fans and readers of this Blog, for example 'Apocalpse (Ausklang)', which also appears on the re-issue by EoLP of "In Durin's Halls" in 2004. Elements of other tracks - notably opener 'March of the Uruk-Hai' will sound familiar too, as they use melodies and refrains from other Uruk Hai songs of the period, reworking them between demos but retaining that sense of familiarity. 'March of the Uruk Hai' uses passages also heard on Side A of the "Honour" demo, but loses nothing for that! It also finishes with an amazing guitar riff, so 'punk' in nature you'd swear a Discharge song had been overdubbed in the mix, which heralds the march getting underway big-time as drums mirror the beat of many pounding feet, and ominous battle sounds, more guitar and howling vocals bring the song to a conclusion, complete with an epic rumble of thunder!

As you might imagine from the name, 'Galdriel' (the Lady in White, elf-queen of Middle Earth and co-ruler of Lothlorien) is a much gentler song, ushered in on a breath of wind and replete with xylophone melodies which shimmer and hover like a dew-beaded cobweb on a spring morning, no sooner there than gone...

'Black Orc Blood' kicks off with a classic sample, the same one incidentally as from 'Weltenbrand' from Hrossharsgrani's "Ancient Tales" (and no, Nazgul still doesn't know the name of it), promising much vigour and action before the song then turns on its head into something of a slow, measured beat with deep vocal parts. And thus ends Side A.

The two principal songs on the second side are both well over 10 minutes in length apiece, and thus require a patient ear and a decent amount of time set aside to appreciate them in full. Opener 'Enter Durin's Halls' continues the deep, echoing vocal effects of 'Black Orc Blood' and, alongside a background of rippling keyboard touches, does sound like a voice from the dead echoing amongst chasms deep and vast. This then progresses into a ethereal keyboard melody (another one heard on "Honour" in 'Gondolin Falls', but this time punctuated with drums) with the latter part of the track describing aurally the lofty halls deep under the mountains.

'Land Of Fire And Steel' has the sort of brooding opening that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, like a good film score when you know something momentous is shortly to happen. And indeed good things do happen - a tremendous keyboard melody that sweeps and lifts the listener to another realm, punctuated by the faint clashing of swords and the cry of fallen warriors. The remainder of the track again reworks elements of the first side of "Honour", which makes for an interesting comparison with that release.

Plenty to this demo then, and certainly worth the wait. Nazgul wishes you all the very best of luck in finding a copy though...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

DEMO COMPILATION VOL. 1



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Demo Compilation Volume 1
Format: Very limited edition tape-only compilation released between Chanteloup Creations and W.A.R. Productions in 2001, compiling tracks from most of Hrossharsgrani's main releases between 1999 and 2001. Red xeroxed cover.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 10 copies only

Track Listing:

Side A
01. Aufstieg Verlorener Seelen (track 9 of "Blut", 1999)
02. Bußfertigkeit (track 6 of "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten", 1999)
03. Körperteile (track 1 of "Sagan & Gedichte", 1999)
04. Luthien Tinuviel (track 2 of "Lieder Aus Mittelerde", 1999)
05. Gil-Galad (taken from "Promo '99", 1999)
06. Durch Folde Und Fenmark (track 1 of "Der Ring der Macht", 2000)
Side B
07. Der Ring Der Macht (unreleased track, 1999)
08. Fire And Ice (track 3 of "Ancient Tales", 2000)
09. When The Gods Come To Earth (said to be from "Kampf", 1999, but not on my copy!)
10. You And Me (track 3 of "In The Mystic Forest", 2000)
11. ...Still Fighting (unreleased track, 2000)

There's nothing quite like a compilation album - as long as it's properly done. This, Nazgul is pleased to say, hits the spot nicely as there are a multitude of tracks featured from many of the early Hross' demos, plus one or two additional nuggets of new material for fans to get their teeth into.

Just to clarifty the track listing details from the inlay, it definitely notes that 'When The Gods Come to Earth' is from the "Kampf" demo tape, but unless Nazgul's eyes deceive him there's no sign of it on the copy I have. Also, 'Gil-Galad' makes an appearance (apparently) on a 2001 demo called "Nachricht Aus Mittelerde", which has recently appeared as an entry on Metal Archives! Nazgul confesses to not knowing anything about this release whatsoever, so investigations will be put in place to find out more!

