Saturday, 29 May 2010

LITTLE BOY - update


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Little Boy
Format: Cassette tape issued by Depressive Illusions Records (Ukraine) in 2010, catalogue reference CUT065. Tape comes in a glossy colour inlay. Official reissue of the 2007 promo CDr from Bonemachine.
Edition: Hand-numbered to 33 copies only

Track Listing:

01. Little Boy

Back on 14 March 2009 Nazgul covered the promo-only 3"CDr release of "Little Boy" (under the band's former Bonemachine logo), and at long last the track has been revitalised with a new introduction and remix to be issued as a B-Machina tape in its own right.

The only other place you'd have been able to hear this was on the B-Machina 2CD compilation "Erste Rotation" in a 'remastered nuclear version 2006', but this tape release contains a different mix again to even that version, using what sounds like a detuned radio programme (of a woman singing) infused with static rather than the monastic-style chanting at the outset of the 'nuclear version'. Elements of the vocals on this version have also been through the effects/remixing process, although the basic premise of the lyrics - the dropping of the Little Boy atomic bomb by the Enola Gay Superfortress on 6 August 1945 - remains the same, as detailed in that original Blog entry.

Depressive Illusions have done B-Machina proud with the glossy cover for this release, which poignantly features on its cover a young mother cradling her deformed little boy in the ruins of the post-apocalyptic landscape left by the nuclear strike. The fully opened inlay begins to show the full extent of the devastation left by the bomb, which is still shocking to behold to this day.

One interesting item to note is that whilst the full list of musicians is listed on both this tape and the 2CD compilation, two of the German contributors have names changed on the later tape credits: Frostkrieg and Lupan now being shown as Felix and Bin Zynisch. Not necessarily in that order, mind you, but I presume the guys are the same on both releases? Also interesting for Nazgul is that more of the names from the original recording credits now make sense as to where they fit into the grand scheme of things - the penny has now dropped that Valerio is from Symbiosis and that Andres is from the Bestia horde. Nazgul catches on ... eventually!

The inlay notes that this release coincides with "the 65th anniversary to begin a year of awakening", and in these troubled times a bit of global rethinking on arms policies wouldn't go amiss.

Nazgul offers his thanks to Sergiy at Depressive Illusions for allowing him the honour of having #1 in the series of 33 tapes, which is really well presented and once again shows the care and quality of this small label. Check out their other releases via www.myspace.com/depressiveillusions.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

HROSSHARSGRANI > Schattenkrieger promo

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: Promotional flyer for the "Schattenkrieger" album on CCP Records

A swift dip into the Castle archives led to Nazgul emerging with this glossy A4 card in hand, showing four copies of the promotional flyer for the 2003 Hrossharsgrani release "Schattenkrieger"

As can be seen, the original cost was 13 Euros, and still advertised were the "Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" mCD for 8 Euros and also "The Secret Fire" CD album at 12 Euros. Buy the lot, and you'd have saved the princely sum of 3 Euros in a package deal!

Nice dragon, by the way...!

The original Honour and Darkness review of "Schattenkrieger" can be found at 19 May 2009.

REHEARSAL 2001


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Rehearsal 2001
Format: Cassette demo pressed in 2010 by Wulfrune Worxx (France) as part of their Split Series range of releases, catalogue reference WW108. The reverse side of this split tape is "Asgard" by Hugin. Tape comes with black and white copied inlay and C60 style cassette.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

01. Untitled 3.23
02. Untitled 7.45
03. Untitled 9.24
04. Untitled 7.38

Any bout of deja-vu experienced through the title of today's Blog is probably due to the fact that you have in the back of your mind the posting from 12 February 2010 where the unique Hrefnesholt tape "Rehearsal 2001" fell under the Honour and Darkness spotlight. That particular gem is nothing whatever to do with this Elisabetha release, however, which is an official Wulfrune Worxx pressing in a limited quantity of 66 copies (this one being #10, and kindly personalised by Hugin).

This short collection of untitled rehearsal tracks date from 2001, around the time the band were issuing some of their most iconic demos - "Demeter", "Isten Szek!" and "Sterbegesänge" on tape, together with their 3-track vinyl EP "Bluthochzeit". As you might very well imagine therefore the music contained within is reminiscent of that period in the band's history, and features their trademark eerie and uneasy atmosphere together with some Gregorian chanting and the odd wolf baying at the moon!

Listening to vintage Elisabetha has always been a little like taking a short cut through those gloomy woods near home - it always turns out right in the end, but occasionally you might scare yourself witless on the way! Here the oddly juxtaposed instrumentation and weirdly haunting compositions will raise goose-flesh on the listener's skin on more than occasion, whilst the overall atmosphere conveyed is one of grave unease and remains highly unsettling throughout. Masterful!

Remember y'all - "Blut Ist Leben"

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

HREFNESHOLT > Uraungst promotional card


Band: HREFNESHOLT
Item: Promotional card to promote the band's 2010 "Uraungst" release on the Percht label

Here's a quick update, for a recent Hrefnesholt promotional item received from the frozen Austrian Alps!

What we have here is a glossy colour card to promote the "Uraungst" tape recently released by Hrefnesholt on the Percht label which promises, according to the rear legend, "Extreme Perchtn' Musi Aus Osterreich". Even Nazgul can translate that, so enough said!

More of the actual release in due course, but the promotional card is interesting for the fact that the side showing the wooded glade is, in fact, an expanded version of the "Woid & Geist" demo (or, more accurately, the "Woid & Geist" demo cover is a contracted version of this photo) rather than being of the "Uraungst" cover. Strange indeed, but Nazgul is sure that there's a perfectly logical explanation for that!

It's a lush, green vegetation that covers this woodland scene, just the sort of traditional setting that suits the folk/pagan/traditional Austrian musical traditions now so much a part of the band's output.

