Saturday, 27 February 2010

Beverina & War Bild und TonKunstschmiede

Juris Silders

Once again it's time for one of Nazgul's infrequent short interview pieces here on Honour & Darkness, celebrating those valiant individuals who have helped to promote or support Hugin's music over the past decade and more.

Today we focus on the erstwhile Beverina label and its founder, pictured above. Take a look at that photo - would you buy a CD or tape from this man?! Well - you should! Indeed, many of us have and it's true to put on record that you'd have to go a long, long way to find a man who has offered more support to Hugin over the years. You may also be familiar with some of the artwork concepts designed by both Juris and Ruta Silders, most recently exemplified on this Blog with the "Lothlorien" tape cover and inlay.

Truly a denizen of the underworld, Nazgul hopes that you find the brief interview below of interest to get a flavour for the works of both the man and his labels...

Name?
Juris

Any nicknames?
Sonnenmensch

Your label name(s)?
Beverina (1996-2008), Evil Distribution (2006 -), Beverina & War Bild und TonKunstschmiede (2008-)

What is the aim/philosophy behind your labels?
I can't tell you anything about a specific or aim/philosophy or whatever, just that my motto always has been - and still is - "In support of dark underground art"

How did you first come across Alex and his music?
It was somewhere around 1997-1998, I don't remember more precisely than that! It was in the "golden age" of the underground when labels, distros and artists traded with tape releases w/ xeroxed covers etc: this was really TRVE! :)

In that period and in that style I got from Alex some HROSSHARSGRANNI demo. If I remember rightly now on the front "artwork" was a Viking... [Nazgul's note: possibly Ancient Tales?]

What releases have your labels made of Alex's music?
I want to draw your attention to the first one that I did for Alex - it was in 2000, the tape of URUK-HAI's "Elbenwald" [http://www.discogs.com/Uruk-Hai-Elbenwald/release/679724]. Until this tape release Beverina released almost only releases of pagan/black metal, but... :)

All that we do now, under the Beverina & War Bild und TonKunstschmiede banner, is totally different.

Which of these items have sold the best?
Speaking truly, Beverina releases never were like "best selling releases" or anything like that, but were instead "very well traded", especially all my early releases in the first 5-6 years of activity. I can tell you that the same is particularly true of the URUK-HAI "Elbenwald" tape release, that really was very well traded around the world!

What is your favourite piece of Alex's music?
Oha... this is really hard question! Possibly this sounds like I'm avoiding the question, but I enjoy all of the music that Alex makes, no matter if whether it is metal, atmospheric ambient or noise-industrial. He is real talent, and that's true!

Tell us about your own band(s)/music, if applicable?
Actually I don't create music myself, although my voice was used in some records :):):)

Your favourite book?
I couldn't tell you just the one, I am science-fiction freak and have been since childhood :)

Any favourite films?
Same as for books, there are always a couple from any genre and in any decade. I can tell what was the last film that impressed me - District 9. And looking back to my younger days, the first that impressed me the most was...Mad Max :)

Favourite food?
Anything with MEAT!!!!

What's the craziest thing you've ever done, Juris?
I still live in Latvia! Possibly you will not understand what I mean by this, but that's the truth!!!

Your best experience in life so far?
You can call me as pessimist, but I cant remember now anything good that I can describe as my 'best experience'

The worst experience in life so far?
The death of my father, about year ago.

Have you any major ambitions left to fulfil?
Very simply, at this moment just one thing - how to survive here... I don't care now about anything global at all!

Have you any message for Alex?
More noise, more noise!!!

Have you any message for the Honour & Darkness Blog readers?
Keep listening music, keep buying music, keep collecting music, keep supporting music!

My thanks to Juris for taking the time to answer these few short questions, manfully battling the flu to get Nazgul his answers in record time! Check out the labels mentioned above for yourself on these links:

Beverina & War Bild und TonKunstschmiede
www.myspace.com/tonkunstschmiede

Evil Distribution
http://www.evildist.com/

Thursday, 25 February 2010

B-Machina > baseball cap

Band: B-MACHINA
Item: Baseball cap sporting the B-Machina band logo
Edition: only 1

"If you want to get ahead - get a hat..."

We've seen posters, t-shirts, coffee cups and magnets, but this is a first for Honour And Darkness - an official B-Machina baseball cap!

Screen printed with the current band logo on a handy white baseball cap, Nazgul has taken this item on his travels worldwide to promote the cause of quality music. Mauritius has been graced with the cap, as has Finland (although considerably less sun shone in the latter it must be said).

Come the summer months of this year, Nazgul stretches his wings to fly from his ancestral castle to the western shores of the USA, and will once again be taking this item with him. So an early heads-up to all US fans of the Blog - should you see the cadaverous frame of a winged beast striding purposefully down the boulevards of California and Nevada sporting this B-Machina cap at a rakish angle, then bid him hails of greeting, for it will be none other than your humble scribe...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

REHEARSAL CD1



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Rehearsal CD I
Format: CDr release as a promotional-only item through W.A.R. Productions (WAR008) in 1999. This four-track demo was not released for sale, and was recorded between 21/9/1999 and 22/10/1999.
Edition: Believed to be around 4 or 5 copies only

Track Listing:

01. Quenta Silmarillion 61.12

02. Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor 7.45

03. Durin 8.08

04. Khazad-Dum 2.39

Another rarity from the depths of the WAR Productions vaults, hidden away under the mountain ranges in Austria until recently liberated and sent to the Honour And Darkness archives in deepest England!

This CDr demo from 1999 contains a mixture of the extended 'Quenta Silmarillion' recording previously reviewed under the Hrossharsgrani "Ea" post of 26 January 2010, at the very cusp of the creation of the Uruk Hai project, together with earlier recordings from Hross' that hark back to the origins of the band and some hard-to-find early demos. 'Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor', for example, was subsequently released as the bonus track on the 2000 demo release "In The Mystic Forest" for those lucky souls fortunate to grab the very limited 6 special edition signed copies on Christhunt Productions.

'Khazad-Dum' (an alternate name for the black pit of Moria) also made its appearance on the "In The Mystic Forest" demo tape, as covered in this Blog on 25 November 2009, whilst 'Durin' made its first appearance (although ironically also on a promo not-for-sale tape) on the self-titled "Hrossharsgrani" demo of 1999. This latter release, incidentally, also held the edited 44 minute version of the 'Quenta Silmarillion' epic.

