Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Nazgul's Autumn Quiz

For the next couple of weeks Nazgul will be sunning himself in the balmy heat of South Africa, so he trusts that you will excuse the lack of updates to Honour and Darkness in that time. To keep his honoured readers engaged during this break, however, a fiendish picture quiz has been devised for your edification. The pictures shown below have been extracted from the artwork to some of Hugin's releases, and all you need to do is to identify both the band and the release from whence they came.

The pictures are shown in an approximate order of difficulty, ranging from Easy - Medium - Hard - Masterclass! As a helpful hint, there are no photos drawn from posters, t-shirts, flyers or other miscellanea. They come only from CD/CDr/tape/vinyl releases that have already been covered on Honour & Darkness, although the extract used may be from any part of that album that has been illustrated on the Blog pages (e.g. front inlay, rear tray inlay, CD, etc).

In fairness, Nazgul has only used those parts of the artwork already displayed in a photo accompanying a previous post so you don't have to own the item to identify the image, although you will need to browse past posts to find it. It's a bit of fun really, but should you think you have correctly identified all of the bands and the releases then feel free to drop Nazgul a line at tall_dai@ntlworld.com with your answer.

A prize may well be on offer to reward the first correct answer (or the best answer of the lot, should no one correctly identify them all), and it will be drawn at random from Nazgul's Halloween pumpkin. The answers will be posted on the 'Castle Noticeboard' sometime after October 18th (so send your entries prior to this date!), along with the details of the winning entrant - should there be one....?

So Nazgul's challenge is set - which of you will triumph...!?


"Easy" ... or are they?

A.
B.

C.
D.


"Medium"

E.

F.

G.

H.

I.

"Hard"
J.

K.

L.


M.
N.

"Masterclass!"

O.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

An Interview with the Vampire...Neon Ästhet

Neon Ästhet

In this, the latest of Nazgul's occasional series of Honour and Darkness interviews, please welcome the master of the dark illustration behind many of Elisabetha's release – Neon Ästhet.

With a style all of his own and a juxtaposition of disturbing and darkly erotic images, this is a rare opportunity to get into the mind of one of the original band's unholy triumvirate. For those less familiar with Neon's art and design, Nazgul has interspersed examples drawn both from actual album artwork and from other illustrations (some I believe may well be previously unseen online).

To begin, Hugin provides us with his brief perspective on the work of Neon Ästhet:

"I really love Neon’s art: He makes something unique I think, it’s so archaic and evil! I especially love the "Demeter" cover he painted for Elisabetha - the same with his lyrics, it’s really EVIL!!!!" Alex ‘Hugin’ Wieser, September 2010



Hello Neon, welcome to Honour & Darkness!
Hello Nazgul, thank you for your invitation. Glad to be here.

Q: Firstly, can you explain the origin of your intriguing name: Neon Ästhet?
A: Sure. Neon was influenced from my fascination of neon light, a cold light that gives me my energy. It was also influenced by the Kraftwerk song, ‘Neonlicht’. The ‘Ästhet’ part came because at this time I saw myself as a modern day Dandy (aká Ästhet) and wore Dandy-like clothes. Since then there has been a change and I am now calling myself ‘Neon Krypton’(Krypton = mysterious). The time of me being a Dandy has gone, the Army-look is now in.


Q: Where did the other two Elisabetha members get their names from – Blutgraf Gha'gsheblah (Uwe) and Graf Alexander Zu Sankt Magdalena, aka Höllenfürst (Alex)?!
A: Sorry, I can’t answer that - I never asked Uwe and Alex about it!
[Nazgul’s note: Hugin tells me that Graf Alexander Zu Sankt Magdalena means ‘Count Alexander from St. Magdalena’ (being the village where he was born), and Höllenfürst was a ‘Lord of Hell’. Meanwhile, Blutgraf means ‘Count of Blood’, and Gha'gsheblah is a ‘Vampire Demon’]

Q: How did the three of you first come together to form Elisabetha?
A: I can answer from my side, only. I originally wrote a letter to Uwe, as an artist and being curious to work on a CD project. So we came to one another that way - and soon I was a member of a music project!

Q: What inspired the name of the group, "Elisabetha"? What other names were considered?
A: Oh, Uwe had explained this in past interviews: It was inspired by the name of Dracula’s wife in the great movie from Francis Ford Coppola. I don’t know if other names were considered name for the project.



Q: How were the songs written and recorded? Did you each have a part to play in song writing and performance, or were you more on the artistic side rather than the musical side of the project?
A: Song writing, recording, sound - that was all the role of Uwe and Alex. My part was the artistic side. I created covers and/or artwork, and wrote or contributed to one or two lyrics. I sent them for feedback and if the answer came back ‘yes’ they were used.

Q: Can you tell us more about your artwork on those Elisabetha demos: what inspired you, and what favourite designs do you have from that time?
A: At first, Uwe sent extracts from the lyrics and various sound samples to me together with his interpretation of atmosphere, and so on. I listened and read and afterwards did my own scribbles, writing my meaning about these inspirations. I would send my work back and wait for feedback: that was the process from the beginning to the end of my work, so every artwork was a work in progress. My favourite designs are the covers from "Renfield" and "Und Wirklichkeit erfüllt die Seele wieder".

Q: Tell us a little about Alex and Uwe: what were they like to work alongside as friends and band members?
A: Alex and Uwe were very good friends. We talked a lot, and a meeting with both was a very good and intense one. Nowadays I have contact with Alex only. He is one of my best friends and I’m very proud and happy to be his friend.

Q: There must be some funny stories from the early days of the band: can you share one or two with us?
A: Most of them are a private thing, sorry! But one story is a strange one, so I will tell it. After contacting Uwe with the idea for submitting artwork, Uwe told me that the second Elisabetha member lived in the same town as myself! That was the first surprise. The second one, it was Alex, who I had met in the past but had not seen recently!

Q: The style of Elisabetha demo changed from radio-play with extensive samples (2000) to more black metal in nature (2003) - why did this transition come about?
A: Sorry, I can’t really comment on that: only Alex can really comment on the musical parts.

Q: OK, so looking back, do you think Elisabetha achieved its potential or do you have regrets?
A: Looking back, I’m sure that Elisabetha achieved its potential. It has got better with every new project, and I’m rather proud to have been a part of it.