The black and white reverse side shows a image of the tradition of Perchtn' complete with eerily masked man (and also, fascinatingly enough in a morbid kind of way, a one-legged man negotiating the snow following behind). If this talk of Perchtn' means nothing to you, then Nazgul suggests you browse back to the "Woid & Geist" Blog of 8 May this year for more details!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

An interview with ... Symbiosis

Symbiosis

One of the fringe benefits of running this Blog has been the sheer pleasure in getting to talk with various interesting people - be they label owners, band members or fellow fans - all of whom have some connection with Hugin and his work. It has also allowed for the exploration of other band's music, some of which is excellent and also deserves a wider burst of publicity.

Today Nazgul is proud to publish this brief interview with Valerio Orlandini, the sole creator and member of Italian ambient project Symbiosis. Now, longer-term readers of Honour and Darkness will know that Symbiosis have featured twice in past postings being part of split releases with both Uruk Hai ("United", 28 February 2009) and Hrefnesholt ("United By Heathen Blood", 1 May 2009), and in both cases the quality of the Symbiosis material was commented upon at the time.

It is a project well worth your attention and support, particularly if you enjoy Uruk Hai. Should you be intrigued to find out more for yourself, follow the link to http://www.symbiosis.tk/ or www.myspace.com/symbiosisrealm for more.

Without further ado, let me welcome Valerio to these pages and let the questions commence!

1. Your Name and Location:
Valerio Orlandini, Florence - Italy.

2. Band(s) name:
I mainly run two projects: Symbiosis - melodic dark ambient, and another one that carries my own name, more industrial oriented.

3. Can you tell us a little about the philosophy behind your music?
Symbiosis is about Man and Nature. It may seem (and maybe it is) an abused theme, but it something that is really felt. It is also a scream against the modern world, its way of living and its way of thinking. The music I make with the other project – namely Valerio Orlandini, has not a uniform philosophy behind it: it depends on the single compositions. I chose not to use a pseudonym for this reason, too: anything can describe an idea of mine, should be presented through this projects, without the necessary limitations I put on Symbiosis' stuff.

4. What song of your own would you recommend to a new listener to the music of Symbiosis, and why?
"E Ultima Venne la Neve", for which a video has been made, too: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn2Z7NxidFg. It summarizes all the elements of Symbiosis' sound: frozen pads, warm orchestral melodies, some discreet vocals, epic percussion. If you like that song, you will certainly like Symbiosis music - otherwise, no luck :)

5. What music would you say has most influenced your own?
Well, it depends. From a stylistic side of view, as far as my early stuff is concerned, surely (ambient) Burzum, Mortiis and Vinterriket. Plain and obvious, but true. Now I am more influenced by the ambient/industrial scene, both famous names (from Lustmord to In Slaughter Natives) and minor ones. But my will to create music was born together with my passion for black metal. I never wanted to play black metal, because I would add only another useless project to the tons that exist, having ruined the genre and making me lost any interest in it.

Notwithstanding this, I remember than, years ago, while listening to some Emperor stuff, something grew inside me, and I decided to make music. Then, another couple of years passed before I seriously began to do something concrete, but the flame had been lit.

6. How did you first come across Hugin, and his music?
Having been fond of ambient music, especially the one born inside the black metal scene, since years, listening to Uruk-Hai was definitely straightforward. The first album of his I had bought was "A Night in the Forest": what wonderful work! Then I discovered the other projects of Hugin, and all seemed to be parts of a whole, together creating a parallel world where to lost and forget about the miseries of our reality. How I came across him, is explained in the next answer!

7. How did your split tape "United" with Uruk Hai come to be recorded?
After the release of my first demo ("Passages", February 2006) I sent an email to Hugin to ask him for a trade, since I have been listening to his music since a lot of time. He replied me very kindly, and after having listened to some samples on my website, he asked me to make a split album. I could not believe to my eyes when I read the email: one of my favourite artists that asked me for a release together!

I worked very hard to create in one month (the release times were really short) something better than what I had done for my first demo in a year. The result, I have to say, satisfies me still now, even if I am currently a more skilled composer and producer.

8. Are there any more split works with Alex planned?
There is a compilation on the way, called "Wandering Streams". Both Uruk-Hai and WACH will be featured. It is a work where I gathered some of the finest dark ambient acts out there: each one gave me a song, and I mixed them all together, to obtain a long and uninterrupted stream of sound. An idea not new to electronic music, but rarely seen in ambient music.

Currently, we are looking for a label. Must be a great one, for great is the material I have in my hands!

9. Do you have a favourite piece of music from Hugin's many releases?
I think that "A Night in the Forest" is amazingly brilliant. It can really take the listener to another dimension. How to forget the feelings of that album after having listened to it? It is more than music, it is truly a mystical experience. I listened that album very few times, because I want it to reserve it for moments when I can really handle all the energies that album set free.

10. What song (your own, or someone else's) do you wish you would never have to hear again?
Before the release of my first demo, I made a cdr with four early compositions to test my skills. The first track was featured on "Passages", and I still like it a lot. The other three had some good melodies, but was poorly arranged and produced. Luckily, just a close friend of mine listened to them, but I wish I had never written those songs. Then I am plenty of bad stuff, but I never released something I was not satisfied with.

About someone else's stuff, obviously the world has plenty of bad music, too long to mention it all!

11. What piece of music would you like played at your funeral?
Burzum's "Moti Ragnarokum", the version made by Tronus Abyss. I am not ashamed to say that their version of that song moves me to tears every time I listen to it.

12. Your favourite album cover of all time?
Interesting question, and a hard one to be answered. Surely, Burzum's "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and Ulver's "Nattens Madrigal" are amongst my favourites. I would add Emperor's "In the Nightside Eclipse" and Tronus Abyss' "Vuoto Spazio Trionfo" covers. I listen to many genres of music, but for sure black metal has the best album covers ever. This attention for the visual part of a musical work is something that really fascinates me. I like to see an album as a "whole": music, (eventual) lyrics, artwork.