Speaking of which, the 'Quenta Silmarillion' track lives again, recently remastered and reissued in 2010 in tape format under the Uruk Hai banner but in 2 versions: parts 1/2 have come out on the Hexenreich label in an edition of 50, whilst part 2 appears in the Wulfrune Worxx split series backed with Hrefnesholt's "Dunklmoos" release. The original CDr release (source of the remastered material) was a 2004 release on AMF Productions, covered in these pages on 16 June 2009.

It's all atmospheric stuff, with less of the hoof-pounding percussion of some of the early Hross' demos and more of the lush symphonic keyboards that went on to be the signature of Uruk Hai. The harsh vocals circa 1999-2000 Hross' are still present though, helping to define the music in time and acting as an interesting counter-point to the otherwise ethereal melodies.

Coming in a slim-line jewel case with photocopied inlay, it has to be said that a rather nice touch is the colour-printed disc illustration with band logo and Viking long-boat: that's a sign of taking pride on one's work if ever there was one, given that this was a one-off not intended for sale!

Nazgul once again sends hails of thanks across the chill waters of the North Sea to Hugin for the release of this gem from his own collection.

IN MEMORY OF MIGUEL SERRANO [V/A]

Band: B-MACHINA and HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: In Memory Of Miguel Serrano
Format: CD pressed on the Valgriind label (Russia), cat ref VG31, released in 2009. A compilation album of 16 different bands from the Valgriind/Lost Reich Rex labels, mostly Russian in origin.
Edition: Believed to be 300 un-numbered copies

Track Listing:
1 Fanum - Girone Del Sangue 5:08

2 B-Machina - Conspiracy 4:34
3 Parchim - Асгард 5:09
4 Ryr - Rubedo 6:19
5 Hrossharsgrani - Unite Or Fall 7:06
6 Норма Реакции - Мироздание 7:10
7 Tchernoblyad - Gloria Eterna 6:38
8 F.k.fx - 3225 3:13
9 Akpan - A-Mor Siddhih 6:15
10 Dasein - Antinferno 4:39
11 Явь - В вечность 2:55
12 Orchid - Смерть героя 3:06
13 Sieg - Die Schwarze Sonne 5:07
14 Лютень - Дон Мигель 4:17
15 Lebensessenz - Farewell Letter 3:52
16 Зона Молчания - Memory 4:02

With this CD we find ourselves sailing into some potentially murky and controversial waters, so Nazgul feels a few explanatory notes and a bit of background to Miguel Serrano is in order here.

Firstly, however, an important point. In many of Alex's Bonemachine/B-Machina releases (and, it must be said, in some demos his from other projects) there is a statement to the effect that the band/music does not support war or war-based philosophy, that it is neither based on a political ideal nor is a political organisation, and that it is most assuredly anti-nazi in nature. The art in some of the early Bonemachine demo releases certainly depicts scenes of battle from real-life images of WWII but not for the glorification of war, nor for the pursuit of geo-political ideologies. Rather, it fits with the martial concept within the music, and emphasises the horror and futility of war.

Why all of this context, you may ask?

Well, unless you are particularly versed in obscure figures from the political canon the figure of Miguel Serrano is doubtless as unknown to you as he was to Nazgul (and indeed, as it transpires, Alex). Some internet research reveals pretty quickly, however, that he was in essence a Chilean neo-nazi philospher who propounded some pretty 'out there' theories that have become part of a movement called Esoteric Hitlarism.

To whit: "Miguel Serrano (10 September 1917 – 28 February 2009) was a Chilean diplomat, explorer and author of poetry, books (including 'The Golden Ribbon: Esoteric Hitlerism' in 1978, and 'Adolf Hitler: the Last Avatar' in 1984) Serrano is one of a number of Nazi esotericists who regard the "Aryan blood" as originally extraterrestrial. Serrano's forceful and anti-modernist neo-Gnostic philosophy - Esoteric Hitlerism - claims to elucidate the extraterrestrial origin of the Hyperborean-descended Aryans, image-bearers of the godhead, and postulates a global conspiracy against them by an evil inferior godlet: the Demiurge, worshipped by the Jews, lord of planet Earth, spawner of the primitive hominid stocks, and author of all base materiality.

The term Esoteric Hitlarism (or Esoteric Nazism) refers to semi-religious developments of Nazism in the post-World War II period. After 1945, esoteric elements of the Third Reich were developed into new völkisch (German: "ethnic") religions of white identity. Examples of post-war Nazi mystical philosophies include Esoteric Hitlerism and the Tempelhofgesellschaft. Esoteric Hitlerism includes the race-specific, pre-Christian religion (including references to Hinduism) of some Nazis Serrano finds mythological evidence for the extraterrestrial origins of man in the Nephilim [fallen angels] of the Book of Genesis.

Serrano suggests that the sudden appearance of Cro-Magnon Man with his high artistic and cultural achievements in prehistoric Europe records the passage of one such divya-descended race alongside the abysmal inferiority of Neanderthal Man, an abomination and manifest creation of the demiurge... "Of all the races on earth, the Aryans alone preserve the memory of their divine ancestors in their noble blood, which is still mingled with the light of the Black Sun. All other races are the progeny of the demiurge's beast-men, native to the planet." Serrano supports this idea from various myths which assign divine ancestry to 'Aryan' peoples, and even the Aztec myth of Quetzalcoatl (one of the 'White Gods' of the ancient Americas) descending from Venus.

He also cites the entirely respectable (but not widely accepted) scientific hypothesis of Bal Gangadhar Tilak on the Arctic homeland of the Indo-Aryans, as his authority for identifying the earthly centre of the Aryan migrations with the 'lost' Arctic continent of Hyperborea. Thus, Serrano's extraterrestrial gods are also identified as Hyperboreans. In attempting to raise the spiritual development of the earthbound races, the Hyperborean divyas (a Sanskrit term for god-men) suffered a tragic setback. Expanding on a story from the Book of Enoch, Serrano laments that a renegade group among the gods committed miscegenation with the terrestrial races, thus diluting the light-bearing blood of their benefactors and diminishing the level of divine awareness on the planet.