Q: What did you think of the modern Elisabetha sound: "Morella" and "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld"?
A: For me it was full okay and needed. Elisabetha made concept-projects, and every new project needed its own sound.
Q: In the realm of dark metal/ambient genre of music out there, what do you think makes "Elisabetha" stand out from the crowd?
A: Answered simply, Elisabetha was a vampire-music-project. That means a great intensity, not only in sound and lyrics but also the special atmosphere.

Q: How would an Elisabetha fan go about getting their CDs or tapes signed by Neon Ästhet?
A: An Elisabetha fan can send CDs or tapes (or just covers) to me with return postage: 4 Euro (Europe) or 6 Euro (World). I’ll sign them and return them to you. But don’t forget that the post takes time, and I can’t be held accountable for its reliability. Send your CD's, inlays, letters, etc to: Arnold Reisner, Hauserstr.12. 4040 Linz, AUSTRIA

Q: Is the collaboration between the three of you on a hiatus? Or is it more of a matter of each of you feeling that you have fully explored the creative process/talents that each of you brought to "Elisabetha" and that the collaborative process has reached a natural end or closure?
A: That I can’t answer. For me, the end of Elisabetha was a big surprise. I took a short break, because the concept and ideas for the last projected CD were neither in my imagination nor inspiration. That was an artistic thing only. So I was not involved with what went on afterwards. Shortly after this time, there came a mail saying that Elisabetha had gone.

Q: Do you listen to any of Alex's current projects (Uruk Hai, Hrefnesholt, etc)? If so, do you have any favourites?
A: Yes, I listen to many of Alex’s current projects: My favourite is Bonemachine.

Q:Have you always wished to be an artist, or did you have a different career you wished to follow?
A:I have drawn and written science for more than thirty years. At first, it was just for me and just for fun. After a certain point, I saw myself as a writer and as an artist - that’s the history. But I’m not a full time artist: I work 25 hours per week in a bookstore. That gives me savings, and I can also do my art and writing as I wish to do meaning I’m not under pressure to make a living from it. Oh yes, I have a dream of a different career: To be a scientist in theoretical physics. I read a lot about particle physics and the like. I do much private studying.

Q: What are you up to at the moment, in both art and in life?
A: At the moment, my private life remains to be "undead and well". I experienced private troubles last year, and also the death of my mother in May this year. Some very hard times recently, but my life always was a survival from troubles. Also, I had artistic burn out, and reverted to science for more than one year - my artistic desire is back up and I feel I can draw again and be ready for new pictures. That’s good for my private life and a rather good feeling overall.

Q: Many of your illustrations I've seen focus on eroticism and vampirism, clearly strong influences on you?
A: Yes, both are very strong influences. In writing and art, I picture a universe of Eroticism-Blood-Pain. Privately I’m an admirer of the Marquis de Sade, who I consider an important philosopher too. I am interested in true crime (psycho killers) and war crime, and read a lot about cannibalism and the study of cannibals. All of these influences I call dark eroticism. But I’m neither Freddy Krueger nor Albert Fish *giggle*! Privately, I am a peaceful guy. I have a rather cynical humour though. I’m into S&M and military-fetish, and prefer plump and fat women....

Regarding vampirism, it’s one of the two most important points in my life. Not only do I read novels and look at movies, I also read a lot of non-fiction on the subject, and do special meditations. As I said, vampirism is part of my life, so I’m looking always for contacts to talk about it through email or pen-pals until we meet.

Q: Are you a self-taught artist? Who are your artistic influences?
A: Yes, I’m self-taught. Not only as an artist, most of my specialist knowledge is also self-taught. My influences include (i) as an artist: Hieronymus Bosch, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Alfred Kubin, Hans Bellmer and Francis Bacon; (ii) as a writer: H.P.Lovecraft, Lewis Carroll, Marquis de Sade, Fritz von Herzmanovsky-Orlando and Kathy Acker

Q: Is there a piece of art that you wish you had created?
A: That’s easy to answer - the 'Toteninsel' by Arnold Böcklin.

Q: As an artist, what mediums do you prefer? Do you find yourself returning to one or a few reoccurring themes in your art?
A: If it's copy-collage or usual picture I prefer aquarelle and tempera colours, both in a special technique that I self-developed. But also I use in fusion colour-textmakes, edding and so on. Don’t know borders. If necessary for a picture, I also would use lipstick and nail-polish. Only airbrush, oils or acrylics are not my thing.

Every artist has a few recurring themes. But like every good artist, I try to show them in new ways. My theme is the universe of eroticism-blood-pain. My new pictures will be more with MSF, strange architecture and so on. But no clean, military science-fiction - it will be dark and dirty so to speak, a little bit like the movie Hardware (M.A.R.K. 13) and also with rather ugly and beastly war/torture robots.

Q: Have you designed any album covers for other bands and, if so, which ones?
A: Yes, I have done one cover but it never was used. It was not my best kind of art, so I will not talk more about it....

Q: Where can we see more of your artwork: are you online or exhibiting somewhere?
A: Google anything about Neon Ästhet or Arnold Reisner! But this homepage - www.tschossener-ge.org - is from a good friend of mine. We have written together a vampire-novel, and a ghost-ship themed one will soon be ready. We plan to start another vampire novel too. All of these are German language.

This link - http://www.ooe-talenteforum.at/ - is from a culture-society, where am I a member. There is a little cross-section of my art and maybe on or two lyrics too, again in German.
This one - http://www.bluerose-mortitia.de/ - is from a charming Gothic-Art-Zine. Again there is also a cross-section of my art and lyrics. The Blue Rose Zine is rather good and comes recommended!

Maybe I will reinstate an older page in the future for myself, but this I cannot promise now.

Q: Given your interest in vampire lore, are you of the belief that real vampires live among us and are not just fictional?
A: That real vampires exist among us is a fact for me.

Q: Do you feel that recent films such as the Twilight saga add to the vampire mythos, or lessen it?
A: I think the Twilight saga is a part of the mythos. Maybe, it’s a little Rosamunde Pilcher like - it’s nicely written and has many good ideas. So it adds a little bit to the mythos.