Uh, I almost forgot to mention practically all Mortiis' covers.

13. What was the first album you ever bought?
It was an album by Zucchero, a famous Italian blues-rock singer, when I was 9 years old. But the first album that really got me into music was surely "A Little South of Sanity" by Aerosmith, when I was 12. It is still one of favourite albums ever.

Since I like this question, I add something else: first metal album bought - Iron Maiden "Brave New World"; first black metal one - Satyricon "Nemesis Divina"; first ambient one - Burzum "Hlidskjalf".

14. And what was the last album you bought?
Burzum - "Belus". First time I listened to it, it appeared to be a good album, but did not know if it was at the same level of its predecessors. Now I am listening to it continuously, it is an absolute gem. I lost almost all my interest in black metal, and I have not been buying a BM CD for years, but "Belus" is something that makes me remember why all my passion for music began with black metal... simply perfect.

15. The craziest thing you've ever done?!
The idea of what is crazy and what is not varies so much from person to person, that it is hard to answer. In general, I am somewhat a rationale person, so nothing "crazy" enough comes to my mind...

16. your best and worst experiences in life so far?
Wow, you are making harder and harder questions! Best ones, apart from personal facts that people could not care less, surely every time I play live is always a deep emotion. Worst experiences? All the times I lost somebody I loved, but, again, nothing that people who do not know me personally could be interested in.

17. What ambition(s) have you left to fulfil (musical or other)?
Musically: to be signed by a label huge enough to receive all the support needed to create my music and travel the world to play it live, but small enough to leave me all the artistic independence I need to do it without pressure.

Other ambitions: to find a job that can let me live in symbiosis with Nature (I am currently studying environmental biology for this purpose), a beautiful princess to share my life with, some time to know better the tradition of my place and the ancient wisdom of this world.

18. Have you a message for Hugin you'd like to pass on through the Blog?
I want to thank publicly Hugin for his loyalty and friendship through these years. He made me explore, for the first time, the world of professional music, and I learned lots of things working with him.

19. Have you any messages for H&D Blog readers?
Sure, I invite everybody to support this blog, spreading the voice about its existence. And if you have some spare time, check my music. If you love Hugin's creations, you might like mine! Feel free to visit http://www.symbiosis.tk/ and http://www.valeriorlandini.altervista.org/ and to write me a mail, no matter what your message is.

20. Finally, if you were elected king of the world, what would be your first decree?!
Paganism as state religion.

Nazgul once again thanks Valerio for his kindness in answering these questions, and wishes him good fortune on the long path ahead. There is, by the way, a new Symbiosis album for sale via Hypnotic Dirge - http://www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com/theseengulfingwinds-tobuy.php

THE REALM OF THE LIGHT






Band: DRACHENFEUER
Title: The Realm Of The Light
Format: 2-disc promotional set (privately pressed) to seek label support for the forthcoming debut album from this new collaboration between Alex and UK ambient maestro Jim Kirkwood. Contained in a large blue envelope, the CDr discs are orange and the inlay in full colour. Also included is a large colour double-sided card with biographical details (see main text).
Edition: Promo item, copies unknown

Track Listing:

Disc 1
01. All Shall Love Me And Despair 7.36
02. Helms Deep 5.36
03. Flight Of The Nazgul 10.58
04. Do Not Touch The Water 7.32
05. So Far Like Never Before 6.40
06. Father Of Dragons 9.12
07. Valar 21.31
Disc 2
01. The Black Gate 8.17
02. Beren & Luthien 17.19
03. Nightfall At The Edge Of The Old Forest 5.18
04. Dol Guldur 11.27
05. The Desolation Of Smaug 10.18

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the dawning of a new era in the musical output of our hero, Hugin. The project Drachenfeuer (literally Dragon Fire) was put together with English musician Jim Kirkwood (www.jimkirkwood.com) in 2009 following both individuals contributions to the excellent Lord of the Rings based CD "The First Ring" (hails, Fabien!). You can read more about that particular collectors item in the Blog post of 9 October 2009.

Currently they are looking for a label to release this album (and if you run a label, or know someone who does, then may Nazgul suggest you head straight to your email and offer these guys a deal?), this great promotional set was kindly sent over to Castle Nazgul by Hugin last year. Since then, it's been on regular play in the Castle death-deck and it is not an overestimation to say that this must be one of the best albums that Alex has put his name to. He must be proud of it too, judging by the fact that we have the rather formal declaration that this is "Jim Kirkwood & Alexander Wieser's Drachenfeuer" on the card inlay.

There aren't many new projects who would get away with trying to release a double album as their debut, but then these aren't mere morals we're talking about here! Jim has been releasing excellent ambient and ethereal music for many a moon, and if you have any doubt of Alex's musical credentials then Nazgul can only imagine that you must have surfed onto the wrong page in error!

How might the music herein be described? Well, there are clear influences from both Alex and Jim at work - there are some passages that are pure Uruk Hai, for example - yet between them they've managed to create something that transcends both individuals and becomes a pseudo-cinematic experience in its own right. If Hollywood are looking for film scores for future LoTR films they could do far worse than give these guys a ring, quite frankly. A wealth of musical nuances are found within, from the gentle sounds of nature to the ethereal female chants and choirs that lifts one spirits to the heavens. There are limited vocals on this album - the aforementioned choirs - and so the synthesisers are left to carry the load and create the imagery. This they do to magnificent effect!

Nazgul asked Jim about the background to this project and what his thoughts on it were back in August 2009, when news of the recordings became known. Here are his thoughts:

"As you have heard, Alex and I are collaborating on a JRR Tolkien inspired project, which came about because of our mutual interest in this author and our both appearing on The First Ring CD to which we contributed a track each. Fabien suggested we get in touch with one another and see what happens! I think Alex and I are very much on the same wavelength, so to speak. It is early days yet, but we have completed two tracks so far and there are a number of others in the pipeline. It is an exciting way to work, and very fast.