The concept of Hyperborea has a simultaneously racial and mystical meaning for Serrano. He believes that Hitler was in Shambhala, an underground centre in Antarctica (formerly at the North Pole and Tibet), where he was in contact with the Hyperborean gods and from whence he would someday emerge with a fleet of UFOs to lead the forces of light (the Hyperboreans, sometimes associated with Vril) over the forces of darkness (inevitably including, for Serrano, the Jews who follow Jehovah) in a last battle and thus inaugurating a Fourth Reich."

Add to this the fact that the Valgriind label is a sub-label of Lost Reich Rex, itself affiliated with the Wotanjugend web-site from which the following is drawn:

"So we, Wotan’s Youth, named our union, called to join our strength in independent, strong-willed and spiritual clean tank attack through walls of philistine to Hearts of those ones, the Spirit of North and White Rebirth lives in. We are Heathen Creative union based on the united strength of M8L8TH, Shepot Run, Nezhegol, Orchid, A Tower of Icy Ravens bands; Lost Reich Records label and Wolfenerbe portal. We are Voices of Nordic Self-expression, Panzer KampfWagen of Black Art, a Morning song of Wanderer in forest’s silence…. And all, that lives in our Hearts!

WOTANJUGEND are dedication to our art, fulfillments of all our life and our struggle, that interlaced with tragedy’s thread in our fates. Pure and cruel blow to the enemy’s backbone!

We – Wotan’s Youth, Spiritual Youth of our Kin, a part of it, that keeps and grow up in it’s heart sprouts of native Traditions of our Race, Race of Creators, Warriors and all those, who decides it’s fate itself, according a will of Norn, the will of our Father, a Universe Spirit, that revolves Star Wheel of Planets and Suns. We are those, who are not indifferent to the Future of our Kin, to the purity of our hearts, to clearness of our gazes, deep of our Weltanschauung, a Soul flight over the untermensch’s crowd chaos. In the rays of morning Sun and in the light of full moon, it the silence of forest, that falling asleep and in twilights, that are waiting for a New Dawn."

And it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that this is propaganda for a neo-nazi cult figure from an organisation itself versed in neo-nazi tendencies and statements.

Now the burning question of the hour is, of course, how our friend Alex got embroiled in all of this. The answer is simple, and not sinister in the slightest: given that Valgriind operates as an independent sub-label "created for issuing experimental music" it had previously released a couple of Uruk Hai and B-Machina releases in its own right. The nature of the main label behind Valgriind is obscure, and Alex tells Nazgul that the subject matter for this compilation CD was unknown to him when Valgriind asked if any recorded material could be provided for its content.

To Nazgul's eyes it seems that the artist has been misused and misrepresented by the label, and the problem is that it is easy in the eyes of the ignorant to tar all bands present on this CD with unsavory political views. Nazgul knows not the history of other bands represented here, so won't make any judgements thereof.

Now, it's true to say that it is entirely possible to listen to music without being swayed by any social/political/religious connertations supposed to lie within. Listening to so-called Satanist bands does not make one a Satanist by implication, and Nazgul's general view on life in the main is "live and let live" as far as it does not hurt others. In short, listening to this music does not turn the listener into a nazi suppporter, but the financial implications are that buying the CD will put money into the coffers what ostensibly can only be called a neo-nazi organisation.

All of which is rather unfortunate, not least because you have had to read all of this background and detail without having come across any mention of the musical merit of Alex's contributions. So allow Nazgul to set the scene. Neither track was recorded specifically for this collection (in fact, given most of the music is instrumental I suspect little of it was, as there are few spoken words that could be supporting any form of policial view) but were remixed from older material.

The B-Machina title is by far the best of the two pieces: the acoustic flamenco guitar is wielded by Max in an expert manner to add intruiging melodies to what initially sounds like an acquatic/industrial background, full of electronic drips and plips as if in a swamp. Things become clear at the end, with some samples from the 1954 classic "The Creature From The Black Lagoon". Esoteric Hitlarism this is not!

The Hrossharsgrani track sounds like an outtake from the "Pro Liberate Dimincandum Est" recording sessions, with a similar sound and feel to it. A spoken word introduction (again sampled from somewhere...!) gives way to an industrial sounding soundscape (using that same 'recorded in a tin shed in a sandstorm' noise effect in the background as noted in the "Sanguis" review on this Blog) with a single word spoken over the top periodically. Definitely fits in with the experimental concept of Valgriind, but very different to 90% of other Hross' material, feeling more like an early Bonemachine track were it not for the keyboard section that kicks in at around the four minute mark.

So there you have it. Two interesting tracks from two of Alex's projects damned by association with a pretty doubtful subject for a tribute album. The sooner the tracks resurface on a release of Alex's own devising - and the B-Machina one really should, as it's really rather good - the better, to save anyone else feeling that they need to buy this particular release to hear them.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

TRUMMER AUS STEIN - update

Band: HEIMATLEID
Title: Trummer Aus Stein
Reason for update: Promotional flyer for the demo

Back in September 2009 the long-lost demo "Trummer Aus Stein" from Hugin's side project Heimatleid was dusted off and put under the spotlight. Despite being a precursor to Bonemachine (and there is, of course, a Bonemachine track called 'Heimatleid') the sound of this particular project was early-Hrossharsgrani, pure and simple.

The demo was released in a limitation of just 100 back in 1999, and the combination of its rarity and age seems to be the main reason why it has disappeared over the years with very few people ever remembering its existence...

Which is why a small celebration of the tape should be made once again, through this simple paper flyer designed to promote the recording back in the day. Priced at the princely sum of 10 Dm (70 ATS) Nazgul wonders if the demo actually sold out, or whether there is a small box buried somewhere in the depths of Chanteloup Creations and/or Irrlichter Distro with a few dozen copies inside?! It's a safe assumption that few of these original promo flyers still exist, however, with 99.9% doubtless being consigned to the dustbin of eternity long ago.

The good news is that a second tape of Heimatleid recordings - containing the bands second demo plus bonus tracks - is safely sitting on the library shelf in Castle Nazgul, to be covered in these hallowed pages when the stars are suitably aligned....

