Saturday, 27 March 2010

PRO LIBERATE DIMICANDUM EST Part II


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est Part II
Format: Limited edition 2CD set in DVD case released in 2009 by Steinklang Industries (Austria), cat ref SKD25, which comes with a Hrossharsgrani pin badge, signed postcard, and second disc with 2 bonus tracks in addition to the standard album. The tape version, issued in 2009 by Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW84, is part of the "Remember CC" series and has alternate artwork with just the 2 bonus tracks.
Edition: Limited edition 2CD limited to 150 unnumbered copies, tape version 44 numbered copies

Track Listing:

Bonus CD2 / tape
01. Dead Souls Forest 30.59
02. Wintertod 23.16

Nazgul's helpful note: for those reading the Blog in published order, you might like to skip ahead to the next post first, which deals with the standard release of this Hrossharsgrani album, before coming back to read this missive!

You may recall Nazgul's opinion was that old school fans of Hrossharsgrani might find the standard release of this album a little too polished, a little too soft. If so, there is a simple cure - pop the black-faced bonus CD into your death-deck, or insert tape 2 depending on preference, and prepare to hold on tight!

These two epic tracks - recorded back in 1999 and never before released - are about as primitive and ugly as early Hrossharsgrani ever got, and make such a striking contrast with the current music put out on the main album that it makes it logical (in a perverse sort of way) to pair the two discs together in this way. Goodness knows what the casual listener would make of it all, though....!?

Simply put, 'Dead Souls Forest is a drum-beat plod through a very long, almost hypnotic half hour of rhythmic music, with the occasional electronic sound interlude interjected to keep you on your toes. It's an extraordinary feat to sit through the whole song in one go - Nazgul's daily commute is barely long enough to get two thirds of the way through it - and requires a significant investment of time and patience to hear from one end to the other!

'Wintertod' almost defies description - akin to listening to a seismic event, or experiencing first-hand an aviation disaster as a crashing jumbo ploughs through a forest and elephant reserve whilst exploding on the way. Punishing to the ears, and firmly straddling the borders of Bonemachine extreme territories...

Certainly different, but definitely not to be filed under 'easy listening' ....! Great packaging in the limited edition CD version though, with a nice autographed postcard and separate inlay for the limited disc.

PRO LIBERATE DIMICANDUM EST



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est
Format: CD in DVD size case released in 2009 by Steinklang Industries (Austria), cat ref SKD25. Re-issued later in 2009 on cassette format by Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW83, with alternate inlay artwork as part of the 'Remember CC' series. This is the 'standard' issue - a limited edition 'Part II' also exists, covered separately in the Blog
Edition: Standard CD in unnumbered edition of 1,000. Cassette version limited to 44 numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Free (Intro) 0.58
02. Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est 4.47
03. None Of You 5.42
04. All Systems Go 3.02
05. The Glory Of All Dead 5.30
06. Never Surrender 5.43
07. Terminate 5.50
08. The Victory 5.55
09. Architect Of Fear 5.36
10. Mercyful 10.01

As the limited edition version of this release has been re-issued on cassette format in two parts (the first with the standard tracks, the second with the bonus tracks) it seemed to Nazgul a sensible idea to split this post into two and treat each item on its own merit.

This, then, is the standard Steinklang CD release along with the same tracks on tape courtesy of Wulfrune Worxx. And it has to be said it is a release very different from the majority of Hrossharsgrani albums and demos that precede it, save for the internet-download of "S.P.Q.R", as the very barbaric viking metal has given way to a more polished, film-score type of recording. There are more samples of film on this one release than on all previous Hross' releases Nazgul would wager, all threaded together with panache and skill with some quality ambient music. Gone are the pounding war-drums and fuzzy black metal guitar of yore, and those (in)famous Hrossharsgrani guttural vocals are nowhere to be found.

Such a change in approach has met with mixed reviews online, it must be said. On the negative side, this is what http://www.filthforge.org/ had to say about it:

"This project with a rather difficult name was born from Alex Wieser, mastermind of the appreciated Austrian entity Uruk-Hai, which moves between dark ambient and pagan folk rides. Hrossharsgrani is, on the contrary, more akin to his other side-projects B-Machina and Bonemachine, all devoted to a martial industrial rich of epic and gloomy tones. "Pro Libertate Dimicandum Est" feeds on film samples, noise broadsides, mechanical and monotonous rhythms, ghostly guitar chords here and here, and, actually, not much else.

