Saturday, 30 October 2010

RABENTANZ - update

Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Rabentanz
Reason for update: Alternative version of the album

Something of a unique item this one, and for two reasons: firstly, it's a one-off version of the "Rabentanz" album created by Hugin, with alternate artwork and a bonus track 'De Berg' lifted from the "Dunkelmoos" album. The second reason this is unique is that it is the first time that Honour and Darkness has featured an item not in the collection at Castle Nazgul: this special edition - numbered 1 / 1 - was created for an American fan in the sunny state of California.

The original album was distributed by Australian label Smell The Stench, and readers may recall coverage of this back on 10 October 2009.

As ever, it shows Hugin to be in touch with his fan-base and more than willing to help out when problems or issues arise with one of his releases. How many other projects or bands can you think of who would take such a personal hands-on interest as this...?

With thanks to Nick, for providing such excellent photos of his pride and joy for posterity.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

BLACK BLOOD, WHITE HAND

Band: URUK HAI
Title:
Black Blood, White Hand
Format: There are 4 different versions of this release. An unmastered tape release in the Honour & Darkness series on Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW-G, was released in November 2009 with 10 tracks, whilst the final mastered digipak CD was released on Steinklang Industries (Austria) in April 2010 with an additional song, cat ref Sturm01. Simultaneously, Steinklang issued a limited edition wooden box-set complete with various goodies including a 3"CDr with bonus tracks and a t-shirt. Finally, later in 2010 the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine) released an alternate tape version of the mastered album - cat ref cut084 - with two new bonus tracks.
Edition: Original Wulfrune Worxx tape limited to 39 hand-numbered copies. The Steinklang digipak release is unlimited, whilst their wooden box-set is limited to 150 pieces only. The Depressive Illusions tape is limited to 99 hand-numbered copies.

Track Listing:
01. Fresh Meat (Introduction) 01:34
02. The Fate Of Man 8.57 [not on the Wulfrune Worxx tape version]
03. In Mordor Where the Shadows Are 03:58
04. Farewell We Call 06:40
05. Under the White Hand's Flag 05:37
06. Black Blood 07:51
07. Hidden Path (Heart of the Frozen Forest) 04:53
08. The Dark Lord 12:06
09. ...Does Not Glitter 03:22
10. Tales from the Misty Mountains 05:25
11. Uruk Hai (Part V) 07:59
12. Tales from the Misty Mountains (video) 4.42 [not present on either tape release]

Box-set CD version adds the following tracks on 3"CDr
01. Where No Light Dwells 3.15
02. Hidden Path (different version) 4.25
03. Tales From The Misty Mountains (video edit version) 5.10
04. Shadow Of The Orcs (demo [2000]) 6.14

Depressive Illusions tape version takes the 11 audio tracks from the CD version but adds 2 different bonus tracks:
01. Death Is Just Another Path
02. March To War (edited version)

Amongst a variety of formal definitions, a jubilee can be termed 'a season of great public rejoicing or festivity; an outburst of joy'. This particular album is identified in Steinklang's promotional blurb as the "10 year jubilee album of Uruk Hai" and as a decade in existence is a fair achievement for any band Nazgul thought Honour & Darkness should also push the proverbial boat out for a decent splash of coverage. As such, brace yourself for an unprecedented four different formats of this album being covered in one fell swoop!

To gain a little structure each of the formats above will be covered in its own separate section, following a little piece of background introduction. Joining Nazgul on this voyage of adventure is Blog reader 'Lt' from Germany, who has very kindly contributed some of his thoughts on the album which you can read as we progress.

Introduction:
As history tells us, the first official Uruk Hai demo "In Durin's Halls" was unveiled to the world back in 1999, the tape originating as an unplanned ambient spin-off project of Hrossharsgrani recording sessions. Some 60+ Uruk Hai releases later (!!) the 10th anniversary of that auspicious demo was marked by Hugin with the epic creation that is "Black Blood, White Hand".

It would have been only too easy to knock together a compilation CD for this anniversary, and examples from other bands that litter the record shops show that is exactly what the record labels are prone to do in such circumstances to grab a quick buck from the dedicated fan. Hugin - as we know from past experience - tends to do things a little differently, and with some very supportive labels behind him decided to go down the path of creating a brand new opus to mark the occasion. Indeed, the sheer scale of this recording (and the associated complications and delays) meant that with the exception of the early Wulfrune Worxx tape the actual release date of the final mastered album actually fell into the eleventh year of Uruk Hai's existence (2010) rather than 2009 itself! No matter - for this is an exceptional album that takes no prisoners, and is well worth the wait.