Nazgul's Top 10: Hrefnesholt rarities

Hrefnesholt: Nazgul's top 10 rarities

Following a few questions on the subject, Nazgul has decided to compile some 'top ten' lists of his most precious items - those rare and hard to come by releases from Alex's bands - that currently exist in his collection in the library at Castle Nazgul. For the purpose of retaining Nazgul's sanity, he is excluding t-shirts, badges, posters etc from this list and is focusing solely on the music! Feel free to disagree with these lists - Hrefnesholt being the second in the series - as they are purely personal observations based on my experiences since 2001 trying to find this stuff! By necessity this list is out of date as soon as it's written, as other items that Nazgul is yet to track down will eventually overtake some of these entries...not least in this case when he receives his "Woid und Geist" tape from Depressive Illusions..!

10. United By Heathen Blood
Split release with Bagatur and dark ambient Italian band Symbiosis, this tape is still very freely available from distros around the world and well worth finding a copy of. The Hrefnesholt material is excellent, as is Symbiosis, who are greatly under-appreciated in Nazgul's opinion...

9. Hrefnesholt / Firinghuman
Split release from 2010, yet to be covered in the Blog but only literally arriving this week! Yet to be played, and in an edition of 66 copies.

8. Dunklmoos
Also arriving this week at Castle Nazgul, it's a split release between Uruk Hai and Hrefnesholt in an edition of 66 copies on Wulfrune Worxx. Good news - this means you can all buy a copy from Alex or Skogen, there should be enough to go around! Awesome news - Nazgul has been playing this for the first time whilst doing this Blog piece, and first impressions suggest it could well be the best Hrefesholt album yet released....

7. Hrefnesvinter
Limited to 1000 tape copies only, this was the very first Hrefnesholt demo dating all the way back to 2001. Given the number of tapes produced, and the fact that it was released via an established label, it's somewhat surprising that this tape isn't seen for sale more often. That said, some diligent research around European tape distros should find you one easily enough. The 'Hrefnesvinter' track itself was also released via Smell The Stench on the unlimited "Rabentanz" CDr.

6. Flusterwald
Great packaging for this CDr in a 7" sleeve, and rather a good EP as well. This came in an unusual limitation (19 copies) and as recently as January Nazgul noticed Alex had a few for sale via eBay. Consequently it's rare...but still available, and Nazgul wonders why you haven't already been making a bee-line to email Alex and sell your granny to buy a copy of your own?

5. Furchtelmandl
Possibly the item most likely to move up the rankings in the next revision to this series (due circa 2012!) Only 6 of these original colour-cover tapes were pressed, although as that was in Autumn of 2009 there may be a slim possibility that one may yet remain unsold back at W.A.R Productions. For this reason, and given the reissue of the tracks on an upcoming split release with Uruk Hai, this currently sits mid-table in Nazgul's top 10.

4. Wolfsnacht
Only 30 copies of this tape were made by Australian label Smell The Stench, which makes it a pretty tough find now let's be honest! Nazgul has managed to track down two of these, however, in the past years so it is perhaps not the hardest of all the Hrefnesholt releases to find despite this limitation. Advancing senility notwithstanding, Nazgul's spare copy of this will soon be finding a new home in Germany, with a fellow Huginophile...

3. Heidensturm
This is the original 2004 demo tape from Werwolf Productions in Italy, in a numbered edition of only 50 copies. Frankly, impossible to find anywhere now, and Nazgul has long been grateful that this particular copy turned up in an obscure distro listing a few years ago! Now reissued by Wulfrune Worxx in an edition of 44 copies, which makes it arguably more difficult to find...or at least, makes it a future collectible in its own right!

2. Wolf
Very hard to find now, to the extent that the copy you see here is the sole copy Nazgul has ever come across for sale. Great artwork, including the picture disc CDr itself, and long overdue a reissue I would think...?

1. Rehearsal 2001
Recently covered in this Blog, this is a one-off piece and came with an array of goodies, not least the battle-axe pendant shown above and a signed photo of Hugin. A very special item in Nazgul's collection, and without question the rarest - and most personal - Hrefnesholt item he owns.

LEBENIN


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Lebenin
Format: Cassette-only release through the W.A.R. Productions label (no catalogue reference) in 2009. The tape comes in a special A5-size orange envelope with Uruk Hai postcard cover, within which is the tape itself, 7 different postcard / photographs of Hugin and an Uruk Hai promo card.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 6 copies

Track Listing:

Side A: Die Ruckkehr zu den Grunen Feldern 14.10
Side B: Die Gemeinschaft 3.07

This intriguing little EP was a 2009 release from Hugin's own W.A.R Productions label and offered two tracks to the dedicated collector (and you had to be pretty dedicated and/or fast off the mark to get one of these, being only 6 in total! Nazgul's is number #2).

Side A offers up 'Die Ruckkehr Zu Den Grunen Feldern' ('The Return To The Green Fields'), a track familiar to us from the "Zeitzeichen" split album, also released in 2009 (see Blog post of 20 November 2009 for details). This track was described by Nazgul as "a real masterpiece, and one that you could sit around and listen to all day - a blend of piping (almost triumphal) keyboards, strings, thunderous drums and those harsh semi-whispered vocals. Although over fourteen minutes long it simply flies by in an unfettered mixture of hypnotic melody and innovation. One of the best Uruk Hai songs, period."

I think I'd stand by that description still, although the quality of the "Lebenin" tape leaves a little to be desired, as this track has a few audio 'wobbles' in it where it sounds as if the tape has stretched slightly - I think Nazgul's death-deck has been eating it behind his back....!

The second track 'Die Gemeinschaft' (literally 'The Partnership', although possibly it could be read as 'The Fellowship' if the listener is wearing their Tolkein hat) is a new one, however, and although an alternative version of it has been recorded on another of the myriad of 2009 releases from this project the version here on "Lebenin" is - Nazgul believes - a unique one. It starts with an eerie keyboard riff (reminiscent of the score to a vampyre movie!) before a more familiar Uruk-Hai sound kicks in with a building pattern of synthesiser chords underpinned by a martial drum-beat. A catchy keyboard riff then comes in to give the piece a nice melody, and it continues in this vein until its close. This version is without vocals, unlike the alternative recording on the "Ein Zeitzeichen Von Lebenin" tape, part of the "Remember CC" series.

