Sunday, 28 November 2010

METALSTORM SURVIVAL MANUAL

Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Metalstorm Survival Manual
Format: Tape-only release on the 2 Nervous Tongues label (USA), released in November 2009 (no catalogue reference). Quality colour paper inlay, with white panels on tape. This is a split release, with the alternate side being by thrashers Paganfire (Philippines).
Edition: unknown (see text)

Track Listing:

B-Machina side:
01. Schall & Rauch
02. Die 4 Dimension
03. Raserei
04. Endzeitensturm
05. Flucht Nach Vor
06. Erneuerung
07. Akustische Impression
08. Manifest Of Masturbation: Apokalypse In Slow Motion

Paganfire side:

09. Glorious Arson
10. Terminator
11. Sa Pagwawakas Ng Hinaharap
12. Merciless Death
13. To Hunt, To Kill, To Devour
14. Metal Thrashing Militants
15. Hate Vanishing Point
16. No Remorse
17. Mapangwasak

Today's Honour and Darkness post - an unassuming B-Machina tape release - is brought to you courtesy of the word 'odd'.

Odd, in as far as Hugin himself had forgotten all about the existence of this tape even though it's only about a year old, and stranger still given that this was Hugin's own copy that he had kindly let Nazgul get his sticky fingers on. As for the number of cassettes released - your guess is as good as anyone elses at this point!

Odd, in as far as the 2 Nervous Tongues label that released it seems to be the only label that has no internet presence whatsoever, and can only be contacted (so it would seem) via their P.O.Box address in Belleville, Illinois, USA. Oh - and 2 Nervous Tongues is a tape-only label (Nazgul can imagine the shudders this inspires in some of his readers, particularly in California!)

Odd, in as far as the label seems to specialise in bootleg recordings of bands like Celtic Frost, Watchtower, Pentagram and Paradise Lost, or in releasing obscure bands and artists like Willie Wardlaw. How B-Machina came to the attention of the label seems most mysterious...

Odd, in so far as the spine of the tape records this as a B-Machina release, whilst the inside of the inlay and the tape call this a Bone Machine album (the tracks do indeed date back to the older Bone Machine era).

Odd, in so much as the label itself describes the release using the word of the day in it's own promotional blurb: "17 song collection of this odd pairing of underground mayhem. Paganfire deliver us old influenced thrash/death metal that rages like it's 1984 once again. Bone Machine creates modern apocalypse using machinery and violence. This material is exclusive for 2 Nervous Tongues".

Odd, given that the B-Machina portion is certainly not exclusive to the label (Nazgul can't speak with any knowledge about the Paganfire half), having appeared in the same format on the tape version of the "Zeit" release (see post for 15 August 2009) with the exception of the last track, and in very similar format on the CD release of "Zeit" (18 March 2010) and on the Smell The Stench CDr pressing "Schwarzes Jerusalem" (7 April 2009). Certainly the last track 'Manifest Of Masturbation: Apokyalpse In Slow Motion' seems to be unique to this tape though, although it has to be said that the instrumental itself is a little, well, odd if you know what I mean...

So yes, it's an odd one all right. Strange, kooky, weird, unusual - well, you get the picture.

Now, musically this has effectively all been covered before in Nazgul's previous posts so there's probably little merit in repeating that again. Suffice to say, it's actually a rather good set of songs that really should have a wider audience than this, particularly the tracks 'Schall & Rauch' and 'Raserei'.

It's probably still possible to grab the "Schwarzes Jerusalem" CDr from Leigh Stench at STS in Australia, so I'd try there if you're even remotely interested in hearing for yourself what Nazgul is banging on about. Be aware though - Leigh's distro list is also a touch ... odd.

2 Nervous Tongues flyer for this split tape

Thursday, 25 November 2010

LORD OF THE RINGS

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Lord Of The Rings
Format: Cassette-only pressing on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2010, cat ref WW162. The tape is presented with a black and white single-sided inlay.
Edition: Only 111 copies

Track Listing:

Side A: Lord Of The Rings
Side B: Lord Of The Rings

Doubtless you've experienced the moment before - perhaps listening to the sort of majestic soundtrack that accompanies one of those magnificent natural history programmes? You know the sort of thing, where a blue whale will come crashing through the surface of the ocean in slow-motion, surrounded by leaping dolphins, a vast spray of water hanging in the air, all accompanied by music which leaves you with gooseflesh on your arm and your senses heightened. Or the bittersweet moment in a fantasy film, where one of the good guys has to sacrifice themselves to save the others and the dawning horror of the situation unfolds to a soundtrack that raises the hair on the nape of your neck. Afterwards, you'll remember the visual scene and you'll remember the effect that the music had on you, but when it comes to describing said music...well, that's a bit hard isn't it? Hmmm, you ponder, there was that bit with the violins, and some really good bits with keyboards, and definitely something clever with the drums near the beginning....

So it is with Uruk Hai's "Lord Of The Rings" - music that is epic stuff but that almost defies description. Nazgul is almost left lost for words, and it's not the first time this phenomenon has occurred: "Morgoth" was another such release (02/07/2010) and the yet to be covered "Balrog" may well prove to be another. "After The War (Orcish Battle Hymns Part IV)" also had it's moments. It's just not a release you can analyse in the way that an album full of individual songs can be pulled apart, so Nazgul won't even attempt the task! What is fair to say, however, is that there are plenty of layers to this recording, which only repeated listens will unpick and allow you to appreciate.

What you'll hear on this tape - limited to only 111 copies, of which Nazgul's is a nice and low numbered #3, and only just released in 2010 - is nigh on one hour of instrumental musing from Hugin with plenty of hummable bits, plenty of great melodies, and an overall knack for transporting you out of your humdrum existence into another world, a Middle Earth perhaps, full of magic and charm. It's an excellent backdrop for a quiet night in, and as such is the perfect antidote to the lengthening shadows and cold winds that are signalling winter encroaching on Castle Nazgul once again. "The Lord Of The Rings" is a brilliant experience if you're prepared to lay back, close your eyes, and let your mind wander to otherworldly landscapes. If you like Uruk Hai's other ambient recordings, you already know that you're getting top-notch meditative material.