[Edit: A few words from Alex - "Nachricht aus Mittelerde" was planned but never released, it is a sequel to "Lieder Aus Mittelerder" but before that release was finished HROSSHARSGRANI splited up into HROSSHARSGRANI and URUK-HAI.... "When The Gods Come To Earth" was not on "Kampf", correct! It was planned to go on that tape but later I didn't add it!]

It goes without saying that with only 10 copies originally produced back in 2001 you have a snowball in hells chance of finding one now. Nazgul is eternally grateful to Skogen at Chanteloup Creations, who sent his copy to Alex to forward to Nazgul, suitably embellished and dedicated as shown. This copy, incidentally, is #7 of the 10 made.

The intention is to cover all of the individual tracks within their respective albums, save of course for the bonus tracks on this release, namely 'Der Ring Der Macht' - which in Zeppelin-esque fashion manages not to appear on the album bearing its name - and '...Still Fighting", which may well be unique to this compilation. Starting with the latter first, it's a unexpected mix of traditional Hross' battle-metal combined with a lengthy outro of classical themes, and it works like a charm! The former track starts off with a nice synth melody over gently beating drums, followed by a howling maelstrom of battle-metal, then a spoken word sample in German from (I would think) some of Tolkien's work - Nazgul is sure he heard reference to "Mittelerde" and a ring in there somewhere! And to finish, an unexpected piece of well known classical music, so well known in fact that Nazgul can't actually remember what it is, but I'm sure it's something like 'The March of the Sugar Plum Fairy' or an equally improbable title, followed by pure pagan mayhem!

The nice thing about a well thought through compilation is that you hear the tracks in a different way: both in a different context from the original album or demo, and also in a different running order, which somehow manages to freshen up the material and forces the listener to reappraise it accordingly. And, like any good compilation, it does rather tend to make you want to pull all of the original albums from the shelves and give them a spin, which if you'll excuse him Nazgul intends to do right now!

VAMPYR




Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Vampyr
Format: CD release through Eclipse Of Live Promulgation (Germany) in 2003, with full colour inlays. Bottom photo shows EoLP advertisement for the release in their catalogue (right) plus original artwork for cover (left).
Edition: Limited to 455 copies numbered on jewel-case, and 45 promo copies

Track Listing:

1. Schauermarchen 01.44
2. Geisterstande 08.20
3. Der pfahler 03.30
4. Finster doch der tag begann 04.10
5. Der funke des lebens gar langsam verlischt 03.45
6. Sanguis vobiscum 06.20
7. Erszebet Bathori - Eine mar aus fleisch 22.19
8. Einsam in truben nachten 10.08
9. The priest must die (Countess cover) 13.50

Freddy vs. Jason ... Alien vs. Predator ... and now Elisabetha vs. Bonemachine?!

That's the best Nazgul can do as an analogy for this release on EoLP, which is an extraordinary amalgamation of styles and influences, and virtually impossible to describe in any meaningful way.

Virtually anything and everything that you might expect from an Elisabetha album is here - sombre, spoken word narrative parts, occasional strings and scarily-effective keyboards, screaming females and unsettling atmospherics, and even some neo-classical church organ parts foreshadowing the move to a less horror-ambient content that the "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld" release of 2007 presented.

Equally, there are many parts of this release that are wholly Bonemachine-esque in nature - peculiar sound-scapes that are part industrial, part synth, part goodness knows what coming into interaction with the gothic motif of Elisabetha in a well orchestrated yet utterly chaotic manner.

To add confusion to the mix, you also have possibly one of the few appearances of a bass guitar on any of Alex's releases not to mention a cover song of Dutch BM horde Countess to finish things off with, which whilst maintaining the theme of the Countess Bathory connection explored earlier in the album is an unexpected ending.

Frankly, Nazgul can;t think of the right words to describe this album adequately, and suspects that to do so might involve the writing of a major dissertation and the taking of industrial quantities of stimulants.

This is a most interesting and rewarding album with some great cover-art and superb songs - pressed for a favourite, Nazgul would go for 'Sanguis Vobiscum' with all of its variety - and is certainly recommended, but probably for experienced listeners rather than those new to the Elisabetha sound.

