Thursday, 29 July 2010

DEAD:MEAT

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Dead:Meat
Format: CD released in April 2010 on the Steinklang Industries label (Austria), cat ref SKD26. A split album, with songs from Hrossharsgrani and dark-ambient/post industrial band Dead Man's Hill (Belgium). Comes in a transparent DVD slimline case with full colour inlays. Session vocals on the Hrossharsgrani tracks performed by Bart Piette from Dead Man's Hill and Pr. Sergiy of Moloch, with guest appearances from Uwe Backer and Els.
Edition: unlimited

Track Listing:

Hrossharsgrani
"from the ashes"
01. Come My Phoenix 4.06
02. Znischy Jih 1.06
03. Countess Bathory (Venom cover) 4.22
04. Warriors Of The Wasteland 11.32
05. Down There (Beherit cover) 7.19

Dead Man's Hill
"apocalyptic reporters"
06. The Birth Of Death
07. Mother Destruction
08. And Nature Created Yellowstone
09. The Dangerous Emptiness
10. All Saints Day Rituals: To Baron Samedi

Coming as it did after the "Sanguis" release, this is something of an unexpected turn of events for followers of Hugin's barbarian horde, Hrossharsgrani. As you'll recall, "Sanguis" featured a re-working of the tracks from the bands early "Blut" demo, and was shrouded for the most part in a sound mix that was, to be polite, challenging on the ears. The first song on this split release teases at a similar 'sandstorm in a oil drum' effect before launching into a much clearer sound, and a massively more varied set of tunes.

And Nazgul uses the words 'tunes' intentionally, as the Hrossharsgrani offerings here really are in the category that you can more easily remember, and whistle on your way to work. Whether it's the guest vocalists, whether it's the cover versions, this is a cracking collection of songs. The only lingering doubt in my mind is that these tracks are entirely different from much of the back catalogue of this band, and whilst no one should expect Hugin to churn out another "In The Mystic Forest" every year you can't help but wonder where the fan-base for modern-day Hrossharsgrani comes from...?

But on with the commentary: links to the video of opener 'Come My Phoenix' have been on YouTube and the band's MySpace pages for a while now, and is most likely familiar to many of you already. It's a groovy sort of thang, with an indie feel to the vocal delivery underpinned by an industrial rhythmic beat. Martial metal in the toe-tapping mould! 'Znischy Jih' is a short spoken word piece, a dark minimalisic ritual of a song that segues nicely into the fanfares that launch 'Countess Bathory', the old Venom chestnut. This was in fact previously released in 2009 as a teaser for this forthcoming album on the Steinklang Industries sampler CD "Pagan Folk & Apocalyptic Psychedelia", reviewed on the Blog on 18 November 2009.

That takes us to the two remaining songs in the Hrossharsgrani half of this album: 'Warriors of the Wasteland' is the most 'traditional' song of the five on offer, in as far as the theme is of battles and ancient heroism and the style isn't a million miles removed from past Hross' recordings. Recorded with sampled extracts from the 2004 film Troy (notably the famous quote from Hector - 'honour the gods, love your woman and defend your country'), this is the epic track on this release at over 11 and half minutes in length. some catchy keyboard melodies, coupled with another largely spoken word delivery and spartan percussive background, makes for an engaging listen and a handy link between the old and new stylings of this project.

The final track 'Down There' is a Beherit cover. Now, Nazgul has heard of but never actually listened to Beherit, despite the fact that the original version of this song is drawn from what is deemed one of the seminal Black Metal albums of all time, "Drawing Down The Moon." This album is usually referred to as eerie, evil and downright maleficent, and one fine description of the song in question called it "bouncy yet evil, a blackened song belted out with sheer ferocity" as it completed its short two plus minute duration. This version I suspect Beherit fans wouldn't recognise - expanded to over seven minutes, complete with female vocals, a extended jazzy piano accompaniment near the end, and a swaggering rhythm that supersedes the discordant keyboards at the outset to give the track an almost trance-like dance vibe. Extraordinary, but a definite winner!

The remainder of the album is utilised by Belgium's Dead Man's Hill, who describe their sound on their MySpace site as influenced by nature, animals, trees, traditional yidaki, alternate reality, and hallucinations, sounding like "extreme occult storms, All Saints Day in Haiti, a bad trip...." Nazgul is not familiar with their past material - of which it appears there is quite a lot, including split releases with Japanese bootlegger, errr, artist Kenji Siratori - and it all makes for an enveloping and ritualistic listening experience.

This split album hasn't seen much in the way of online coverage from the usual websites, although the label's own shop page does (entirely impartially of course) note that the release is:

"A great mix between Martial / Industrial / Ambient / Electronic and more. Five new HROSSHARSGRANI anthems featuring vocals by Bart Piette from D.M.H. and
Pr. Sergiy from MOLOCH, as well as five new monumental epics from the master of Dark Ambient, Dead Man’s Hill – this time a lot more intense and song-oriented than on earlier releases. "Dead:Meat" is the so far most mature and complex album of both artists. composition, interpretation and design feel like a smack in the face and leave no room for compromise! Morbidity meets iron avant-garde, romanticism encounters the frozen coldness of metal! When will people finally realize: if you want to feel you MUST listen!"