The cover of this tape was been signed and dedicated by Hugin as you'll have seen from the photo, whilst the inside of the inlay makes the point that "This track is available only on this Wulfrune Worxx tape - nowhere else". Presumably whilst an alternative edit or version may well appear on CD in time, this particular version will be unique to the Wulfrune Worxx release. Given the recent proliferation of the same tracks across a number of different releases Nazgul thinks that this development is a decidedly good thing!

Monday, 22 November 2010

MARCH TO WAR promotional card

Band: URUK HAI
Item: Signed promotional card for the very limited edition vinyl release "March To War"

One of the more anticipated highlights of 2010 for Nazgul was the release of the "March To War" vinyl album from Uruk Hai. This album - in a tiny pressing for the real die-hard collector, with a commensurately high price to match - had been on the band's dicography on Metal Archives for some time, and has only just been recently unleashed from W.A.R. in Austria. It will be covered in detail in a future post, as you might expect.

To raise levels of excitement amongst the masses (well, those of you who missed the clamour a few months ago when the project was finally realised), here is the oversized card that was issued to promote the album. Not that you'd have much of a chance of grabbing one now mind you, as so few were pressed when it was released it was sold-out with pre-orders before being issued Nazgul would imagine?!

An excellent piece of fantasy artwork adorns the front of this card (in rather striking blue hues), whilst the reverse side is significantly more sombre. Hugin has very kindly sent Nazgul a few of these cards, including a signed and dedicated one as shown above.

Another little gem from the ever-expanding Hugin museum...!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

An Interview with ... Sabbathid Records


It's been a while since Nazgul has posted an interview piece on Honour and Darkness, so for your interest and as a diversion from the norm here is a brief interview with the owner of Sabbathid Records. This label has been one of the many to assist Hugin in releasing his art unto the world, and as such deserves our attention and respect.

Check out the label for yourself at http://www.sabbathidrecords.cjb.net/


Q1. Hello and welcome to Honour and Darkness!
A1. Hello Nazgul. Glad you are interested in interviewing me.

Q2. Can you tell us a little about your label: the philosophy or mission behind Sabbathid Records?
A2. To gather all kinds of dark & blackened music to pollute our world.

Q3. How successfully do you believe the label has established itself in the scene?
A3. It's a tough question - I don't think my label has sufficiently established its identity.

Q4. I believe you have (to date) issued 3 Bonemachine releases and 1 by Elisabetha, both projects of Alex "Hugin" Weiser: can you tell us when you first came into contact with Hugin and how you came to know each other?
A4. I remember that it was when Hugin consulted me on the possibility of the release of "Bombardements" that we came to know each other. I don't know how he came to know about my label...he might well have seen my flyer or previous releases.

Sabbathid Records releases of Hugin's music to date, Nov 2010

Q5. How did you reach a decision to release the first of these recordings, Bonemachine's "Bombardements"?
A5. It was very simple; he sent me a sample disc and I liked it!

Q6. Do you decide to release material because you like it, or because you feel you can sell it?!
A6. The decision-making process of underground labels would be tangled. It's true that most UG labels won't release something ONLY because will sell well, but in reality, they need to maintain their activities. Thus it would be too idealistic to imagine that UG labels can always release materials without ANY thought of profit.

Q7. Can you tell us what has been the best-selling Hugin recording to date on Sabbathid?
A7. Actually I don't count the number of sales of each release accurately, but I think "Crypt Child" has been the best-selling.

Q8. Could prospective customers still buy these releases from you, or are some sold-out now?
A8. Yes, all titles that Hugin concerned are still available. [Nazgul notes: get buying folks!!]

Q9. In terms of artwork design, is this decided by the label or the artist?
A9. It's on a case by case basis. Some artists make all design by themselves, others leave it to me. Of course, even in the first case I provide comments if there is something I don't like.

Q10. Similarly, in terms of the numbers of copies for each release who decides the edition (for example, 99 copies in the case of Crypt Child)?
A10. It's also on a case by case basis, but usually I try to defer to artists' wishes.

Q11. Do you have a personal favourite amongst Hugin's releases that Sabbathid have promoted?
A11. Well, if I dare to choose one, "Erste Rotation (eine Retrospektive von Krieg und Zeit)" is my favourite. It successfully shows Hugin's deep insight into music.

Q12. Do you follow any of Hugin's other projects and/or his Bonemachine/Elisabetha releases on other labels? If yes, what are your favourite releases?
A12. Yes, I had known about Uruk Hai before he contacted me. Though I can't afford to follow all releases (too many releases to keep up!), my favourite is the split tape with Symbiosis in which he collaborated with Hildr Valkyrie. I also like "Nosferat" tape by Elisabetha.

Q13. Do you have any message for Hugin himself that you would like to convey through Honour and Darkness?
A13. Long time no talk... Glad to know that you have such a good supporter as Honour and Darkness.

Q14. Do you have any message for the readers of Honour and Darkness themselves?
A14. Stay in darkness and desolation with your nerves strained as fuck.# Thanks for your time and good luck with your future endeavours. Thank you for the interview. In deference to your efforts.