So far Alex and I have two tracks done, 'Touch not the water' and 'All will love me and despair'. With a bit of luck we might have two more done today, 'Father of Dragons' and 'The Black Gate'. I think it is a safe bet that we will have enough material for a CD in the next three weeks if not sooner. I keep my fingers crossed that it will make it"

In terms of the musical style, Nazgul pondered, what might be expect?

"The style is difficult to pin down exactly. I might describe it as symphonic/ambient with a dark edge, but that will probably not be adequate. We have talked briefly about an album and Alex has come up with a logo, so I am hopeful of that outcome."

When this one finally hits the streets - which it will if there is any justice in the world - then you really need to buy it. In fact, Nazgul is tempted to instigate a fund of fan's contributions to get this album released, in much the same way that Marillion fans manage to help fund and support that band's releases. Now there's a crazy idea...!

Unless you have the eyes of a hawk the biog details on the back of the promo card might be hard to read, so allow Nazgul to assist in that as the content is fascinating:

"In 2009 when the sun was beating down on the earth like the fiery breath of a dragon the project Drachenfeuer was created by Jim Kirkwood and Alexander 'Hugin' Wieser. Since the early 80s both musicians have collaborated with other well known bands/projects and have a long list [of] releases.

Drachenfeuer began with a composition for "The Black Land" - an epic tale based on J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Silmarillion'. This concept makes it possible to flee from the grey everyday life to a better glorious world full of magic and wonders. Classical melodies combined with iron rough edges of metal march on a crusade through Middle-Earth. Jim and Hugin tell of mystical, enchanted woods, of fire-breathing dragons whose wings conquer the clouds, of gleaming swords of kingdoms of the north and of power and its true strength found in dark battles.

It is the year 2009 and the blood freezes in the veins at the sound of clenching steel and a further, greater battle is fought. The way of the warrior is contained in the flesh and steel, baptized in fire and ice. The Dragon Lord portrayed in Drachenfeuer rises with iron force to fight his battle in the land of shadows. Symphonic dragon hymns, mystic and bombastic choirs of battle lead the listener to deadly moors, rise up high in the sky and chase dark creatures through enchanted woods. Powerful choirs, drums of war, cymbals and fanfares build a symphony like the ride of a Valkyrie.

Drachenfeuer's first work consists of the symbiosis of heroic battle hymns and soundtrack-like passages full of mystic characters. This epic tale crosses the borders of the known arts into a world beyond where flesh, steel and courage do not yet lie hidden in the shadows. "The Black Land" is a new ode to Mordor as well as a further manifestation of the violence of the Dark Lord. This album will attract every single dragon warrior.

Flesh & Steel

Jim Kirkwood & Alexander Wieser"

An interesting read, not just for the insight into the original working title of the piece. And yes, if you were wondering where you'd seen this cover art before, it is the full-colour version of Uruk Hai's "Dragon War" demo tape, reviewed yesterday on Honour and Darkness. Nazgul's efficiency surprises even himself, sometimes...!

Friday, 21 May 2010

DRAGON WAR


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dragon War / Suremise Teine Tee split release
Format: Cassette demo released by Wulfrune Worxx (France) as part of the Split Series in 2010 with Estonian horde Bestia, catalogue reference WW112. Black and white copied inlays.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

Uruk-Hai
1. Smaug's Destiny 10.05
2. Rivendell (unreleased track 2000) 6.27
3. The Fate of Man (first take non Vocal version) 8.46
Bestia
4. Suremise Teine Tee
5. Libahunt
6. Virastus Tousvas Tules
7. Oiglaste Tulek
8. Ronkade Parved
9. Silmis Härmatis

The "Dragon War" split demo comes as a timely reminder to us all about the ambient majesty and splendour that is the Uruk Hai project.

From the 'classic' format of black and white copied inlay wrapped around a C60 tape (courtesy of the retro-style pressing on Wulfrune Worxx) to the nature of the music on offer - which nods heavily in the direction of the band circa 2004 - this is what Nazgul would deem a 'proper old-school' demo both musically and in presentation that deserves your full support and attention. For the record, Nazgul's copy has been kindly dedicated by Alex on the case in gold pen, and is #10 of the 66 copies produced.

Relatively short at only three tracks, there is still much variation in the music on offer here that should delight all fans of this eternally satisfying project. Opener 'Smaug's Destiny' weaves its magic with synthesiser alone and allows the listener to visualise the dragon's lair in Erebor, deep within the Lonely Mountain. This is another Lord of the Rings based track of course, Smaug being one of the last great dragons of Middle-earth, rising to prominence by laying waste to the town of Dale and capturing the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) with all of its treasure. Smaug was already centuries old at the time, this having happened over 200 years before the events of Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', with which this particular dragon is most commonly associated.

The second track 'Rivendell' is recorded on the inlay as an unreleased track from 2000, re-mastered for this release in 2009. That said, musically it is nothing like the typical Hrossharsgrani/Uruk Hai crossover tracks from that 1999-2000 period, and to Nazgul's ears comes across as a much later musical development with its subtle and catchy keyboard refrains. The magic must be in the re-mastering, methinks!? That an unreleased track from 9 years ago can be this good and yet never had seen the light of day before now makes you wonder what else Hugin has hidden away in the W.A.R. Studios over there in darkest Austria....?!

And so to 'The Fate of Man', recorded here in a 'first-take non-vocal version' with guitar provided by Lord Messir (who you may recall is with Latvian horde Dark Domination, covered in the Blog on 21/09/2009 in relation to Hugin's contribution on their EP 'The Reign Of The Fallen One'). Here, Lord Messir's guitar adds an edge to an early version of what proves to be an awesome song when it appeared in its final version on the 2010 "Black Blood, White Hand" digipak release (and which will also be on the forthcoming "Angband (Metal Fortress)" release from Runenstein Records). Still impressive without vocals, this is perhaps one of the most evocative Uruk Hai tracks in recent years and once heard lodges itself in your brain for the duration!