There was a time - oh, about 4 or 5 years ago - that this particular album (often described as an EP online, oddly enough, given its length) turned up on eBay and similar sites with unfailing regularity. Recently, however, Nazgul can't think when he last saw one for sale, so perhaps all 455 copies (why 455 copies as opposed to, say, 400, 450 or 500 copies? - answers on a postcard please) have found good homes around the globe. Still well worth seeking out, though!

[Edit: Alex has just sent a photo of his own copy of this release - #2 - which has the issue number written in silver on the jewel-case tray holding the disc. Nazgul's copy, it would seem, is one of the 45 promo copies rather than one of the 455 issued copies. Also, the EoLP owner tended to be a little random in his issue numbers, by all accounts, though of course 45 promos and 455 copies = 500 CDs in total - there's method in the madness!]

EA

Band: URUK HAI
Release: Ea
Format: CDr in slimline case released by Werwolf Productions (Italy) in 2004, catalogue reference WP019. Came with black and white xeroxed inlay with track listing written in runic script.
Edition: Only 100 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Ea 12.13
02. Dragon War 08:22
03. Beflag 7.11

Another rather difficult to find release from Uruk Hai on Werwolf Productions, coming as it did in a pressing of only 100 copies and released back in 2004. The window of opportunity to buy this CDr was very short, or so it seemed to Nazgul, as no sooner did it suddenly appear one day online then it was gone, presumably sold out to those in the know almost instantaneously. To heap salt into the wound for those unlucky enough not to find it when it first came out the three tracks here are unique to this release, so you either have them...or you don't!

Happily (well, for Nazgul at least) the demo fell into his possession through the marvel that is eBay, and this Blog update will attempt to redress the fact that once again there is virtually no other coverage of the recording online, save for being registered at the seemingly ubiquitous Metal Archives pages. This particular copy is #22 of the 100 produced.

The demo came at a particularly productive period for Uruk Hai as around 14 different split, demo or full-length releases come out in that year from this project alone, which included the delicate "A Night In The Forest" release, the reverb-heavy ambient sounds of "Barbarians" and the rather wonderful but scarcely heard "Melancholie Eines Herbstes In Drei Akten" split demo. How ever does the man find the time, energy and inspiration?! What's interesting about these 3 tracks is that they commit to disc a distinctly heavier side of the band that most of the remaining output for the year didn't convey.

The reason for this can be found buried on the rear inlay, where the runes reveal that these 3 songs are rehearsal tracks dating back to 1999. This was a significant year for Uruk Hai, as it was the year the project came into being - the debut "In Durin's Halls" demo was released that year, and the transitional "Uruk Hai" demo from Hrossharsgrani was also produced, and led to the formation of the Uruk Hai project. What isn't clear from the chronology - and I'm sure Alex will be able to shed some light on this in due course - is where the "Ea" tracks fit in with these earlier works.

What is clear, however, is that there are some rollicking black metal-esque parts on both "Beflag" and on title-track "Ea", with deep, echoing guttural vocal parts and thunderous drums, that are as raucous as anything this project has ever recorded. There's certainly a Hross' influence at work with some of the percussion on these tracks, yet at the same time there is a pervading undercurrent of synthesizer which was developing more with the Uruk Hai style of music. Taking a marginally more gentle approach is middle track "Dragon War", which is ironic given it bears the most aggressive sounding title of the three tracks.

Incidentally, the word "Ea" is itself subject to a tremendous amount of debate on some parts of the Tolkien forums online as to how it should be defined - whether it be the world of the Elves, the Universe in which Middle Earth is contained, or some other cosmological distinction is up for debate at the moment it seems...but not in the pages of this Blog, where Nazgul likes to keep it as straightforward as possible.

Despite not possessing the most lavish of packaging standards from Werwolf Productions this is a very interesting and intriguing release that shows the both the barbaric side and the ambient side of this heathen project in its formative stages.

JAGDSCHAUSPIEL


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Jagdschauspiel
Format: Internet-only download from the website of Smell The Stench (Australia), released on 16 October 2006, reference sts-net21. This is a rehearsal track from 2006, previously found on the three song 3"CDr "Bombardments" release. STS provided a downloadable cover for this release, as shown.
Edition: Unlimited internet download

Track Listing:

01. Jagdschauspiel 3.04

The Sabbathid Records 2006 release of "Bombardments" carried this track in the middle of the 3-song running order, and was a limited edition of only 100. As such, plenty of people most likely never heard much of it, an issue re-dressed in part by Leigh Stench/Hugin through the free downloadable version of 'Jagdschauspiel' on the inestimable Smell The Stench website. Keen followers of this Blog may also recall the earlier posting on 'Extraterrestrial Death", another free online release from the same label once again featuring Bonemachine tracks.