The recording is described by the label as, "...epic/mystic ambient black metal with a heroic martial touch ... from the rage of the Orks to the beauty of Galadriel. "Black Blood, White Hand" is the most varied album and the absolute highlight in the history of the band. Gloomy black metal hymns go along with fairy-like soundscapes and guide the listener through a unique acoustic journey on the most hidden paths of Middle-Earth". That seems to cover most of the bases in terms of musical influences, and when you consider that the credits for contributing artists to this release include Bart Piette (Dead Man's Hill, and the other half of Alex's yet-to-be-released Solid Grey project), Els (last heard on the Hrossharsgrani "Dead:Meat" release), Dimo Dimov (Svarrogh), Pr. Sergiy (Moloch), Chris Huber (The Sounds of Earth), Cz (Vinterriket), Lord Messir (Dark Domination) and Neuf (Neuf Le Muet) you get a feel for why this album had a long gestation period and such a varied sound.

Wulfrune Worxx unmastered tape release

Arriving just in time (November 2009) to celebrate the 10th year of Uruk Hai, this early version of the album was released by Wulfrune Worxx as the third part of their Honour & Darkness series of tape releases, hence the reference WW-G (the series spelling out N-A-Z-G-U-L you see). As previously reported, Nazgul has a soft spot for this particular set of releases, both for the tribute paid in the name and for the limitation of 39 copies per tape (Nazgul's age at the time!). This particular tape is #11 of the 39, and comes with unique cover artwork that shows a particularly rumbustious group of orcs.

For those keeping notes, the title of the album "Black Blood, White Hand" comes from two parts of Tolkien legend: Firstly, the orcs of Middle-Earth are described as having black blood, "reminiscent of reanimated corpses". Secondly, in Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings, Aragorn comments that the Uruk-Hai of Saruman were not equipped in the manner of other orcs at all and that amongst other differences Saruman's Uruks used black shields emblazoned with a white hand, a symbol of Saruman.

The Wulfrune tape release has only 10 tracks on it, with 'The Fate Of Man' not being present. The unmastered sound (the final master being done by Cz in Switzerland in January/February 2010) does take some of the clarity and power out of the songs as you might imagine, although not to the extent that the tape is a poor listening experience compared to the CD. It's akin to comparing an orc to an Uruk-Hai I suppose - one is certainly superior to the other but either could take your head clean off given half a chance!

As a taster for the epic ahead, and a timely reminder that 2009 was the tenth anniversary, a notable release.

Standard CD digipak release



And so to the main course, following the 'appetizer' that was the Wulfrune Worxx release. As can be seen by the photographs the quality of the final digipak CD is of a high standard, perhaps the finest to date for one of Hugin's releases, and is very polished in terms of the design and artwork (using purpose-shot images of Luciferia, who has featured on Dimmu Borgir and Danzig albums in the past). This copy has also been nicely dedicated on the inside cover by Hugin.

To offer some thoughts on the songs themselves, Nazgul (N) is joined by 'Lt' (Lt) for a some dual punditry on the music in question:

Fresh Meat (Introduction)

Lt: Huge, impressive war-drums combined with a vigorous melody take us once again into the wonderful yet sinister world of Alexander 'Hugin' Wieser, the mastermind behind Uruk Hai. This introduction ensnares the listener from the beginning and suggests that it won't be a relaxing listen this time.
N: Certainly a lively opener, and although brief you can almost picture hordes of Uruk Hai working themselves up into a frenzy to the tribal beat...

The Fate Of Man

Lt: The second track, "The Fate Of Man" starts of with some drawn-out keyboard passages, but then adds some hard, growling vocals...
N: ...and a positively evil buzzing guitar tone sets of the song perfectly, courtesy of Lord Messir. Very far from the chilled Uruk Hai tracks featured in recent 2010 releases, this one could take a few listeners by surprise when they come across it!

In Mordor Where The Shadows Are

Lt: This song features a beautiful melody (to be honest, it reminds me a bit of a lullaby), covered by dark, whispered lyrics and underscored by a quite gloomy atmosphere.
N: To be truthful, this always sounds quite uplifting to Nazgul despite virtually everyone else I know say it sounds gloomy and sad. Must be Nazgul's odd sense of melody! If this is representative of Mordor, methinks Nazgul could move his castle there.