Nazgul thanks Kohei of Sabbathid for his time and endeavours in answering these questions

DUNKLMOOS

Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Dunklmoos [literally Dark Moss]
Format: Cassette-tape only release as part of the Split Series from Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2010, catalogue reference WW100. The other side of the split is with Hugin's Uruk Hai project. The inlay is photocopied black and white as usual in this series, and the tape of a standard C60 style.
Edition: Limited to 66 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

Side A: Uruk-Hai "Quenta Silmarillion"
1. Quenta Silmarillion (Pt.2)

Side B: Hrefnesholt "Dunklmoos"

2. Percht (da Einibringa) 1.11
3. Dunklmoos 6.47
4. Der Berg 2.25
5. Trollsturm (Rehearsal 2001) 5.10
6. Menhir 2.19
7. Die Glockn von Dahoam 3.25
8. Auf Zum Kreuze 4.30

For those of you having a sense of deja vu, "Dunklmoos" has briefly appeared in Honour and Darkness before during the assessment of the top ten Hrefnesholt rarities (20 February 2010) and was praised there as possibly one of the best Hrefnesholt releases to date. Subsequent months of enjoyment has taken nothing away from that conclusion, and it can be officially proclaimed that for any fan of dark folk music done the Hrefnesholt way this is an essential purchase. The particular pressing here is in the Split Series on Wulfrune Worxx, which as tradition dictates comes in tape format in a very limited run of 66 copies (Nazgul's being #3). As such, it isn't the most widely available of releases, but the good news is that a number of these tracks are available elsewhere - including some on CD for those readers with a phobia of tapes!

As a swift summary:

'Percht (da Einibringa)' is scheduled on the forthcoming split release with Omen, to be called 'From The Ancient Forest'

'Dunklmoos' is also a track on 'From The Ancient Forest' release, and on the recently released

'Uraungst' CD ['Dunklmoos (a schwoarzes Stickl)'] on the Sturmklang label.

'Trollsturm' is something of an old classic, originally on the 'Rabentanz' compilation CDr back in 2001. Interestingly, there is also a version on the Hrossharsgrani's 'From The Dark Ages' compilation tape from 1999.

'Menhir' = a song with similar title is scheduled for the forthcoming 'From The Ancient Forest' release ['Menhir (da Aussischmeissa)'], and we shall have to see whether this is the same one!

And for completeness, let us not forget that 'Der Berg' appears on the special version of "Rabentanz" currently residing with one lucky chap in California (see post of 30/10/2010 for more detail)

And who knows, perhaps a fully fledged '"Dunklmoos" CD pressing will emerge shortly in its own right..?

So what are we to make of this offering from Hugin's Alpine-folk project? Well, for starters any new Hrefnesholt material is always welcome news in my book, as the evolving project has long been a favourite in Castle Nazgul. There's a 'rootsy' and primitive feel to these songs (primitive in the sense of 'of the forest' rather than simplistic), whilst the natural elements - for example, eerie howling wind effects, combined with traditional instrumentation - that regularly occur on Hrefnesholt demos are here in force once again. It could be argued that the presence of wind effects on a song is one of the biggest cliches since Black Sabbath pioneered tolling bells in the 1970's, but what the hell - if it's well done and fits the mood then Nazgul is all for it!

The Steinklang label describes the band as follows: "Hrefnesholt is the sound of rotten roots in darkest forests, the spirit of alpine myths and legends, as well as extreme Perchten-music from the deepest Austrian valleys", which is such a good description Nazgul shall appropriate it and use it as his own. The vocals on this demo are also extremely good, ranging from the deep, sonorous voiced approach on the title track to the clipped and eccentric heard on 'Der Berg', more of which in a moment.

Following the enjoyable-if-too-brief instrumental opener that is 'Percht (da Einibringa)' we get right down to the meat and potatoes of this demo with the 'Dunklmoos' track. This is simply a wonderful song - certainly one of Nazgul's favourites of any that Hugin has recorded with any of his projects. The atmosphere created through the varied musical nuances are reminiscent of the better moments of bands like Aphotic and (speak the name in reverent, hushed terms) the mighty Agalloch, and the song benefits hugely from the introduction of an evil and positively spiteful guitar alongside the lush synthesiser and those resonant and almost hypnotic vocals unique to recent Hrefnesholt songs. There are some superb transitions, from the laid-back opening passages at the outset of the song, where the music conjures images of sloping Alpine fields on sunny afternoons, to full-on guitar and snarling vocal-fests that take you to an entirely different place. The demo is worth the price of admission for this song alone, and anyone wanting a taster should check out the track on YouTube which is played over an image of the album artwork for the upcoming "Uraungst" album.

Sandwiched between this epic and the equally magnificant 'Trollsturm' is a short, odd track called 'De Berg' ('The Mountain'). This is certainly unusual - at times, the oddly clipped vocals and 'bouncy' orchestration gives the impression of an ancient faery denizen of the forest getting drunk on moondew and having a sing-song on the mountainside! It's a catchy little piece though, to its credit, and grows on you with repeated listens.

The remastered 'Trollsturm', meanwhile, echoes the early sound of Hrefnesholt, with no vocals and a largely keyboard-driven melody. This is unsurprising, considering it's been around since 2001 and appeared on the Smell The Stench compilation "Rabentanz". The grandiose swellings (ooh err!) of the keyboards combine with the haunting sounds of mounting gales and mountain-top zephyrs to produce a very evocative and highly enjoyable listen. A welcome return for this particular song, methinks.

So far, so good - in all honesty, if those four songs had been the extent of the demo then Nazgul would still have been a happy camper. Fact is, though, that there's more to come! In fact, here's the next song right now: 'Menhir'. Now, as a reader of Honour and Darkness you'll clearly be blessed with intelligence and full of wisdom so won't need Nazgul to tell you that a menhir is a large upright standing stone, found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones, generally of uneven size and shape, and originate from many different periods across pre-history being erected as part of a larger Megalithic culture that flourished in Europe and beyond. So rather than tell you that, let's consider that the song sounds mournful and funereal, and is every bit as impassive and brooding as the stone obelisks themselves.

The last two songs, whilst not having the immediacy of some of the earlier tracks, continue to utilise folk-instrumentation to create glorious music that you could really believe was from the "...deepest Austrian valleys". An occasional burst of guitar in the composition again adds a sprinkle of fairy-dust into the mix, and rounds of this demo in the same vein as we bagan - all Percht'd up!