Ultimately this is a very limited edition put out by Hugin for those of his fans who wanted something a little more personal, with of photos and a collectible alternate version of a modern Uruk Hai song. Nazgul's copy of "Lebenin" came with a signed dedication in gold on the envelope from the great man himself, and reads "From the Green Fields...to David" - as noted, the personal touch from a musician always in tune with his followers.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

...FROM THE DARK AGES - update

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: ...From The Dark Ages
Reason for update: Alternative cover art

This is the sort of thing that keeps collectors and fans alert and bright-eyed during their forays, so Nazgul hopes you too will appreciate this short post to cover alternate artwork for the Hrossharsgrani release "...From The Dark Ages", reviewed previously on these pages on 2 July 2009.

This was, as you may recall, a cassette only release limited to 150 copies that contained both previously unreleased tracks and a sprinkling of songs from early Hross' demos. It received a favourable review back in July, and would again today as it keeps alive the immense power of the Hrossharsgrani barbarian war-machine at full-pelt, steaming towards the enemy!

The final artwork for the cover of the released version showed a shield design with the Hross' band logo above it: the images above, of a sword jutting skyward between monolithic rocks without any band logo, shows an alternative cover design that was not taken forward beyond this trial stage. The second photo in this post shows Alex's signature beneath an alternative inlay written content. Another evident if small difference between the two covers is the use of the three '...''s in the title of the artwork above to signify the passing of time, not present in the title of the final version.

You can flick back and forth between the two posts to decide which cover you prefer on balance - hey, this could be the subject of a future poll...!

[Edit 20/02/2010: Alex has emailed to add some information to this post- "This cover photo I have taken at the ruin of Waxenberg where also the "Hugin" pic from Elisabetha "Sterbegesänge" tape was taken (on the same day). This copy was the first edition of that tape - I dedicated it to my wife Elisabeth". Hugin - the incurable romantic!

The translation of the inlay text reads as follows:

"...from the dark ages,
where mighty ravens
ruled the sky
..from mystic woods
where elves danced long ago
...of gleaming swords,
in the northern terratories
from this glorious age
this ode will tell you"

More interesting by the day...!]

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

DIE FESTUNG


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Die Festung
Format: Demo cassette released in 2009 by Wulfrune Worxx (France), catalogue reference WW-U, as part of the Honour & Darkness series. Black and white copied inlay, tape with printed side panels.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 39 copies
Track Listing:

1. Dunkler Herrscher 13.55
2. Eisen Hölle 9.09
3. Belagerung 8.38
4. Der Eisenkerker 2.12
5. Die Grosse Schmiede 27.31

An interesting demo this one, for a number of reasons. Firstly, of course, it falls into that most prestigious of series - the Honour & Darkness series! Alright, so Nazgul doesn't get out much, but he was - and remains - very proud of the honour bestowed on his Blog by Messrs. Hugin & Skogen when the series was launched by Wulfrune Worxx back in November last year.

Secondly, the album is musically interesting as it is (i) wholly instrumental in nature, and (ii) very reminiscent in parts to the sorts of music produced by B-Machina/Bonemachine and, to a lesser degree, WACH. This is most noticable in the electronic sound-samples and oddly mechanised percussion that recur through the tracks, and those readers familiar with Bonemachine's output will know what Nazgul is on about. Intriguingly, those readers who have this demo and like it, but have yet to try out Bonemachine, may find more of interest in that project then they anticipated.

The piece is also interesting as it could loosely be said to be a 'concept' album of sorts, in as far as there is a broadly consistent theme shown in the song titles and through similarity in passages within the music. In terms of the former, the listener is firstly greeted by the title of this demo, "The Fort", before encountering it's 'Dark Ruler' in track 1, proceeding through 'Iron Hell' in track 2, holding up in a 'Siege' in track 3, being a visitor to the 'Iron Dungeons' by track 4, before the final stop on the tour in track 5 - the 'Great Forges'.

Given the nature of the tracks, which blend into one another in some cases rather than having distinct beginnings and endings, you might want to interpret those track times detailed above with a hint of caution - that's Nazgul's best effort in this non-digital format to gauge the playing times!

In this context the mechanical beat of some of the music, the industrial/metallic hybrid nature of the tracks (particularly track 5) starts to make more sense. This is a 'demonstration' tape in the true sense, as it demos (and debuts) the hybrid sound of an Uruk Hai/Bonemachine combination that was a logical progression given the Hugin-connection, but which in turn doesn't necessarily seem to signal a move away from the lush ambient synth of more recent Uruk Hai albums but more indicates the 'art of the possible'.

It's also fair to say that given the different shades within the music it's a release that you do need to give time to in order for the music to seep into the pores, as it were. And speaking of which, Nazgul might just go and give his copy (#10, for the record) just one more spin on the Castle death-deck...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

VIKING BROTHERS


Band: HUGIN MUNIN (featuring Alex on tracks 1, 5, 9 and 12)
Title: Viking Brothers
Format: Digipak with black-faced CD released in Europe only by Beverina & W.A.R. (Latvia/Austria) in 2009 (cat ref BW007). The digipak contains two band postcards and one small magnetic card, plus a band logo badge.
Edition: 150 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

1. Ravens Empire 1:30
2. Battle For Asgard 3.21
3. Viking Brothers 4.45
4. Thor in Jotunheim 4:20
5. Odin's Blackwinged Messengers 3.12
6. Die For Odin 5.16
7. After Three Winters 4.28
8. Viking Funeral 4.38
9. By The Power Of Mjolnir 1.46
10. God Of War 4.02
11. Capture of Fenris 5:30
12. Set Sail Onward To Plunder 2:37

Just a quick post today, as Nazgul has a number of chores around the Castle grounds to be getting on with. However, before we begin let me quickly greet the newest honoured follower of the Blog, the 8th thus far, with hearty hails of welcome to Vruéamte.