The content of this 1-track single is as the "Bombardments" version albeit 2 seconds shorter (at least by Nazgul's timing), so the review comments of 20 February 2009 still hold relevance for this track:

"The track starts with the traditional brass cry of a hunting horn, which is repeated throughout the song whilst interspersed with mechanical background noise and a 'chorus' of a volley of shots, squelching water/mud. Visual images of the senseless slaughter of animals and soldiers in the trenches will spring unbidden to your mind, especially as the track ends with another, sudden salvo of shots fired...."

Credit where it's due, you can't really ignore a free internet download in all conscious, so point your browser towards http://www.smellthestench.net/net.htm and seek out free download #21 for yourself!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

URUK HAI > coffee cup

Band: URUK HAI
Item: Ceramic coffee mug with new band logo
Edition: Only 2 made

At this rate, Nazgul will soon have sufficient mugs to be able to host a coffee morning at Nazgul Towers, for members of this Blog to convene and discuss all things Hugin!

This rather splendid piece is a recent arrival from W.A.R. Productions, and is one of a pair - the other presumably gracing the breakfast table of a certain Mr Wieser of Austria. It displays the stylish new Uruk Hai band logo well, I think you'd agree?

Well, every fan must have something appropriate to drink a toast to his hero from, am I correct?!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

TAWANTINSUYU - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Tawantinsuyu
Update: Morningside Records promotional material

The second of the treasures unearthed in Nazgul's Saturday rummage is this full colour, A4 sized promotional advert from Morningside Records for the Uruk Hai release "Tawantinsuyu", as reviewed by your humble scribe in August of this year.

What a splendid job they did of it too - previously unseen photos from the same trip that furnished photos for the digipak and its inlay, plenty of sensible narrative without the usual hyperbole to suggest the second coming, and the cunning strapline (that Nazgul hasn't seen anywhere else) that this release would be suitable "for fans of Kitaro & Vangelis."

And why not?

BLUT - update

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Blut
Update: Alternative cover art

Nazgul has been rummaging around in his box of bits and pieces again on this fine autumnal afternoon, and for the sake of posterity has unearthed a couple of items that seemed worthy of a post of their own.

So without more ado here's the first of them - the alternative cover art to "Blut". You may recall the early May Blog entry on the re-released Werwolf Distro tape version of this Hross' demo, which mentioned that there was a CDr version from 1999 with a different cover. Well, here it is, in all it's snarling lupine glory, courtesy of Alex and a recent parcel of goodies direct from W.A.R. HQ.

I like this image a lot - it would make a fine t-shirt - and I trust my honoured readership enjoys it too.

RABENTANZ


Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Rabentanz
Format: CDr pressing from Smell The Stench (Australia) released in 2005 in DVD-sized case with black and white inlay.
Edition: unknown

Track Listing:

1. Hrefnesvinter (remastered version) 36:00
Chapter 1 : Hrefnesholt pt.1
Chapter 2: Glorie Draconis
Chapter 3: Hrefnesvinter
Chapter 4: Marsch zu neuen Zeitaltern
Chapter 5: Hrefnesholt pt.2
2. Trollsturm (remastered version) 03:22
3. Zwei Raben (rehearsal track) 04:41
4. Erinnerung (new track) 15:29

I think the last time Nazgul posted a Hrefnesholt item it was caveatted with the comment "It's been a while since we've seen a Hrefnesholt item..." and sure enough, here's another pretty lengthy gap between the last one and this latest addition!

It's not through any reluctance to commit words to virtual paper on the subject, however, as Hrefnesholt have long been a particular favourite project of Nazgul's (well, in my defence I'm a strange being) so it's been more of a case for delaying this entry as it would have been the last item in my Hrefnesholt collection to comment upon.....except there's some exciting news brewing on that front in the W.A.R. studios in deepest Austria, more of which anon.

So - here we are with "Rabentanz", frequently described as a best of/compilation online. Happily, this release still seems to be relatively accessible through specialised sources (you could try both Smell The Stench directly, and also the Evil Distribution distro, both of whom seem to have copies available) and it's well worth picking up for the notional price you'll be asked for it.