Oh - and for those of us who often wonder what the black and white covers of these Wulfrune Worxx releases might look like in glorious technicolour, Nazgul refers you to the post of 25 May 2010 that looked at the Uraungst promotional card - recognise any of those knarled trees...?

A final thought then - for fans of what you might term 'doom-folk' this is a must-have purchase, and in Nazgul's opinion this is the single best Hrefnesholt album yet released.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Nazgul's Top 10: Miscellaneous project rarities

Following a few questions on the subject, Nazgul has decided to compile some 'top ten' lists of his most precious items - those rare and hard to come by releases from Alex's bands - that currently exist in his collection in the library at Castle Nazgul. For the purpose of retaining Nazgul's sanity, he is excluding t-shirts, badges, posters etc from this list and is focusing solely on the music! Feel free to disagree with these lists - this assortment from Hugin's miscellany of other projects and bands - being the sixth in the series - as they are purely personal observations based on my experiences since 2001 trying to find this stuff! By necessity this list is out of date as soon as it's written, as other items that Nazgul is yet to track down will eventually overtake some of these entries...

As always, there are some specific folk without whose invaluable assistance Nazgul wouldn't be able to bring these items to you: hails of gratitude therefore ring out to Hugin (of course!), Reverend Kim, Igor & Tanya at the Eastern Front, and last but by no means least to Skogen at Wulfrune Worxxfor dredging some of these items out of the primordial ooze of their archives.

And who knows, as more items are unearthed over the years perhaps some long-lost tapes of After Aids or Schlaganfall recordings are out there yet...


10. Ceremony Of Innocence * Tiefenrausch
Coming in a very limited edition (the first pressing being the "Echos of the Deep" set in an edition of 10 copies, shown here with a host of free gifts, including calendar, fridge magnets and postcards) this COI release was available only fleetingly until disappearing under the proverbial waters of time once again. Just 44 copies overall of this short electronica-style EP were produced, and surprisingly enough you can still find the odd one on sale on eBay now if you were to take a look, which will come to you via Israel if you choose to bid on it. And frankly, you should!

9. WACH * The Fear
A novel release format for this short EP from another of Hugin's ongoing side-projects: each of the 4 digipaks contains the same three tracks plus a different bonus track for each version, which is denoted by the colour seal on the front of the matt-black cover. Occasional copies of this 2008 release do surface online, although with volumes in the low twenties for each pressing once they've gone they'll not be seen again! The silver seal version in particular is a real swine to find, and without the gracious help of Reverend Kim it's unlikely that Nazgul would have found one for many more years...
8. Ceremony Of Innocence * Fear Of The Deep
As a single from COI issued prior to their main album being released, this mini-CD was quite the mouth-watering item and beautifully packaged. Just the 19 copies were made, one of which only seems to be advertised for sale now via the same Israeli eBay shop as mentioned previously. Certainly rare, but as yet not unavailable, unlike some of the remaining goodies on this list.

7. Manwe * First Battle
There was a time not so very long ago that the tape version of this debut (and so far only) Manwe album was fairly commonly advertised on eBay. Of course, hardly anyone recognised the band name or its association with Hugin so many languished around without being bought. Now, you'll be doing well to find one anywhere except the most dusty of distro lists. So where did those tapes all go? An unsolved mystery. Interestingly a CDr version was printed up and sold in a few arcane places too, which had escaped even the fiery eye affixed to the pinnacle of W.A.R. Productions until Nazgul happened across one many moons ago. A few recent rumblings from the Manwe MySpace pages indicate new recordings in the making, which can only be a good thing...

6. WACH * The End Of All Dreams
Now this one was a pig to track down. In such a small edition (just 30 copies) and lovingly packaged with a gorgeous wax seal and sash, it was always going to be an instant collectors item and one that would very probably be hard to find if you'd missed it first time around (which, for a variety of reasons, Nazgul had). Finally, however, some diligent searching located one in the clutches of those good folk at the Eastern Front, and a deal was struck. Bleak, dark and ever-shifting, this is one of the definitive WACH audio experiences.

5. Drachenfeuer * The Realm Of The Light (promo)
It would appear that the formal release of this splendid double-album from Drachenfeuer (a collaboration between Hugin and English ambient artist JimKirkwood) is likely in 2011. Fans of Uruk Hai should take to this project like a duck to water, but until such point you'll only be able to hear the music if you can get your hands on a label promo of the album, as shown here. Of course, once officially released the rarity value of this particular item falls somewhat, although who knows - perhaps a different track listing or cover artwork will grace the final album. One to mark in your calendar for next year as a 'must-have'.

=4. Heimatleid * Shock Millennium
=4. Heimatleid * Trummer Aus Stein
Both as rare as hen's teeth, both simultaneously unearthed from the vaults of the oft missed Chanteloup Creations label, and both featuring the almost forgotten project Heimatleid. This band was once to all intents and purposes only really a name on a web-site, shown as the former name for the project we now know and love as Bonemachine, as no recorded history seemed to be out there. Imagine Nazgul's surprise therefore when these demos were found, and revealed to be a closer relative musically to the barbarian horde, Hrossharsgrani. Theoretically there should be a few of these around, as the quantities pressed up for both must mean that some are out there in collections and trade lists around the world. However, that being said Nazgul has yet to come across any other copies - have you?
2. Guts For Dinner * G.F.D. demo #1
True, you can find the songs from this rare demo (together with a extra bonus track) on the split G.F.D / Bonemachine release "Gore vs. War" on Smell The Stench records. The original demo CDr, however, is a whole other story, and represents a one-off set of grindcore tracks recorded by Hugin for one of his fervent fans. You'll never find one of these now, guaranteed! It's also true to note that musically it is a positively brutal release, and is unlikely to have found a home in either format on anyone's playlist! Indeed, this release seems so incongruous with the rest of Hugin's output that for some weeks after receiving it as a bonus item amongst some purchases from W.A.R. Nazgul assumed it was a kind but randomly included free gift - until further investigation showed otherwise!

