Wednesday, 30 June 2010

NAZGUL


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nazgul / Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit
Format: Split cassette released by the Eisenwald Tonschmiede label (Germany) in 2004, cat ref EW004, featuring tracks by Uruk Hai and Vinterriket (Germany). Full colour reversible inlay for both bands, and colour panels on face of tape.
Edition: 400 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:

Uruk-Hai
1. Die Legende... 14:46
(a) ...von Elbenwald
(b) Khazad-dum
(c) Ein Licht geboren ward
(d) Nordhimmel
(e) Die Berge
(f) Der Ring
2. Nazgul 02:00
3. Orkisch Blut 06:32
4. Elbentod 05:33

Vinterriket

5. Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VII 11:08
6. Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VIII 11:09
7. Stille I 08:42
8. Stille II 06:20

Just take a look at that cover artwork - magnificent, is it not?! A cracking Lord of the Rings style illustration, showing Nazgul on his way back to the Castle after a hard day's blogging. Or something like that! A great example of how a label (in this case Eisenwald Tonschmiede) can greatly add to the release by investing a little money and effort in the presentation stakes. Nazgul has no idea whose original artwork it is, but personally he could look at it for hours. [Edit: the artwork is by Ted Nasmith, Alex informs me. Thanks!]

To Nazgul this 2004 split release with Vinterriket defines the archetypical early Uruk Hai sound, alongside the 2004 demo "Honour", which contains many of the same tracks but was a promotional release rather than a formal label pressing. There are few vocals here, and limited use of anything but keyboards/synthesiser and light percussion. The music created is similar in some ways to Vinterriket's style, which gives us an indication perhaps of one of Hugin's early influences for this project.

The saga that is track one, 'Die Legende', resurfaced on the 2008 CD (and tape) release "Lost Songs From Middle Earth" but here in it's original tape release there is a underlying charm and warmness to the music that really does take you deep into Tolkien territories of wooded glades and craggy peaks. Again, less is more in many ways as there is plenty of scope for your own imagination to help transport you to all places magical as the music swirls around you.

It's normally a fair bet to suggest that you won't easily find a copy of a demo of this vintage, as only 400 were made (this being #33), and in any event it's well worth tracking down the CD pressing of "Lost Songs..." from Aphelion Productions to hear 'Die Legende..." in all it's digitised glory. That said, however, a quick Google search does bring up a few distros with the original "Nazgul" tape listed on their books, one example being Ancient Path Records found via http://morker.se/apr/tape.html so getting your hands on an original tape may still be an exciting possibility!

The remaining three tracks are all in a similar style to the epic opener, and were covered in Nazgul's review of the aforementioned "Honour" demo. There is a great similarity between the two releases ("Honour" - a promotional only release through Werwolf Productions - adding in 'Gondolin Falls (Part 1-3)' and 'Nebelberge (Part 1 & 2)' to boot). All create a simple yet evocative atmosphere of realms beyond, the sort of music that you can have playing in the background for those times when you're feeling creative and inspired.

If you've come into Uruk Hai quite recently through Hugin's later releases - "Black Blood, White Hand" for example - then don't expect the 'goblin-esque' vocals and multi-layer production of his collaborations with Pr. Sergiy and others. This is far more simplistic but at the same time has many of the hallmarks and refrains that will be familiar to long-time listeners of Hugin's work.

The beginning of 'Nazgul' is good value too, and your scribe really should adopt the clarion call of "Nazgul...!" at the outset as the official phone ring of Honour & Darkness! It was from this very release, as you might have already supposed, that the Nazgul nom-de-plume was taken from this particular release.

A quick word on the Vinterriket side of this demo - as always, Cz manages to create those cold, bleak ambient soundtracks for desolate winter places and the four compositions on offer here are no exception to that. I've lost count of the number of times that the track 'Stille' has appeared in various versions on albums and compilations featuring Vinterriket, but notwithstanding that you really get you value for money on this split given the quality and length of the tracks on offer.