Q: Do you think that the generation of interest in the vampire life-style through modern films is a dangerous thing, or a positive thing?
A: I’m sure that it’s not dangerous. I’m 48 years young and have been a horror-fan since I was sixteen. During my time there have been many generations of styles and interests and in every generation teachers, psychologists, parents and others say that ‘it’ is dangerous. I find the vampire style and interest a positive thing. For some people it is a ‘soft revolution’ against simplistic mindsets and maybe a help to finding themselves. And later, they can look back and say, hey, we were rebels too. For the others, it will be the doorway to a real interest into vampirism. Both are very positive things.

Q: What are your opinions on the current depiction of vampires in popular culture? What do you think makes vampires so popular over other monster mythos, such as werewolves, mummies, Frankenstein, zombies?
A: I think there are more facts. The Vampire is a sexy and charismatic one. He takes what he wants, and has survived death, and has magic-like talents like a dark Superman. Also, the Vampire is Jesus-like, but without morals. These all make the vampire very erotic. On other side, he is a lonesome creature, a feeling that each of us knows from time to time. Another point is the history: The vampire mythos is as old as any culture, and occurs all over the world from the vampire Gods and Goddesses in ancient religions through to ballads featuring strongly in modern popular culture. Those are one or two facts of many: Hey, I could talk for ages about vampirism!

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight: a vampire or a dragon?!
A: Sorry to all vampire-fans, but the dragon would win! Because a dragon is like a tank, a war-machine: It has armour, fire and poisoned claws...

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island for a year, what 3 CDs and 3 books would you take with you?
A: One of my survival handbooks, *giggle*? Okay, without joking - you know, that’s a mean question. But I will try to answer it. For certain, one CD with music from the East (Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan or so on). As a second choice, ’Chelsea Girls’ by Nico - she is a goddess to me. And thirdly an old Black Metal album, like Venom, Slayer, or something like that.

On books: from Marquis de Sade‚ "120 Tage von Sodom", a good non-fiction book about the Voodoo religion and an anthology of stories from H.P. Lovecraft.

Q: [What can only be called a classic Philip Knight mad-as-a-goose contribution!] I’m currently completely boned on coffee, three heaped teaspoons of instant, no milk or sugar. How do you take yours? Do you require any kind of stimulant to be creative and how does the process pan out? Are you a fidget and does one converse with the badger? Do you get badgers where you reside?
A: ?!?

Q: Since the interview that was published in the Depravity Zine #2 (2005) and republished in Honour and Darkness blog, you said your "desire is to onward down the Dark Path" - how has that journey been? Has there been anything to surprise you? Anything that challenged you and expanded your philosophy about life and yourself as an artist and musician?
A: Since 2005 much time has passed, many years with many changes. At first I want to say that I’m an artist and writer, I never was a musician. But to your question: The Dark Path was an intensive journey for me, it has taken me forward strongly and quickly into magic and vampyrism, and also to call and work with strong 'dark energies'. That was not so much a surprise and I learned through doing. But finally the ideology of the Dark Path was to narrow for me, so I have left it.

Not to be misunderstood, Darkness, Vampyrism, are still in me. I prefer to use dark energies, but now I also use other energies without problems.

And there has been another big change. For nearly two years I’m a member of the Voodoo religion. That’s the second important part of my life. Meanwhile I’m a Voodoo Priest, and I could in theory be the head of a parish. I can do big rituals and will do it for people who need advice through me. My priest’s title and name is Papa Simitye for people who want to speak with me as a priest. For all others, I’m still Arnold or Neon.

There is no change to my philosophy. It’s just the same, as Popeye the sailorman would say, "I am what I am. And that’s what I am." Simple enough! I always have tried to go my own way and it is not a contradiction to work in a standard job and also to be an underground artist/writer. The borders between underground and mainstream only exist for small-minded people. The only truth is to go your own way, with all of the highs and depths that follow, and live every day of life as if it were your last one. So you can say at the end: I have lived every day of my life.
With huge thanks to Neon (Krypton!) for taking the time and trouble to answer the questions with such detailed and interesting answers, and to Nick, Michelle and [even!] Phil for helping to ask them.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

DIFFERENCES

Band: HUGIN
Title: Differences
Format: Cassette release as a part of the Split Series from Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2010, catalogue reference WW110. The reverse side of this split is Hrossharsgrani's "...Of Battles, Ravens & Fire" in previously unreleased extended version. black and white photocopied inlays, standard C60 style tape.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

01. Untitled track 1 2.35
02. Untitled track 2 5.01
03. Untitled track 3 1.53
04. Untitled track 4 2.07
05. Untitled track 5 1.48
06. Untitled track 6 5.33
07. Untitled track 7 6.04

Anyone who has listened to Hugin's music over the years will be able to relate to the fact that he is far from a one-dimensional artist, and always likely to spring something unexpected on his audience at any given moment. A quick look back across some of his past releases shows ample evidence for this - take, for example, the improbable recording (albeit as a very limited promo release) of the old 1960's standard 'House Of The Rising Sun' by Hrossharsgrani, or the cover of Kiss' 'Beth' by B-Machina. Alternatively, consider the entire 80's synth-pop influence shown in Ceremony of Innocence (and the goth-rock influences in forthcoming project Solid Grey), or the innovative concept of 'radio-play' style recordings shown in the early Elisabetha demos.

The point is, one should expect - and positively embrace - the unexpected, particularly from this most adaptable and talented musician.

Here we have a fine example of another facet to Hugin's musical character, and one that is a very pleasant way to spend half an hour of one's life enjoying. The 7 untitled tracks on this eponymous project release are solo-piano recordings, with no other instrumentation or vocals imposing on the gentle melodies and classical overtones evoked.

The use of piano in rock and metal is not a new concept of course: any number of classic rock bands have gone for the honky-tonk rhythm of the keyboards from The Rolling Stones through to Guns N Roses. Even in the more extreme metal genres, piano is far from being uncommon, with luminaries such as Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth (amongst many) having dabbled in their use.