1. Raben Nacht * Raben Nacht demo
There are obscure releases, and then there are obscure releases! Until Skogen dragged this tape kicking and screaming up from the bowels of hell, Nazgul very much doubts anyone had recalled the fact that Hugin had also once been in the project known as Raben Nacht. Some 66 copies of this demo were distributed at the time by Chanteloup Creations and Irrlichter Distro in 2000, although clearly some temporal weirdness took place and a small but powerful cosmic vortex appeared to swallow 65 copies up, never to be seen again. The remaining one is here, and frankly is as unlikely a survivor of a piece of Hugin's recorded history as you're likely to find anywhere. And that, dear readers, is why it tops the list of Nazgul's miscellaneous rarities list.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

CRYPT CHILD

Band: BONEMACHINE with Kenji Siratori
Title: Crypt Child
Format: 3"CDr release in mini jewel-case on the Sabbathid Productions label (Japan) in 2007, catalogue reference hoof036. The release comes with a four-sided colour inlay whilst the CDr itself is a plain white 3-inch disc.
Edition: Limited to 99 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Crypt Child 20:53

Another day, another obscure Bonemachine release to ponder! This 3"CDr is another collaborative effort with cyper-punk artist Kenji Siratori, following in the footsteps (or should that be hoof-steps?) of previous efforts Acidhumanix and D.N.A. (see posts for 6 March and 27 June 2009 respectively). The occasional Bonemachine track recorded with this Japanese artist has appeared from time to time, although long-time readers may also recall the controversy that surrounded an apparent group of bootleg recordings made by Kenji's Hyper Modern label (see post for 1 August 2009 for details) that falsely claimed to have used B-Machina music in their recordings. That was a bit of an odd case, and perhaps the less said about it the better!

The artwork on this release is somewhat untypical of Hugin's releases - the reverse of the inner cover showing a bound lady in bdsm fetishist pose! Still, we get a good shot of Hugin screaming his lungs out on the inside pages, and a rather cryptic (ha!) cover with that good old fashioned Bonemachine logo on the front.

Now, it has to be said that in the past Nazgul has found these collaborative recordings a bit of a struggle to get through: I didn't (and still don't) really 'get' "Acidhumanix", and whilst "D.N.A" was a better release to these ears it would be a lie to claim that it receives a regular airing on the Castle death-deck. Come to think of it, that release also had a bootleg CDr pressing through Hyper Modern...but we said we weren't going there, so let's put that one to rest too!

One of the difficulties for Nazgul with this particular recording is the lyrical contribution from Kenji, which is done again what some have called the Gabba style. For the uninitiated, this is essentially a language of non-sequiturs and interchangeable cyber-speak of pseudo-scientific nonsense . Not to be confused of course with the band Gabba, the London-based disco sensations who perform Abba standards in the style of the Ramones - a far more palatable concept! For a sample extract of the lyrics behind "Crypt Child", which are helpfully printed on the inside of the inlay, have a read through the following prose and make up your own mind about them:

"NO-SEX: the chromosome=lobotomy of the gimmick girl that the yellow sun goes across the reproduction area of the brain of an artificial ant murders the body universe that ADAM doll was camouflage....the machine line of the strategy of the blue speed virus of the drug embryo that the placenta world of the end clone: the protein group of dustNirverna: the machine of yourself explodes. Although road the future tissue: cyber dog of that does the interference of cyberBuddha crimeMurder town of the soul-machine:the four nerves of RANDOM myself of the cyber of that dog fuck with the soul-machines of the cosmic worldly desires machine:....artifitial life=bodies, parasitism of the clone boys that are cut and started reverse=evolutionThe murder machine of the mind of myself:] grieve over [and last term] [FUCKNAM] [secret] [space] [apoptosis] [ADAM doll. The sun fuses....the cell of myself insulates....form....uterus-machine of monochrome earth=clonical love goes to war: the pill state vital (=I record the graviton=number of the nightmare that the placenta world crunched of the ADAM doll).The wolf=space of genes.:DNA! The TV screen disappears....ant of planetary large amount of....channel-X. 'ADAM' of cosmic internal organ=of which our body makes emptiness=the ground was respiring all of the visions like TOKAGE now"s-k-i-n-e-a-t": the brain of myself rapes the machine of yourself....the ruin of the sun murders the ADAM doll type of the spiral. The gimmick placenta*invasion of universe LOAD TOKAGE. Impossible: a chromosome the soul-machine of the intelligence quotient machinative angel of different=vital state reflein....off/COSMOS*cyber dog of the ADAM doll that committed inorganic substance murder the escape synapse of of the drug embryo: the analysis cries out the blue of the sky and short. Suicide VTR of clone boys reproduces to the night sky of the desert any longer the grief of myself dose not exist. The artificial sunThe DNA=channelThe emotional particle that the soul-machine of biohazard yourselfthat the psycho-thriller of TOKAGE....the body without the desire of the fruit....artificial ant that went mad so shooting battle, of clone-skin crunch quiesce accelerates by the meditation of the gravity of the cadaver city.The sole worldly desires machine of outer space!Or the apoptosis universe of the grief=body! STOP FUCKNAM soul-machine....: [hybrid VTR of gene war*TOKAGEIt reached to the chromosome of the ant pattern of cyberBuddha(The DNA=channel of the artificial sun)"

The problem is that without a basis of sense or meaning to build on the lyrics become pointless and unlistenable after a very short time. How fortunate it is, therefore, that the vocal part of this release is mixed pretty far down in the overall sound! Sadly, however, the musical portion of the piece doesn't really bear too much detailed scrutiny: designed (one presumes) to essentially be the backing rhythm to the song and thus not to pull the listener's focus away from the lyrics, the music is a simple set of synthesised percussive beats in essence, containing some sounds of interest but nothing that will make you leap out of your seat and hit the 'repeat' button once the song finishes.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

KINDER DER NACHT Master CDr

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: "Kinder Der Nacht" master CDr
Format: Plain CDr disc in red paper sleeve with Elisabetha logo, housed in plastic wallet. An internal band promo, and thus not an item for release to the wider public, this disc contains a sampled narrative track that has been used on Elisabetha recordings. The date of recording is shown as 18 February 2003.
Edition: Single copy

Track Listing:
01. Kinder Der Nacht (sample) 01.40

Nazgul's recent post covering Elisabetha's CD single "Transilvanischer Hunger" made mention of the fact that at the outset of the song there was a sampled piece of German narrative that is known by the nomenclature 'Kinder der Nacht'.