Incidentally, there was an interesting and exciting development around the "Nazgul" release that your old uncle Nazgul will bring to you in a future Blog - another of Hugin's legendary one-off specials for your delight!

Friday, 25 June 2010

THE BATTLE - update


Band: URUK HAI
Title: The Battle (Poem of a Battle in Nine Chapters)
Reason for update: Promotional material from label Drama Company (Spain)

This small square of publicity material arrived as part of the contents of a parcel from deepest Austria to Castle Nazgul shortly before the latters epic trip to the US of A.

It's a double-sided colour glossy promo for Uruk Hai's "The Battle" release of 2005, and like all promotional leaflets and publications the vast majority would have been received in mail-order dispatches or similar, glanced at briefly, and consigned to the dustbin of history. That's what it's always nice to be able to archive such items for the edification of fans around the globe!

The Drama Company of Bilbao, Spain, certainly presented this particular flyer with some flair. The text on the front reads:

"The third strike of this Austrian Pagan Ambient project from Hugin (Hrossharsgrani & Elisabetha) will bring the listener back to the glorious ages of heroism, honour & war!"

Now, on a totally pedantic point, unless Nazgul's brain is failing him at this point, it's hard to see how this is in any way the "third strike" for Uruk Hai? "A Night In The Forest" from 2004 was the first Drama Company/Morningside Records release of Uruk Hai material that Nazgul is aware of, followed by "The Battle" in 2005. At some point in 2004 the Eisenwald Tonschmiede label released the full-length "Barbarians" album, which could make this the third in a sequence were it not for the fact that (i) AMF's "Quenta Silmarillion" CDr release, the "Blutreich" compilation CD and at least 5 tape demos were also released in 2004, (ii) "A Night In The Forest" isn't the first Uruk Hai release on an external label anyway (as opposed to self-released), that title going to either Elbenwald on Elven Witchcraft or the early Chanteloup Creations demos from 2000, still not making this album the "third" of anything, (iii) there are about a billion demos by Uruk Hai preceding this release, and (iv) the "Tawantinsuyu" release was the third release by Drama/Morningside Records in 2006. Perhaps Nazgul should just sit down and take his medication, this is getting far too fraught....

Anyway, moving on, the reverse side of the promo flyer (which is where we came in, as you'll remember!) reads as follows:

"The year 2005 - blood freezes in the veins at the sound of clenching steel, a further, more giant battle is fought. The way of the warrior is sealed, created out of flesh and steel, baptized in fire and ice the warlord Uruk Hai rises with iron force to fight his battle in the land of shadows. Dark Pagan Ambient hymns, mystic and bombastic battle-sounds lead you to deadly moors, rise up high in the sky and chase the dark creatures through enchanted woods. Mighty atmospheres, war-drums, cymbals and fanfares build a symphony like the ride of a Valkyrie. Uruk Hai's third work [don't get me started again] is again a well-done symbioses of heroic battle hymns and radio-play like passages full of mystic characters. An epic tale that crosses the borders of the known arts in a world beyond, where flesh, steel and courage not yet lie hidden in the shadows. "The Battle" is a new ode to war, a further manifest of violence of the sword, an album which will attract every single warrior."

Phew, whatever he was on, Nazgul wants some!

PROPHECY Pt. II


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Prophecy Part II
Format: White 3"CDr in three-panel colour sleeve released in 2007 by Smell The Stench (Australia), no catalogue reference. The packaging includes two band logo stickers and a 'business card' sized magnet, all contained in a plastic wallet.
Edition: Limited to 24 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Prophecy (Part II) 19.34

This is a really nicely put together release from Smell The Stench, mirroring (as you might expect) the packaging of Part I of "Prophecy", which was covered in Honour & Darkness on 10 October 2009. For Hugin trivia buffs out there, the image of the reclining nude lady on the reverse of this inlay is the same as the cover image used on the impossible-to-find "Neu" tape release from B-Machina (2007) released by German label Farbstoff Abstrakt Media Productions (see post for 6 June 2009 for details). Just don't ask Nazgul what classical painting it is - there is a limit to his knowledge after all....