If you had been put off slightly by the experience of "Sanguis" and the more modern Hrossharsgrani sound, then this is truly a record to savour - available in unlimited pressing at Steinklang Industries, it'll make your day!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

ETERNAL DEATHVASTATION


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Eternal Deathvastation
Format: 3CD box-set on the Oskorei Bild & Tonkunst label (Germany) in 2008, cat ref obtk019. A compilation of a number of the band's previous cassette demos from 2001 through to 2003, with all tracks having been re-mastered in 2007 for this release. Box-set comes with small inlay booklet and three discs, each bearing a different image.
Edition: Only 50 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

CD1
1. Des Abends Rotes Seelenblut [*]
2. Wurdulak [*]
3. Das Blut Meiner Ahnen [*]
4. Todessehnsucht [*]
5. Nachtherrschaft [*]
6. Der Vampyr [*]
7. Fleisch [*]
8. Leb Wohl Lieb Land [*]
9. Akasha [*]
10. Im Schatten Jehner Nacht In Der Ich Starb [*]
11. Verwoben Im Netze Ewiglicher Finsternis [*]
12. Kabinett Der Ängste [*]
CD2
1. Isten Szek [^]
2. Bathori - Sturm Einer Winternacht [*]
3. Dunkle Gemächer [#]
4. Karpathensturm [#]
CD3
1. Finster Doch Der Tag Begann [$]
2. Renfield [$]
3. Nachtmärfahrten [$]
4. Spiegelbilder [$]
5. Todt [#]
6. Der Funke Des Lebens Gar Langsam Verlischt [$]
7. Ein Weiteres Kapitel Von Blut [$]
8. Killer Kreatur [$]
9. Besessenheit In Agonie [+]
10. Ein Panoptikum Des Grauens [+]

[*] "Nosferat" tape

[^] "Isten Szek" tape/CDr
[#] "Blutrausch" tape
[$] Unveröffentliche Titel
[+] "Renfield" CDr

An ambitious release from the small German label Oskorei Bild & Tonkunst, whose total releases to date number just four including this set. That said, the quality of the item is beyond question in terms of the packaging and creative efforts, so no concerns on that front. It never ceases to amaze how many separate labels have become involved in releasing Hugin's various projects - there must literally be dozens over the years!

Despite only being pressed in a small quantity, this compilation does come up for sale occasionally and at the time of writing Nazgul notices that for a very reasonable outlay of 12€ you could point your browser towards Latvia (our old friends at Evil Distribution) and buy one today: check out this link for details - http://www.evildist.com/index.php?itm=cdr&afb=&id=1444

Jammed onto the 3 discs are tracks covering many of Elisabetha's finest moments, a collection of "rare demo, rehearsal and unreleased tracks" spanning the period 2001 through to 2004. Given the scarcity of some of those early cassettes and CDr - in particular, "Isten Szek" from 2001 and the "Renfield" CDr from 2002, both of which are really tough to track down - a compilation of tracks makes a lot of sense to the casual fan and the avid collector alike. The release of this collection also marks the end of the first era of Elisabetha, as the original unholy triumvirate (UB, Höllenfürst and Neon Ästhet) split in 2008, later to be resurrected by Hugin (aka Höllenfürst, for those keeping notes) as a neo-classical project.

Musically this is familiar territory - the sonic tapestries of vampyric black metal of the early demos have been documented on these pages in coverage of the items in question, and all sound memorable and disturbing in equal parts on this release. The added value for the collector comes, inevitably, on the third disc, where a number of previously unreleased songs make their recorded debut (although for the record - and to be pedantic about his own commentary! - Nazgul notes that the track 'Killer Kreatur' did previously appear on the 50 promo-only copies of the "Eine Dunkle Symbiose Von Blut & Nacht" CDr split with Nachtmahr, also covered elsewhere in this Blog).

This is where the one problem with the release really bites (if you'll excuse the pun) - for reasons most likely to do with space and the desire to cram as much music on each disc as possible, the remastering process has segued each track into its neighbour and therefore loses the individual song parameters from your track listing on each disc. In other words, the discs comprise just one long track apiece, and you can't therefore skip from song to song as you might expect. Given the fact that most of the songs on disc three are new, it thus becomes rather tricky to identify on all occasions where one ends and another begins, and to add to the frustration if you were of a mind to suddenly declare, "By Jove, I think I'd rather like to hear 'Der Funke Des Lebens Gar Langsam Verlischt' at this very minute" then there is no way of actually getting to it, short of playing the whole disc or guesstimating where the beginning is likely to be.