As you will also see from the front of the paper cover, the samples within this CDr were recorded in 2003, and were used in a more contemporary Elisabetha recording in this period as well as in the 2010 session. Your task for the day is to tell Nazgul which other recording that was...?

Interestingly despite best efforts the original source of this sampled narrative can't be identified - Hugin tells me that the CDr was not actually recorded by him but by fellow Elisabetha member UB, and that he doesn't know the name of the film from whence it came. A bit of judicious internet digging hasn't identified the piece with any great accuracy either, so if any of the readers of Honour and Darkness can shed any light on this based on listening to your copy of "Transilvanischer Hunger" then do let me know and I'll update this post accordingly.

A decidedly spooky bit of narration, however, with the 'innocent' child scaring the elderly gentleman with his description of certain drugs (laudanum) that have been deployed, overlain by a fabulously creepy score of violins and other strings.

As an internal piece of Elisabetha band history it's a small but interesting item. Of course, the use of samples has pervaded the work of this band and a number of Hugin's other projects since 1999: this one is different simply because in the majority of cases one presumes that Hugin wouldn't need to create a separate work-in-progress CDr with a sample recorded on it as it would be normally be directly recorded onto the W.A.R. super-computer for assimilation into whatever song it was needed for. As this one came from a fellow band member, however, it came suitably dressed for the occasion!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

AFTER THE WAR (ORCISH BATTLE HYMNS PART IV)

Band: URUK HAI
Title: After The Battle (Orcish Battle Hymns Part IV)
Format: Cassette tape release in November 2009 on the Wulfrune Worx label (France) as a part of the Honour & Darkness series, catalogue reference WW-N. The tape comes with a black and white photocopied inlay, and the same single track is recorded on both sides of the tape. The song has also had a recent CDr release, within the 2010 War Anthems box-set.
Edition: Tape version limited to 39 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. After The Battle (Orcish Battle Hymns Part IV) 40.29

So being an ardent follower of Honour and Darkness and a fan of all things Hugin, your trivia question for today is as follows: can you name (without looking them up) the preceding three parts of the Orcish Battle Hymns series?

If you answered "Orcish Battle Hymns" from 2000, "Barbarians (Orcish Battle Hymns Part II)" from 2004 and "War Poems (Orcish Battle Hymns Part III)" from 2005 then award yourself a gold star and sit at the front of the class: you are an Uruk Hai trivia god!

If you failed to score full marks, don't despair. Nazgul had to have a quick look back over the Blog to remind himself of the history of this occasional series of releases. However, unlike the preceding releases, all of which featured a number of separate tracks on a demo or full release, Part IV is one long, single song that creates a number of moods throughout its overall length.

Truth be told, although it's a very enjoyable listen it is the sort of album that tends to be rather difficult to describe. It commences with a battle scene at the outset, complete with the sounds of hand-to-hand combat and fallen warriors and underscored with a positively evil guitar riff (almost punk-ish in nature), which sets the tone of the album as a potentially violent and rowdy affair.

But ... after this battle scene a forty minute ambient soundtrack is devised (hence "After The War"), presumably representing the scenes in the immediate aftermath of the conflict and becoming a requiem to the dead and dying. Indeed, one can almost smell the charred orcs and envision the disembodied humans littering the field.

The outset of this lengthy piece of music is largely piano-led, with a spartan and quite melancholy air, before the sound is bolstered somewhat with more keyboard and synth input giving a richness and added timbre to the song. Overall though, this is a literal dirge for the dead, and as such it becomes quite easy to only half listen to whilst pressing on with other activities. Whilst it's not the most instantly memorable pieces of Uruk Hai composition, it is a very regal piece and in the right setting makes for a moody and atmospheric piece of music.

Should you be thinking that the title of this album strikes a familiar chord, it may be that you've remembered the limited edition signed poster also called "After The War", previously covered in Honour and Darkness on 5 May 2010.

Oh - and should you have been curious what the cover of this tape would have looked like in full colour, see the picture below that Nazgul unearthed on-line: rather spectacular, is it not...?




Thursday, 4 November 2010

IRON AGE



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Iron Age
Format: Vinyl-only split release issued in June 2010 by Aphelion Productions (England), catalogue reference AP051. The record comes in a 350gsm heavy card sleeve, pressed on green and white marble vinyl. There is a poster of the cover painting, drawn by the worlds leading Tolkien artist, John Howe. The second part of the split is with Ukrainian band Moloch.
Edition: Limited to 500 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

Uruk-Hai
1. Riding Through Green Fields With The Sun On My Face 10:17
2. Who Is Waiting For The Heroes 09:57
Moloch
3. Die Alte Essenz Einer Inzwischen Toten Welt 05:26
4. Skuld's Tränen 08:16
Uruk Hai / Moloch collaboration
5. Isengard 07:52

This spectacular vinyl release from Uruk Hai and Moloch is not the first time these two bands have worked in collaboration with one another: the 2008 split 3"CDr release "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" is one such joint venture, whilst the sessions screams of Pr. Sergiy from Moloch have appeared on the credits of a number of recent Uruk Hai demo tape releases. Suffice to say, these two artists have developed a very effective working relationship and no where is the fruit of their artistic labour more evident that on the "Iron Age" release.