Farewell We Call

Lt: The fourth track, "Farewell We Call" is more piano-driven, combined with lyrics spoken against a background floating wind and a marching rhythm, with some beautiful female vocals too.
N: Can't disagree with you there, Lt old chap, and an example of how the martial influences sit alongside the ambient ones. After the first two (or even three) tracks where you might suppose an orc-ish concept theme might be unfolding this is the song that appears to be a little out of place, being very ethereal and non-orcish by comparison. Of course, we shouldn't assume this is a concept piece in the way that, for example, Manwe's "First Battle" told a story from an orc's perspective, so perhaps the songs are linked more loosely? In fact, Hugin tells me that this album is a different kind of concept album, focusing on Galadriel's mirror - each track is different to the next one because every time we look into the mirror we see some other part of Middle-Earth. As is written on the inside of the digipak: 'Here is the Mirror of Galadriel, I have brought you here so that you may look in it, if you will.'

Under The White Hand's Flag

Lt: This has a very 'rough' beginning, featuring a sample from Lord Of The Rings of Saruman the Wizard, talking to his master Sauron. While building upon a dark atmosphere, the track is filled with a brighter, hummable melody.
N: And, trivia fans note, this song is not on the Wulfrune Tape of the same name, only on this album: Hugin having a Led Zeppelin "Houses of the Holy" moment here, presumably...

Black Blood

Lt: "Black Blood" starts off with a more lightweight tune, played by chimes and over-sung with a haunting feminine melody. I'm guessing that black blood is a reference to the Orc's blood.
N: An excellent track of contrasting emotions and sounds, and one that grows on you with successive listens. Some interesting lyrics too, Lt?
Lt: Yes, the lyrics appear to be German this time and featuring every mood from rage to despair while being surrounded by vast war-drums and the agonising sounds of battle.

Hidden Path (Heart Of The Frozen Forest)

Lt: A more relaxing track, one of the few on this release. It features some wonderful female vocals and really makes you feel as if you are walking through these woods, following a voice calling you deeper into the forest.
N: What a good analogy. Certainly a mellow and tranquil song, and appearing too in a slightly different guise on the bonus 3"CDr accompanying the wooden box-set release.

The Dark Lord

Lt: "The Dark Lord" seems to be a track in reference to Sauron, the lord of Mordor. Another track starting with a Lord Of The Rings sample followed by a blood-curdling 'Nazgul' cry, taking you into the night-shrouded Mordor with all it's evil creatures.
N: Indeed so. The first time Nazgul heard this he nearly fell of his perch, tea slopping out of his favoured Uruk Hai mug, thinking that Mrs Nazgul was calling for him!

...Does Not Glitter

Lt: This track also features on the Steinklang compilation CD "Pagan Folk and Apocalyptic Psychedelia Kapitel II". It has a rainy atmosphere, again some female vocal-parts and a very serene and beautiful melody, appearing again and again after marching drums and uplifting keyboard parts
N: Lt's on fire again - I suspect there's more to come from him about this one...
Lt: To me it's a bit like walking upon a great mountain and taking a break after every peak, whilst watching the landscape unfold around you.
N: In another random trivia moment, why is it that this track doesn't feature its title in the lyrics whereas the phrase '...does not glitter' pervades track 4, "Farewell We Call"? Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

Tales From The Misty Mountains

Lt: Here we have a reference to the Misty Mountains of Tolkien's saga, one of the most beautiful and interesting areas of Middle-Earth. It starts off with great guitar sounds, which are followed by melodic elements of the preceding track in a very successful combination. If you take a look at the CD cover, it's just like you're flying about in these snowy mountains, trees and valleys, surrounded by a dark sky and a moon-lit landscape with winter's grey cloak covering the whole world.
N: I think Nazgul is becoming redundant with descriptions like that! Incidentally, the video bonus clip shows a grainy blue-black & white set of images of the 'ring' being held and revealed from a mysterious human hand, with plenty of atmospheric shots of the (misty) mountains and forests and the odd direct Middle-Earth reference (a map of the lands, for example) added in for good measure. A nice little bonus to have, presumably shot on location in the Austrian mountains by the ever-versatile one-man-band that is Hugin!

Uruk-Hai (Part V)

Lt: This could be seen as the second of the more relaxing tracks on the album. Also featured on some other Uruk-Hai releases it has been described far better, than I would be able to do.
N: Flattery will get you everywhere! As Lt correctly notes, Part V of the Uruk Hai saga previously appeared on the "Nachtschwarze Momente / The Uruk-Hai" split tape with Vinterriket, featured previously in the Blog on 11 March 2010.

You can find more of Lt's musings via his Blog page (http://blog.215n.de/) and Nazgul thanks this friend of Honour and Darkness once again for his contributions to this post.