This is rather a shame, as it usually means that the only way to digest this particular release is in one long chunk and there's not always time for that in the frenetic hub of activity that is Castle Nazgul. At least the death-deck fitted to the carriage that Nazgul navigates down the rutted lane has the facility to re-start the CD from where it stops, meaning that you don't have to restart the disc each time you play it (unlike the Castle death-deck, which is of a more antiquated vintage...)

So where does that leave us then: a thumbs-up or not? Well, ultimately this is a very worthwhile release and if you can get past the track demarcation issue then there is much to enjoy both in terms of the new lease of life given to some old favourites and the opportunity to hear Elisabetha recordings in their classic style that never formally made it into the wide world before. For the meagre cost of 12€ a three-disc, 26-song compilation represents excellent value for money, so if the copy advertised at Evil Distribution is still not bought by the end of summer 2010 then Nazgul will shake his head in despair...!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

ELISABETHA > UND WIRKLICHKEIT... promo edition

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Und Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder
Format: see below
Reason for update: Unique promotional edition of this album from 2004
Edition: 20 hand-numbered copies

We have, of course, seen the main album before - on the Honour & Darkness on 25 June 2009. In that particular post the second photo showed a monochrome promo version of the album from German label Black Attakk, who released the final CD, but that wasn't the only promotional version of this album...

This particular work of genius was the precursor to the final release: an edition of 20 promotional copies (of which this is, Nazgul is very proud to say, #1) in special packaging and self-released when the hunt for a label to release the album on was in full swing.

As with all things involving Alex, an amazing amount of care and detail has been invested into this release, so much so that the final packaging of this version is superior (and certainly more creative and interesting) than the official label release, in Nazgul's opinion.

The track details are exactly the same, so for once let us pass by the music and concentrate instead on the contents of this wondrous item. The cover image above - another from the prolific dark artist Arnold Reisner [A.R.] (aka Neon Asthet) - is a rather splendidly erotic-vampyric image that fits the concept perfectly. The paper sleeve is folded to hold all of the contents listed below, and all come in a plastic wallet (approximately A5 in size), which has been dedicated on the front in gold by Alex.

The rear cover
Details the tracks on the audio CD element (and again, it is the same as the final album version) and denotes the fact that this is a promotional edition: "Limitierte Promotion Edition - Nicht zum Verkauf bestimmt!" The issue number is, of course, the gold numeral at the bottom of the page!

The audio CD

Yes, being that this was the main reason for the promo to exist, there is an audio CD in here and it does play the album in full. And it's still a damn good listen, and given the widespread availability of the thing online I trust you all have your own copy to hand and are giving it a listen as you read this.....? More bespoke artwork from A.R. on the cover of this disc.

The data CD
This is a really nice touch, being a biographical summary and containing the lyrics to the songs, and is expertly contained in a cover showing a bustling city in the late Edwardian/Victorian period (judging by the mode of dress) exactly at the time when Dracula would have been pitching up on the English shores, ready to unleash hell....

Map of the Carpathian mountains
An A4 copy of a period map for "Die Central Karpathen" showing the Elisabetha logo, the various peaks and elevations of the range, and a full discography and band details to the rear. A really atmospheric and imaginative touch, giving a sense of the old and macabre and tying in with the Dracula stories and legends perfectly.

Biography of A.R.
A small flyer, with some more examples of A.R. artwork on the front and a career biography on the reverse. Nazgul has been promising some coverage of the art of Neon Asthet on Honour & Darkness for some time now, and as many of his illustrations will resonate with anyone remotely interested in Elisabetha this will be happening soon, I promise!

Promotional flyers
The final item in the pack is a variety of promotional flyers and inserts for past work from the project, showing any potentially interested label their pedigree.

It's no surprise to Nazgul that Black Attakk decided to give this album a release based on the strength of this assortment: not only is the music good, the sheer effort and presentation of the promotional literature is persuasive and of high quality.

Another treasure for the online museum of all things Hugin!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Followers of Honour & Darkness ... #2

Göran

In the second part of what has proven to be a very occasional series here on the Blog (part 1 was back in January this year) Nazgul continues to pay tribute to some of the followers of Honour and Darkness. In episode #2 of this exclusive series (!) please welcome to these pages Göran.

Göran has discovered Hugin's music relatively recently, and is suitably enthused about the matter to be considering including hs own thoughts on the music within a Blog of his own. More details as they happen...

As fellow "Huginophiles" all - why else are you reading this - Nazgul thought you might like to meet another of our own through the 'traditional' means of a short series of random questions....

(1) Your name?
Göran K. - While my ancestry is German, I somehow got a Norwegian/Swedish name.

(2) Town/Country you live in?
Ennepetal, a little town in Germany, really nothing exciting.

(3) Age?
At the moment, 17

(4) What do you do for a living?
I'm still a student and attending school. I spend my free time with teaching children taekwondo, a Korean variation of karate.