The main feature track is of course 'Hrefnesvinter' in all its glory, which is the remastered version referred to in Nazgul's post on the original 2001 demo (HonourAndDarkness 02/04/09). In remastered form on CD it has two obvious benefits - it sounds better, and Nazgul can play it in his car! As noted in that earlier posting, in the quoted piece from the Resenas web-pages, but worth repeating:

"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!!!"

The three remaining tracks on this outing are all very keyboard driven and generate the sort of floating atmosphere that makes Hrefnesholt output so very nebulous - generically it's usually termed Pagan/Heathen ambient, and as a label that's probably as good as any. Whistling winds, gossamer-thin synth parts and distant vocals. It always reminds Nazgul of misty forests or distant mountain ranges, with occasional stronger melodies (as in the beginning of 'Zwei Raben' for example, with the eerily blowing winds being complemented with some rhythmic percussion). This track, for reference, also appears on the very hard to find "Heidensturm" demo tape.

Also befitting of the atmosphere being created on this release is the grainy twilight cover image of stone columns in shadow. You can just imagine the swirling winds - present on virtually all of these tracks - whistling their way through the crumbling monolithic stonework. And do Nazgul's eyes deceive him, or are the columns here spookily familiar: perhaps the cover of the Hrossharsgrani "Krieg" demo tape also has its origins here...?

Nazgul plays this release frequently, and in a strange way it's comforting to know whenever its on the death deck that there are probably only, ooooh, let's say a handful of other people in the world at most listening to the same music at that given moment, if that many. For this is music for the fans and not for commercial enterprise, and is well worth celebrating for that reason alone.

KRIEG - update


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Krieg
Format: Cassette-tape only, released by W.A.R. Productions (Austria) in 1999.
Edition: Colour version only 3 copies, Chanteloup version limited to 10 copies

Track Listing:

01. Krieg

02. Mit Dem Schwerte

03. Schattenkrieger

Nazgul was most honoured to receive this tape in the post recently from Alex, as it's the original W.A.R. tape pressing of the "Krieg" release alluded to in a past Blog entry (06/09/09) when the Chanteloup Creations tape was reviewed.

You may recall that this latter tape had a fourth bonus track on it, and the assumption that Nazgul made (and, for once, correctly!) was that a three-track original version must presumably have existed also.

And here it is! The primary differences (other than the missing song) are the colour inlay on the original pressing, and the lack of the additional inlay panel advertising the distros.

Still an epic battle-scarred demo, whatever version you have, the arrival of this tape was another most generous offering from Alex, for which Nazgul is eternally grateful. All hail the Austrian battle-machine!

PROPHECY Pt. 1

Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Prophecy Pt. 1
Format: 3" white CDr in colour 3-fold inlay released in 2008 on Smell The Stench (Australia), no catalogue reference. This 1 track release comes housed in a small plastic wallet, and also contains 2 B-Machina stickers, a B-Machina business card style magnet, and a STS label promo.
Edition: Hand-numbered in a release of only 24 copies

Track Listing:

01. Prophecy (Part 1) 19.36

"My life is almost over, my world and all that I hoped for gone..."

Thus begins 'Prophecy Pt. 1' from B-Machina, and as we know from the new era of the band all bone-sounds are made by Alex and Max, and in this instance released by the inestimable Leigh Stench from the Australian Smell The Stench label.

And yes, you would be correct in surmising that there is indeed a "Prophecy Pt. 2", and Nazgul will get around to adding this item to the HonourAndDarkness pages in due course.

A nicely packaged release this, replete with a nice magnetic card and some cool band stickers, and Nazgul is always a sucker for a limited edition 3" CDr (his is #19 of the 24). The cover is rather effective too, with its eye offering a piercing gaze in a background of bombers released their payload: Bone-War is upon us once again!

However, whatever your past preconceptions of B-Machina/Bonemachine be prepared to put them to one side for this release as the single track 'Prophecy Pt. 1' (in rough-mix) is very different to the preceding material of the band and really puts in context the added value that Max has brought to the project. It's a glorious mixture of flamenco/Spanish style guitar - which creates a truly poignant atmosphere, both sombre and moody - together with some light industrial touches and a few well sprinkled samples (which Nazgul presumes are from films). The overall effect is a captivating song, which belies its nigh-on 20 minute duration and flashes past as you sit and listen to it.