Limited Edition wooden box-set

The rather super box-set you see illustrated here is just one of the 150 produced by Steinklang to mark the release of this album. Each box is similar, containing a unique Uruk Hai logo t-shirt in a range of sizes, most of which still seem available to purchase from the web-site (http://www.sturmklang.at/) the album itself the standard digipak), and a bonus black-coloured 3"CDr containing 4 bonus tracks.

The box itself is of impressive quality - real wood, a nice metal latch, and a very professionally printed image on the top making for a tempting package for the fan with a bit of spare change in his or her wallet. Hugin has kindly dedicated Nazgul's box inside the lid. The t-shirt design is unique to this box, black with the new Uruk Hai logo shown in white on the front.

The bonus tracks, however, are not unique, - they were separately issued on another Wulfrune Worxx tape "Under The White Hand's Flag" in January 2010, before this box-set was released. Nazgul could imagine that this might be a little disappointing to someone who expected their investment to give them something exclusive on the 3"CDr, having paid pretty near to 3 times the cost of the standard CD to own this set. The detail on the early advertisements for this special edition didn't give any track details for the bonus disc either, which would have made the matter more transparent.

One argument for this approach might have been that the 3"CDr was to contain the only available digital versions of these songs, with the "...White Hand's Flag" release being on old-school tape format only. Even that is not strictly the case though, as the re-mastered 'Shadow of the Orcs' track also appears on the "Angband" compilation CD and the edit for 'Tales From The Misty Mountains' is broadly the same audio track that accompanies the video clip on the standard digipak (although it won't play purely as an audio track on that release, of course). Incidentally, our friend Lt noted to Nazgul that "Where No Light Dwells" was one of his favourite Uruk-Hai tracks, as it makes him feel like he was walking through a dark cave (like the Mines of Moria) completely void of daylight...

I suppose there might be a few unhappy souls out there who ended up with both items in ignorance, but on the whole the box-set should have delighted more than it disappointed. It would be churlish not to welcome such a lavish release into the Uruk Hai discography and it is certainly a quality item for the collector. Also, as only 39 tapes are out there anyway the likelihood of many people having bought both releases is pretty slim (fellow die-hards out there amongst you all not included, of course!).

Details of the 3" disc are shown below:

Depressive Illusions tape release


So to the fourth and final version of this album - the Depressive Illusions tape release. Mirroring the 'white hand' artwork of the box-set, this tape contains the 11 audio tracks from the standard CD pressing but adds two further bonus tracks: 'Death Is Just Another Path' and 'The March To War (edited version)'. The inlay of this tape is once again on the quality photographic paper used by the label, as opposed to mere folded paper, and gives the final item a professional touch.

So the burning question is would you be tempted into the purchase of this tape version as opposed to the CD pressing? Well, if you have an aversion to the analogue cassette format the answer is probably a resounding 'no', but if you remain open minded to the medium then there is much to be interested in here. For a start, it's the same full album but at about a third of the price of the CD (useful savings in these times of austerity). Secondly, the two bonus tracks are interesting as they are the same songs that were on an exclusive give-away CD (of only 50 copies) that you would only have obtained were you present at the release party for "Black Blood, White Hand", or if you were one of the very first to order the box-set through the label.

That exclusive CD - entitled "Death Is Just Another Path" - will be covered in a separate Blog post, and so the two tracks on offer will also be picked up at that later juncture. However, bear in mind that as only 50 of these CDs were made they are like gold-dust now: Nazgul has seen only one for sale online, with a price tag in the 50 Euros range! For a far more modest outlay you can also find both tracks (with an unedited 'March To War' song) on the split Sieghetnar / Uruk-Hai CD that was released by Nordsturm Productions in June 2010; another example of the extensive and tangled miscellany of Uruk Hai tracks that are now available across a slew of recent releases.

Final Thoughts

So - there you have it, Nazgul's top financial tip to combat the global recession: invest in a decent tape machine and purchase the three tapes mentioned in this Blog - both versions of "Black Blood..." and the "Under The White Hand's Flag" releases - and you'll have all of the music from the box-set and the exclusive "Death Is Just Another Path" CD tracks for a fraction of the price! Seriously - the three tapes might set you back 13-15 Euros all in, whilst the box-set and exclusive "Death..." disc (if you can find one) would be more likely to cost you 100 Euros at current prices....