Indeed, there's a terrible repetitiveness haunting the ten tracks of this CD, loosing a little bit only in the slow battle gait with imperious vocals of "None Of You", and in the grey industrial scenery of "The Glory Of All Dead". As for the rest, unfortunately, boredom ends up with overcoming, especially in the long and horrendous jumble of "The Victory", where, after the sixth time that a sampled voice repeats "for the victory!", you feel seriously like interrupting the listening. Martial industrial can turn into a pitiless double-edged weapon, especially if relying upon machines only. Just press the skip button without too many regrets."

whereas other sites, the Cold Spring distro included, are more receptive to the change:

"Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" was released specially for the 2000 years anniversary of the 'Varusschlacht' (also known as the Battle Of Teutoburg Forest and immortalised by Ridley Scott in the film "Gladiator"). Classical melodies combined with the iron rough edges of Martial Industrial on a crusade through the ages. A musical journey far off the trampled paths of industrial art was the basis for each single Hrossharsgrani track"

Nazgul admits it took a little getting used to, as it is markedly different from the traditional music by this project. Therein lies the rub, as old Shakespeare once said, in as far as it's difficult to see what wider audience might go for this, as it could be argued to be too soft for the long-term followers of the band, and perhaps too avant-garde for newer listeners to risk investing their money in?

It's a 'grower' this one - well worth the time to explore and enjoy (and yes, to echo the earlier comment of FilthForge, some of the samples can get a little repetitive over time in fairness) and as an evolution of an existing project progress is to be applauded: it would be all too easy for Alex to rest on his metaphorical laurels...

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

SKULL THE STENCH [V/A]


Band: BONEMACHINE (amongst other artists)
Title: Skull The Stench
Format: 2 x CDr issued as a joint release by Smell The Stench (Australia) and Skull Fucking Metal (Canada) in 2008, catalogue reference STS-NET 315 / SFM-021. Colour covers in DVD case.
Edition: Presumed unlimited

Track Listing:

CD1
01 MX Nihil - While They Were Fucking I Was Setting Their House On Fire
02 Novasak - Westside Exploding
03 Wallkeeper - Static Dreams
04 Animal Machine - Dementia
05 Ego Death - Do You Believe In Goad
06 METEK - Dolt Nummer
07 Daniel Price - Break (Over For Real Mix)
08 Fbrz - Sjaelvhat
09 Messiah Complex - Untitled
10 Oubliette - Dghd
11 Sick To The Back Teeth - Ten Puff Cap
12 White Mountains - The Personal Vanities And Ambitions Of Musicians Is Hair Related
13 Doldis - Taking Advantage Of Limited Intelligence
14 Endometrium Cuntplow - Filthy Whale Killer!!!
15 Duct Tape Sadist - Piss Off
16 Astral Vomit - Spirits

CD2
01 Flat Affect - Manifest Best Interest
02 Norss - Vloek Van Norss
03 B-Machina - Rhythmus Der Einsamheit (remixed by Mystified)
04 Ghoul Detail - Mugabe
05 Djet - 60BPM
06 Mystified - Idyll (remixed by B-Machina)
07 Kenji Siratori - Bioextermination
08 Better People - Portrait Of August's Heat
09 Slop Cake & Mixturizer - Hairpin Bend 295 And Ear, Lice, Life, Scourge
10 Djet - Interval A
11 Draugluin - Taur Im Duinath
12 Glaukom Synod - Money Money Money (Remix Of ABBA)
13 Kataplasm - Submissive Meathook Posture (Remix Of Noisecore Freak)
14 Slut Kull - Corpse Fucker
15 Gas Chamber - Untitled
16 Flippin Idiots - Untitled
17 Noise Nazi - Untitled
18 Zebra Mu - Untitled Live Track
19 Not Half - Iocn Uf Malnt


It was once famously said that if Motorhead came and lived next door to you, your lawn would die. Similar adverse effects on your surroundings might prove to be the case here, with this apocalyptic 2CDr compilation "Skull The Stench", a creation from the pits of hell conceived through experimental Australian label Smell The Stench and the downright insane SkullFucking Metal label of Canada. The combination of noise, electronic experimental, and other entirely undefinable (and largely unrepeatable) genres on this release could cause strip wallpaper at 100 paces, and is as sensitive as a swift kick to the testicles.

Buried amongst this chaos we find Bonemachine. In an interesting twist on the 'let's put forward a track for the compilation' approach of other bands, here we find Bonemachine mixing work by US band Mystified, and vice versa. The former track, 'Rhythmus Der Einsamheit', see Mystified burying the usual groove and mechanical melody of Bonemachine beneath a soup of electronic and static interference - almost literally adding in bells-and-whistles effects as the track progresses. At various points we - the intrepid listener - encounter a female singer fading in and out of the mix, and various de-tuned and static effects, punctuated with a brief pause at the two-thirds point, fostering a brief but misguided belief that it's all over. Ever wondered what Bonemachine might sound like filtered through a fuzzy 1930's wind-up gramophone whilst being consistently de-tuned on the wireless? No, neither had Nazgul, but if you're interested in finding out then this is the place to begin.