To begin, let us consider the packaging. The illustration by John Howe is another classic, combining the Tolkien influences with an armoured warrior mirroring the theme of the album title. The marbled vinyl looks like a million dollars, and together with a free poster of the album art you can't fault Aphelion for having pushed the boat out for this release. The runic inscription around the reverse of the cover, incidentally, narrates Tolkien's 'Ring-Verse' - the full run of the "...one ring to bind them all" element of said prose.

The Uruk Hai tracks are credited as having been recorded in 2005, although suitably spruced up with 2010 production standards they sound as fresh as anything that's come out of W.A.R. in the past year. The opening track - not to be confused with the older Uruk Hai track 'Elysium', which contained a sample of Braveheart with narrative similar to this title - is a mixed affair of intimidating booming drums, eerie keyboards and snarled vocal effects (which immediately put Nazul in mind of being chased by Balrogs through the Mines of Moria) juxtaposed with extended gentle periods on the synthesiser. These latter parts are incredibly beautiful and restful, and also sound like the echos of choirs of angels throughout subterranean crystalline caverns. The more Nazgul listens to this the more the song brings to mind a long journey through dark and enclosed spaces under towering mountains, with the proximity thrills of lethal terrors and hidden beauty. Clearly the green fields of the title must be directly above me...

Second track 'Who Is Waiting For The Heroes' kicks off with a sampled piece of narrative from the film Gladiator, with Proximo's speech, "Ultimately we are all dead men. Sadly we cannot choose how but we can decide how we are to meet that end in order that we are remembered." There follows a very tranquil and meditative instrumental track of gentle, ambient keyboards with strings and other synthesised effects providing some counterpoints and aural diversions. Reminiscent of what it must be like to be wandering a battle-field after the conflict has ended, with smoke drifting across the land and the bodies of the dead and dying littering the cold ground.

Both Moloch tracks are excellent, recorded in 2008 and very much playing to the strengths of the artist: diabolical, cold screams in a keyboard-generated atmosphere of frosty nihilism. One online comment on these songs was that they were "raw ambient black metal reminiscent of Striborg or an extremely low-fi Burzum", which is an apt description I think.

The final track 'Isengard' is a collaborative track between the two bands that is simply superb - the towering, bombastic keyboards and war-drums of Uruk Hai complemented by the unimaginable loss conveyed through the screams of Moloch's Pr. Sergiy is a joy to behold and a must-hear for any fan of ambient black metal. The sense of futility and pain alongside some tremendous melodies (particular after the 4 minute mark) makes this song a firm favourite on the Castle death-deck. Stunning.

So there you have it - yet another Uruk Hai release in 2010, but maintaining the quality of the output to a degree that any fan of the band really ought to go out and purchase this straight away. The good news is that copies are readily for sale, through the label and all the usual online retailers for this sort of release, eBay included. It's not particularly expensive, it is in a fabulous format, and it will reaffirm your love of the unique music of Uruk Hai all over again. One of the best Uruk Hai releases, ever.

Depressive Illusions promo sampler #1 [V/A]

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI (amongst others)
Title: Depressive Illusions promo sampler #1
Format: A free online download via the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine)
Edition: Unlimited (although see text below)

Track Listing:
01. HER SUFFERING (Mar) - Ocean of white silent tombs
02. FAULEN (Ger) - Herbstregen Part I
03. DESOLATION (Usa)- The Martyr (Completed Version)
04. BEYOND LIFE (Pol)- Life
05. BEGOTTEN (Ukr) - On the field a wind
06.
HROSSHARSGRANI (Aut)- March & Fight
07. LYCANTHROPY (Rus) - Волчья Суть
08. NUTR (Egy) - Payment Is Due
09. OF FALLEN CROSSES (Usa)- The Fifth Arm
10. SKOV (Usa)- In Moonlight's Stare
11. SVARTNAD (Swe) - Vinterriket
12. WALPURGI (Aut) - Bergerhof
13. WINTER DEPRESSION (Ukr)- На Зруб Дол

The Depressive Illusions label has fast risen to become a force to be reckoned with on the underground scene, with an impressive array of recent releases - including material from Hrossharsgrani, Uruk Hai and Bonemachine - and an equally impressive distro list featuring all manner of hard to find and obscure releases, including perhaps the most complete list of Moloch titles you're likely to find anywhere for sale in one place.

But Nazgul digresses. Buoyed by the success of the fledgling label so far, this free compilation album was offered via the website (www.myspace.com/depressiveillusions.com) and includes at track 6 an offering from Hrossharsgrani, hence the inclusion in the ever-growing catalogue of Hugin's vast output that is Honour and Darkness!

The 'March and Fight' track may sound familiar to you, and if so it is because it recently featured in the 14 August 2010 post concerning the recent reissues of Hross' "...Of Battles, Ravens & Fire" album on a number of tape formats through Wulfrune Worxx and Depressive Illusions. A gold star if you have correctly anticipated that the song was one of the bonus tracks on the Depressive re-release of that particular tape!

Of the other bands featured - and it's quite the international spread of artists on offer - only a few are known to Nazgul. Of note is the presence of Austrian band Walpurgi, whose split release with Uruk Hai is overdue for a post and so should be coming your way soon...

In checking the link to the download this morning, Nazgul sadly has to report that the MySpace page suggests that the link has been terminated for reasons of internet security. Not entirely sure what that is all about, or if the download will resurface elsewhere in time, but why not drop by the Depressive Illusions site for a spot of light shopping and whilst you're there ask the nice folk how you might lay your hands on this worthy compilation? And don't forget to say that Uncle Nazgul sent you!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hrossharsgrani interview in Alu Zine

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: A cover feature and interview with Hrossharsgrani Alu Zine #3.

Mexican fan 'zine Alu Zine published this cover story and feature interview with Hugin's Hrossharsgrani project some years ago, and a copy of said 'zine was kindly supplied for the Castle library by Hugin himself in a recent shipment from darkest Austria in order to preserve the interview for posterity.

