Tuesday, 31 May 2011

WEIß





Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Weiß
Format: Larger format 'hardpaper' digipak CDr released in 2008 on The Eastern Front label (Israel), cat ref Front015. Colour printing throughout, the format includes fold-out panels and is a split release with Bulgarian band Miel Noir.
Edition: 300 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Miel Noir
01. Miel I
02. Miel II
03. Miel III
04. Miel IV
05. Miel V
06. Miel VI
B-Machina
07. The Colour Of My Innocence
08. Fahne Empor!
22. Wald Aus Stein & Rost

It's been a fair time since Honour and Darkness had B-Machina product to review, and part of the reason for that is because the Castle Library was rapidly running out of new material to cover. With time and other pressures having to lead to some small sacrifices somewhere along the line, the upswing in Uruk Hai and Hrefnesholt material (which is a good thing) has led to a decline in the output for other projects, B-Machina included. This is a less good thing, though entirely understandable in the circumstances.

So it is that this split release with German-Bulgarian group Miel Noir has been held back for a while, as once it's come and gone there is little else new on the B-Machina front to cover on the Blog *sniff*. Happily for us, "Weiß" is a good place to draw a temporary line under B-Machina reviews until the next surge in post-industrial recordings emanate from W.A.R. Productions, and has received favourable critique online from most sites that have reviewed it.

It does sounds a little like the beginning of a joke - along the lines of 'So there's a Bulgarian and an Austrian, and they walk into this Israeli record label...' - but the results are far from comical. Indeed, this is a fine split release and a credit to both projects that it works so well. Without further ado let's start out with a few of the online reviews, beginning with this one from the pages of Chronicles Of Chaos:

"Miel Noir is the project of Dimo Dimov, who has been associated with a number of metal bands, including his own blackened folk metal project Svarrogh. Of late, he has done an Ulver and moved away from the metal scene towards post-industrial. At the moment he is the live drummer for Allerseelen (no less), and Svarrogh has been transformed into a neofolk project.

Miel Noir gives expression to his ambient inclinations, but with a nod to his roots; a distorted guitar playing hypnotic riffs is an important component, possessing a harshness that only one intimately familiar with black metal could provide, but never losing the ambient aura. There are some spoken word passages, but I suspect those are samples, rather than Dimov's own voice. Sometimes he ups the ante and provides a more dissonant track that is closer to industrial than ambient, yet always with a ceremonial or ritual flair.

B-Machina is a more orthodox entrant with a less harsh sound, but possessed of an adventurous spirit that elevates it above the norm. Their three songs are fairly varied: "The Colour of My Innocence" consists of competing waves of drone and dissonance, whilst the next track is centred on industrial clanging. Their best track, and the highlight of the split, is their third and final track, which consists of more industrial pounding but with a repetitive yet evocative acoustic refrain. All three tracks perfectly capture the mood of being inside an abandoned warehouse or deserted factory in the dingy industrial area of town. Overall, an excellent split with neither side letting the other down."

and this offering from Chain D.L.K.

"WEISS is a split release which gathers Miel Noir (side project of Svarrogh's Dimo Dimov in its first official appearance after their first demo) and B-Machina. The first six tracks are Miel Noir ones and they are titled "Miel I" to "Miel VI". They sound totally different from Svarrogh and the project sounds like being Dimo's industrial/ambient/metal outlet. The track are based on melancholic melodies played using synthesizer pads where Dimo add industrial rhythmic parts, samples, treated vocals, distorted guitar and electronics. The tracks create a nice ambience and they sounds fresh enough to listen to them with interest.

B-Machina aren't newcomers to the industrial ambient genre and on this release they deliver three new proper track spaced out by 13 title less short tracks containing few seconds of silence and placed between the second and the third track. The concept behind these short silence moments I think is contained into the title of the first track titled 'The Colour Of My Innocence', because when innocence is lost there's only an overwhelming silence left. Musically the tracks sound like distant industrial ambient noises where repetition is the main scheme. The third one, 'Wald Aus Stein & Rost', alternate industrial reverberated percussion with acoustic guitar phrasings. An interesting unconventional solution which will make them appreciated by experimental/industrial lovers."