Now then, back to Hugin Munin. As previously noted in Nazgul's review of "Raven's Empire" back in early November 2009, Hugin Munin are a five-piece Viking metal band, hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, and named after the companion ravens of Odin. This 12 track digipak CD is the band's fifth official release and combines the tracks from the "Raven's Empire" EP of 2008 and the "Die For Odin" EP from 2009. Both of those EP's were self-released affairs, so whilst the B&W issue of this digipak is confined to Europe only at least it gives a little more oxygen of publicity to the band's brand of Viking mayhem!

The connection with Alex is still the same with respect to the "Raven's Empire" EP, that short self-titled instrumental opener that was previously described in this blog as "a short, atmospheric intro contributed by Hugin of Hrossharsgrani. With swelling orchestral pomp of strings and brass and choirs, this is sweepingly cinematic in an epic, Conan The Barbarian style."

The other short atmospheric instrumental pieces combine sounds of the sea ('Set Sails Onward To Plunder') or horse-bound battle ('Odin's Blackwinged Messengers' and 'By The Power Of Mjolnir') with percussion and synth-sounds redolent of 'Gil-Galad' period Uruk Hai in a very effective manner, and would stand up as future tracks on a compilation album in Hugin's own name.

The remainder of the album from Hugin Munin gallops along nicely if you're into this sort of Viking-metal genre.

And just in case you are wondering whether Alex really has a strong connection to this South American horde, witness our hero sporting his Hugin Munin t-shirt...

Friday, 12 February 2010

1st anniversary of Honour & Darkness

Nazgul ponders his first online anniversary...

Welcome to Nazgul's little part of the Internet, celebrating its first anniversary on this very day - 12 February 2010!

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since the fledgling Honour And Darkness page (named after two early Uruk Hai demo tapes) saw its first post, as Nazgul spread his wings into the blogosphere to document his growing collection from the prolific Austrian music maestro, Alex Wieser. In that time we've seen a few developments, from reviews of both commercially available and one-off releases to interviews with fellow musicians and label/distro owners who have been an integral part of getting Alex's music out to the wider world. We've also seen coverage of promotional material and artwork, coverage of t-shirts and coffee mugs, in fact coverage of anything and everything Hugin where it helps to paint a fuller picture of the man and his work.

And what will 2010 bring, you may ask?

Well, more of the same is Nazgul's plan! Despite having posted 188 entries in 2009 and 25 thus far in 2010, there is still no shortage of items to consider for future posts so rest assured, as long as he is able, Nazgul intends to carry on doing what he does from the sanctity of his crumbling castle, perched high on the mountain overlooking the ruined cemetary beneath....

To get to this point, of course, has taken the combined efforts of more people than just your old uncle Nazgul, so a role of honour is right and proper to acknowledge all those that have made all of this possible over the past 12 months, and to suitably embarrass them:

  • Hails and thanks go out to Alex, of course, not only for being both a great friend and supporter of the Blog, but for allowing Nazgul access to an enormous amount of recorded and other material that is not only of great interest but is often of great rarity too, and for many unbelievable developments over the year - not least the Honour & Darkness series with Wulfrune Worxx!
  • Hails and thanks to Reverend Kim for both his friendship and for many excellent additions to Nazgul's collection, and for labours beyond the call of duty in respect of the infamous 'silver seal' edition of WACH's "The Fear" release!
  • Huge thanks to the enigmatic Skogen, of Chanteloup Creations and Wulfrune Worxx, for both retrieving previously thought lost items from the archives of his own collection (the Raben Nacht and Heimatleid tapes a case in point) and of course for having the balls to have run two labels that have supported the work of Hugin for over a decade now
  • Thanks to Micha, fellow Huginophile, friend and collector, for keeping the discographies at Metal Archives up to date after my posts and also for keeping Nazgul in the loop about the forthcoming releases! Micha, it must be said, bears with great patience my habit of posts covering random one-off items that disrupt the known list of releases for Alex's bands!
  • Thanks and drunken hails to Keegan at SfM in Canada - purveyor of both great music and crazy banter! A gentleman and a scholar both (hic!)
  • Thanks to Tanya and Igor at The Eastern Front, for a great interview on the Blog and for some fearless detective work to uncover some of the other badges from the Bonemachine "Another Time" box-set
  • Thanks to all those who Nazgul has bought items off over the years via various distros and online auction sites - too many to mention all by name, but the source of many great items. Particular hails, however, to Cedric for making the Hrossharsgrani "Urd" demo available, to James for releasing the Uruk Hai "Land Of The Shadow" CDr from hidden depths, Phillip at Odium Records for his invaluable additions to the collection, and to Andres at Hexenreich for some awesome Bonemachine items at unbeatable prices!
  • And - of course - last but by no means least my thanks to all of you, for taking the time to read and support this little venture.

When the Blog first started it gathered a core membership of just 7 Followers - the first of whom was the mysteriously named "Wood" - who had signed up (for free!) via Google to follow these missives. Since that time Nazgul had rather assumed the readership to have remained fairly small, so the recent addition of a flag counter to the site has caused some major surprise regarding visitor numbers: over 1,017 of you in the last 3 weeks alone, from as far afield as Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Mexico, Guatamala, Macedonia, Australia as well as the more anticipated territories of Germany, France, the USA and other parts of Europe.

Amazing - how many visitors will have passed through by the second anniversary Nazgul wonders?

Welcome, one and all, and I hope you will join me for the next 12 months in this great adventure....

REHEARSAL 2001




Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Rehearsal 2001
Format: Cassette-only release from W.A.R. Productions (Austria) in 2009. Rehearsal sessions of tracks compiled as a unique release for the Honour & Darkness Blog. Package contains a signed photo, dedicated black inlay card and is sealed with a pendant (see photo).
Edition: Only 1

Track Listing:

1. Nachtreich 1.48

2. In Flammen 5.03

3. Mittvinter 1.23

4. Nordlandschllacht 8.21

5. Trollsturm 8.00

6. Urd 6.53

7. Tagreich 1.48

Nazgul pondered a few ways of how to best celebrate the first anniversary of Honour And Darkness but finally decided to keep on doing what he's been doing all of this time, as it seems to sit well with his honoured audience. So let us consider this interesting morsel obtained from Hugin in the bleak autumn months of 2009....