The tracks recorded here are a mixture of the rousing and the gentle, the ethereal and the classical. Some bring to mind the piano excerpts on recent Uruk Hai recordings, others are in a little world of their own and bring their own sense of place and atmosphere to bear. It's not a release that will be likely have the masses rushing to hear it, which is something of a pity really as those with an ear for a melody and a place in their life for engaging and peaceful music would surely benefit from the compositions offered here.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

IN THE DARK ROOM Volume 1 [V/A]

Band: CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE
Title: In The Dark Room (Volume 1)
Format: Free internet download from the Darkroom Productions online magazine, released on 16 July 2008 (cat ref DP001)
Edition: Unlimited

Track Listing:
CD1
01. YENDRI "I’m Your Angel"
02. BABYLONIA "The Remains (Of A Day)"
03. MAYA NADIR "Origin (Medit)"
04. ATTRITION "Dante’s Kitchen (Skinflick remix)"
05. SPECTRA*PARIS "Spectra Murder Show (embryo version)"
06. SEVERE ILLUSION "Only Pilots Change The World (Again)"
07. VANVÅRD "Jag Tror På Vad Andra Säger (Fortfarande)"
08. RADIUMHOSPITALET "No Time (Version)"
09. SIVA SIX "Nihil Before Me (Iambia remix)"
10. DISMAL "Niveàre (Ab Ovo remix)"
11. HIDE & SEEK "Ghosts Of The Swimming-Pool (Darkroom Remix)"
12. THE FROZEN AUTUMN "Is Everything Real? (V-mix)"
13. BLANK "Hellbound (The Crystalline Effect remix)"
14. KLONAVENUS "Future Silence [Christian Ryder Remix]"
15. TOURDEFORCE "Across The Bridge (version)"
16. T3CHN0PH0B1A "N.A.S.A. [Obszön Geschöpf Remix]"
17. ELLENOR "Our Time"
18. THE LOST "The Last Call [old-rose version]"
19 .ACT NOIR "Drag Me Away (StarkEyes edit)"
CD2
01. AT THE FUNERAL OF MY VIOLET RABBIT "untitled"
02. ALL MY FAITH LOST… "Ivory ( Darkroom Version)"
03. SIEBEN "Rite Of Amends (my remix)"
04. THELEMA "Despair"
05. HEXPEROS "Rime Glitters in the Sun II"
06. CORDE OBLIQUE (Riccardo Prencipe) "Tempesta Di Sapori"
07. ZA FRÛMI "Imrra (Alternative version)"
08. ATARAXIA "Aigues Mortes (live version)"
09. NAEVUS "The Mill (live)"
10. ALBIREON feat. KENJI SIRATORI "Strange God"
11. FREDRIK KLINGWALL "Theme 101"
12. RISING SHADOWS "Falling Deep Within (Different mix)"
13. POLLOCK "Widerseeträume"
14. ROSE ROVINE E AMANTI "From Desperation To Victory!"
15. DER FEUERKREINER "Soldiers To Arms! (78 rpm)"
16. CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE "The 5th Element" 5.48
17. ASHRAM "Forgive Me"
18. POETS TO THEIR BELOVED "Love"
19. BISCLAVERET vs DAWID CHRAPLA "Ritual Of The All Embracing Madness (chaos mix)"
20. THE LAST HOUR "Last Blues"
21. OUROBOROS "Pavor Nocturnus (Ordalia Remix)"

It's been an absolute age since we last had a Ceremony Of Innocence update on Honour and Darkness - November 2009 to be exact. Well, high time the balance was redressed, so here's a little something to tickle your fancy and, what's more, it's a totally free download to get your hands on (with downloadable .jpegs for a cover inlay too, if you fancy printing one off to create a CDr version of your own).

Compiled by Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi of Darkroom (http://www.darkroom-magazine.it) this compilation comes as a celebration of the Italian online magazine's first anniversary (February 2007 - February 2008). It includes, in its own words, "exclusive, unreleased and extremely rare material" from the bands compiled.

Darkroom is an online magazine completely dedicated to the world of obscure music, from gothic to darkwave, from dark ambient to industrial, from neo-folk to ethereal, from synthpop to EBM up to each possible emanation of the ‘dark’ sound, including some evolved, obscure and ‘alternative’ metal. As such, the cultured sounds of Ceremony Of Innocence fits very well into its ambit, alongside familiar names such as Rose Rovine E Amanti (who have released split product with B-Machina) plus a host of bands new to Nazgul but well worth giving a listen to.

The C.O.I. track here is "The 5th Element", which Nazgul has only previously heard a part of the unique 4-way split CDr that Hugin very kindly sent to Nazgul back in 2007 (see post of 3 November 2009 for more detail). As described previously in that post:

"'The 5th Element' is a shorter reworking of the 7.07 'Hydra' track from the band's "Horproben 2007" demo with a new 'xylophone' section in the middle stages. Still immense catchy and an interesting variant on the original track."

As a free download this is a release that is both a real treat and a great opportunity for those of you not familiar with this project to give it a listen at nil cost. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised...

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Nebula Dawn

Band: URUK HAI (amongst others)
Item: DVD released in 2006 featuring the film "The Nebula Dawn"

Cast your eye back to the Honour and Darkness review of Bonemachine's "Schwarzes Jerusalem" release on 7 April 2009 and you will note that the final track, 'Akustische Impressionen der Letzten Großen Schlacht', was credited as being recorded as an extra track for the film "The Nebula Dawn." Not exactly a box office smash, this was an independent film from - of all places - Luxembourg, and touched on some complicated saga of a group of paranormal researchers trekking off into the woods to solve a mystery that came their way anonymously via a video tape left in the mail.

Hugin kindly made a copy of this film available to Nazgul a while ago - being that the collection of his work in the Castle library knows no bounds, it seemed a fair bet to add to the ever-growing collection of items that makes up the Hugin-museum. After all, has our hero's music appeared on any other film soundtracks...?

Now, in terms of plot you'll have to excuse Uncle Nazgul, as the native Lëtzebuergesch spoken here is not his normal tongue, and the general standard of acting and 'special effects' (used in the loosest sense of the expression) rather detracted from keeping pace with what was supposed to be going on. Hey, it's a low-budget foreign-language indie rather than a Hollywood blockbuster, so as you might imagine things are a little 'amateur' from time to time and Nazgul's tiny mind can't keep up.