(5) Favourite style of music?
Dark electronic/ambient/alternative/experimental in general. There are lots more, too many to mention. I listen to the music I like, the style doesn't really matter. Somehow, it's mostly stuff, you don't find in the charts or on TV.

(6) Favourite bands?
Wumpscut, X-Fusion and Uruk-Hai

(7) First album you bought?
"The Stadium Techno Experience" by Scooter. Some of you might beat me up for this, but Scooter had always some great, fascinating trance-tracks on their releases

(8) Last album you bought?
"Across The Misty Mountains (...Far, Far Away)" and "The Battle", both are Uruk-Hai releases, of course!

(9) Favourite food?
Changes from time to time. Currently it's self-made pizza with ham and pepperoni :)

(10) Favourite film?
Hard to say. A classic one which I could watch again and again is, of course, "The Lord Of The Rings" saga. But besides that I also like Tarantino movies like "Pulp Fiction" or "SinCity".

(11) Favourite book?
"The Name Of The Wind" by Patrik Rothfuss, so far the best fantasy book I've read. I also recommend "Lycidas", "Lilith" and "Lumen" by Christoph Marzi.

(12) How did you first come across Hugin's music?
I somehow found the Uruk-Hai MySpace site, where I listened to some stuff which fascinated my in a way just very few projects did before. Later I got the "Black Blood, White Hand" Release from Infrarot and since then I couldn't stop listening to this music.

(13) Which of Hugin's projects do you follow?
Mainly Uruk-Hai. I've also listened to B-Machina and Hrossharsgrani but I like Uruk-Hai most.

(14) What was the first thing you bought that Hugin composed?
The "Black Blood, White Hand" box-set, which is quite a big release for getting started with a project like Uruk-Hai!

(15) What was the last thing you bought that Hugin composed?
The "Upon The Elysian Fields" release (the 3rd edition on Valgriind).

(16) What is your favourite release from Hugin's discography?
It's the split CD with Saltvind. I especially like the Track "Helm's Deep", an awesome piece of work.

(17) What items/release(s) do you most treasure in your collection of Hugin's stuff?
The box-set of course, mentioned above, and "The Battle".

(18) What items/release(s) of his are you looking for?
As I'm not a great fan of tapes, the only release I'm planning to get is"Lost Songs From Middle Earth" at the moment. [Nazgul's note: not a fan of tapes!? The youth of today, honestly...! :o) ]

(19) What message do you have for Hugin?
Thank you for the great music! I hope you'll soon be able again to produce a lot more of it ;)

(20) What message do you have for your fellow readers of Honour & Darkness?
It's good to know, that there are other people in the world who appreciate and support good music. Keep it up, and spread the good word!


So with thanks to Göran, another short chapter in this series ends. If you'd be interested in sharing your thoughts and collection with your fellow readers, why not drop Nazgul a line at the email shown on the right-hand menu....?

SIEGHETNAR / URUK HAI split


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Untitled split album between Sieghetnar (Germany) and Uruk Hai
Format: Professional CD pressing on the Nordsturm Productions label (Germany), cat ref NSP025, released June 2010. Copies come with full colour inlays and with a picture CD held in special white tray.
Edition: Limited to 500 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

Sieghetnar
1. Schwingungen pulsierender Todesfrequenzen 3.22 ('Oscillation of pulsating death frequencies')
2. In Spektren des imaginären Lichts 6.16 ('In spectrums of the imaginary light')
3. Versunkenheit 7.29 ('Absorption')
Uruk-Hai
4. March To War 12.31
5. Death Is Just Another Path... 8.01
6. Gil-Galad (re-mastered version) 11.03

This is, at time of writing, the latest release from the ambient metal force that is Uruk Hai. As such, you can celebrate the dual facts that (i) the release is in a pretty large edition for this time of split CD (500 copies) and (ii) as a result, you'll almost certainly be able to find one for sale still if you look on-line at the usual sources, or visit Hugin's MySpace page (www/myspace.com/urukhaiofficial). Welcome news indeed for the growing army of Uruk Hai fans clamouring for product!

Continuing something of a trend established over recent years, the Uruk Hai part of this split release contains some tracks that have been previously released on other albums or demos. As some of these other releases have been in very limited edition, or just plain hard to find, this isn't a bad thing for the casual listener. There's always a bit of debate when artists re-release material on successive releases, but in this instance Nazgul thinks it's a positive thing as frankly the level of opportunity for many of Hugin's potential customers to get to hear this material is often limited and - let's be honest - it's hardly the 'grab the cash and get the tills ringing' opportunism that many bands (insert your own particular bug-bear here) adopt in rehashing 'best-of' compilations every few years.