Written in Spanish, Nazgul thanks Tanya for her efforts in translating the interview into English, the content of which you can read below in 'warts 'n all' format. The original comments made by Miguel (the Alu Zine editor) are shown as in with Hugin's responses.

"It’s a real honour for me to introduce you on these pages a very interesting project, with a very weird name but also with a very strange mysticism that will capture your attention immediately: HROSSHARSGRANI. Behind this name is Hugin, a lonesome warrior to the service of ODIN. Without further ado, I’ll let you enjoy this interview, which will help us all to expand our knowledge about some of the ancient and pagan cultures in Europe.

1. Hugin, please could you tell us where the idea to create this project came from?

Firstly, I’d like to thank you, Miguel, for giving us the opportunity of doing this interview. And also for the space that you have given to my project “HROSSHARSGRANI” in your zine. This is a project created in total solitude by myself, “Hugin”; it took shape in the winter of 98. I was basically looking for a project that would relate to old legends and tales of the Vikings, based from the powerful books of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Lord of the Rings”. HROSSHARSGRANI was created then as a mix of Metal, battles and sound effects that bring the glory of our past back.

2. HROSSHARSGRANI is an unusual name, what’s its exact meaning?

HROSSHARSGRANI is one of the hidden names of the one and only God, the God Father himself, “ODIN”.

3. How would you describe your style?

Black, Ambient, Battle, Pagan, Viking, Asgard Metal, or God knows what other styles… you will never be able to describe it.

4. Besides your CD “Ancient Tales”, what other records do you have?

I’ve got my first demo CD “Des Ptad Zum Torder Toten” which is Black Atmospheric Metal. Afterwards, there was a rehearsal tape “Lieder Aus Mittelerde”, which came under the production and distribution of the German label “Irrlichter Rec.” This was followed by “Tolkien Black Metal”, my third work was the demo CD “Ancient Tales” (a brilliant journey back to the glorious times where men, gods and battles merged, Viking Black Metal), I like to describe it in this way. Shortly, one of my friends will publish an old material of mine, under the management of the French label “Chanteloup Creations”. The name of this tape is “Der Ring Der Macht”, which is the continuation of the demo “Lieder Aus Mittelarde”.

5. Specifically talking about “Ancient Tales”, do the lyrics have something special to say? Is this a concept album?

Yes, it’s a concept album indeed. It was recorded in Feb 2000, under my own label W.A.R. The story of this album tells us about THOR, MJOLNIR, HEL, ODIN and other Nordic collection of tales and legends. Some of its samples are used in movies such as Conan, Excalibur, Braveheart (my favourite film!, ED). Battle batteries and frozen guitars are the base of this heroic tale.

6. Is HROSSHARSGRANI a band with the typical Black Metal image? (use of make up, inverted crosses, etc)? Can you tell us your personal opinion about the image and marketing strategies of bands such as Cradle of Filth?

No corpse-paint or nothing of the kind. My thing is only ancient armour symbols, like: swords, axes and helmets. Bands like the one you mentioned and Dimmu Borgir are a total RIP-OFF. Their fans are all fuckers and must die.

7. What pagan bands from your own country would you recommend?

There are lots of great pagan bands here, for example: RIVENDELL, MIDWINTER, GRIMTORN’S FOREST and the powerful SUMMONING (Hail! to you).

8. What’s the label of your new CD “…Of Battles, Ravens and Fire”? Is it an independent recording company?

All of my work (tapes and CDs) is recorded in my own studio W.A.R., but my new CD was made in a professional studio in Austria, C.C.P. REC. This studio and I participate in the distribution of the CD together.

9. What are your ideological beliefs?

I believe in the HEATHENDOME (Paganism), in ancient gods, ancestral rituals and my motherland.

10. Do you think that when playing your CD one can experiment the feeling of living in or travelling back in time to the pagan and Viking past of old Europe?

Exactly. Listening to HROSSHARSGRANI music is like going back to the past. It’s the time where the horror of the politics, contaminated rivers, deforestation and destruction does not exist. These are times where only hope and glory co-exist!!! (Hugin speaks with truth here. I had the fortune of listening to this CD and, if you play it out loud, you will definitely feel you’re travelling to forgotten and longed-for ancient times; so in the meantime, keep that wishful thought and at the first opportunity contact Hugin so you too can get it!, ED).

11. Would you like to have lived in this historical era where you could go to battle with enormous swords, wear a helmet with horns; have a shield and a muscular body? Do you like this image?

Yeah!! I want to become a great conqueror next to ODINS’ side, crossing the oceans, climbing big mountains, fighting with my own swords and axes, waving THOR’s hammer… Hey, one can only dream!!!

12. Is it possible to make music that manifests the honour and pride of ancient cultures or mythologies?

You just need to listen to BATHORY, GRAVELAND, FALKENBACH. They bring us music with honour and pride. I hope HROSSHARSGRANI can do the same.

13. Is there racism in your country now? What do you think about racism?

People in my country people are not stupid, actually. But those black sheep are everywhere, really. Each living thing in this planet (and others) has the right to do and live however it pleases. HROSSHARSGRANI is neither a political or racist music. It is, certainly, not a religious one. It is not a fucking intolerant band (or project for that matter). Music was made to make friends all over the world and not to kill anyone or any race. We can all learn from different races and cultures. (I totally agree with you, my friend. ED).

14. Can you tell us about your plans?

At the beginning of 2001 I have planned to launch the first part of a triple CD, with a concept taken from “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. This material will go live in C.C.P. REC. in a very, very epic way.

15. Thanks for taking part of this interview. Is there anything that you would like to add for Latin people?

Pagan hordes around the world, Hailed to Karl, Claus, Brudercle, Eva, Cedric, Occulta Mors, Pepo, Warne, Thomas and all my friends. May all the ancient gods be with you. HAIL * KILL."