However, credit where it's due to Producer Yves Steichen, who uses a full-on soundtrack of ambient and folk metal to paper over the cracks and generally create a sense of feverish activity and intrigue even when the bewildering plot twists suggest otherwise. The soundtrack to this album features contributions from a range of German, Swiss and Austrian bands including 13th Monkey, Atomtrakt, Forest of Fog, Grabnebelfürsten, Hollenthon, KiFw, Uruk Hai and Vinterriket. Other sound samples in the score were contributed by no less a hand than of Alex Wieser himself.

On offer, for the keen Uruk Hai fan, are snippets of the following tracks:

  • 'Beneath The Moon, Beneath The Sun' - from "A Dark Force Shines Golden" (released 2008)
  • 'Dark' - originally 'Dark (Are The Fires of Mordor)' from "Enslaved In Evil Darkness", 2005
  • 'Lay of Leithian' - from the "Lothlorien" album, 2006
  • 'Nebula War' track - presumed to be unique to this release
  • 'Underneath The Stars' - also from the "Enslaved In Evil Darkness", 2005
  • 'Enter Mordor' - also from the "Lothlorien" album, 2006

The Bonemachine song, as recorded for "Schwarzes Jerusalem", does not feature in the soundtrack to the main film (although elements of it may possibly recur in the 'Nebula War' and incidental sound samples used).

There is precious little about this film to be discovered online (although there is still a web-page for the production company at http://www.kml.lu/ where you can find out more), and to be honest it's not a film that will be high on the list of those to see again in Castle Nazgul. That said, the musical score certainly makes the visuals more bearable and top marks go to both Uruk Hai and Vinterriket for pulling that feat off!

One for the file marked 'For Collectors Only'!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

IN DURIN'S HALLS - artwork update


Band: URUK HAI
Title: In Durin's Halls
Reason for update: The original template of artwork for the first release of this demo in 1999

This may not be the only post with an update for "In Durin's Halls" coming your way in 2010, as Nazgul learns that moves are afoot at W.A.R. to re-release a remastered version of this original Uruk Hai demo on CD. Exciting times ahead, my friends. You might want to start forming an orderly line now to send your pre-orders to Hugin in deepest Austria...

In the meantime, however, a trawl through the artwork file reveals this interesting item - the template for the inlay to the original tape of the debut Uruk Hai demo, released way back when in 1999.

The original tape was limited to just 33 copies, as you'll see from the blank edition number printed on the inlay. All of the silver lettering is hand-drawn, and the actual tape number was added in gold marker pen thereafter. The full review of this demo can be found back on 10 March 2009.

What is interesting is the fact that the cover illustration (of trees and lake) is an actual photograph, cropped to be the right size and then glued onto the paper template. The inlays in the released version were colour photo-copies of this template, of course. It hadn't really occurred to Nazgul, until seeing this original work in progress, that the piece was constructed in this manner. Using the silver marker on the glossy photo must have been a painstaking process, incidentally, not to have smudged the logos...

Also of note - shown in the top photo of the unfolded template - is the far right hand side typed panel, showing Hugin's address and details citing "Hrossharsgrani (Pagan Viking Metal)". Ooops! This panel was neatly chopped away from the final photocopied versions (or at least it is on Nazgul's copy, #31) for bearing the right address but wrong band details! Readers of the Blog will recall, however, that Uruk Hai sprang from Hrossharsgrani via the "Uruk Hai" demo, and with "In Durin's Halls" I suspect that an old Hross' paper template was cannibalised to form this inlay without the offending details being detected until too late!?

A nice piece of history, in any event, and the last photo (below) shows the Nazgul's copy of the demo next to the template itself.

HROSSHARSGRANI > 'Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est' t-shirt


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: White cotton t-shirt promoting the "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" album
Edition: Limited to 5 examples

Honour and Darkness covered the black and gold "Convenit Dimicare Pro Liberate" t-shirt back on 30 December 2009, but that version isn't the only t-shirt promoting the "Pro Liberate..." album.

This very limited edition white cotton version - featuring a nice centre panel of gladiatorial scenes / Bacchanalia - is another addition to Nazgul's satorial wardrobe, and with only 5 copies having been made the likelihood of seeing another outside of a Beverina & W.A.R gala party is but a remote possibility....

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TRANSILVANISCHER HUNGER



Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Transilvanischer Hunger
Format: Professionally-printed CDr EP released on the W.A.R. Productions label (Austria) in 2010, catalogue reference W.A.R CDR066. The disc has the band logo and name on the non-playing side, and is coloured black on both sides. The inlay also bears a mock bar-code with the legend '666 Vampyr Schwarzmetall"
Edition: 50 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

1. Transilvanischer Hunger 7:28

The current status of the Elisabetha project is somewhat confusing to the casual observer. The band is reported on the Metal Archive web-site as having split in June 2008, the triple CD "Eternal Deathvastation" released on Oskorei Bild & Tonkunst in the same year seemed to be a fitting finale to the original unholy triumvirate of Graf Alexander Zu Sankt Magdalena (aka Hollenfurst), Blutgraf Gha'gsheblah, and Neon Ästhet, featuring rare tracks from the band's early demos. However, before this apparent demise the neoclassical "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld" full-length album had been released in 2007 under the Elisabetha banner but effectively as a one-man project of Hugin (with vocal narration from Seigor), suggesting a new direction and era for the band. This seemed to be reinforced by the subsequent appearance of the "Morella" promo EP later in 2008 in the same musical vein.

Following a fallow year (2009) in which the project released nothing to the outside world (the vampire presumably asleep in its coffin) February 2010 saw some very previously unheard demo recordings - "Rehearsal 2001" - appearing for the first time as part of the Split Series on Wulfrune Worxx. Shortly afterwards this particular CDr - "Transilvanischer Hunger" was released. So what should the listener expect: Would it be new recordings in the neoclassical style, or a return to the vampyric black metal of old...? Had the band broken up, reformed , or been re-constituted as a solo-project? One thing is for certain - you just can't keep the undead down for long!