For the record, the derivations of the songs in question are as follows:

'March To War' - currently this is the only place you're going to find this particular track, although it is scheduled to be on the forthcoming split between Uruk Hai and Funeral Fornication, and also is the intended subject of a mega-die-hard-ultimate-limited-edition vinyl release from Hugin, cruelly planned to be limited to just 5 copies! Form an orderly queue....!

'Death Is Just Another Path' - also scheduled for the split release with Funeral Fornication, and the highlight of a bonus disc of the same name if you were one of the early-bird purchasers of "Black Blood, White Hand" from Steinklang Industries (or attended that album's release party earlier this year). This track makes another appearance, this time on the limited edition collection "Angband" released in 2010 on Runenstein Records.

'Gil-Galad' - appears on the "Angband" collection and as a self-titled tape in its own right in the Wulfrune Worxx 'split series' of releases. It is also planned to be one of the three Uruk Hai tracks on the yet-to-be released split with Mhnunrrn. Those with a longer memory will also recall a different track by the same name that appeared on the "Elbentanz" CDr released by Odium Records (hailz, Phil) in 2003.

The common theme linking these three tracks together - and the most probable reason for grouping them together here on the one single release - is their shared inspiration from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings work, and particularly the recent films. All of the songs are sample-rich in dialogue, especially 'March To War' in which a number of scenes from the storming of Helms Deep are interspersed with the music, and all have a epic and momentous drama to them that could - with a promo CD being shot over the desk of a suitably influential movie mogul - lead to a career in movie scores for our Austrian hero. The quality of the music is staggering and, as Nazgul doubtless has said before, it is amazing to compare the multi-layered songs of modern Uruk Hai to those more primitive tracks from the band's early recordings and consider that this is the same one-man project at work. If you harbour any preconceptions about the depth and ability of this band then may Nazgul respectfully suggest that you listen to the tracks on this album and be prepared to be confounded!

Indeed, 'March to War' commences with Saruman's famous speech, "A new power is rising. Its victory is at hand. This night the land will be stained with the blood of Rohan. March to Helm's Deep. Leave none alive. To war!" from The Two Towers, and proceeds through some rousing and magisterial percussion to lead the listener through the battle of Helm's Deep, including on the way Saruman's conversations with Wormtongue about the need for thousands to storm the walls (cue army of 10,000 marching Uruk Hai) and the death of Théoden whilst leading the Riders of Rohan in the battle of the Pelennor Fields.

The inspiration for the song 'Death Is Just Another Path', on the other hand, comes from the conversation between Pippin and Gandalf the Grey, as cited:

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... then you see it! Pippin: What, Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores... and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn't.

Essentially, if you are a Lord of the Rings fan and/or a lover of Hugin's Uruk Hai project you will enjoy this release enormously!

A word or three on the other half of this split, Sieghetnar, the one-man project led by Thorkraft. Not being overly familiar with his work, Nazgul has poached some appropriate commentary from other on-line sources here, which to my mind sums up the listening experience very well:

"Whilst still quite new to the scene, Sieghetnar is a musical entity that has managed to strongly establish its own unique and distinctive sound in this short time, combining elements of black metal, ambient and even some funeral doom to create a slow, melancholic and beautifully atmospheric form of music. The guitar tone, though very distorted, is not harsh-sounding like the razor-sharp sound typical of say, Xasthur, but instead a more calming, fuzzier wall of sound that surrounds the music like a dense snowfall, and this constant guitar ambiance lays the foundation for the cold, wintery feel of this album. The guitars are in no way overpowering and are instead quite relaxing and hypnotic, with guitar parts weaving in and out of each other along with keyboards, generating a blur of harmonies."

Thorkraft (pictured below) was kind enough to share some thoughts with Nazgul about the Sieghetnar project and the coming together of this split CD:

Thorkraft
(1) Can you introduce yourself to the readers - where you are based, your name?
Hail! The pseudonym for my works is THORKRAFT. I am the song-writer behind SIEGHETNAR, ASKUROR, TODESRUNE, HARSGATHYR and the owner of NORDSTURM-PRODUCTIONS & TONKUNSTWAFFENLAGER SHOP. I live in North Germany.

(2) Can you tell us a little more about your band Sieghetnar - when the band began, its philosophy and beliefs?

The beginning of the first output began in 2004/2005. I recorded the album "Verfallen & Vernedet" which is atmospheric Black Metal. I tried to put my negative feelings down and also wanted to create a album for listen at evening in bed. So all started. After some listened to the album they wanted it on CD so I have pressed 1000 pieces. The philosophy behind this work is to catch the listener into each album. Each album has its own thematic. Most of the albums are free of vocals so each listener can create his own vision of the story behind each release.

(3) What other bands have you been involved with?

There are some bands which have involved Sieghetnar. But I have had ideas which I never heard by other bands like the songwriting, and others, but I am inspired by BURZUM / XASTHUR and others

(4) How did you first come across Hugin's music?