It's one of the best single B-Machina tracks that Nazgul heard in 2008, and whilst proving almost impossible to do justice to in mere narrative form (how do Alex and Max compose this stuff?!) it is genuinely a superb piece of evocative music that you could play in front of your more conservative friends who don't know Hugin's work (assuming you have such things, what a heresy) and have them enjoy it at first listen!

Of course, you have the problem of actually finding a copy first, and I rather suspect that the initial short pressing is now long sold out. Another reason, should one have been needed, to seek out the compilation "Rotation Zwei" release on the Russian Valgriind label before that disappears too, as many recent but hard-to-find B-Machina tracks are assembled on that release.

Friday, 9 October 2009

THE FIRST RING Vol. 1 [V/A]



Band: MANWE and URUK HAI
Title: The First Ring Volume 1 - A Musical Journey Into The World Of Tolkien
Format: Private CD pressing by Notturno (Fabien) on his own label (NOT1) in 2009, and available from http://www.myspace.com/notturno69. A compilation CD of 12 tracks of Tolkien-inspired magic and mystery...
Edition: Only 1,000 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Uruk Hai * Fangorn 4.13
02. Ethel Ivrin * Cold Blue Skies
03. Ainulindale * The Parting
04. Yak * Aragorn
05. Galadhrim * Mormegil
06. Minhyriath * Grohind
07. Herg * Laketown
08. Numenor * Once We Are Kings
09. Fauns * Gunievien
10. Manwe * Great Spirit 3.45
11. Faangrull * Sauron Was Here
12. Jim Kirkwood * Cirith Ungol

This CD is one of the more recent acquisitions in Nazgul's horde, and to be truthful with you it wasn't on the list of items to be posted on the Blog quite so soon - but eventually Nazgul had to bite the bullet and realise that it's such a good album that it would be quite unfair not to feature it in the Blog as to delay might limit your chances of being able to lay your hands on one of only 1,000 units being pressed. And so here it is!

Wonderful in all ways - as a homage to Tolkien, as a compilation of emotive and eclectic music, and in its design and execution - you could be mistaken for thinking that this is the work of a seasoned hand in the CD business. But no - Notturno is (and I don't think he'd mind me saying this) essentially a fan first, and a party in the music business second.

Nazgul was fortunate enough to exchange a few emails on the release of this momentous album, focusing primarily (of course) on the connection with Hugin's two projects. So here, with suitable fanfare and rolling out of red carpets, is another HonourAndDarkness exclusive interview with the man behind "The First Ring":

Q1: Can you tell Nazgul a little about how your The First Ring project got started- it's origin and what you were trying to achieve?

A1: "The debut of this project is a misunderstanding between Alex and me! I wrote him many emails to ask about his projects and new music. One day , he said to me that I could continue to ask, but also to help him with it! This was a strange, a new idea : to help a musician …me, who is not musician, and not a professional in this business …but why not!?

So how to help Alex, and why not to help other musicians too? In time the concept to make a compilation CD was born. I knew Alex would always be there to help me, and he appreciated too the idea to widen this idea to other groups and musicians. I started to see whether indeed others would be interested in a compilation - the answers were positive and with this compilation seemed animated by creative spirit and thus far from being a simple compilation."

Q2: When did you first come across Alex's music?

A2: "It’s not really by chance … I've been a fan of music inspired by Tolkien for a long time (perhaps 15 years), so one day or the other I was to going to discover Alex! In fact It is in fact by wanting to seek out his music that I ended up finding his email, and contacting him. Quickly I started to buy his music directly from him and I became a fan."

Q3: Which project of his (Uruk Hai, B-Machina, Hrossharsgrani, Manwe etc etc) is your favourite, and do you have a favourite track / album of his?

A3: "URUK HAI, alright! I also have bought his other projects where the music focuses on Tolkien. As for Hrossharsgrani, Manwe etc I've not listened to all of these projects! Since I’m a Tolkien music fan I've not the time really to listen all his music …sorry, lol! My favorite album: it's impossible to answer you because each time Alex makes a better album. So my preferred album: the next One!"

Q4: How did the plan to record together happen?