By way of contrast, the Bonemachine remix of Mystified's 'Idyll' - a song that Nazgul is not familiar with in its original form, so some assumptions are to be made here - contains far clearer percussive and synthesiser melodies above a fuzzy wall of noise and electronica. The logical inference is that the melody and structure emanates from the Bonemachine side, the fuzz being the original Mystified modus operandi. It's probably an easier listen than the preceding Bonemachine remixed track, whilst maintaining elements of both band's styles.

The remainder of the album contains material from some bands familiar to Nazgul through split releases with Bonemachine in the past (noise-meisters Kenji Siratori, Novasak) and others new to me, and is simply terrifying at times - Nazgul defies anyone to sit and digest both CDrs in one sitting without experiencing adverse physical side-effects. Not that we'd expect anything else of these two labels in all honesty, STS especially, based on the track record of bands that they've promoted.

If this type of aural assault is your bag, then you'll get a buzz from this extraordinary release. For everyone else, approach with extreme caution...!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

ELISABETHA > Huren Dracula's update


Band: ELISABETHA
Reason for update: Alternate art for the Huren Dracula's release...that never was!

Back on 5 December last year a small colour image was featured, as artwork for a proposed CD release called "Huren Dracula's" that was due to be released in 2003 by Blodmorfogh Productions. Said release never happened, but Honour and Darkness recorded the artwork for posterity and interest.

Looking through a file of artwork drawn by the illustrator to many of Elisabetha's covers - Neon Asthet, long-time original band member - the striking black and white drawing you see here came to light, itself another alternative for a cover. Whether the drawing is contemporary with 2003 is hard to know, as it is not dated, and in design it bears a striking resemblance to the style shown on the band's "Uber das Prinzip Der Unschuld" bonus 3" CDr from 2007.

Still, well worth putting on the record as Nazgul suspects that few will have ever seen this particular composition before, more's the pity.

A feature on the artwork of Neon Asthet is long overdue on Honour and Darkness, a situation that Nazgul will remedy at first opportunity.

NORDLANDSSCHLACHT



Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Nordlandsschlacht
Format: CDr release in a private pressing from W.A.R. Productions (Austria), numbered on the top left of the inner tray. Viking themed artwork, and plan silver disc.
Edition: Only 1 copy

Track Listing:

01. Nordlandsschlacht 8.31

As you've all been very patient these past weeks whilst the Blog received little in the way of new posts, Nazgul has unearthed this gem from his collection to share with you all to thank you for hanging on in there!

Another unique one-off release, courtesy of that splendid fellow over in the Austrian Alps, this single track CDr takes the epic 'Nordlandsschlacht' track and puts it on an EP of its very own. Some excellent artwork graces this release, particularly on the back cover where a fleet of long-ships have set sail to burn, loot, rape and pillage. Best make sure the castle portcullis is securely fastened this evening, methinks....

The song itself is a swashbuckling affair of typical Hrefnesholt merit, bringing together pounding percussion, catchy keyboard riffs and spoken word German in a riveting and memorable fashion. Never has eight and a half minutes flown by so quickly!

And good news, dear readers - this is one song that you don't need to have this unique item to enjoy: proceed with haste to procure for yourself the re-issued Hrefnesholt demo "Heidensturm" and you will find this very track as the bonus cut on that tape. Mind you, there were precious few of the re-issued tape made so you'd best be quick! Tell you what, you go and look for a copy now whilst Nazgul double-checks the portcullis fastenings....

ENTER MORDOR


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Enter Mordor
Format: Video CD of the 'Enter Mordor' track from 2006. W.A.R. Productions release in 2008 in unique promotional format, colour covers in DVD case.
Edition: Only 1 copy

Track Listing:

01. Enter Mordor (video) 4.44

Another one-off creation from the prolific Austrian maestro, this time taking the 'Enter Mordor' bonus video from his 2006 "Lothlorien" album and re-packaging in a unique DVD case format with full colour inlay.

As you'll see from the cover, the gloomy wooded depths of Mordor are atmospherically represented alongside the One Ring (rear cover) and an emerging and somewhat enraged looking Uruk Hai (front cover).

The video track itself is a self-produced affair, showing our hero wielding his sword in the forest - hmmm, that sounds a bit dubious, but you catch my drift - with technicolour panning shots of the woods and lakeside in this recreation of Middle-Earth's most fearsome domain.... It's a splendid accompaniment to the song of the same name, with snarled male vocals being complemented perfectly by the perfectly pitched female vocals of Hildr Valkyrie amidst a nerve-jangling musical journey that keeps the listener on the edge of their seat.