Oh,this was some years ago when I got the CD Lothlorian from Othal Productions. Some time ago he wrote me an email if I would be interested to release a CD from Uruk-Hai. After I had listened to the work I was very surprised, and made a deal about a split with Sieghetnar.

(5) How have sales been since the 500 CDs were pressed?!

Until now I have sold only a few. But the reason for this is that there will be more promotion and reviews later on and then I think it will sell much better.

(6) Do you have any favourite piece of Hugin's music (from any of his projects)?

I have listened to only a few. But I like the Black Metal/Ambient Songs which are long and with vocals. The bombastic sound I like very much!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Nazgul's Top 10: Bonemachine/B-Machina rarities

Nazgul's Top 10 Bonemachine/B-Machina 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 - Bonemachine/B-Machina being the fourth 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...

Well, you - the readers of Honour & Darkness - voted for Bonemachine as your preferred entry in the next 'Top 10' list, so here we go. However. the task of listing, re-listing and whittling down Bonemachine and B-Machina releases into a coherent 'Top 10' has proven rather hard as there are a myriad of limited edition releases that are tough to find, but ultimately couldn't all make the final cut. In the 'close-but-no-cigar' file you'd find such treasures as "Die Fleischmaschine", "Veteran", "Prophecy", "Damaged Sounds", and many others. Here, however, is Nazgul's (inevitably) subjective decision on the subject, see what you think....?

10. Vogelfrei (wooden box edition)
Whilst the three separate discs of the "Vogelfrei" release are reasonably easy to find still, the wooden box edition with bonus 3" CDv is another matter entirely. That said, Nazgul has found one for sale online during the research for this post, and over the years has managed to buy two of his own, one of which resides in Castle Nazgul, the other in W.A.R. Studios. They are offered for sale occasionally if you keep your eyes peeled, but expect to pay a hefty price to own one...

9. Anti-Genesis
Limited to 9 copies in a hand-made package (it looks as though individual copies may be differently finished, see photo), this is a 2010 release on the Depressive Illusions label and features both B-Machina and Saturn Form Essence in a split release. Both of Nazgul's copies remain unopened and unplayed, which is why you've not seen this on the Blog yet. The fact that Nazgul has been greedy and grabbed two copies (one bought from the label to support it, the other from Alex for the same reasons) means that there can only be 7 left to get, and doubtless they are already spoken for. However, you could check out the label's page at http://www.myspace.com/depressiveillusions and keep your fingers crossed. This time next year - a definite top 5 item!

8. Mystified vs. Bonemachine
The old tin-in-a-bag format for this very limited and hand-crafted split release featuring a healthy dose of ambient/industrial madness. Due to the nature of the release - hand-made always looks pretty cool and collectible - this one doubtless sold out in about 5 minutes. Certainly you just don't find them for sale, anywhere, period
7. Burn Down Psychosis
One of the harder releases to find, but Nazgul had a bit of luck with this one as he managed to buy it directly from the label (Smell The Stench) just after it was released back in the days before he was in contact with Alex. As it is such a limited edition this was definitely a bonus, as I've never seen another one for sale since! Incidentally, in Nazgul's humble opinion this is a good example of a limited edition that backfires on the artist rather, as the tracks contained here really do deserve a wider audience.

6. Zeit
The fact that there exists both a tape and a CDr version of this release - both of which evaded the searching eye of Nazgul for years until Alex finally took pity on him - suggests that this is a bugger of a release to find. And yes, it was. Frankly, it's more likely that you'll be hit on the head tonight by a meteorite than find one of these for sale as an original pressing.

5. Novasak/Bonemachine split
This is a real cracker - the cassette split between Novasak and Bonemachine which came with the piece of circuit board glued to the cover. So clever, yet so simple. Only 16 copies of this were made, and due to the imaginative packaging I suspect they are all nestling in collections around the globe, never to be re-sold again. Certainly the copy you see here is the only one that Nazgul has ever tracked down, making it a stone-wall contender for this coveted list.

4. Another Time (wooden box edition)
Easily one of the most challenging of Hugin's CD to find, although the standard edition 3" CDr was at one time relatively common. Only 7 of these wooden box sets exist, and in searching for one Nazgul ended up paying the most he's ever paid for any CD, period, and also having to import a copy from - of all places - Brazil. If you have one of the other 6, then you've got a real treasure!

3. Eine Seltsame Reise Durch Die Nacht (die-hard edition)
The version of this self-released CDr you see here is the die-hard limited edition copy, coming with t-shirt and other goodies. The release came in a full pressing of 44 copies, the first 5 of which had the extra collectibles. It's not yet been covered in the Blog, and when it does you will doubtless be suitably impressed. Nazgul likes this package, but could you find another of the remaining four copies now? Does England boast a world-cup winning football team...?