But I'm sure you've put up with enough of Nazgul's musings, so let the final words about this album come from Lt:

"With this release, Alex has created one of the greatest, but also one of the most complex, Uruk Hai albums. The concept and the appearance of many well-known guest musicians highlights this object as something very special in one's music-collection. But be aware, if you are used to listening to the more 'chilled-out' releases from Uruk Hai, you'll probably be surprised to hear this one. I really enjoyed listening to this album, even if it's not suitable for chill-out. It's something I recommend you listen to when raindrops tap on your window and you're in the mood to go on a beautiful musical journey through the darker parts of the Tolkien universe.

Getting the box-set of this release is really worth the money as it comes in a very noble-looking black, wooden chest with the graceful Uruk Hai logo printed on the top. Besides a nice T-shirt (an opportunity to get some rare Uruk-hai merchandise), you'll find the 3"-bonus disc with 4 new tracks. Already the great black colour of the disc makes it an collector's item not to be missed.

Alex has surpassed himself once again!"

Saturday, 23 October 2010

NORDWAND promo picture

Band: WACH
Item:
Promotional photograph for the forthcoming "Nordwand" release

Back on 28 March 2009 Nazgul ran a piece the "Firedance on a Dead Man's Grave" CD from WACH, in which it was noted in a short interview with enigmatic band member Reverend Kim that WACH "had finished an 18 minute long track called "Nordwand" which should have been released already, but due the lack of a label nothing has ever happened"

An update: Herr Insomnia (the other half of the project) tells Nazgul that "Nordwand" should be released in late 2010 or early 2011 on the Aphelion Productions label, and will feature "two of the best WACH tracks" together with a bonus video clip.

The cover of the forthcoming release will feature work by the renowned artist Chris Huber, which reminded Nazgul that this signed promo picture from 2007 also by Chris was lurking in his collection and would benefit from a wider airing! So here it is for your WACH-related enjoyment. You may have seen some of Chris' art on other CD releases and compilations featured in this Blog (including the Theremin Noise Club release of "der Gegner ist die Zeit"), and you can see more of Chris' work at http://www.kunstgalerie.net.tc/ where his cover art for bands including Flutwacht, Atrox and The Sounds of Earth as well as Hrossharsgrani, B-Machina and WACH are shown.

FEUER & EIS


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title:
Feuer & Eis
Format: Cassette-only demo self-released by Hugin in 1999 through W.A.R. Productions (Austria), no catalogue number. The inlay is hand-typed, with a rare colour cover and photo of Hugin. The recordings are shown as having been made between 25 May - 12 June 1999. The edition number is shown both on the tape sticker and on the reverse of the cassette case.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of only 10 copies

Track Listing:
Side A
1. Heimatleid (Intro)
2. Hundingsbani
3. Ulvin
4. Bußfertigkeit
5. Leithan-Lied
6. Der Drachentöter
7. Wintertod
Side B
8. Nosferat
9. 1000 Years
10. Asgard
11. Feuer & Eis
12. Starkad
13. Asgard (Part 2)
14. Langsam zerfallen wir zu Staub (Outro)

Would it be a dreadful pun if Nazgul observed that Hrossharsgrani's "Feuer & Eis" demo was, in truth, something of a hot and cold affair? It probably would be, no let us not entertain such mischevious thoughts any longer!

Taking a step back in time to before the new Millennium, this highly limited edition demo was brought out by Hugin as one of the very earliest releases by the band, following on from the "Blut" release and being contemporary with the "Kampf" and "Krieg" releases. This was a time before the Hross' project branched out into what later became Uruk Hai, and reflects Hugin's own relative newness to this musical malarky! Indeed, "Feuer & Eis" must be one of the oldest of his demo tapes actually released unto the world...

The 14 tracks contained on this release all bear the hallmark signatures of early Hrossharsgrani recordings: the guttural, snarling bite-your-hand-off vocals from Hugin (sometimes spoken, sometimes almost chant-like), the ever-present keyboard and synth touches that create the melody and atmosphere, and the stabbing guitar that crates a melee from time to time. On this particular demo - more so than others of the time - the drum machine seems to have been turned up to 11 in terms of tempo: some of the tracks, notably 'Ulvin' and 'Leithan-Lied', positively speed by in a flurry of aggression. Nazgul can't remember any other Hross' demo having such a tempo underpinning it, and it creates a rather diffferent and more upbeat listening experience as a result compared to some of the more dirge like tunes from later recordings.