A4: "Being neither a musician, nor a music professional, I had no part in the recording. My role was to negotiate the music with the groups participating (and the same for the Vol 2…) . I wanted to make possible the inclusion in the compilation of the maximum of new music. For that I ran up against impossibilities : money , label, time to record new music. Each group maximised their input to help me, and using the most interesting songs the only other role that I had was to harmonize the CD, and to master it for a better final sound."

Q5: How did the tracks Alex contributed to this album come to be - did you give him a specific concept or theme to work to, or did he compose with you?

A5: "It was my dream but sadly impossible! With volume 2 there is the same problem. Making a personal concept album with many different groups is a pure phantasm. The only way is to use Tolkien as inspiration To have the possibility of managing a specific concept, it would be necessary that I ask each group to return to studio to make 'such or such' music ! With 12 groups on volume 1 ,and more than 20 on volume 2 … well, I’m not Gandalf !!"

Q6 Are you planning to record anything further together?

A6: "Yes…and no, lol! Because as I said ,this is one of my dreams! And I know I've a few enemies : the time …the money, etc. With my family and my work too, I've hope that not I will find time one day to make this dream: to make a label to produce groups. But this dream is more accessible: to make a label of my project, and to try to help other group - Alex, like others, are often in search of label, a matter which I would like to assist with enormously. But time is important to make this project interesting. If volume 1 and volume 2 go well I've another dream too: to make the third instalment not a CD or a DVD but a summer festival in France, in 2011,with 5/6 groups..."

Q7: What would you say about Alex and/or his work for the benefit of the HonourAndDarkness blog readers?

A7: "Firstly, I’m very, very surprised to see this blog ! I knew of it before you [Nazgul] contacted me, but Alex's music is not simple music, and it takes time to discover his music properly - like the Tolkien books! I’m really happy to know that I’m not the one to respect the Alex’s work . I like the idea that Alex makes music for all people, not to make money. This is a fan’s music for fans! So my last words are simply these: the best of Alex is coming ...BEWARE! "

Nazgul is delighted to bring you this small interview, and wishes Notturno all the best with his future endeavours.

And so to the music - opening the album is 'Fangorn' from Uruk Hai [in Tolkien's Legendarium, is a forest located in Middle-Earth and is the home of the tree shepherds, the Ents. It was named after the oldest Ent, Treebeard or Treebeard after it (Tolkien does state there is confusion about the two). The Forest of Fangorn provides an important role in the Third Age, a time where Sauron challenged Middle-Earth to battle and domination] and this is almost as much a natural history excursion into the depths of the woods as it is a musical piece!

Plenty of atmospheric bird, creature and nature sounds abound as the listener is taken down dark enclosed pathways and into overgrown glades. Some delicate keyboard touches add a sense of wonder and danger, culminating in a delightful flourish (strongly reminiscent of Ceremony Of Innocence, actually) before the journey is over, all too quickly.

And hail - the return of Manwe! Not seen on vinyl/tape or any other recording medium you could care to shake a stick at for far too long, the track 'Great Spirit' is a very welcome return and whilst brief, is memorable and most enjoyable. Following a rumble of thunder and a slow, deliberate opening melody the track blossoms into a synth-driven piece with echoing distant screams and some very catchy keyboard sections. A promising dimension to what Nazgul hopes is a new era for this seemingly long-forgotten project.

Nazgul would unhesitatingly recommend all readers of this Blog to point their browsers towards Notturno's MySpace page and enquire about the availability of this particular album whilst you can, as Nazgul has a feeling that it may not be around for long. Support of this nature to musicians such as Alex (and indeed, others on this release) is rare and must be supported by humble fans such as ourselves for it to flourish and grow, so we all have a part to play in this.

And when the 2011 festival dates are released, as Nazgul is certain they will be, look for the castle-like pavilion in the field of tents somewhere in deepest France, with pennants snapping brightly from the turrets and ravens circling overhead - for Nazgul will be there!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

WAR POEMS


Band: URUK HAI
Title: War Poems (Orcish Battle Hymns Part III)
Format: CD release on Dragon's Breath Records (USA), catalogue reference DBR004. Released in 2005 in DVD case with picture-CD.
Edition: Only 100 copies

Track Listing:

1. Ancient Pride 21:36
2. Black Mountains River (Midgard Warriors Part II) 20:29
3. Mount Doom 20:53
4. Mettaynë (Rehearsal 1999) 06:49

Also known to Nazgul as the "Now, where have I heard that song before?" release, War Poems is a nicely presented release on Padre Adamo's Dragonsbreath Records from 2005 that brings to the table 4 tracks (with a total running order of around 70 minutes) that may just ring some distant bells in the minds of fans of this most prolific of Austrian musicians.