Well, there are clues to solve this vexing question before the need arises to put the disc onto the Castle death-deck. The song title itself may sound familiar to you: 'Transilvanian Hunger' appears as the title song on Darkthrone's 1994 album, and let's be honest - Darkthrone aren't noted for their neoclassical sensibilities. Incidentally, the black and white cover of that Darkthrone album (showing Fenriz, with candelabra and band logo top left) is nicely mirrored on this release with the cover shot of a corpse-painted Hugin (and bonus points if you spotted that this same photo of Hugin also appears on the inside of the inlay to Hrossharsgrani's cassette release of "Blut"). Indeed, this cover is something of a collectors item as it is the only one that Nazgul can immediately think of that actually shows a photo of Hugin on the front cover of one of his albums.

The second and third clues, should one need them, is that the song-writing credit for this track shows both Hollenfurst and Blutgraf being credited for the lyrics and music (so very much not a solo project) and the recording date is given as June 2004, only a short while after the blackened blastings of "Und Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder" hit the racks.

So you would be quite correct in your deduction that a blast of cold, black metal will assail your senses once this disc is given a spin. To make life more interesting, rather than a straight cover of the original song there have been a couple of additions to this version, at the outset and to the end, to make the running order nearly a minute and a half longer. The intro finds a sampled narrative from "Kinder der Nacht ", more of which another time, whilst the outro has a distinctly Bonemachine sound in its distinctive instrumentation and style. One can almost picture the Bonemachine traversing the Carpathian mountains and being ambushed by a vampyric horde, leading to this distinctly unholy union being spawned...

As an aside, apart from the musical differences on this cover version you will also have spotted the spelling difference in the title as well. This is, Nazgul presumes, simply the difference in the song being written and sung in German as opposed to using the original English version (hence the credit for lyrics on the inlay). Not being a linguist I wouldn't swear to this, but given the German-language version by Naglefar on their "Virus West" release is spelt the same way as Elisabetha's version it seems a fair bet.

As a rare treat, you can find at YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/BeverinaandWar) an edited video version of this very song, which is 2:52 of extreme vampyric music you really should check out. There's no fancy video shoot, but an interesting cut-down version of the song. If this all leaves you primed to want to purchase a copy then you could either contact Alex directly through the usual channels, or point yourself towards the Steinklang label, who Nazgul noticed had a few of these left in their shop at a very reasonable 5.90 Euros apiece (http://www.steinklang.at)

Given the original limitation of 50 copies (Nazgul's being #2 of 50) you really shouldn't hang around too long though....

And remember... 'Elisabetha steht für alles teuflische im Menschen...'

Saturday, 11 September 2010

UNDER THE WHITE HANDS FLAG


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Under The White Hands Flag
Format: Cassette- tape-only release on Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2010, catalogue reference WW107. Part of the 'Split Series' of releases, with Estonian horde Bestia on the reverse side. Female vocals on track 3 by Neuf
Edition: Numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

01. Where No Light Dwells 3.12
02. Tales From The Misty Mountains (edited video version) 4.19
03. Hidden Path (different version) 5.04
04. Shadow Of The Orcs (remastered version) 6.07

An intriguing little release from Uruk Hai, let loose upon the world through French label Wulfrune Worxx and bearing a very appropriate dedication to Skogen from Hugin on the inlay in honour of the great support from this label to a number of Hugin's projects.

The title of the demo comes straight from Tolkien's works, as you might summise: in the Lord of the Rings Saruman's Uruk Hai used black shields emblazoned with a white hand, a symbol of Saruman, as opposed to the Red Eye emblem of Sauron's hordes.

The reason for this release being described as 'intriguing' comes from the choice of track-listing: a real mixture of songs being offered here. There are a couple of tracks - in different versions - that would eventually be released on the "Black Blood, White Hand" album later in 2010, one brand new instrumental ('Where No Light Dwells') and one remastered old track from the "Elbentanz" demo of 2000, which recently featured in Nazgul's top 10 Uruk Hai rarities post.

The gestation of "Black Blood, White Hand" was a lengthy one, involving as it did a small cast of notable musical figures from collaborations past with Hugin, including CZ of Vinterriket, P. Sergiy (Moloch) and Dimo Dimov (Ravenclaw) amongst others. Given the variety of items comprising that particular release, it will be the subject of a special two-part Blog entry later this year.

One can't help but feel though, given the unusually long time it took to get the final mastered versions of that album's songs finished, part of the reason for the "...White Hands" release was to get something out there as a taster for the forthcoming album and to act as a release value from the creative process. Hence two tracks make it onto this demo tape in alternate versions to those on the final album: the edited version of 'Tales From The Misty Mountains' that accompanied the video version of the song found online, and a reworked version of 'Hidden Path' with different introduction but retaining the beautiful choral vocals of 'Neuf'. Nazgul knows little about 'Neuf' other than she features in her own right in Nuef Le Muet, but on the strength of this contribution alone she adds a real ethereal dimension to the Uruk Hai sound.

New track 'Where No Light Dwells' is an atmospheric instrumental in the recent Uruk Hai vein, full of brooding atmosphere and Middle-Earth mystery. Final track 'Shadow of the Orcs' is something of a surprise reappearance , recorded as it was back in 2000 and originally featuring on the impossible-to-find Odium Records "Elbentanz" demo CDr. Also to be found on the second disc of the spic "Angband" compilation, this is a revitalised song that benefits from a modern-day sound whilst retaining the quirky charm of the original piece.

Assuming you can lay your hands on this tape (Wulfrune Worxx releases not being the easiest of items to find) you will have at your disposal one of the shortest - yet most characterful - Uruk Hai demos of 2010.

Friday, 10 September 2010

COMBAT


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Combat
Format: CDr released on the Symbolic Productions label (France) in 2008, catalogue reference SYMBCD38. Professionally printed inlays with blue inner disc tray, silver disc CDr and printed sticker.
Edition: Limited to 250 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

01. The Sound Of Marching Feet 2.24
02. Rythmus Der Einsamheit (Different Version) 3.59
03. Die With Your Boots On 9.12
04. Feuertaufe (First Take Mix) 22.47

"The record is horrifying, crushing, weighing upon your brain..."

So ended a short review of this album on the Heathen Harvest website, and their somewhat cataclysmic assessment seems a fair one in the light of Nazgul's swift re-visit of this particular Bonemachine release!