Another fabulous collectable housed in the Castle Library - Nazgul is a lucky chap indeed...

BOUNDED BY BLOOD


Band: HUGIN
Title: Bounded By Blood
Format: Cassette-only release on the Wulfrune Worxx (France) label in 2010, catalogue reference WW115. Black and white copied inlays, part of the Split Series of releases (backed with Uruk Hai "Gil-Galad"). These recordings date from January 2008.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

01. Yggdrasil 3.28

02. Asgard 4.10

In the interests of fair and proportionate coverage, Nazgul has decided to cover the Split Series of releases from Wulfrune Worxx one side at a time. This pair of tracks falls under the name Hugin and - in a rather nice touch - is dedicated on the inlay to Erik Wieser, son of Alex, on the occasion of his baptism. Hugin - barbarian warrior and proud father....

Both tracks are musically similar to past recordings under other project guises, notably Uruk Hai, both are purely instrumental and in the mix there is a distinct focus upon the treble and high-end notes on the keyboards/synthesisers that traditionally you might expect to find on children's nursery music: not to suggest that the music is childish, dear me no, merely that -given the context of their creation - you could actually imagine playing this tape whilst a young baby lay in its crib, which isn't something you would necessarily try with, say, Hrossharsgrani!

Nazgul discovers that 'Yggdrasil' is not a creation of H.P.Lovecraft as it initially sounds, but instead is found in the Edda and is is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

Likewise, 'Asgard', as we have touched on previously in the Blog, is mentioned in Norse mythology and is the country or capital city of the Norse Gods in which lies Valhalla.

Of the few Hugin releases thus far to come onto the market this is a particularly charming one and whilst not your average blow-yer-ears-off sort of release is a great listen when you're in the mood for something tranquil and relaxing. Nazgul's copy is #10 of 66.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

ZEIT - update


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title:
Zeit
Format: CDr version of the 2006 tape release, self-released by Hugin through W.A.R. Productions (Austria). Contains different tracks to the cassette pressing and alternate artwork, with colour front and rear inlays and a plain CDr disc. Recorded between December 2000 and November 2003 at both the WAR Studios and CCP Studios in Austria.
Edition: Only 4 or 5 unnumbered copies in circulation

Track Listing:

01. Schall & Rauch 8.02
02. Die 4 Dimension 1.00
03. Raserei (Klangniederschrift Eines Krieges In 2 Akten) 7.38
04. Endzeitensturm 8.17
05. Flucht Nach Vor! 2.27
06. Reinkarnation (Probeaufnahme 2003) 3.47 CD-only
07. Z 6.26 CD-only

Fear not, inrepid readers - Uncle Nazgul has not become lost in the castle maze, nor drowned in the moat. No, more mundane matters have kept your humble scribe away from the Blog over the past week or more, but with a small opportunity today comes a quick update to sate the demands of the hordes of Huginophiles worldwide.

What you see here was a surprise to Nazgul too when Alex mentioned its existence - a CDr pressing of the "Zeit" release (covered previously in these pages on 15 August 2009), which Nazgul had thought to be a tape-only release in a limited edition of 20. It transpires that Alex made a few CDr versions too, which gained the two tracks 'Reinkarnation' and 'Z' but lost both 'Erneuerung' (which is a tape-only bonus track) and 'Akustische Impressionen Der Letzten Groszen Schlacht'. These changes, together with the alternate (and striking) artwork make this an update with a twist.

You may also recall that the vast proportion of the early tracks on this album are from the "Schwarzes Jerusalem" CDr release, with the difference being the unique songs on both the tape and CDr versions. This release was covered (almost a year ago!) on the 7 April 2009, in which Nazul proclaimed "great balls of fire - this is some good stuff! What you have on offer here is a tale of two parts: industrial hell, and catchy industrial rock. There are a couple of 'noise' based tracks scattered across the album: "Die 4. Dimension" is an minimalist industrial noise piece reminiscent of the inner workings of a machine, whilst "Flucht Nach Vor!" has a somewhat more "industrial sci-fi" feel to it, with its laser-percussion effects."

So let us consider the two additional songs on this, the even rarer CDr pressing. 'Reinkarnation' kicks off with a percussive blast before a far more relaxed strumming acoustic guitar vies with some effect-laden vocals for your attention, drums/thunder rumbling in the background. Just when you think the song will break out into a full-scale industrial-fest it reverts back to the acoustic riff, and calms things down again. A great mellow track by Bonemachine standards, and very enjoyable.

The second new, and final track on this release, and takes the listener more down the avenues of industrial-noise familiar to most Bonemachine fans. At the start it is vaguely reminiscent of 'Heimatleid', which is either ironic or terribly clever, as that track featured on the b-side of the "Zeit" tape pressing. More and varied effects pile on as the song progresses, giving your ears and imaginations a good work-out by the conclusion six and a half minutes later!