The sharp eyed amongst you may have already spotted some familiar looking track titles from the listing above, and you would be quite right in thinking that over the subsequent years since this demo was released a few of them have reappeared again in various revitalised versions. 'Wintertod', for example, appears on the die-hard bonus disc of the "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" CD release (and on the Part II tape in the tape release of that album), although the manner of re-mastering on that later version gives it the granular hiss that was commented upon at the time. This version - the original - is a much purer listening experience. In a similar vein (pun intended) 'Nosferat' appears as a re-worked bonus track on the CD release of "Sanguis", covered elsewhere in the Honour and Darkness canon.

To round off this discography analysis, 'Bußfertigkeit' ('Contrition') appears on the 'Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten' CDr of 1999 and on the 'Demo Compilation Volume 1" tape release of 2001, whilst the 'Asgard' and 'Hundingsbani' songs are earmarked for the yet to be released "Runen:Klang" CD (any thereby hangs a tale, more of which another time!)

Although the majority of tracks here are pieces in the Hross' tradition, there is some interesting variety on offer. 'Nosferat' does sound rather like an Elisabetha track at times with a most haunting melody at its begining and end. 'Langsam zerfallen wir zu Staub' ['Slowly We Decompose To Dust'] is quite a slow, gloomy affair - given the title of the song, perhaps not surprising - whilst the sampled battle sounds often associated with older Hrossharsgrani songs appear on the intro 'Heimatleid' (the title of another of Alex's projects, of course) but then nowhere else on the demo.

Issued in such a small pressing - Nazgul's being number 3 of the 10 copies - you've got a snowball in hells chance of finding one of these now. Looking at the inlay credits you could probably accurately identify the majority of people who received one of the 10 tapes as friends of Hugin! Also of interest are the bands credited here, which shows Hugin's musical leanings at the time: Burzum, Mortiis, Angry Angels, Summoning, Enid, Odhinn, Gernoth, Ilgairech and the intriguingly named "Wild Dogs from the Farmer Clan".

As one of the few remaining early demos left uncovered by Honour and Darkness until now, it was a pleasure to have replayed this tape on the Castle death-deck on this misty autumnal afternoon. It is amazing to consider that from such modest little acorns as this demo, vast oaks grew in terms of Hugin's later work and projects. But grow they did, and thanks should be given to all of those who were present in those halycon early years and who supported Hugin's projects to the extent that they did, for without them the current successes may not have been possible...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

LESUNGEN ZUM PRINZIP DER UNSCHULD - original artwork

Band: ELISABETHA
Item: Original template for the bonus 3"CDr "Lesungen zum Prinzip der Unschuld" that accompanied the limited edition (25 copies) of the 2007 digipak release "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld"

From the file marked "miscellaneous Elisabetha items" comes this white paper template, which formed the original design for the sleeve to the bonus 3"CDr "Lesungen zum Prinzip der Unschuld". This track was a 22:49 epic that came with the first 25 copies of the "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld" release from the Beverina label in 2007, previously covered in Honour and Darkness way back on 13 March 2009.

As you'll be aware by now, Nazgul has the occasional habit of dipping into the miscellany of interesting items that Hugin is prone to include in parcels between W.A.R. and Castle Nazgul, and this particular piece came to the surface this time around.

The sleeve is an ingenious fold-out design, constructed in cunning fashion to form a square booklet once assembled correctly. Whilst the cover illustration appears to bear all the hallmarks of a Neon Ästhet design (a voluptuous naked lady!) the credit must actually go to Juris Silders of the Latvian-based Beverina label for the illustration. The final item came in a parchment-like colour, hand-numbered and superbly finished with the title across the base of the design.

In putting this short post together, Nazgul had a quick search around online to see if any of the 25 limited edition versions of this album could still be found. Only 2 were identified (which, when you consider the album has been around for 3 years is still probably more than one might expect to find), both for sale via the Beverina web-site (www.evildist.com). This makes sense, given that the limited edition was only available from the label directly, but be prepared to put your hand in your pocket to purchase a copy now: from the original 2007 price of 16 Euros the item is now retailing for a more wallet-withering 30 Euros per copy.

Yet another small piece of history from the Hugin museum, located high on the hill overlooking the eldrich graveyard below...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

ORCRIST / URUK HAI split


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Orcrist/Uruk Hai
Format: Split release between Italian Black Metal horde Orcrist and Uruk Hai, issued on two separate tape releases in 2009/2010. In September 2009 W.A.R. Productions released the split with a glossy two-sided colour inlay, and subsequently in 2010 the release was re-issued on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) as part of their Split Series of cassettes, cat ref WW97, with a single sided black and white copied inlay.
Edition: Original W.A.R. release limited to 50 hand-numbered copies. The Wulfrune Worxx re-issue limited to 66 hand-numbered copies.