All of which is pretty fair comment and leaves little to be added. The last B-Machina track "Wald Aus Stein & Rost" may ring a few distant bells with some of you, and if so then you may be recalling that the track appeared on a unique 4-band CDr that Hugin put together for Nazgul and which featured on these pages back on 3 November 2009. Personally, Nazgul's favourite song is 'The Colour Of My Innocence', which evokes a sensation of being entombed inside a vast mechanical beast as it comes alive: you can hear and literally feel the breathing as the track progresses. Marvellous stuff.

For balance, it's also fair to note that not all reviewers 'got' the B-Machina tracks on this release as we see, for example, in these thoughts from the JudasKiss webpages:

"...And so to B-Machina. I’m not so familiar with the previous work of this Austrian project, but the B-Machina part of "Weiß" consists of three tracks. The first two of these, ‘The Colour Of My Innocence’ and ‘Fahne Empor!’ are tracks seven and eight of the disc, and the third, 'Wald Aus Stein & Rost', is track 22, being separated from the others by 13 short tracks of silence for some unfathomable reason. The press release for "Weiß" claims that 'the other 13 tracks they are very short powerful musical phrases completing perfectly the concept of the album', but I checked them all out and I heard nothing but the sound of silence. Am I missing something here?

Anyway, allow me to concentrate on the three tracks with music on them. B-Machina is a duo consisting of Alex on vocals and synth and Max on guitars. Their MySpace page describes their music as ‘medieval industrial’, but I can’t really detect a medieval flavour to it. ‘The Colour Of My Innocence’ is noisy industrial ambient with a swooshing rhythm like heavy breathing behind it, animalistic grunting sounds, and an overall effect similar to Horologium or Oxyd. ‘Fahne Empor!’ has prominent, deep, reverberated guitar notes over a churning background of industrial ambient whoops and crashes. ‘Wald Aus Stein & Rost’, the lengthiest track at over 11 minutes, opens with a quiet plucked guitar melody and slowly building background ambient atmospherics, which gradually build into another noisy industrial piece, incongruously interspersed with bursts of classical Spanish guitar.

I must confess, I didn’t get much pleasure from B-Machina’s part of "Weiß". I like both noisy, rhythmic industrial music and melodic, acoustic guitar music, but both at the same time? That’s like having a pickled onion in your ice cream!"

Mmmmm....pickled onions....

As relevant additional information, B-Machina tells us that they have adapted classical songs from the likes of Jaspar Sang, Henry Purcell and J.S. Bach in their compositions (Nazgul, being pig-ignorant of classical music, can neither confirm nor deny this), whilst Miel Noir want us 'drenched in white honey and wite ashes'. Hmmmm - very interesting...!?

This release is readily available online with both Steinklang Industries and The Eastern Front advertising stock at the moment, and copies usually being readily available in the other usual haunts (eBay, Discogs) as well. There's little excuse not to dip your toe into the neofolk/industrial worlds of these bands for an affordable price, so be bold and jump in!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

BATTLE MAGIC



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Battle Magic
Format: Cassette-only release on the Werwolf Productions label (Italy) in 2004, cat ref WP017. A standard C60 style tape is housed within a black and white inlay in classic demo format. Inlays are hand-numbered in silver pen.
Edition: Only 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Warg Riders
02. Battle Magic
03. Riding Through Green Fields

Rejoice! Nazgul has not fallen off his perch, he's merely been away on a short break in Turkey and has now returned to the Castle to spread the good word still further about the many and varied works of one Mr Alexander Wieser of Linz, Austria: Hugin, if you will.

And rejoice still further, for today's offering pretty much completes the detailing of early Uruk Hai material on Honour and Darkness and covers an item that has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult of Hugin's releases to track down: ladies and gentlemen, Nazgul presents to you "Battle Magic"!