This split release is with Estonian horde Bestia, not a band known to me but described in Metal Archives as 'Epic Black Metal with Brutal Death Metal Influences' and who clearly have been releasing product since 2001. Given the band features one Andres on vocals, and given that the Hexenreich label of Estonia also features Andres as its owner, Nazgul senses a connection....and perhaps an interview for the Blog is due? A band for a little more investigation....

As a final thought, have you noticed the rather awesome cover art on the Uruk Hai side of this demo, featuring a flaming dragon in full flight desolating passing mountain tops. Think how much more awesome this would look in full colour......and watch this space!

STAHLERNE LICHTER [V/A]



Band: WACH (amongst other artists)
Title: Stahlerne Lichter
Format: CD in digipak format, released in 2010 on the Licht Und Stahl label (Germany), catalogue reference LICHT006. A compilation of the label's genre releases, including Dark Ambient, Industrial, Noise, and Neofolk.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 300 copies

Track Listing:
01 Dieter Müh - Let Him To Sleep 4:56

02 Flutwacht - Stahlfieber 4:41

03 N.Strahl.N - Blutleuchte 6:30

04 Galerie Schallschutz - Electro Convulsive Therapy 5:07

05 Atrox - Shunning The Light 6:15

06 Minamata - Soviet Time / Putin Time 5:01

07 Le Syndicat - Legal Slavery 5:49

08 Vacio Perfecto - Torsion Mecanica 3:37

09 Kraftkammer - Autoclave 2:04

10 Leiche Rustikal - Es 5:22

11 Wach - Licht:Maschine 6:07

12 Fieberflug - Schleppend 4:28

13 Erdlicht - Lichtbote 4:54

14 Sturmkind - Im Fall 4:59

15 N.Strahl.N - Inwendig 4:32

Compilations pursue usually two goals: they provide (or, at least, should provide) on the one hand offer the consumer - for comparatively little money - an overview over new or unknown artists associated with a particular label, or genre of music. On the other hand it allows a label the possibility to introduce its signings to a wider audience. Both of these is the case for "Stahlerne Lichter" (literally "Steel Lights") on the fledgling Licht Und Stahl label.

What is also extremely positive and makes this compilation doubly worth purchasing is the fact that it contains exclusive contributions by the artists involved, at least as far as old uncle Nazgul is led to understand, as he's not entirely familiar with all of these groups you understand!

For an overview of the album in totality, let me refer you once again to those trusty and far better informed reviewers at www.gothtronic.com for their thoughts:

"Licht Und Stahl is a fairly new label that releases post-industrial music, run by M.W. Löhr from N.Strahl.N. While the label releases mostly CDr’s and tapes, this compilation is pressed on a real CD. The compilation presents well-known acts among lesser know, which is always a nice thing. The bigger names include Flutwacht, Galerie Schallschutz, Atrox, Leiche Rustikal and of course N.Strahl.N.

The compilation starts very strongly with a track by Dieter Müh, with a track called ‘Let Him To Sleep’. The track is a combination of deep spacey drones, industrial sounds, some processed guitar sounds and vocal samples. The song has a good balance between drone ambient and harsher industrial moments. Flutwacht presents us a very old school sounding track with ‘Stahlfieber’. The song is far removed from his power electronics onslaughts and is more of a ‘metal on metal’ soundscape. N.Strahl.N continues with ‘Blutleuchte’, which is a good percussive old school song with some mild power electronics moments. Galerie Schallschutz is known for their subliminal sound imagery and here is no different, with a track called ‘Electro Convulsive Therapy’. Lots of various subtle sounds surround a heavier industrial ambient atmosphere. The message is delivered through speech samples. The second half of the song is quite heavy and ventures into a kind of Land:Fire industrial ambient approach. Great song!

Then it's Atrox turn to for some industrial violence with ‘Shunning the Light’. The song however begins more minimal, with deep and slow pulsations and a very dark and gritty industrial sound. In the second half, industrial hell breaks loose and we enter the Atrox power electronics arena. Minamata is a very heavy power electronics project and with ‘Soviet Time / Putin Time’ they create an unhealthy dose of industrial noise. Still some sort of structure can be found, and is quite layered, and is not mere static noise. With ‘Legal Slavery’ Le Syndicat also go for a more old school sound, but is aided by more modern glitchy moments. Vacio Perfecto delves with ‘Torsion Mecanica’ into a heavy industrial soundscape with a very corrosive atmosphere.

Kraftkammer gives the listener a very intense sound experience with ‘Autoclave’, which sounds like the beast awoke in the power plant. Another well-known name, Leiche Rustikal is a diverse project, so it’s always guessing what to expect. With ‘eS’ a very gritty and percussive track is delivered that sounds like a train-wreck is passing by, which is a compliment! Things go relatively quiet with ‘Licht:Maschine’, by Wach. The song is a very menacing and dark slow industrial soundscape. Feiberflug also creates a very dark industrial soundscape with ‘Schleppend’.

Then things turn unexpectedly melodic with Erdlicht’s ‘Lichtbote’, which also ventures into mild martial industrial. The song is layered with some organ and orchestral sounds. Sturmkind also delivers a quite diverse sound from the rest with ‘Im Fall’, which is a very nice neo-folk song. N.Strahl.N comes by again to close the compilation. This time it’s more of an old school industrial soundscape and less noisy.

‘Stählerne Lichter’ is an excellent and interesting industrial compilation. A lot of the tracks make good use of an old school approach, which also makes sure the whole is well-rounded. Some of the highlights now are the tracks by Dieter Müh, Galerie Schallschutz, Atrox and N.Strahl.N. But the whole compilation is interesting and there are no bad tracks. A real must for lovers of old school industrial and power electronics."