Track Listing:

Orcrist
1. We Come In War
2. From The Fog-Enshrouded Desolate Lands
3. Winter Might
4. Mother Of Infernal Night
5. Ode To The Wolf´s Torment
6. Breathless
7. The Silence

Uruk-Hai

8. At The End Of The First Age (an Opera about Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains) 29:01

In recent times there has been a growing trend for Uruk Hai tracks to appear on a miscellany of separate releases - by way of recent example, the song 'March To War' seems to be popping up all over the place, on no less than 5 different releases in 2010 alone - but for a specific album to be released twice within 6 months is unusual even by these standards. To make the matter more complicated, the sole Uruk Hai track on this cassette was itself the subject of a release on the Wulfrune Worxx label in November 2009 as part of the Remember CC series of releases. In effect therefore, the same track - albeit a good, meaty song - was released in September 2009 on a split release, re-released in November 2009 as a sole release with different title ('At The End Of The First Age', 44 copies only), and then re-re-released in 2010 in the same split format as the first release. Head still spinning, Nazgul wanders off for a strong drink and a sit down...

Let's deal with the Orcrist side of this split release first: this Italian horde has been around since 2000, and this tape contains an unreleased rehearsal version of their 2009 "We Come In War" album. The lyrics on the tracks are written by Goblin, which is an ironic nom de plume (presumably chosen deliberately?) given that the word 'Orcrist' is Elvish for "goblin-cleaver", being the sword of the splendidly named Thorin Oakenshield in J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'. Interestingly Goblin also turns up in Norwegian band Isvind, who have been creating hellish sounds since 1993. As one evocative review online detailed, "Isvind manages to sound genuine and evil, at a time when black metal has become a parody of itself. Considering this band is from Norway and contemporary with legendary Burzum and Mayhem, it is remarkable that the band has pretty much stayed underground, and in a certain way, it comes out in their devastatingly ghoulish yet beautifully haunting riffs." Probably a project worth checking out.

As for the Orcrist music - well, it marks a change of direction for the band with the inclusion of slower, more atmospheric tracks, moving away from the previously machine-gun style black metal attack. A better bed-fellow to the ambient style of Uruk Hai than you might initially imagine.

The Uruk Hai track At 'The End Of The First Age (an Opera about Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains)' was previously reviewed on 06/03/10 in its eponymously titled tape release. As previously noted, the session screams are the work of Pr.Sergiy of Moloch, and as an epic track it certainly ticks the boxes for duration and holding the listener's interest. A triumph of collaborative recording and certainly worth a listen to any fan of this particular project. Take a look back at Nazgul's earlier musings for more specifics.

If you are toying with the idea of searching for one of these releases to own, Nazgul would suggest the original W.A.R release of 50 copies (Nazgul's copy being #2), in part because the colour cover adds an extra element of quality to the overall package and is more pleasing to the eye than the black and white copies of the later re-issue. That said, the extremely limited nature of all three tapes on which this song appears might make it something of a lottery as to which you come across first...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Forthcoming Uruk Hai releases on Wulfrune Worxx

Regular readers of Honour & Darkness will know that the items covered in these missives are drawn from Nazgul's own collection and - as a result - may not always be available for general sale to the wider public having been sold-out long ago in some cases.

Fear not!

The flyer below shows a batch of forthcoming Uruk Hai tape releases to be issued by the Wulfrune Worxx label, run by our old friend and long-time supporter of Hugin's many projects, Skogen.

Frankly, you should all be raiding your piggy banks now in order to gather the few Euros required to purchase some (or all) of these fine releases, which in time honoured tradition of the underground will only be available in a limited edition run, so don't delay.

Click on the photo for more details of these awesome-looking tapes, and then contact either Uruk Hai (coi@liwest.at) or Wulfrune Worxx (kommandoskogen@hotmail.com) directly to order your copies.

These guys are the the pure spirit of the underground, they live and breath the music that Nazgul writes about and that you listen to. Without Skogen's support both in years past and now Hugin's music may not have reached your ears at all: without Hugin, our lives would be a far sadder and far less enriched place. Support them - Nazgul commands thee!!