Topping the top ten list of the rarest Uruk Hai releases on 19 August (solely on the basis that there are vanishingly small numbers of these demos out there, to the extent that over 7 years solid searching has only revealed this solitary copy), it's fair to say that Nazgul was elated when this tape finally came into the possession of the Castle archives.

No one - literally no one, Hugin included - had an original copy of this demo. Sure, the tracks had been used elsewhere on other recordings, notably as 2 bonus songs on the tape version of "Barbarians" and dotted across the "Thousand Lightning Strikes" demo (although that latter demo was never formally released from the W.A.R. vaults). For long years Nazgul would trawl through distro mailing lists, online sales and other dubious corners of the internet looking for this elusive cassette, but to no avail.

Then, unexpectedly, disaster struck! A fellow Huginophile sent an email last year asking if Nazgul had seen an auction listed on eBay for - yes, you guessed it - "Battle Magic". It turned out that the tape had been listed and already sold (and sold for only a few Pounds too) without the fiery eye having noticed its presence. To say Nazgul was distraught was something of an understatement. However, much like the Loch Ness Monster, Elvis and a Vinterriket album cover sans mountains and trees must surely all be out there somewhere, further patient searching finally tracked down this copy of the demo (#3 of 22) in deepest Poland and a deal was subsequently struck. The agonies of a week or more waiting for the item to navigate the international postal system safely were soon past, and "Battle Magic" finally arrived earlier this year.

Musically, incidentally, in release date terms this falls into the middle period of Uruk Hai work: post the Casio keyboard noodlings of 2003's "Elbentanz" demo but long before the more produced, symphonic recordings of 2008 to date. Interestingly though the tracks were recorded back in 2002, but even so this demo has a very similar sound to other releases in same 2004 period, including the classic "Honour" demo. Great stuff!

You may consider this an awful lot of fuss for a three track tape in a photocopied inlay. To the collector, however, such moments really are a revelation, the securing of that 'holy grail' item to complete a collection. That second photo above, of the unfolded inlay, may be the only one actually published anywhere too...

Who knows, another one of these tapes could turn up tomorrow but then again - and based upon past history - this might just be the only one known to exist for another few years to come!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

PAGAN FOLK AND APOCALYPTIC PSYCHEDELIA KAPITEL II


Band: HREFNESHOLT and URUK HAI
Title: Pagan Folk And Apocalyptic Psychedelia Kapitel II
Format: Promotional CD on the Steinklang Industries label (Austria) released 2010. Contains tracks from bands on the label, including the sub-labels Ahnstern, Heimatfolk, Percht, and Sturmklang. Comes as a picture disc CD, housed in a colour card sleeve, and focuses primarily on Alpine Folk, Neofolk, and acoustic compositions.
Edition: Presumed unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Stormfågel * Håll-lågan-klar! 5:46
02. Fräkmündt * Wörmer 4:54
03. Sturmpercht * Der Teufelsgeiger 5.10
04. Allerseelen * Wo Ist Das Leben 3:27
05. Wappenbund * Licht Ist Leben II 5:02
06. Vinterriket * Seelenleere 4:3
07. Birch Book * Feet Of Clay 3:32
08. Dânnâgôischd * Waldfuir 2:22
09. Larrnakh * Delictum 4:20
10. Moon Far Away * Deus Amet Puellam 3:55
11. Uruk-Hai * ... Does Not Glitter 3:10
12. Atomtrakt * Blut Und Erde 4:55
13. Hrefnesholt * Hexnfeia 4:49
14. Irij * Vasilisa 4:09
15. Jännerwein * Jede Stunde 3:58
16. Phase II * Sweet Lady Fair 3:53
17. Miel Noir * Honiggöttin 4:31
18. Le Testament De La Lumière * Retaliation 3:40
19. Dead Man's Hill * The Curse 3:56

This is the second volume in this series from Skteinklang Industries, the first volume having been reviewed in Honour and Darkness on 18 November 2009. Again, this full-length CD features what were at the time new tracks from most of the principal bands on the Steinklang (and wider family of labels) neo-folk roster. Of particular interest to Nazgul is the inclusion of two tracks from Uruk Hai and Hrefnesholt, which we shall cover in more detail shortly.