Perhaps to no surprise either this 'rough mix' of "Prophecy Pt. II" is very similar musically to Part I. This is certainly no bad thing, however, as Part I remains an excellent song! To Nazgul's ears there are fewer spoken word samples/elements on Part II, and more space given to allow Max's Spanish guitar to weave their acoustic tapestries more fully across the song. The industrial elements also seem a little more muted on this track, with the general atmosphere being created coming across as one of isolation and emptiness as opposed to an accompaniment of mechanised noise.

Listening to this for it's 19 minute plus duration is a real please. The piece starts off with a very nice acoustic riff from Max (which repeats over the course of the song) and is one of those awesome guitar moments where it's a simple sequence of notes creating a memorable and mood-setting atmosphere. The song is musically diverse and, in the same way that Part I does, gives the impression of a musical score having been laid over an enigmatic play being acted out by ghostly, disembodied voices in a twilight world just beyond our reach.

Nazgul suspects that this release is now long sold-out at the label, as 24 copies were never going to hang around for long (this copy is #13, lucky for Nazgul). Happily, both parts can be found on the "Rotation Zwei" compilation CD on the Valgriind label alongside a number of other tracks from extremely limited edition original pressings.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

HROSSHARSGRANI > Schattenkrieger t-shirt II


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title:
Schattenkrieger t-shirt
Edition: Believed to be 30 copies

A little like the old adage about buses (you never see one, then two come along together), here's a second Schattenkrieger t-shirt from Hrossharsgrani to complement the one covered in the Blog back on 3 October 2009.

That previous t-shirt was a medium-fit (no good for your scribe) whereas this one is a more generous size, meaning that the prospect of wearing it and advertising this barbarian horde around the Castle Nazgul area is now a possibility.

Hugin informs me that this particular shirt - sporting the band logo on the front, and a coloured panel on the reverse mirroring the album artwork (digipak version) - was made in Portugal, and he thinks was part of a run of only 30 copies. Perhaps one of our Portuguese readers may be able to confirm this?!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

GIRONE DELLA MERDA [V/A]

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Girone Della Merda (literally 'division of the shit')
Format: Free online download from Torn Flesh Records (TFR77), a site dedicated to underground Grind, Death, Metal, Industrial, Experimental/Electronic, and Extreme Rock (Punk, Psychobilly, Glitch, Breakcore, Doom, Dark Ambient, Noise, etc.). The album is by Josef Nadek & Vulgar Disease, with Hrossharsgrani (featured on track 5) and Taklamakan
Edition: Unlimited - free download

Track Listing:

Parte I: un "ruolo metaforico orribile"
01 Josef Nadek - La Repubblica di Salò
02 Josef Nadek - La Germania è veramente vostra amica
03 Josef Nadek - Nel girone della merda
04 Josef Nadek - Ninna nanna per Benito

Parte II: è praticata in scenari sessuali
05 Josef Nadek vs. Hrossharsgrani 4.25
06 Josef Nadek vs. Taklamakan
07 Josef Nadek - Der kleine Kotnascher (Scatnibbbler)

Parte III: Scatnibbler
08 Vulgar Disease - Introduzione
09 Vulgar Disease - Primo Incontro
10 Vulgar Disease - Intermezzo
11 Vulgar Disease - Secondo Incontro
12 Vulgar Disease - Finale
13 Vulgar Disease - Grand Finale

Now here's a release that may have slipped under your radar. A free online album - check out the link at http://www.archive.org/details/TFR77-JosefNadekVulgarDisease-GironeDellaMerda - featuring Josef Nadek ("a Tyrolean based industrial/experimental project"), Vulgar Disease (noise terrorists from Mexico) and Taklamakan (one man noise project from China) together with our Austrian heroes Hrossharsgrani. Rather like the League of Nations getting pissed on home-brew and forming an improbable musical collective, one might think...