I like the fact that this reviewer stated that "things go relatively quiet" with the WACH track, as Nazgul began his listening experience with that one (as you might imagine) and quiet wasn't precisely the word that he'd have chosen for it! More of a older Bonemachine influence is present in this composition to these ears, with plenty of industrial skulduggery and more than a touch of mechanised frenzy about the piece.

All in all, an interesting and worthy compilation that has opened Nazgul's ears to a few new bands, which is rather the point of the thing really. This digipak is available from http://www.lichtundstahl.blogspot.com/ but be quick as only 300 have been pressed (this particular copy being #287) and given the exclusivity of tracks on offer I doubt it will be around for long!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Nazgul's Top 10: Hrossharsgrani rarities

Nazgul's Top 10 Hrossharsgrani 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 - Hrossharsgrani being the third 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...


10. Blut
The original demo tape release on Werwolf Productions is one of the few early Hrossharsgrani releases Nazgul managed to find on the open market. This was bought on eBay about 5 years ago, and I've never seen another one for sale since!

9. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten
200 copies of this CDr demo from 1999 were pressed, but you'll be doing very well to find one now. There were also 33 copies on tape format with an additional 3 bonus tracks, and Nazgul has yet to track one of those down. If you have one you want to trade, you know where to come...

8. Rehearsal CD1
Frankly this is where it gets pretty hard to distinguish in rarity value between the subsequent Hrossharsgrani releases, as the majority from here were directly from Alex rather than bought online or from traders. The releases are just so hard to find, anything from pre-2000 is pretty much impossible to find now. This rehearsal demo being a good example!

7. Demo '99
A very hard-to-find demo from (you guessed it) 1999, in an edition of just 30 copies. Many of these tracks also ended up on the "Blut" demo.

6. Feuer & Eis
Nigh on impossible to find demo, although some of the tracks have been re-released elsewhere, notably 'Wintertod' which appeared as a bonus track on the limited edition 2-disc version of "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" from 2009. Great cover art, and - as Nazgul has just realised - yet to be covered in Honour & Darkness...

5. Krieg
Both versions of this 1999 demo are pretty well gone forever now - the colour cover was the original pressing (limited to 3 copies) and the black and white version limited to a huge (by comparison) 10 copies. And you wonder why it's taken Nazgul so long to compile this collection....!?

4. Sagen & Gedichte
Another self-released demo from the early years of the Barbarian Battle-Machine, and this time in an unnumbered edition of 9 copies. Rare as hen's teeth, this did actually turn up as an item on eBay back in about 2003 and led to a frenzy of bidding from Castle Nazgul. Raw, early and entirely in keeping with early Hross', this is a demo to savour.

3. Ewig Winter
Recently covered in the Blog, the story of how this came to be in the collection has now been told. Suffice to say, the odds of finding another one of these are as probable as coming across a bi-lingual marshmallow.

2. Demo Compilation 1
Perhaps a controversial choice for this lofty spot in the rarity stakes, but it was news to Nazgul a year or so ago that this tape (only 10 of which were released) actually existed. On that basis, therefore, a true collector's item!

1. Uruk Hai
The Holy Grail of Hrossharsgrani demos, and one that Nazgul would never in a million years have been found anywhere to buy other than from the man himself, Hugin. This is the transition of where Uruk Hai (the band) spawned from Hrossharsgrani, and we all know where that particular adventure has led. This tape is the ultimate Hrossharsgrani collectible!

Not forgetting....
In the interests of fairness, Nazgul compiled this list on the basis of releases that were in fact released generally, e.g. in more than one or two copies as a special or private edition, and which therefore gave the world at large a chance (albeit fleeting) of buying them. The photo above shows a number of these private releases - "Fimbulwinter, "Ea", "Hrossharsgrani", "Rising Sun" and "Rehearsal 1999" CDr - that never were released in a commercial way, and thus were unique in their own way at the time they were pressed. Also in the photo is the unique promotional one-track CDr "Urd" which will be covered in a forthcoming Blog. These titles could have filled this top 10 by themselves, which Nazgul felt may have been a little misleading for any other budding collectors out there.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

WOID & GEIST


Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Woid & Geist
Format: Tape release in 2010 on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine), catalogue reference cut042, with glossy colour inlay
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 33 copies only

Track Listing:

Side A
01. Furchtelmandl 29.40
Side B
01. I Bin Da Woid 13:00

Another high quality release on the Depressive Illusions label, who are rapidly building a reputation for the quality of both their packaging and the music contained within it. This short demo release (Nazgul's copy being #2 of the 33) has been dedicated on the cover by Hugin with the phrase "Im Woid bist nie alanig", which translates as 'In the forest you will never be alone'.

The longer track 'Furchtelmandl' comes from the self-titled tape release covered on 5 December 2009 in this Blog, where Nazgul made the following pseudo-prophetic comment:

"Released in a tiny pressing of only 6 copies, which seemingly sold-out at almost the exact moment that the title was first advertised by Alex (Nazgul's copy is #4), this is a sure-fire future collectible and - unless a future Hrefensholt compilation brings the track back from obscurity - is destined to be one of the hardest releases from the band to lay your hands on."

Well, being resurrected not on a compilation but on a subsequent demo is pretty close!

The track was reviewed in detail back in December, but the pertinent paragraphs from that Blog still ring true for both of these songs:

"Somewhat epic in length at a touch under half an hour, it's actually a very hard song to put into words. The best analogy Nazgul can offer is that the whole piece brings to mind sitting in the deep woods being initiated by a tribal elder into the arcane secrets of a mysterious sect - the track is primarily scored using what sound like pretty authentic folk instruments with a smattering of keyboards too, and is narrated in a deep, sonorous voice (in German) inducing a semi-hypnotic effect.