If online reports are to be believed, this compilation was released especially for the 2010 Wave-Gotik-Treffen, in Leipzig, Germany. for those unaware (and Nazgul counted himself in this list until a little diligent research), Wave-Gotik-Treffen (in German, 'das Treffen' means 'the meeting') is an annual world festival for "dark" music and arts in Leipzig.

The major attraction of the Wave-Gotik Treffen are the band performances: Generally, the number of musical acts is close to 200, spanning the breadth of "dark music" from acoustic and medieval-influenced folk to deathrock; dark electro; EBM; symphonic metal; gothic metal; and industrial genres. The dozen-or-more venues are equally varied, from the stately Schauspielhaus to the sombre Krypta of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal to the Parkbühne under the trees to the massive 10,000-person capacity AGRA fairground halls.

In addition, there are Renaissance fairs, Viking and Pagan markets, Gothic Romance events, CD/DVD and film premieres, literary readings, artist signing events, brunches celebrating Absinthe, fetishists event, and many late-night dance clubs such as Darkflower or Moritzbastei. The main market in the AGRA that runs the entire duration of the festival is perhaps the largest for the goth community anywhere in the world.

The date of the WGT varies from year to year. It is held on the German holiday weekend of Pfingsten, known in English as Pentecost or Whitsun, which is 7 weeks after Easter. Unofficial events start in Leipzig on the Thursday night preceding the date of Pfingsten, while the official festival starts on Friday and runs until early-morning on Tuesday, as Monday is an official holiday in Germany.

There: following such excellent free publicity (doubtless some of you new to this extravaganza may decide to make a pilgrimage) Nazgul will sit patiently in his tower, awaiting his free tickets to the 2012 event...

Back to the music, and the Uruk Hai song '...Does Not Glitter' features on the band's 10 year jubilee album "Black Blood, White Hand" and thus is familiar to us in that guise. Hrefnesholt's 'Hexnfeia' pops up on the band's "Uraungst" advance tape. Both good songs in their own right, and very welcome to see two of Hugin's projects featuring on this disc (although Cz fares better still, with a seemingly endless procession of his projects being featured!)

A track by track review of this compilation appears on the 'Hatred Means War Zine' blog site (and also, word for word, on the site for 'Blackened Underground Music Zine'), and in respect of Uruk Hai and Hrefnesholt contributions reads as follows: "Uruk-Hai bring us '...Does Not Glitter', which is a very epic and medieval sounding neo-classical song mixed with neo-folk with a lot of darkness to it ... Hrefnesholt brings the compilation back to neo-folk with their song 'Hexnfeia' and then after the neo-folk part it turns into a heavy dark industrial song that has a very heavy black metal feel to it and then goes back to being Apocalyptic Folk." A fair description, it must be noted.

The remainder of bands on this album represent the great variety of music in this broad genre; from the dark ambient machinations of Stormfagel, Wappenbund and Le Testament De La Lumiere to the more martial/industrial leanings of Atomtrakt and Miel Noir; from the uplifting and lively tracks proffered by the likes of Sturmpercht and Allerseelen to the more unique creations of Dead Mans Hill and Irij. All most excellent exponents of their craft, and in one glorious collection a complete no-brainer in terms of investment, as this compilation is only a few Euros from most distros plus the Steinklang online shop.

Also worth recording are the thoughts of the reviewer at www.plaguehaus.com, who noted:

"Anyone who’s been a regular customer or fan of the Austrian Steinklang record label knows that they've released some amazing sampler CD's over the years. Keeping with that tradition is the "Pagan Folk And Apocalyptic Psychedelia" series. This release focuses more on the wide ranging Folk genre, whether metal, dark, martial or other influences are present. 'Folk' is a nice umbrella to capture them all.