Whichever format you find it in, "Zeit" is undoubtedly a fine Bonemachine release and Nazgul commends it unto you!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

THE URUK-HAI


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nachtschwarze Momente / The Uruk Hai
Format: Split tape release between Vinterriket and Uruk Hai, released on Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2010, catalogue reference WW114. Part of the Split Series of releases.
Edition: Hand numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:
Vinterriket
1. Durch die Leere der Nacht
2. Leblose Sphären
Uruk Hai
3. Uruk Hai Pt.1
4. Uruk Hai Pt.2
5. Uruk Hai Pt.3
6. Uruk Hai Pt.4
7. Uruk Hai Pt.5

The third official split release between Vinterriket and Uruk Hai, following on from the "Nazgul / Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit" (2004) and "~2~" (2005), and the fourth if you include the "Ira Deorum Obliviorum" three-way split (2006) which also featured Nak'Kiga. Two of these splits have been covered in this Blog so far, and one is yet to feature....

So to this - which I presume both Alex and cz (Vinterriket) see as the third formal release, hence to the large number '3' that appears on the inlay! A-ha, eyes like a hawk, that's Nazgul. The Vinterriket tracks appeared initially on the 2009 "Nachtschwarze Momente" EP (limited to 500 copies), and follow in the more mellow folk-ish approach adopted in the past year or so, as opposed to the cold, raw black metal of old. Nazgul likes it, and is happy to play either side of this tape as both are well worth your time and attention.

You, of course, may be more interested in the Uruk Hai tracks, so let Nazgul give you a little more detail. Much like certain series of films retain a title track that is instantly recognisable by music or by name (for example - the creepy piano score from 'Halloween'), there has been a series of tracks by the name of "Uruk Hai' spread across a number of Uruk Hai releases stretching back to the band's original demo. Whilst being musically different to one another, the part-work series has led to a nod of familiarity whenever the next part has appeared on demos and albums.

Nazgul has saved you the task of tracing the history of these tracks by identifying the source recordings:

Part I 'In Durin's Halls' (1999) / 'Elbenwald' (2000) / 'Uber die Nebelberge Weit (2000)

Part II unreleased rehearsal track (2000)

Part III 'Elbenmacht' (2004)

Part IV 'Valkyrian Romance' (2006)

Part V 'Black Blood, White Hand' (2009)

To add a slight sense of mystery to this chronology, there seem to be two different versions of Part I, as the "Elbenwald" version is a sub-two minute affair, whilst the "Uber..." version tops 7 minutes. This of course presumes that the "Uber..." version isn't a fledgling Part II rehearsal in it's own right...? Nazgul shall investigate further for the benefit of posterity!

It's rather nice to have all of the series together in one place, as you can hear a massive change in the production standards and in the maturity of the music between tracks that effectively span a decade. However, in a bizarre twist, the 2010 "Elbentraum" release - literally released last week by Depressive Illusion Records - contains as one of it's 8 tracks...'Uruk Hai Part VI' ! So not quite the full set of tracks as you might have supposed.

With only 66 copies in circulation (Nazgul's is #5, kindly dedicated and signed in gold on the case by Alex) you still have a chance to grab one of these if you're quick. For the quality of Vinterriket material on offer, and the chance to collect Uruk Hai songs that in more than a few cases are very hard to find in original demo form, that's an investment well worth your time.

DURST NACH UNSTERBLICHKEIT - update


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Durst Nach Unsterblichkeit
Reason for update: CDr pressing of the 2000 demo, with alternative cover art
Edition: Only 3 copies

This is an interesting little item - it's the first demo from Elisabetha (self-released in 2000) but on CDr format, with a Christopher Lee cover and the artwork from the limited edition (100) tape release being shown on the inside of the inlay.

Honour and Darkness looked at the tape release back on 13 February 2009, and concluded:

"As a listening experience, it's wonderful. What could have become a very cheesy sub-school play production is elevated to a glossy, professional affair that is superbly paced and put together. For a self-produced demo, it is really well presented and the additional lyric sheet (think of it as your concert programme) is a nice touch - especially with Nosferatu lurking in the shadows in the background."

The track listing on this, the CDr version, is the same as the tape pressing. The title translates as "Thirst After Immortality" whilst the additional text on the alternate cover art reads "Blur ist Leben Und es Wird Mein Sein" and translates loosely as 'blood is life and will be mine' (possibly!?)