2. Dieu Du Tonnere
You might reasonably suppose that it is this ultra-limited edition (5 copies) in its cardboard box that wins the prize for the most difficult B-Machina release to find. You would, however, be wrong. Yet with so few pressed, if you weren't on Hugin's mailing list when it came out like as not it would have been sold out before you knew it was released - Nazgul only just managed to get this copy, number 5 of the 5. Complete with all of it's contents, a remarkable and most collectible boxed-set.

1. Schicksalswinde
Coming as it did only in the Moloch box-set 'Traumklange Und Klagelieder', released in 2008 as an edition of only 9 copies and priced above the £60 mark, not many of these tapes will be kicking around on open sale. Unlike some of the other limited editions we've covered already, whose tracks have reappeared on the "Rotation Zwei" compilation CDr, the remixes on this cassette are - as far as Nazgul is aware - still unique to this release only. And your chances of finding the box-set now? Slim, at best. Yes, you're correct to note that with 9 copies it means there are more around technically than the "Dieu Du Tonnere" CDr and the "Another Time" wooden box, but frankly your chances of seeing an original are now vanishingly small. Making this tape Nazgul's top Bonemachine/B-Machina collectible.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

REHEARSAL 1999


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Rehearsal 1999
Format: Cassette only, released on the Smell The Stench (Australia) label in 2006 (no cat ref). Colour inlay, standard C60 style tape.
Edition: Presumed unlimited

Track Listing:

Side A
1. Der Pfad Zum Tor der Toten (Extended Version)
2. Aufmarsch Der Todeskrieger
Side B
3. Von Blinkenden Schwerten Im Reiche Des Nordens
4. So Finster Wie Es Niemals War

"What's that coming over the hill - is it a monster, is it a monster....?" No, it may sound like one but look a little closer and you'll see from the flailing axes and droplets of blood in the air that it's a savage barbarian horde clanking and rumbling over the distant mountains, war-drums pounding, guitars set to fuzzy-stun, and vokills set to, errrr, kill. Yes, Hrossharsgrani has returned to Honour & Darkness in the shape this tape release from our crazy Antipodean cousin Leigh Stench!

One of the relatively few releases of Hugin's bands that isn't a limited edition (most of the STS releases of Hugin's material tend to be unlimited, which does have the advantage of making them accessible to a wider audience), this is a nicely presented tape with full colour cover - suitably Valkyrian in nature - and an overall quality feel to it.

The four songs on this tape would - if recorded at a 1999 rehearsal session - pre-date the "Die Rückkehr zum Pfade" demo of 2000, which contained either 3 or 1 additional tracks (depending upon whether you have the second pressing 7 track Chanteloup Creations release or the first pressing 5 track version - see the post for 6 February 2010 for more detail). 'Der Pfad Zum Tor der Toten' is here in extended version, but all four tracks will be familiar to listeners of early Hross' as a blasting tirade of Viking anger set to the soundtrack to the Armageddon.

Approximate translations of the songs titles would lead Nazgul to believe that we are listening to - in order - 'The path to the gate of the dead' and 'Unleashing the death war' on Side A, followed by 'Of gleaming swords in the land of the north' and 'As dark as it never was' on Side B. The third track shares its title with the 2004 split release between Uruk Hai and Arkillery, you may recall.

Searching for this tape on Google usually brings up a few distros with one in their inventory, and perusing the Smell The Stench distro list is another fairly sure-fire way of finding one for yourself. It's always been a pretty reasonable price too in Nazgul's researches, rarely being more than €3.50 or so. A sound investment in these fiscally troubled times, especially if you like your metal horned, epic and trve!

Friday, 2 July 2010

MORGOTH


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Morgoth
Format: This version is the cassette release from Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2009, cat ref WWA as part of the 'Honour and Darkness' series. The album 'Morgoth' was - along with 'Balrog' - part of the very limited release Orkstahl 2-disc release in 2009, before being re-issued onto two separate tapes. The tape releases has black and white copied inlays.
Edition: 39 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

1. Morgoth (Part 1) 29:53
2. Morgoth (Part 2) 29:45

This is an monstrous release in all senses - 'Morgoth' is not album made up of separate songs but rather one vast, epic track lasting over nearly an hour in duration, split across both sides of the cassette. Equally, the piece is named for the monstrous figure of Morgoth Bauglir, who in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Legendarium is the main antagonist of The Silmarillion (and is mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings).

Morgoth (originally named Melkor) was the most powerful of the Ainur, but turning to darkness, became Morgoth (literally 'Black Foe of the World'), the 'great enemy' and ultimate antagonist of Arda, from whom all evil in the world of Middle-Earth ultimately stems. Sauron, one of the Maiar of Aulë, betrayed his kind and became Morgoth's principal lieutenant. Morgoth was the principal agent of evil in The Silmarillion, and his influence lingered in the world even after he was cast from the world into the outer void. Morgoth's example provided later ages a cautionary tale against pride, wrath, envy, lust for power, and greed.