It is, as the title makes plain, a rehearsal recording from one of Nazgul's favourite projects Hrefnesholt. It is also a particularly special recording as it was made as a unique tape for Nazgul and is thus another Blog world-exclusive *cough* in an ultra-personal edition of 1 copy! You'll have no doubt seen from the photos that Hugin really pushed the boat out for this one, with a superb drilled-case and pendant arrangement (the original design was exemplary, and in Nazgul's haste to open it and view the inlay he discovered that he could not replicate the original design of pendant wrapped around case! The photo is therefore not as good as the original looked, and Nazgul has learned to take photos first and open second!). Also in the package was a small dedicated black insert signed in gold with the date of issue and edition number, plus a classic photo of our hero in full-on black metal mode!

A couple of the tracks within will be familiar to fans of this band: 'Nordlandschllacht' was the bonus track on the recent Wulfrune Worxx tape reissue of the 2004 demo 'Heidensturm' whilst 'Trollsturm' appeared on the Rabentanz release of 2005. Both excellent synth tracks with harsh vocals and an unstoppable percussive momentum, they are blasts of heathen power in between more ephemeral pieces. For it is the case that there are some extremely subtle and - dare one say - delicate moments on this recording that characterise the split nature of the beast that is Hrefnesholt: one part pagan war-machine, one part ambient naturalism.

Opener 'Nachtreich' ('Night Empire') is an incredibly beautiful piano piece played across a familiar synthesiser melody from another Hrefnesholt album, and is echoed at the end of the demo in the coda 'Tagreich' ('Day Empire'). Second and third tracks 'In Flammen' and 'Mittvinter' bring the ambient natural sounds to the fore, with the chill breaths of mountain wind and the very sound of Mother Earth augmenting the underpinning keyboard melodies.

Penultimate track 'Urd' is an interesting synchronicity as only recently Nazgul purchased an early Hrossharsgrani demo by the very same name, which was completely unknown to most of us until offered for sale on eBay - strange how often that sort of coincidence happens!

Overall of course it may seem rather easy for Nazgul to sit comfortably in his castle library and proclaim great things about a demo that no one else has actually got a chance to listen to for themselves.

However, in the great cycle of things, I would imagine that in due course some of these recordings may become more widely available given the recent deluge of split-series tape releases and demos from W.A.R. Productions. Until such time, you'll have to take Nazgul's word that this is indeed another excellent Hrefnesholt recording, and one that he is particularly proud to have been gifted from Hugin - may his pennants fly proudly atop the spears of his ancestors..!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

UND WIRKLICHKEIT ERFULLT DIE SEELE WIEDER - update


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Und Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder
Format: Originally a CD-only release on the Black Attakk label (Germany), catalogue reference BA020, released on 7th June 2004. This is the Wolfrune Worxx (France) re-issue on cassette from 2009 (cat ref WW87) in their "Remember CC" series.
Edition: 44 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
1. Einleitung: Visionen & Fieberträume 02:34
2. Kinder der Nacht (Die Musik der Toten) 10:23
3. Unheilvolle Kreaturen im Mondlicht (Erster Blutzyklus) 04:19
4. Huren Dracula's (Zweiter Blutzyklus) 03:08
5. Fluss der Tränen - Elisabetha's Fluch (Eine Ode an die ewige Liebe) 09:52
6. Zurückgewonnene Jugend (Manifest des Blutes) 01:57
7. Kloster der Hoffnung (Bittersüss setzt ein das Leiden) 06:20
8. Verdorbene Erde (Furchtlose Krieger im Dienste des Meisters) 02:18
9. Das Totenschiff Demeter (Logbucheinträge aus dem Nebelmeer) 18:02
10. Der Wolf (Puls unendlicher Pein) 06:53

Originally covered in these very pages in June 2009, here is the 2009 cassettee re-issue of Und "Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder" by those purveyors of finest Vampyric Avant-Garde, Elisabetha. Another quality cover in this Wulfrune Worxx release, suitably dark and menacing in a gothic sort of way, and coming (in Nazgul's copy at least, which is #2 of the 44) on a rather lurid yellow-coloured tape!

It's the same album as the Black Attakk CD was, with 10 tracks of what Nazgul called at the time an effective amalgam of spoken-word period drama and atmospheric-yet-groovy guitar and synth driven music. The irony is that the original CD release is still probably more available than the limited edition tape that succeeded it, but hopefully you might have some joy in finding one of these formats to give a good home to...?

With little new to add, Nazgul thought it might be an interesting exercise to load up the song titles above online to see what translations from the original German into English might ensure, as often these services throw up the odd comedy nugget of rather too literal language-to-language translation.

Here's what resulted:

01. Einleitung: Visionen & Fieberträume - Introduction: Visions & Fever-Dreams

02. Kinder der Nacht (Die Musik der Toten) - Children of the Night (The Music of the Dead)

03. Unheilvolle Kreaturen im Mondlicht (Erster Blutzyklus) - Ill-fated Creature in the Moonlight (First Blood Cycle)

04. Huren Dracula's (Zweiter Blutzyklus) - Dracula's Whore (Second Blood Cycle)

05. Fluss der Tränen - Elisabetha's Fluch (Eine Ode an die ewige Liebe) - River of Tears - Elisabetha's Curse (An Ode to Eternal Love)

06. Zurückgewonnene Jugend (Manifest des Blutes) - Regained Youth (Manifesto of Blood)

07. Kloster der Hoffnung (Bittersüss setzt ein das Leiden) - Cloister of Hope (Bittersweet is the Suffering)

08. Verdorbene Erde (Furchtlose Krieger im Dienste des Meisters) - Ruined Earth (Fearless Warriors in Service of the Master)

09. Das Totenschiff Demeter (Logbucheinträge aus dem Nebelmeer) - The Dead Ship Demeter (Logbook Entries from the Foggy Sea)

10. Der Wolf (Puls unendlicher Pein) - The Wolf (Pulse of Endless Pain)

So there you have it - whilst the German speakers amongst you may doubtless be rolling with laughter in the aisles, the English speakers now have more of a grasp of the Bram Stoker fuelled plot!

Apropos of nothing much in particular, you might be interested to learn that the spelling above of Wulfrune Worxx (with 2 'x's) is the correct one, despite the tapes from the label showing a third 'x' in the logo. This addition was apparently the work of the over-zealous logo designer rather than the label themselves, although it's been left like that now for practical reasons!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

DIE RUCKHEHR ZUM PFADE...