It's a combination of the pagan / ambient aspects of the band's history with a more cultured musical backdrop, effectively a neo-folk style accompaniment if you will. Nazgul thinks it works rather well, and despite the length of the track there is plenty of musical innovation and soothing harmonies on it to keep the listener entertained and interested throughout."

'I bin da woid' is recorded in a very similar vein - even more so, if anything - and the opening section of the song is filled with the sounds of native woodland fauna, to the point where it began to remind Nazgul of the beginning of "The Garden" by John Foxx. Again, the combination of calm narration and ambient sounds lulls the listener into a peaceful state, and the two tracks really do complement each other well.

Both songs are also featured on another 2010 Hrefnesholt demo 'Uraungst', yet to be covered here, and 'Ich bin da woid' also crops up as one of two Hrefnesholt tracks on the 2010 split release with Firinghuman. Quite a convoluted set of demos over the last 6 months from Hugin's Href' project, but rest assured Nazgul will try to keep pace with it all and let you know what's what!

Incidentally, Hugin tells me that the language on this release is in fact native Austrian, with the title translating literally as "Forest & Ghost", with 'Ich bin da woid' therefore becoming 'I am the forest'.

On one piece of publicity material for these recent Hrefnesholt demos the phrase 'extreme Perchtn' music from Austria' is used to describe the style - musicial and artistic - of these latest releases. From what Nazgul can glean, this links to an ancient tradition in Bavaria and many Alpine regions: young men dress up as scary, creepy monsters with heavy, wooden masks. They are called "Perchtn" or "Perchten" and go from house to house, from farm to farm. They dance old dances, tell stories and sayings while they go and make an unbelievable noise with their drums, rattles and (cow) bells. This should chase away evil spirits from house and home. Every mask symbolizes a different character: the main is the "Percht" or "Berchta" who goes from house to house with her huge crowd of other characters.

The "Percht" is - according to ethnic study researchers -a pagan goddess, related to an unknown Celtic goddess, maybe related to the famous "Frau Holle" ("Mother Hulda ). The Percht punishes laziness but rewards diligence and helpfulness.

With thanks to Hugin, the lyrics for 'Ich bin da woid' are reproduced below:

'I am the Forest
I am the homeland
Dark and so beautiful
I am the forest
Green and musty cold
I am ancient
Enrooted in this earth
I am so magnificent
Imprisoned in one place
I have seen everything
From gruesomeness to beauty
I am the moss
Growing everywhere
I am the forest
Magnificent and ancient
I am heartbroken or
I am as miserable as sin
Rotten, not green any more
I am a stone
Grey and covered in grime
I was a mountain
Now I am small
Once I lived
But now I am dead
I can’t feel my branches
Nor my leaves
I can’t cry
There’s no water for tears
I was the forest
Once magnificent and ancient'

EWIG WINTER


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Ewig Winter
Format: CDr self-released on W.A.R. (Austria) from 2000, no catalogue reference, in (very) black artwork with black insert showing track details.
Edition: Limited to 33 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

1. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten 24:50
2. Wald 00:46
3. Fimbulwinter 15:22
4. Engel 08:38

When Metallica released their 1991 opus "Metallica", aka "The Black Album", the album cover was a simple affair, with the band's faint logo on the upper left hand corner and a snake on the bottom right hand corner. The reason for this style of cover was apparently to allow listeners to get into the music without examining what the symbolism behind the cover represented, to appreciate the music and not the CD contents.

Fast forward nine years to 2000 to find Hrossharsgrani issuing this tasty morsel, their "Ewig Winter" ("Eternal Winter") demo, and to bastardise a Metallica song title from their album, it's decidedly "blacker than thou". So black, in fact, that you need eyes like a hawk to pick out the title, logo and track details on the artwork. Nazgul is certain that other bands have issued albums in a similar way, but this is the only one in his collection of Hugin's material that invokes a strain on the eyes just to read it! The problems taking a sensible photograph of this release you wouldn't believe!

Four songs make up the demo, two of which are familiar epics: 'Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten' ('The Path To The Gate Of The Dead') rumbles on in extended length here over the version on the 1999 demo of the same name, and is a foray into blasting black metal territory (albeit it with subtleties on the way) that is punishing enough to cause your house to subside and collapse around your ears. 'Fimbulwinter' is another raw stab at blackened ambiance, and in a longer version that the edit present on 1999's "From The Dark Ages" compilation tape. Another great track, as past Blog posts attest, and the subject of a very cool personalised mini-CDr from Alex a year or two ago. Both of these songs are also available as the bonus tracks to the 2005 "...Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" reissue on CCP Records, incidentally.

The principal new interest in this demo is, therefore, the two additional songs not available elsewhere. 'Wald' ('Forest') is a very short instrumental track, and not to be confused with the Hfrenesholt song of the same name on "Flüsterwald". It's surprisingly light in mood and instrumentation compared to the dense blasting that precedes and follows it. Another timely reminder not to pigeon-hole any band based on one or two songs, and early indications of the more subtle ambient directions that Uruk Hai would go one to explore in years to come.

'Engel', on the other hand, is an entirely different beast. Following a lengthy spoken word introduction in German, this song sounds convincingly like an Elisabetha outtake from the early years of that band. The debut Elisabetha demo was also unleashed upon the world in 2000, so perhaps some artistic cross-pollination was in evidence during the first year of our new Millennium? It's a really interesting song, though, and Nazgul is certain that musical elements of it recur in later Elisabetha work, as is the way of evolving demo material.

The only internet comment that Nazgul could find in relation to this release came on an online metal forum post from a mysterious entity who called him/herself 'the_cleanser', and who noted of Ewig Winter, "this album is much different from newer Hrossharsgrani. It has more of a black metal atmosphere than their newer viking battle metal", and who could argue with those words of wisdom!