Of course, the arrival of this CDr at Castle Nazgul was via Hugin himself, just in time to throw the previously published top 10 Elisabetha rarities into turmoil...!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Werwolf Productions


Abibial (Werwolf Productions)

Nazgul is delighted to have the opportunity post this short interview with Abibial, of the esteemed Werwolf Distro. In Nazgul's early career of tracking down Alex's many and various releases the items that consistently proved amongst the hardest to find - yet were amongst the most rewarding to finally own and play - were the very limited edition Werwolf Productions releases. Always with the enigmatic label logo and simple but effective copied inlay, the excitement was palpable when a Werwolf product came through the letterbox.

Indeed, it has to be said that Nazgul has always had a soft spot for Werwolf as the very first item to find a home in Castle Nazgul was the "Honour" demo released by Abibial and his label. It also must be recorded that one of the few remaining releases from Alex's early years that Nazgul has yet to trace is the "Battle Magic" tape, also on Werwolf, so should you have one and be interested in trading for it then let me know!

Anyway, Nazgul hopes that you find this exchange with the Abibial of interest, and as you read it add your hails of thanks to yet another individual who has helped promote and spread interest in Alex's music over the years: without individuals in the scene like Abibial, willing to dedicate the time and effort to running a label and distributing music, few of us would have had the chance to discover any of Hugin's bands at all....

1. Your name and location?

My name is Abibial, I am Italian, from Bergamo, a town in Northern Italy near the Alps.

2. How did you become involved in the music business?

I played for many years in a Black Metal band named Imago Mortis, and decided to start with a little underground label/distribution named Werwolf Prod. in 2000 with Northaurora.

3. How did the Werwolf label get it's name?

I decided on the name Werwolf in honour of our Ancestors, the Longobards warriors: they loved to dress with wolfskins to frighten their enemies.

4. Is there an aim or philosophy behind the label?

Yes! To contribute to the rebirth of ancient European Spirit and Tradition, against the modern world.

5. How did you first come across Alex and his music?

I remember that a friend of mine told me about Alex for trades. I contacted him and our collaboration and friendship started.

6. What releases has the Werwolf label made of Alex's music?

I have released tapes in limited edition and a CDR, this is the list:

Hrossharsgrani:

Blut (2003 MC lim. 66 copies)
Ancient Tales (2003 MC lim. 88 copies)

Uruk-Hai:

Battle Yells (2003 MC lim. 66 copies)
Battle Magic (2004 MC lim 22 copies)
Honour (2004 MC lim.40 copies)
Ea (2004 CD-R lim 100 copies)
Long Forgotten Tales (2004 MC lim 50 copies)

Elisabetha:

Isten Szek! (2001 MC lim. 66 copies)
Blutrausch (2003 MC lim. 66 copies)

Hrefnesholt:

Heidensturm (2004 MC lim. 50 copies)

7. Which of these items have sold the best?
The majority of the items was destined for trades and diffusion, passion and devotion to the underground music only.

8. Do you have a favourite piece of music from Alex's bands?

I like very much the Hrossharsgrani "Blut", Uruk-Hai "Battle Yells", "Long Forgotten Tales", Elisabetha "Blutrausch" and Hrefnrsholt "Heidensturm"

9. Tell us about some of the other bands you've promoted through the label?

We produced also others bands, like Winterblood (Frozen Dark Ambient), Nocratai (Industrial Black Metal), Totenkopf (Kombat Black Metal) and Sinfonica Notte (Frozen Dark Ambient)

10. What happened to the label - has it now disappeared?

The end of Werwolf Prod. was natural, simply being about having no time and an overlap of personal life priorities.

11. Have you any funny stories from the days of running Werwolf?

No particular anecdote… a simple existence!

12. Other than Nazgul, do people still ask you about the old days and seek out the Werwolf releases?

Not many, you are one of the few crazy ones! Ha Ha!!

13. What was the first single you ever bought (be honest!!)?

Ummm… I think our Italian Zucchero, but I understand that it is not my kind of music! Ha ha ha!!!

14. And the first album you ever bought?

Iron Maiden "Killers" in 1988

15. Do you have any ambitions in the music business still fulfill - tell us about what you're doing now?

Now I have another little underground mail-order & a local live agency named Omega Music Entertainment (www.myspace.com/infomega - e-mail: infomega696@gmail.com). Otherwise I don’t have any business ambition, mine is pure underground metal devotion.

16. Any message for Alex?

See you in mix battle!

17. Any message for Honour & Darkness blog readers?

Thank you very much for the interview and support, write to us to receive our mail-order at infomega696@gmail.com

Thank you, Abibial, and good fortune with the new ventures....!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Hrossharsgrani > CCP Records publicity


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: Mail-order catalogues for CCP Records

Just a quick entry of this bright, sunny Sunday morning: Nazgul has commented in past posts about the singular dearth of magazine items or other printed coverage of Hugin and his projects. A few clippings have made it into the Castle library, notably a Spanish magazine interview for the "A Night In The Forest" release plus a few other bits and pieces.