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Die Rückhehr Zum Pfade (literally "The Return to the Path")
Format: Cassette-tape only release with hand-numbered xeroxed inlay. The original release was a five track version, self-released by Hugin circa 2000/2001. The expanded seven track Chanteloup Creations (France) version (cat ref. awe84) was most likely released in 2001, as the inlay notes recording was "during the dark and stormy winter 2000.2001"
Edition: Self-released version believed to be 5 copies. Chanteloup pressing believed to be 300 copies

Track Listing:

Self-released version:
1. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten
2. Von Blinkenden Schwertern
3. In Der Nacht Des Todesscheins
4. Aufmarsch Der Todes Krieger
5. So Finster Wie Es Niemals War

Chanteloup Creations version:
1. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (re-recorded) 24.52
2. Wenn Es Nacht Wird 1.11
3. Von Blinkenden Schwertern 11.20
4. Drachenerzahlungen 0.42
5. In Der Nacht Des Todesscheins 12.21
6. Elfentraum 1.10
7. So Finster Wie Es Niemals War 19.29

The impact that French label Chanteloup Creations had in releasing Hrossharsgrani (and other projects) to a wider audience in the early days of these bands lives should never be underestimated. As we've seen from earlier posts, the follow-up to a very limited edition 'domestic' version of a demo was on more than a few occasions a fuller release via the Chanteloup label - still in a limited quantity, but usually in the multiple-hundreds - that helped to establish whichever band it was in the underground scene. The Chanteloup story is still to be fully told, but that tale is for another day....

This demo, "Die Rückhehr zum Pfade" is a classic example of an expanded release taking the main elements of the original five track album, losing one of the tracks ('Aufmarsch der Todes Krieger') but replacing it instead with three short instrumental pieces, all unique to this version. Nazgul has but the Chanteloup version in his collection (#63 of the pressing), and has yet to find the original five track demo. Happily, the 'missing track' is to be found on the later "Rehearsal 1999" tape issued through Smell The Stench in 2006 and the bonus of having this version of course are the three additional tracks, unavailable elsewhere.

If you've heard early Hrossharsgrani you'll know pretty much what you're going to get on this recording, and get it in spades you will! Vocals that could flay your flesh at 50 paces, percussive effects that sound more like a seismic event than a one-man drumming episode, cavernous keyboard riffs that echo and thunder as if recorded in the very bowels of the earth, and a selection of long songs that both engulf and enthrall at one and the same time.

Of all of the early demos from the 1999-2001 period this one perhaps has the most variety and demonstrates both the power of this barbarian horde and the delicacy that it offered in some surprisingly gentle instrumental interludes. Nazgul's cassette case that houses this release is kindly dedicated by Hugin and contains the phrase "My fave demo" and you can see why - it sounds like he was having fun making it!

Of course, being a decade old makes this a pretty scarce find now, so if your path happens to cross one Nazgul suggests you grab it immediately and don't let go at any price!

Monday, 1 February 2010

AUDIBLE WAR #2


Band: BONEMACHINE split release with Gruuthaagy
Title: Audible War #2
Format: CD-R only release on SkullFuckingMetal (Canada) in 2006, no reference number. Split tape with Croatian band Gruuthaagy, who support "the total death of art." Plain CDr disc in paper sleeve with edition number 'sash' fastened onto cover with rusty wire, housed in pink plastic wallet.
Edition: Only 23 numbered copies

Track Listing:
Gruuthaagy
01. Crne Zastave
02. Robija
03. Heimkehrer
(Bonemachine track remixed by Gruuthaagy)
Bonemachine
04. Heimatleid
05. Babiy Jar
06. Dark Matter (Gruuthaagy track remixed by Bonemachine)

It was six months ago to this very day that Nazgul pulled the tape "Audible War #1" from his collection and dusted it off for the readers of Honour And Darkness. How appropriate, therefore, that we turn our attention today to the second part of this release, cunningly titled "Audible War #2".

The tape version you may recall was issued by Australian label Smell The Stench. On this, the expanded CDr version, we find the involvement of our old friend Keegan from SfM. The original pressing was in a hand-numbered edition of just 23 copies (Nazgul's being #17), although if you've read the SfM interview earlier in January you'll appreciate that a number of unnumbered copies have been traded around the globe over the years to spread the good word about both of these projects.

The CDr version essentially builds on the four tracks previously reviewed with the addition of an extra track from each band, although as a nice twist the songs are previously recorded by the one artist on the split and remixed by the other. Focusing on the ' Dark Matter' track for the moment, this is a sampled set of speeches from world figures such as George Bush from the early days of the Gulf War, set to an industrial soundtrack of mechanised weirdness and a prevailing electronic 'wind' that runs throughout the song. Certainly different from the normal fare found in the Bonemachine discography, and a fun listen.

The same track, incidentally, also appears as track 4 on the limited edition "Die Fleischmaschine" release of 2006.

Nazgul ponders the potential for this remixing lark, as it isn't something that has been widely used elsewhere in this project or indeed in others from Alex. There was, of course, the "Schicksalswinde" tape of Bonemachine remixes of Moloch originals from the 2008 box-set release "Traumklange Und Klagelieder", but the potential for a remixes or even cover-songs album from some of Alex's projects must surely be a strong possibility for the future?

Actually, on a complete tangent for a moment regular readers of this Blog will soon be rewarded with a 'cover version' of a classic song from the 1960s by one of Alex's projects, which the creator himself can scarcely believe he recorded! Feel free to email Nazgul with your suggestions for band and song, but in the meantime keep your eyes peeled for a future update...!!

Otherwise, the two remaining Bonemachine tracks on this release will be familiar to you all from other releases reviewed previously in these pages, particularly the 'Heimatleid' track which is virtually ubiquitous on Bonemachine albums in the 2005-06 period. That said, Alex did once mention to Nazgul that this particular track he felt to be one of the best he'd ever recorded, so you can't blame the man for wanting to get it out there to be heard!

Nazgul seriously doubts one of the original copies with sash will be easily available to find now, but you should be able to trade with Keegan for a copy of the unnumbered album should you be inclined to want to hear it. And Nazgul strongly urges you to do so!