It must be one of the last 'old school' Bonemachine releases before the band morphed into the two-man B-Machina project, although in the absence of an official Bonemachine discography (Nazgul really must get on with that, one of these fine days) it's hard to tell exactly where in the chronology it falls. 'Old school' in this context equates to the creation of what might be styled 'rhythmic noise' (militant rhythms, samples of combat and explosion, ambience and choral effects mixed with heavy percussive impacts) that the project revelled in in its earlier ambient-industrial years.

An interesting group of tracks are contained on this short CD - the opener 'The Sound of Marching Feet' overlays the rhythm of an army of - you guessed it - marching feet with an experimental percussive drive. Heathen Harvest described it as the sound of "...numerous clashes, beats reverberated, all making me think [of] a huge hostile machine moving forward (or hordes of Teutonic knights in full metal)."

It's a short precursor to one of the longer tracks on the release, 'Rythmus Der Einsamheit (Different Version)', which literally translates to mean 'Rhythm of Solitude'. We last came across this track on 24 March 2010 as part of the 2xCDr joint-label compilation "Skull The Stench", where this track represented Bonemachine but in a remixed version by US ambient band Mystified (with Bonemachine remixing the Mystified track 'Idyll' later on the same release). Nazgul's comment on the effect of the Mystified remix ran to the words, "Ever wondered what Bonemachine might sound like filtered through a fuzzy 1930's wind-up gramophone whilst being constantly detuned on the wireless?" Presented here in a 'different version' there are less intrusive effects and a more involving sense of various musical genres colliding to form this track, commencing with distant ambient sounds and choirs being augmented with a deep, sonorous male voice leading into a thick soup of ambient noise.

'Die With Your Boots On' is not, as some may have hoped, a cover of the old Iron Maiden chestnut from 1983's "Piece of Mind" but more of the same instead! Good news for hardcore Boners (Hmmm...that certainly looks worse written down than when Nazgul thought it up) but for the casual listener another aural assault to the senses! And then to the finish, with a first-take version of 'Feuertaufe' ('Baptism of Fire') that will leave you quaking in your boots, teeth rattling and ears bleeding.

The primary output of this album is the creation of dark, ambient noise that is both complex in its composition and challenging to listen to. It is broadly similar to the music of artists such as Mourmansk 150, Flutwacht, and Brandkommando. The sounds created trigger an emotional response as much as a cerebral interpretation, and when they work to best effect leave the listener with goose-flesh and a sense of dread and wonder. The Heathen Harvest reviewer noted that "...admirers of industrial atmospheric and noisy things with martial aesthetics will certainly enjoy this record" and you'd have to go along with that assessment too!

As ever, availability is a slight issue. Released in a larger quantity than is often the case (250 copies) it still isn't a release that you tend to find advertised for sale that widely. Were you to venture to the label's website (www.symbolicprod.blogspot.com), however, you would be able to snap one up for a very reasonable 7Euro/US$10. Would this be a CD to convince the more general fan of Hugin's Uruk Hai project to convert to his more challenging Bone-sounds? Well, no it wouldn't. But for any reader whose musical taste strays away from the common-place and into the avant-garde then this CD would be well worth seeking out.

Monday, 6 September 2010

HROSSHARSGRANI > Coffee Mug

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: Coffee Mug
Edition: Limited to a few copies - possibly 2 (see below!)

Just when you thought the creaking library shelves couldn't possibly cope with another piece of crockery, here's the latest in the small but ongoing collection of coffee mugs bearing the logo of one of Hugin's bands. By a process of elimination and a quick re-read of past postings you could probably put a fair bet on which band it must be, and for all of you who cried "Hrossharsgrani" then pat yourself on the back and collect a gold star on the way through!

Produced in limited numbers (you'll notice that Nazgul is being a little vague on the exact number here, as he's forgotten! Doubtless Hugin will come to the rescue on that one, but the smart money is on 2 copies!) and on the 'traditional' white background, trivia buffs amongst you will be overjoyed to learn that this mug is the only one in the collection thus far to have the handle on the left as one looks at the logo, rather than the right!

The style of the Hross logo is from the modern era, that of the Roman Empire-themed "S.P.Q.R." and "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" releases. Underneath this logo, in much smaller lettering, is something that may make you smile: orginally on receiving the mug and glancing at the design Nazgul assumed it said something - possibly written in Latin again - in an suitably enigmatic vein. In fact, it reads "Not My Cup Of Tea"....

Friday, 3 September 2010

SHOCK MILLENNIUM

Band: HEIMATLEID
Title: Shock Millennium
Format: Cassette-only release from 1999, on the Chanteloup Creations (France) label, no catalogue reference. Contains black and white photo-copied inlays and a standard C-60 style tape. This version features three tracks from the band's first demo on Side B, plus a bonus track exclusive to Chanteloup Creations. From details on the inlay there is presumably an alternative version without track 9 released through Irrlichter Distro (Germany).
Edition: An unnumbered edition of 100 copies

Track Listing:

Side A:
01. Shock Millennium 5.45
02. Natur 2.27
03. Blut 4.12
04. Stahlschlag 2.48
05. Feuer Und Eis 4.44
Side B:
06. Keltische Steine 9.50
07. Heil 8.46
08. Pentagram 4.51
09. Raising The Flag 6.34 [Chanteloup Creations bonus track]

Digging around on-line whilst researching this Heimatleid demo, Nazgul stumbled across a mail-order list for Chanteloup Creations from August 2000 posted by our old friend Skogen. This tape, and the subsequent demo "Trummer Aus Stein", were both being offered for sale and one can only wonder how many people took advantage of that opportunity to grab a piece of history? All too few, one suspects...

This particular tape came into Nazgul's possession in 2009 via Skogen, who had access to what were probably the last of the original tapes in the Chanteloup vaults. Interestingly, the "Shock Millennium" tape is noted in the mail-order description as being Heimatleid's second demo, which is borne out by the tracks 6-8 on the second side being listed as originating on the band's original demo. Whether this first demo was in fact released in its own right is unclear - certainly Nazgul has not seen reference to it anywhere, so it's possible that the tracks were recorded in 1999 and lay dormant until this second demo secured a release on the erstwhile French label.