A little something from all the Steinklang sub-labels is represented as well; Ahnstern, Heimatfolk, Percht and the newly formed metal division, Sturmklang. There are a total of nineteen tracks and a full one hour and twenty minutes of music. For my money, there’s not a clunker in the bunch. While I won't go into a track by track review, I will give you a brief run down of styles. Stormfågel, Wappenbund, Atomtrakt, Miel Noir and Dead Man’s Hill all delve into more martial industrial styling. For whatever reason this was my first exposure to Stormfågel and this band impressed me to no end. And that is the point of these samplers, is it not?

Keeping things in a more Alpine UR Folk vein are fantastic offerings from Fräkmündt, Sturmpercht, Dânnâgôischd, Larrnakh, Hrefnesholt and Jännerwein. Every single one of those tracks was impressive, with special notice going to newcomers Fräkmündt and Hrefnesholt. Allerseelen offers a track from their new CD, as Gerhard is really in a genre all his own. Vinterriket, Moon Far Away and Le Testament De La Lumíère all have a more Neoclassical bent, with each bringing their own elements in as well like touches of Ambient and even Noise. When it comes to more traditional Folk sounds, you can’t do wrong with Birch Book or the side project of Changes guitarist Nicholas Tesluk, Phase II.

Rounding out the disc is the more metal influenced, but Classical sounding project Uruk-Hai and the Baltic Folk of Irij. The latter is the project of the beautiful Meri Tadic, who also plays violin for the Slavic pagan metal band, Eluveitie."


Overall, a highly recommended product and one well worth tracking down: you'll be sure to successfully broaden your horizons and find many new musical avenues to explore after a few listens...

Saturday, 7 May 2011

ELBENTRAUM




Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elbentraum
Format: Two versions of this demo exist, both cassette releases. The first pressing was on Depressive Illusions (Ukraine) in 2010, cat ref cut51, and comes with a glossy colour cover. The second pressing on Wulfrune Worxx (France) also in 2010, cat ref WW171, has a black and white cover with alternate cover artwork together with a bonus track.
Edition: Depressive Illusions version limited to 55 copies. Wulfrune Worxx pressing limited to 111 copies.

Track Listing:
01. Elbentraum 06:24
02. Laurelin 08:48
03. Baggins 13:51
04. Song Of The Ainur 07:11
05. The Mirror 07:14
06. Uruk-Hai (Part 6) 10:48
07. Hobbiton 05:39
08. The Glory Of A Dragon 24:00
09. The Power Of The Ring 3.34 (Wulfrune Worxx bonus track)

Today's offering from the Castle library is the subject of a joint review with long-time Honour and Darkness reader Morax Draug, flying the flag for international co-operation and cross-cultural appreciation of Hugin's music. And, of course, an opportunity for some trans-Atlantic banter between friends lightly disguised as a review of an Uruk Hai demo!

The demo in question is "Elbentraum"; literally translating from the German as "Elven Dream" and thus promising much in the way of a Middle-Earth listening experience. This is one of the last Uruk Hai demos from 2010 to feature a selection of individual tracks rather than a single long piece of ambient artistry, so it's the ideal release to review in this manner.

In the following exchanges, Morax's narrative is shown as blue text and Nazgul's as black, so you can follow the debate and keep a running tally of who makes the most ridiculous comments or the more trenchant observations...!

General impressions:
The colour cover to the Depressive Illusions release suggests delicacy with a hint of Elven magic, wrapped up in a veil of gossamer thread and sprinkled with a light dusting of Tolkien essence. The Wulfrne Worxx cover, on the other hand, implies a far harder and more forthright experience awaiting the listener with an apparent likeness of the Witch-king of Angmar on the cover, so it's with some interest that the cassette is removed from its packaging and entered into the Castle death-deck.