Whilst not a magazine in the strictest sense, these two mail-order catalogues for Austrian label CCP Records from Summer 2003 (to the left) and Autumn 2001 (on the right) did have the uncommon good sense to put our hero and Hrosshasgrani on their cover! Photo 2 shows the interviews inside, covering the "Schattenkrieger" and "The Secret Fire" albums. As these are in German, and as Nazgul's fledgling translation skills are not quite up to it, they remain untranslated at this point in time, but I'm sure at a future juncture this will be resolved.

If you are wondering about the other band members, remember that this period followed the early one-man demo period of the band when Hugin was joined by his companion raven Munin and also by Flygja on vocals, circa 2002/2003. After this, the band was put on an extended hiatus until 2006's "Rehearsal 1999" tape release on Smell the Stench, and then 2008's comeback "Sanguis" release.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

GORE VS. WAR


Bands: BONEMACHINE and GUTS FOR DINNER
Title: Gore Vs. War
Format: CDr release through Smell The Stench (Australia), no catalogue reference. Released circa 2006 in a red paper sleeve.
Edition: Presumed unlimited

Track Listing:

Bonemachine
01. Süss Wie Stahl 15.04
Guts For Dinner
02. Butcher XTC 2.43
03. Let's Kill 2.26
04. Ballad Of A Gore Angel 2.05
05. Torture 1.38
06. Holyday in Frostland 2.25
07. Death Fuck Armageddon (bonus track 2002) 1.49

Yet another Bonemachine release that has slipped under the radar of Internet awareness, this time issued through the erstwhile Leigh Stench's Smell The Stench label from Australia and containing the long-lost demo material from Alex's short-lived grindcore band Guts For Dinner.

The history of G.F.D. was previously covered on the Blog back on 21 July 2009 when the project's first and only demo CDr was reviewed. Here we find the tracks resurrected for one last hurrah, augmented with a bonus song for added value! The original demo - limited to 13 copies - is impossible to find anywhere now Nazgul would wager, so to have the tracks available on this split release is rather handy from a posterity point of view. Quite what any unsuspecting Bonemachine fan would have made of them following the first track is anyone's guess, however!?

The back of the CDr does proclaim "Guts For Dinner (R.I.P)" so the inference is clear that the project is now defunct, but like all good horror films keep one eye open behind you for furtive movements in the shadows...

And so onto the Bonemachine track, 'Süss Wie Stahl' ('Sweet As Steel') which, at over 15 minutes duration, clocks up a longer presence by itself than the 6 G.F.D. tracks that follow it. It must be said too that this track fulfils Nazgul's First Law of Bonemachinology - namely, the less coverage that exists about the song online the better it probably is. This really is a brilliant track and whilst a little hard to put into words one that works aurally with little explanation needed.

The track is based around a core sample from a speech from Adolf Hitler (and Nazgul has to apologise here, as he knows not what the speech is saying or from whence it originates) with varying industrial and electronic samples and music going on around it, including some additional neo-folk samples of massed male choirs at the end of the piece.

It's one of those almost throw-away tracks that appears on this sort of underground and unheralded release and nowhere else, that you've either been lucky enough to get your hands on or will probably be forever lost to the wider audience. Nazgul would be hesitant about recommending the G.F.D. tracks to anyone but the most fervent Huginophile or crazed grindcore collector, but the Bonemachine track is a must-have for anyone even vaguely into that particular project.

AT THE END OF THE FIRST AGE


Band: URUK HAI
Title:
At The End Of The First Age (An Opera About Ered Luin, The Blue Mountains)
Format: Cassette-tape only edition released in 2009 through Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW89, as part of the "Remember CC" series. Recorded in W.A.R. Studios between February/March 2009, with session appearance from Pr. Sergiy (Moloch)
Edition: 44 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. At The End Of The First Age 27.21

Opera. There's a genre guaranteed to split opinion even within classical music circles, let alone amongst metal and rock fans. The definition of the genre varies, but a workable approximation could be defined thus: "an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble." So could it really be the case that this humble tape release aspires to include all of these elements within its remit...?

Well, errr - no! What you do get - and this comes as a blessed relief for all Uruk Hai fans Nazgul would wager - is a nigh-on half an hour piece of ambient craft punctuated by the hoarse-throated screams of Moloch artist Pr. Sergiy. Not so much "it's not over until the fat lady sings" as it is "it's not over until the Ukranian screams his last."

The next logical question to ask - and before you've even put the demo tape anywhere near the death-deck - is what are Ered Luin, The Blue Mountains? Well, Tolkien Legendarium to hand, it transpires that:

"The Ered Luin or Blue Mountains, also known as Ered Lindon, is the mountain range at the far west of Eriador, in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-Earth.