Josef Nadek is an interesting character - described via MySpace as being "designed as a mould-infested spiritual cesspit, dedicated to compulsively explore and document various degrees of human degeneration, eradicate necrotic tissue and reflect each putrid core. Note that Josef Nadek is an utterly artificial character. Nevertheless no vile piece of filth about those in charge behind the scenes is of any significance. Josef Nadek spins his own yarn." Good, that's clear then!

What is rather unexpected, given the frankly disturbing nature of the participants (with the exception of our old friend Alex, of course) is that the collaborative track featuring Josef Nadek vs. Hrossharsgrani is far from the splatter-fest train wreck that you might have expected. Mind you, perhaps Nazgul's expectations were unduly influenced in his research for this release (visit Vulgar Disease's website at your own risk, ideally when not idly snacking on your dinner as Nazgul was...)

What you have is a underpinning throbbing rhythm with light industrial elements, overlain with a rather nice solo piano melody, occasionally discordant but fitting the song nicely. Nothing like you might imagine, although elements of the rest of the album certainly could give you a few nightmares given half a chance.

Good news though - each track can be downloaded separately from the link above, so you can choose whether to add this single song to your burgeoning Hrossharsgrani collection, or go the whole hog and download the whole album. Hurrah for the internet!

Incidentally, the album was apparently inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma" (The 120 Days of Sodom), which itself was based on the book by the Marquis de Sade, transposing the setting of the book from 18th century France to the last days of Benito Mussolini's regime in the Republic of Salò. Because of its scenes depicting intensely graphic violence, sadism, and sexual depravity, the movie was extremely controversial upon its release, and remains banned in several countries to this day. It was Pasolini's last film; he was murdered shortly before Salò was released. Although it remains a controversial film to this day, it has been praised by various film historians and critics, and while not typically considered a horror film, Salò was named the 65th scariest film ever made by the Chicago Film Critics Association in 2006.

Certainly an oddity in the Hrossharsgrani discography - to be honest, it doesn't really come across as a Hross' piece at all (either in the new or old style). If anything, it's an example of where some of Hugin's contributions to compilations or collaborations become a little hazy in terms of being in the definite style of a particular band or project, despite what the title say, and is more a simple musical contribution from this most prolific of artists to another work.

Give it a listen - what do you make of it....?

VALKYRIAN ROMANCE - update


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Valkyrian Romance
Format: Cassette release as part of the Split Series on Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW113. Released in 2010, with Hrossharsgrani's "The Long Grey Road" on the reverse side. The artwork has been revised from the original 2006 release of "Valkyrian Romance".
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies only

Track Listing:

01. Durch Folde Und Fenmark (rehearsal 2000)
02. Einsam In Dunklen Waeldern (new track 2006)
03. Uruk-Hai [Part 4] (new track 2006)
04. Ueber Die Nebelberge Weit (rehearsal 1999)

When this title came under the Honour And Darkness spotlight back on 27 March 2009 the post ended with the comment, "if you're into the essence of 'classic' Uruk-Hai you really should seek this one out..." Of course, that was easier said than done as the original Smell The Stench tape release (shown in the last of the photos above alongside this reissue) came in a minuscule pressing of only 30 copies.

Happily for fervent fans of the band, this timely reissue from Wulfrune Worxx comes in a rather larger quantity (66 copies, of which this is #10) and contains the original four tracks from the 2006 release. You also get the welcome bonus of an extra side of Hrossharsgrani material too!

The new artwork is much in keeping with the classical stylings of the tape version of Uruk Hai's "Lothlorien" album, although in truth Nazgul prefers the colour cover than came with the original.

Musically the commentary in the earlier Blog piece still stands, so to save you the trouble of looking them up Nazgul has helpfully copied them below:

"We kick off with "Durch Folde Und Fenmark", a long piece (over 14 minutes) commencing with the measured beat of a vast drum (surely a Viking war-drum) leading into a swirling and atmospheric synth-based track augmented by a subtle solo female vocal element within it - delivered in choral rather than lyrical fashion. To distant and fantastical realms wilt thou be transported, and lo! The Gods sayeth that this is good....