The Ainu Melkor could initially take any shape, but his first recorded form was "...as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds and is clad in ice and crowned with smoke and fire; and the light of the eyes of Melkor was like a flame that withers with heat and pierces with a deadly cold." At the time he destroyed the Two Trees and stole the Silmarils, he took to himself the shape of a great "Dark Lord, tall and terrible". This form is the one shown on the album artwork.

The diminution of his power in this time and his own desire for lordship destroyed his ability to freely change shape, and he became bound to this one terrible form. His hands were burned by the theft of the Silmarils, and never healed. In his fight with High King Fingolfin, he suffered several wounds; his foot was hewn by Fingolfin's Sword of Ice Crystal, Ringil. At the end of this battle, Thorondor, the great Eagle, swooped down and scarred Morgoth's face with his talons, a wound that also never healed. In battle he wore black armour and wielded Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld. The great battering ram of Mordor was named for this weapon. He also wielded a black spear, and in early texts a poison sword.

If you were to continue to play the 'spot the Uruk Hai reference in Tolkien's work' game, Melkor's original fortress in the Iron Mountains was named Angband, which is the name of the new 4-disc box-set of Uruk Hai music issued by Runenstein Records in 2010. More of that release in a future post.

So there you have a little background to the history of Morgoth and the Middle-Earth connections, but what of the music? Well, as you might well expect for a piece of such lengthy duration it is a slow-burner rather than attempting to jam all of the highlights into the first few minutes. Indeed, pretty much the first side is low volume background ambience, which would not be to the taste of many who expect a few more fireworks for their money. Even part-way through side two, when the piece does develop in relatively more flamboyant ways, you're not going to be leaping from your chair and banging your head to it. Oh no, this is a graceful yet quietly insular composition, not particularly commercial and really only of interest to keen fans of the project and/or ambient metal generally (which possibly explains why the original "Orkstahl" release was distributed to just a few personal friends).

It's one of those releases that you can play the first few times and thoroughly enjoy, yet not be able to recall much of it when the tape finally clicks off at the end of either side. Equally, and in contradiction to that last statement, it's also the sort of album that would be excellent heard through a pair of quality headphones late at night whilst in a more contemplative mood, with time on your side to analyse and focus upon it properly. As a soundtrack for elements of the Tolkien written canon it works very well, so grab yourself a copy of something suitably Middle-Earth-ian and wade in!

Nazgul is, of course, honoured that this released was chosen to be part of the Honour & Darkness Series released by Skogen and Alex through Wulfrune Worxx (this copy is #2 of the 39 copies). Hails and thanks, gentlemen both.

Incidentally, the striking cover art of the inlay was adapted from a Ted Nasmith picture, an artist whose work has graced more than a few of Hugin's albums, and is shown in its original colour version below:

Thursday, 1 July 2010

PRO LIBERATE DIMICANDUM EST - update

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est
Reason for update: Alternative cover art

"To fight for freedom is right!"

Were you to cast an eye back to the last two posts of March 2010 you would see both parts of the Hrossharsgrani release "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" coming under the Honour & Darkness spotlight.

Here, however, is a alternate tape version of Part I of the album, essentially a personal copy of Hugin's for previewing in his car ahead of deciding whether or not the quality of the tracks were good enough to warrant an official release. As the final release did eventually have a commercial release, you all know the answer to the obvious next question!

This colour cover - colour being unique to this copy, as both formal tape releases had black and white album artwork, as did the CD pressings - continues the theme of the Roman Empire, showing as it does centurions on the march. The picture itself is not unique amongst Hugin's other releases, as the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted: it was also used as the inlay card image to the free online download track 'S.P.Q.R.' on the split EP with Phalanx (feat. the White Rabbit).

Nazgul thanks Alex for his kind donation of the tape to the ever-growing collection in the Castle library...

ELISABETHA > mystery artwork!

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: unknown
Description: Artwork for a possible EP or promo release...that never was?

Track Listing:
01. Verloren Im Licht Sakraler Lust und Agonie
02. Untodt Im Wechselbad Der Sinnlichkeit

The great thing about parcels from Hugin is that you never know what might be lurking in the bottom of them as they're being unpacked.

This intriguing piece of paper - illustrated with a very Edgar Allen Poe style image, of grotesque demon crouching over a stricken female form, with a ghostly floating horse head in the background (!) - was at the bottom of one such parcel that arrived a while ago at Castle Nazgul. It identifies two tracks, both of which featured on the cassette-only release "Untodt" from 2004 on Eclipse of Live Promulgation (see Blog of 11 July 2009 for more).

Now, Nazgul is pretty certain that such a two-track release didn't officially see the light of day as part of the official Elisabetha discography, but whether a promo or other limited edition was ever issued on CD or vinyl only Alex may know!

Notwithstanding the mystery - and if Nazgul hears anything he'll let you know - this is another interesting and unique piece of Elisabetha artwork for Huginophiles worldwide to savour...