Very few copies of this demo were pressed, and consequently they are now impossible to find. This particular one was obtained directly from Hugin himself after many years of fruitless searching (which explains how Nazgul got hold of copy #1), so if you have an original yourself then hang onto it for dear life as it's a rarity. Which reminds me - the post for 'Nazgul's top ten Hrossharsgrani collectibles' is rather overdue, so more of that anon....

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

URUK HAI > After The War signed poster


Band: URUK HAI
Item: After The War - limited edition signed poster
Edition: 5

The latest dip into Nagzul's collection of odds and ends produced this limited edition glossy colour poster, titled "After The War", and featuring Hugin resplendent in armour posing in suitably medieval surroundings. This is a very limited edition print of 5 copies, hand-signed by Hugin in the bottom right corner, and supplied rolled in a card tube with an Uruk Hai card attached to it. The poster is numbered both on the tube (under a Beverina & War stamp) and likewise on the reverse of the poster itself, Nazgul's copy being #1/5.

This item is not to be confused with another item of similar name - the demo tape "After the War (Orcish Battle Hymns Pt. IV)" - that was issued by Wulfrune Worxx as part of the Honour And Darkness series in 2009, and which is yet to be covered within these pages.

If the artistic style of the poster looks familiar, it may be because similar themed photos formed part of the set of contents of the "Lebenin" cassette/EP from 2009 as covered in Honour and Darkness on 20/02/2009. It may also be because you are a splendid individual and have one of these posters too!

For such visual bands as Alex's projects tend to be there is a surprising dearth of related poster material out there. Past Blog posts have covered some of them, notably the A4 poster with the die-hard edition of Uruk Hai's Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder, the accompanying poster with B-Machina's "Dieu Du Tonnerre" original pressing, and the poster that came with the die-hard edition of Hrossharsgrani's "Sanguis" album. Nazgul has one or two other posters (some accompanying releases and some promotional) which will appear in due course on the Blog, but for all that there are some awesome covers from past albums and demos across all of Hugin's projects that really would look fabulous as full colour posters...

That assumes, of course, that sufficient interest exists for people to want to buy them: however, given the number of you looking at these pages one would have to assume that the interest is definitely there. In which case, you may be interested to learn - from publicity material that Nazgul has seen that accompanies the recently released "Black Blood, White Hand" digipak - that the "After The War" poster is still being advertised for sale for the sum of 10 Euros, despite it's extreme limitation. Make a bee-line for Alex's official Uruk Hai site (links to the right) for contact details, and whilst you're there buy his albums too! First come, first served....

Saturday, 1 May 2010

BOUNDED BY BLOOD - update


Band: HUGIN
Title: Bounded By Blood
Reason for update: Nazgul-only edition (see text)
Edition: 1 only

It was only recently that the Hugin release "Bounded By Blood" found its way onto these pages. you may recall that the release celebrated the baptism of the youngest member of the Wieser clan, Erik.

By a strange coincidence, the Monday following the day that the original post went live (Saturday 20 March) saw the arrival at Castle Nazgul of the latest in a line of exciting looking packages from the heart of the Austrian Alps - yes, the monthly parcel from W.A.R Productions had arrived. In amongst the expected goodies was this tape, as a special bonus, which must have been put into the post a good week or more before the original tape release was covered in these pages. Great minds, thinking alike...!

This 'Nazgul only edition' contains the same pair of tracks - 'Yggdrasil' and 'Asgard' - but this time with a full colour inlay and two small photo cards of Alex, early shots with our hero wielding his 'morning star' mace. The piece also comes with a hand-designed tape logo sticker (on a jazzy red cassette) and had a nice dedication in gold on the tape case itself, plus a limitation designation #1/1 in gold on the inlay. A really personal creation which must have taken some time to put together, and this from a guy who is already busier than Nazgul can comprehend!

It's amazing the difference that simple colour can make to the presentation of a tape like this, and although clearly there are cost implications to producing a volume of demos with full colour rather than xeroxed black and white, it does make you think how spectacular a full set of the recent Wulfrune Worxx tapes would look in glorious technicolour, as well as some of the older Uruk Hai demo tapes.

Now there's a thought for a future project: colourising all of Hugin's past output of demos...!

And another passing thought - what are the odds that in the distant future the running of the Honour & Darkness Blog passes on to one of Nazgul's fledglings, who in turn will be writing reviews and thoughts herein about the musical output of one or more of the young Wieser clan....? Stranger things have been known!

GIL-GALAD


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Gil-Galad
Format: Tape release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2010, cat ref WW115, with black and white inlay. Part of the Split Series of releases, on the other side is the "Bounded By Blood" release from Hugin.
Edition: Hand-numbered to 66 copies

Track Listing:
01. Gil-Galad

If this track has a familiar title, it's doubtless because you - being an avid Huginophile - remember it from a previous post on January 14 2010, when Nazgul covered the "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" (United Through the Power of Age-Old Forests) split CDr release with Moloch. That particular release was limited to only 50 copies in a unique hand-crafted package, and the Uruk Hai contribution was this very track.

For this 2010 re-release - through the ever prolific Wulfrune Worxx - the track has been re-mastered from the 2008 original, given a new introduction (which, I think, is the voice of Gandalf from the LOTR films saying "They are coming..." but Nazgul stands to be corrected).

What Nazgul said in the January Blog piece holds true still, and as that original 2008 split is now long sold out this is a good opportunity to get your hands on the track, although with only 66 copies released on tape (this being #10) you'll not want to be taking too long to put an order in.

A splendidly ethereal, dreamy sort of muse descends whilst this song plays, but at the same time there is a frenetic insistence given to the piece by the percussion that would make it the perfect song to accompany a chase sequence in the aforementioned LOTR film trilogy.

Incidentally, in case the words aren't that clear on the image above, Hugin has kindly dedicated this tape "...from the Elven King".