Next up, the short and rather cool "Einsam In Dunklen Waeldern". When I first heard this the almost 'bubbling' and bouncy synth parts put in my mind an underwater theme, which given the translation of the title (approximates to 'Alone in Dark Forests') shows what I know about interpreting musical atmospheres! A catchy little track though, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Song three is "Uruk Hai (part 4)" and a dramatic number is is too - you could imagine this, with its bursts of keyboards at key moments, being a score to a film quite easily.

"Ueber Die Nebelberge Weit" (which one free internet translation site 'helpfully' told me meant 'Over That Fog Would Rescue Far' - help, my brain hurts) is another long song to bookend the tape, and is packed with some atmospheric storm samples, provocative and thoughtful synths that create a dark and foreboding mood, and a nice wolf howl to end things!"

Nice to see this long-lost gem from the Uruk Hai discography being brought back from the dead.

MUSIC FOR CATGIRL LOVERS 03



Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Music For Catgirl Lovers 03
Format: Split CDr between B-Machina and Kaelteeinbruch, released in March 2010 on the Catgirl Records label (Germany), cat ref PUSSYCAT003. The release comes with some 'interesting' colour photographs and two large front and rear colour covers, plus part #3 of a 24-part jigsaw puzzle (one part in each of Catgirl's 24 releases in this series), all housed in a DIN A4 bag.
Edition: Limited to 20 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. B-Machina - So Nicht! 22.24

02. Kaelteeinbruch - Grey Ships 6.55

"Well, Hello Sailor" is the greeting that awaits the purchaser of this curious item from the German Catgirl Records label, and rather a risque release it is too. Inside your resealable bag you'll not only receive a plain CDr with the two tracks of music on it, but a selection of pornographic photographs and a large single piece of what Nazgul suspects to be an equally pornographic jigsaw puzzle, the remaining 23 pieces scattered amongst the other releases in the "Music For Catgirl Lovers" series. Anyone who is tempted to purchase all 24 parts to see the overall picture should seek medical attention immediately.

The Catgirl label is the brainchild of one Daniel Szymiczek, who also is the inspiration behind Kaelteeninbruch. This band produce some terrifying power electronic/drone effects on their track on this split release. To quote the label owner in respect of the modus operandi of Catgirl:

"...nasty and fluffy noise, speedcore and electronical crap-label, born in 2003. Located somewhere in Germany. It tries to combine sweet pussycats and aggressive music with a touch of perversion and carnal varieties. The artwork looks sweet... you will hate the music..."

As Hugin so eloquently and appropriately dedicated on the rear of this release (lucky #13 of the 20 produced) - "and now something completely different!"

So, giving consideration to the lengthy track 'So Nicht!' on this release (literally 'So Not!'), what are B-Machina up to in 2010, you might reasonably ask? Interestingly, on this song it's a step back into the thundering pseudo-mechanised soundscapes of circa 2007/2008, with not a jot of Max's acoustic guitar to be heard. Given that Max has a number of other irons in the fire in terms of day to day business this may simply a reflection of the lack of free time he had to contribute to this particular track. In many respects it's a pleasant return to the early days of repetitious industrial rhythm and apocalyptic rumblings that the then Bonemachine project were best known for.

Once again an impossible to describe overall sound hits the listener squarely on the jaw, albeit after a very atmospheric synthesiser sequence in the opening two minutes of the song which manages to be both eerie and poignant simultaneously. At well over twenty minutes in length, and thus not really suited to being part of an albums worth of material, this sort of very limited split release is exactly where some of the gems in Hugin's musical works turn up and so if you can find one of the remaining copies of this release I'd urge you to do so. As a helpful starter, you might try the SkullLine distro as they had a few for sale recently (www.skullline.de) or if you're feeling brave you could try Daniel directly via szymiczekdaniel@aol.com.