During the First Age, the Ered Luin was an unbroken line separating Eriador from Beleriand. Seven rivers arose in it on the western side, and the land these rivers flowed through was known as Ossiriand, and later also as Lindon, therefore the mountains were sometimes referred to as the Ered Lindon. The dwarven cities of Belegost and Nogrod were located in this range.

The mountain range was broken during the war of the Valar against Morgoth, and at the middle of the range the sea broke through, creating a new terminus for the river Lhûn. In the middle of the gap, where the Lhûn met the sea, the Grey Havens were built. When seen as the border of Lindon the Ered Luin were called Ered Lindon."

So - suitably briefed and not troubled by large women clad in dubious breastplates and shouting heartily, what offerings are within this 2009 demo?

The piece begins with an expansive and majestic synthesiser moment, which does succeed in conjuring up images of cast mountain ranges and wild scenery. As the music develops, however, sonorous voices begin to appear, casting a shadow of uncertainty over what was previously a bombastic and friendly atmosphere. As time passes, the screams being - unsettling, emotive, distant yet in your face, Nazgul is troubled by the screams! It is akin to proceeding along a path cut through the mountains and coming suddenly across a lone dark creature of Mordor howling his heart out at the moon - a moment of uncertainty and fear, yet of compassion. A most effective and atmospheric demo!

Musically as well as synthesiser and what has become to be contemporary Uruk Hai style percussion there are some interesting piano interludes too, one minute playing in a light melody of its own and the next performing as the bass element to underpin the music generally. Keen listeners will also spot elements of Uruk Hai's 'Gil Galad' track in the mix, which was of course on the split release "Vereint durch die Kraft uralter Wälder" featuring none other than...Moloch.

As with all of the "Remember CC" series there are only 44 of these tapes in circulation (Nazgul's being #2), so the availability of the demo is uncertain. That said, the exact same track does appear on a split release with Italian horde Orcrist, itself issued in 2009 and reissued as part of Wulfrune Worxx's "split series" in 2010. More of this in another post.

Overall, a compelling and unusual release that highlights the benefits to be gained through partnership working with like-minded souls...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

HUGIN > coffee mug



Band: HUGIN
Item: Coffee cup bearing the project logo and a rather familiar scene...
Edition: Only 2 copies

Hugin - the man - is a legend. Well, if not yet we're working on it, right?! Hugin - the band/project - is a recently created venture that in early releases so far exists to bring together the music that Alex has made for other bands through his extensive collaborative working arrangements.

Some of these collaborations have been covered in past posts on Honour and Darkness, and you may be familiar with recordings on albums by Hugin Munin, Folkearth, Dark Domination and Forgotten Land. Other collaborations we've yet to explore in these pages, such as the Nachtfalke connection.

Until this year if you wanted to hear these contributions and various ad hoc recordings you'd have to track down the original source album, but rejoice: Hugin, alongside staunch ally Skogen at Wulfrune Worxx, have - through the 2010 "Split Series" - rediscovered much of this work and re-released it on various tape releases, literally as Nazgul types this. Indeed, if you'll allow Nazgul a moment for a slight aside, should you be a French reader of the Blog this must be a good time to invest in cassette tapes as the volume of recent issues from Wulfrune Worxx has surely cornered the market in the available tape reserves of that country!!? Not that Nazgul is complaining, oh dear me no!

More coverage of these Hugin split tapes in future posts, methinks....

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this coffee cup - yet another edition to the china cabinet in the cavernous feasting halls of Castle Nazgul. The wrap-around design - showing the Hugin logo to the top left and the title "Asgard" in red to the bottom right - may strike a chord of familiarity with you, and if so it's probably because you're a Bathory fan.

The orginal artwork (shown above, third image) is originally by Peter Nicolai Arbo (June 18, 1831 – October 14, 1892) a Norwegian painter who specialized in painting motifs from Norwegian history and images from Norse mythology. He is above all noted for this striking picture - 'Åsgardsreien' - a dramatic motif based on a Norwegian folk legend and Valkyrie, which depicts a female figure from Norse mythology and has most famously (in metal circles at least) graced the cover of Bathory's "Blood, Fire, Death" release. It's not co-incidental that the lettering design of the Hugin logo mirrors that of the Bathory band design on this latter album, as it's no secret that Alex is a bit of a Bathory fan and has covered the odd track on past demos, notably 'Song To Hall Up High' from the Hrossharsgrani "Ancient Tales" demo.

Suitable for quaffing vast quantities of mead and other suitably 'epic' brews as well as coffee, Nazgul is rather fond of this mug it must be said - what a splendid fellow that Hugin is....!