Well, let's keep things nice and simple for starters. 'Mount Doom' (which incorporates elements of 'Ancient Pride' within it) we came across in this Blog on the 22nd August of this year, within the "Northern Lights" album. You may also recall it was part of the three-way split "Ira Deorum Obliviorum" from the Polish Old Temple label, previously reviewed on 11th April. And yes, you did read that correctly the first time, 'Ancient Pride' (also on "Northern Lights") is inextricably linked with Mount-Doom in sharing the same musical elements. So then, there's two of the four songs that will be familiar to Uruk Hai fans generally, not least because both "Northern Lights" and "War Poems" were both 2005 releases.

Still with me? Good. Now, second track 'Black Mountains River (Midgard Warriors Part II)' was also featured in this very Blog some while ago (5th March to be exact), as it's the fifth track on the split CDr between Uruk Hai and Arkillery. It appears there in its original title 'Midgard Warriors (Chapter II)' and if you were to follow the menu at the side of this piece you can re-read Nazgul's previous words of wisdom and learn all about Midgard at the same time. Educational and entertaining, I should be charging you for this stuff you know...

So that leads us to the final track, 'Mettanye'. And interestingly, it's the source of much online confusion. You see, there was a Hrossharsgrani track on the 2000 "Der Ring Der Macht" demo called "Mettanye" and which seems to be confused with this different version. Indeed, if you search on Google for the track you'll likely as not find a link to YouTube where a soundtrack of the Hross' version is played over an image of the "War Poems" cover. Close, but no cigar, as the two tracks are different - the Uruk Hai version maintaining the pummelling war-drums but adding a sprightly bell-like keyboard overlay, some additional melody and dark ambience, and relegating the vocals to the background more.

Also causing confusion is the name itself. On the Metal Archives site you'll see it recorded as 'Mettayne' rather than 'Mettanye', and this error seems to have spread across the web thereafter. There is a poem by J.R.R. Tolkein called "Mettanye" that reads:

"I would not find the burning domes and sands
Where reigns the sun, nor dare the deadly snows,
Nor seek in mountains dark the hidden lands
Of men long lost to whome no pathway goes;
I heed no call of clamant bell that rings
Iron-tongued in the towers of earthly kings.
Here on the stones and trees there lies a spell
Of unforgotten loss, of memory more blest
Than mortal wealth. Here undefeated dwell
The folk immortal under withered elms,
Alalminore once in ancient realms."

So all in all much of this release you may already be familiar with, keen and bright fans of Uruk Hai as you are. Yet it's still a release well worth picking up, for the reworked 'Mettanye" track and the harder-to-find 'Black Mountains River' song. And like Nazgul you can throw around your shoulders the 'cloak of know-it-all' for a short while, and bask in imagined knowledge and wisdom....

Saturday, 3 October 2009

HROSSHARSGRANI > Schattenkrieger t-shirt


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Schattenkrieger t-shirt
Edition: Short-sleeve shirt 70 copies, long-sleeve 30 copies

Well it's been a while since we've had a t-shirt on the Blog, so here's one that Nazgul found on eBay a few years ago: the "Schattenkrieger" shirt from Hrossharsgrani. Double-sided print on black cotton, it's only a 'medium' size so your 6' 5" scribe can't actually get in it you understand, but what the heck: it's a nice shirt and Nazgul's wife would look a treat in it.

Which reminds Nazgul - look out for a forthcoming HonourAndDarkness blog world exclusive later this month, courtesy of wife of Nazgul with her very keen eye and a very sharp knife...

If anyone is able to translate the rear print, Nazgul would be most grateful:
Hier herrscht ein Grauen von alter Gestallt
Ins Dunkel hinein wo nichts wiederhallt
Fur sauron sie ziehn von der wut entbrannt
Neun an der zahl schattenkrieger genannt

Edit: within 15 minutes or so of this post being 'live', we have the following from our old friend Uglur:

"Here reigns terror of old shape
Into darkness where nothing echoes
For Sauron they march full of rage
Nine by number, called Shadow-warriors"

Nazgul thanks ye!