What is clear from the inlay is that track 9 - 'Raising The Flag' - is a bonus track only found on the Chanteloup mail-order version of the tape. We've seen additional material being offered in this way before on a number of other Chanteloup releases of Hugin's demos, including Hrossharsgrani's "Die Rückkehr Zum Pfade" and the aforementioned "Trummer Aus Stein" demo. Chanteloup referred to the Heimatleid sound as "Kampf Metal" and noted that it heralded "...bringing back an age of Honour, Pride and Epic battle furies". It certainly does!

The musical style herein is - as Nazgul has previously reported - nothing like Bonemachine (itself founded from the ashes of Heimatleid), but instead mirrors prime early Hrossharsgrani. All that is implicit in that statement applies here - the slightly muffled yet resonant booming war-drums, the deep and accented guttural vocals, the interplay of acoustic and electric guitar. The overall feel is one of being immersed in battle (complete with sampled sounds of buzzing arrows and sword-play) whilst having your senses pummelled by the barbaric music unfolding around you. Various song titles - notably 'Blut' and 'Feuer Und Eis' - will resonate with Hross' fans, whilst parts of the music have been re-recorded again on early Hross demo tracks too, giving the demo a familiar feel.

Nazgul's tape came with the cryptic dedication "The Power Of One" on the cassette box, whilst the cover illustration shows the cataclysmic aftermath of a meteor strike to planet Earth. The tape is not numbered, but Chanteloup details suggests that only 100 were created. Incidentally, it would seem that a loose translation of the word Heimatleid is 'homeland sorrow', harking back again to the Chanteloup description of past ages of heroism and battle.

In casual conversation with Hugin, Nazgul infers that it is highly unlikely that the old Heimatleid material will ever be released again. Likewise the earlier recordings by some of Hugin's other less well known projects, notably Raben Nacht. Admittedly there would probably be only a limited market for such releases, and even with various other historical recordings seeing anniversary re-pressings in 2010 it is understandable that this may not be an area that is a high priority for W.A.R Productions right now. Perhaps Castle Nazgul should invest in a printing press and some blank tapes and - under licence from W.A.R. - start a resurrection project of its own...!?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A VIKINGS JOURNEY

Band: URUK HAI
Title: A Vikings Journey
Format: Tape-only release on the Skullf*cking Tapes label (Canada), cat ref skull37. Released in 2005, the tape has a colour inlay and a plain black C60-style cassette. A separate compilation tape of this release and "The Battle" also exists but with slightly different track listing.
Edition: Presumed unlimited

Track Listing:

1. Der Schrei des Blutes 11:26
2. Stahlzeit 19:20
3. Hermodr A Helferd (Burzum Cover) 02:56
4. The Plague [tape-only bonus] 07:07

Not to be confused with fellow North American skullfuckers (namely SkullFuckingMetal, run by our old friend Keegan in Canada), this is a separate label based in Wisconsin but with a very similar name. What are the odds of such a profane coincidence of label name releasing Hugin's material...spooky stuff?! Anyway, such musings aside, back to the main focus of this post: "A Vikings Journey".

Let's start with a little myth-busting! In 2005 Uruk Hai released "The Battle" CD. This subsequent "A Vikings Journey" tape from 2006 has since been identified in some quarters on-line (notably www.metal-archives.com) as a 'sequel' to that album. Whilst this may be true in a purely chronological sense, Nazgul is less convinced that the tape represents any strict story-line or other continuance from the material on "The Battle". The four tracks on this tape were had in fact been previously released on earlier releases and show no real correlation with the music on the earlier release, save for the fact it's recorded under the same project name.

Exploring the songs in a little more detail supports this conclusion. The first three tracks on this tape were originally available on the April 2005 release "~2~", the split CD with German band Vinterriket. That release was neatly sandwiched in the discography between "The Battle" and "A Vikings Journey" but was never referred to as containing 'sequel' tracks to "The Battle" when it was released, as far as Nazgul can establish. The three songs on the "...Viking" tape are exactly the same as on that split album, and count amongst their number the Burzum cover version that has since reappeared on the "The Song Never Remains The Same" tape of 2010. Honour and Darkness covered the "~2~" split release on 10 December 2009.

The 'tape only bonus track' (which presumably refers to a bonus above and beyond the track-listing on "~2~", as there is no stand-alone CD of "A Vikings Journey" itself) is an interesting one, being 'The Plague'. This song was originally included on the then-unreleased 2004 demo "Elbenmacht" (which finally saw the light of day as part of Wulfrune Worxx's split-series of releases some five years later), and was one of the songs chosen for the 2005 compilation CD "Blutreich". There is no direct link between this track and anything on "The Battle" or indeed "~2~" in terms of style, content or theme other than Hugin being the musician responsible. You can find separate coverage on the Blog of both "Elbenmacht" (24 April 2009) and "Blutreich" (20 November 2009).

Where the matter becomes complicated - and Nazgul suspects the confusion arose - is that later in 2006 A.M.F. Productions released a tape combining both "The Battle" and "A Vikings Journey" onto one single album. Looking at this objectively, it seems more likely that this was a convenient way to issue a tape re-release of "The Battle" and utilise the free space on the cassette to re-issue "A Vikings Journey" at the same time, rather than to suggest that the two albums are directly linked.

Does all of this matter, you might ask? Well, objectively perhaps not, other than it may tidy up the already confusing discography of the band a little!

The cover illustration, incidentally, possibly shows the Argonath (a monument in Middle Earth, comprising two enormous pillars carved in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, standing upon either side of the River Anduin at the northern approach to Nen Hithoel). The more definitive illustration of this, however, is shown on the "Bounded By Blood" release from Hugin's self-titled project.

At the time "A Vikings Journey" was released the bonus that this tape offered over the pre-existing split CD was the one additional track - 'The Plague' - which until recently was pretty unavailable anywhere else (given the apparent and mysterious scarcity of "Blutreich" as discussed elsewhere in the Blog). With "Elbenmacht" now unleashed upon the world that rarity factor has diminished, although it must be said that "A Vikings Journey" is still probably the easier tape to find than the Wulfrune Worxx reissue! It is still advertised quite widely on the Internet for purchase, should you feel the need to add to your own collection.