SECONDFACE [V/A]

Band: BONEMACHINE (amongst others on this Flutwacht release)
Title: Secondface
Format: This CD was released by Flutwacht on the Tourette Tapes label (Germany) in 2008, catalogue reference tt09. It compiles various remixes of the Flutwacht track "Secondface" by other projects, including Bonemachine.
Edition: Standard CD (featured) is limited to 222 unnumbered copies. A more limited 2CD version is also available (Update: Alex has just informed me that there were 70 copies of this verson)

Track Listing:

01 Secondface (Flutwacht & Xedh)
02 The Virgin Springs (Flutwacht & Matamore)
03 Showy Atmosphere (Flutwacht & Contagious Orgasm)
04 Secondface (Flutwacht & Objekt / Urian)
05 Secondface (Flutwacht & Vincenzo Bossi)
06 Secondface (Flutwacht & Antracot)
07 Secondface (Flutwacht & TZII)
08 Secondface Bonermx (Flutwacht & Bonemachine) 8.11
09 Secondface (Flutwacht & Synomorph)
10 Terg Destroys Secondface (Flutwacht & Terg)
11 Amputation Fraction (Flutwacht & Hyeno) - bonus track

Tourette Tapes is a side-label by Apocalyptic Radio, who long-time readers of Honour and Darkness may recall issued the Foghorn series of 3"CDr that featured the Bonemachine/Kenji Siratori release "Acidhumanix". Tourette Tapes focus on experimental electronic music from harsh industrial to dark ambient and this 2008 release serves as a semi-tribute album to Flutwacht, the acclaimed project of the label owner. Flutwacht is a German project with a vast discography already, on such labels as Smell the Stench or Steinklang Industries.

The rarer 2CD version of this release contains on disc 2 the full-length original 'Secondface' recording by Flutwacht - all 79 minutes plus of it - whilst this, the standard single disc pressing, makes do with just the remixes offered from a variety of bands associated with the ambient/industrial genres. The original release of 'Secondface' came on CDr limited to only 50 copies, so the concept of putting the original track on a second disc makes a lot of sense.

This record presents several re-works and expropriations of the 'Secondface' track, and it is surprisingly diverse and interesting, as all collaborations have a distinctive mark and manage to create powerful and obscured images, slowly nostalgic at times, others abrupt, harsh and painful. There is much coverage of the album online, so here are a few of the comments that other sites make on the piece as a whole. Firstly, Vital Weekly:

"With Flutwacht being a creator of sonic darkness the overall atmosphere is nocturnal and intense. The expressions range from dark ambient (i.e. Xedh) across deep drones (i.e. Contagious Orgasm and TZII) and ritual moments (i.e. Bonemachine and Objekt / Urian) to extreme sound spheres of Harsh Noise (i.e. Antracot, Synomorph and Terg). Despite a few moments of rhythm textures, the compilation is dominated by ambient expressions with a flow that works very well indeed and thus keeps the listener glued from beginning to the end. Intense work!"

And here's a typically thorough review from Heathen Harvest:

"The first track relies on the infinity of detail, breeding subtle cracking and microscopical suffering along its quietude and paradoxical agony. Then, the collaboration with Matamore invokes deep throat-cutting creatures in darkened ambient psychosis, deforming infected hypnosis and hidden atmospheres of boiling electronics at intolerable temperatures and long delayed pain to serve cold. The track with Contagious Orgasm is savage and bitter, bringing uncomfortable images of forgotten homelands and rituals torn apart by wolf fangs and insect claws, no return, only that onward to the grave, following a funereal violin enchantment. The following track is perhaps the less interesting of all, with a raw and powerful rhythmic industrial that relies too much on the insistence on this singular idea, avoiding to explore other possibilities and layers, and becoming monotonous after a while.

The fifth cooperation is a haunting one, with pulsating crescendos of oppressive atmospheres, descending into an abyss of distance and gigantic weight, burning all demons buried in blood. Then a quiet, suspenseful track, interrupted regularly by explosions of murder electronics infiltrating through black seas levitation, revolving across frozen loops and nocturnal owls. Another sickened effort following this one, a serene atmosphere that is inhabited by deeply disturbing vocals, as if interstellar homicides would rebuild satanic wounds, black candles and acolytes offering warm blood to the gods of space.

Bonemachine and Flutwacht summon an obsessive track, of rigid bodies and cold breath aftermaths. It is followed by a more chaotic and aggressive approach, raw and vicious, sounding both unpleasant and rigid, secure. 'Terg destroys Secondface' is as expected and holocaust of feedback and machined dysfunctions into an ultimate ejaculation of chaos. The record ends with a more rhythmic, soft, musical approach, yet the damage has been done.

Surprisingly varied and intense, this may be not only be an item for completists but also a good introduction to Flutwacht or any of the projects involved."

Currently unique to this release, you'd need to be a Bonemachine die-hard completist to buy this compilation for just the one track, but hey - that's what being a fan and a collector is all about, isn't it?!