Living far from master Skogen, no Wulfrune version of Elbentraum has been within my grasp as of yet, and though I may have gazed at the insert online, memory fails to recall. For the Depressive Illusions release, I am a fan of the cover artwork, (a work by Amy Brown, perhaps?) and being a graphics-person myself, I admire the quality printing job as well.

The music:
The dreamlike qualities show in this release which feels almost like an epic continuous track. I am a big fan of this side of Hugin's work, the ambient droning sounds make for great background music while I work and seems to inspire some creativity along with some mellow vibes. The themes are inspired by the earliest recorded history of Middle Earth --- the times of the Ainur. This began as a tranquil time of creation (the Tolkien "Genesis" if you will), which ends with the violent betrayal of the Ainur by Melkor, and births what is recorded as the First Age.

Quite so, and I defer to my colleague's knowledge of Tolkien's First Age in giving us that insight. Thanks! I do my best to find those little tid-bits and references to Tolkien's work echoing in Uruk-Hai's music. There are indeed some mellow vibes on this release, and in actuality it's quite different to a lot of the Uruk Hai canon from the late 2000's in its mixture of an almost ambient-dance theme at times together with the more expected ethereal musical flights of fancy.

One thing that is certain is that elements of some songs recur in later tracks as little refrains or codas, meaning that there is something of a continuous 'theme' running throughout the album. In that regard, Morax's comment about 'an epic continuous track' is an entirely valid observation. The downside of such an approach is that if you have the demo playing in the background and dip in and out of the music periodically, there is a feeling of deja-vu and 'I've heard this before, surely?'.

Absolutely, this release is littered with plenty of melodic and repetitive sounds but luckily some of the tracks vary enough that one could walk away and return without being totally lost. Where as releases like Balrog or Morgoth for me were impossible to walk away from even for a moment without feeling like I missed a possible high-point.

Let's break it down, track by track.

Elbentraum:
The track begins with an almost whimsical music-box which to me sounds reminiscent of some of the earlier Goblin film scores. This fades into a tranquil melodic theme which hearkens back to 80's cartoons such as David the Gnome or the opening theme to Record of Lodoss War. Very atmospheric and 'warm'.

David the Gnome!? This is a new one on Nazgul, so cue a little research to see what on earth my learned friend is on about. Aha - David the Gnome, a late 1980's tv programme featuring the aforementioned David, his wife Lisa and a host of doubtful characters including Swift the Fox. I enjoyed that show as a child, as well as the illustrated gnome books by Wil Huygen. Innocent TV programming at it's best, hehe. Inclement weather conditions around Castle Nazgul rules out all but a few dalliances with the dreaded 'speaking box', and this is one programme that has clearly escaped the fiery eye. There's plenty of gentle instrumental touches in this opening track though, and it is a fine way to start proceedings.

Laurelin:
A great Tolkien-based track! Named after the great Golden Tree of Valinor, which gave shed light on the ancient city of the Valar during the Age of the Trees. The theme is a continuation of the first track which continuously builds in drama. It contains a hint of an almost warlike chant followed by some distant vocalisation seeming to represent Melkor's march on city and the destruction of Laurelin (known as 'The Darkening of Valinor').

The Two Trees of Valinor were Telperion and Laurelin, the Silver Tree and the Golden Tree, that brought light to the Land of the Valar in ancient times. Laurelin had pale green leaves trimmed with gold, and her dew was collected as a source of water and light. They were destroyed by Ungoliant at Melkor's behest, but their last flower and fruit were made by the Valar into the Moon and the Sun. The Two Trees are also reminiscent of the tree of Yggdrasil in Norse mythology (which gives us an unexpected but happy link to Hugin's Viking-based Hrossharsgrani project) in that the trees are cosmic constructs as their essence is what later becomes the Sun and the Moon. Very astute, Nazgul! Why, thank you, my good man...

Baggins:
A very majestic sounding track. Contains vibrant soundscapes that remind me of Gwaihir soaring over high Misty Mountains. Contains a hint of fine cello playing as well. A definite stand-out track that seems a conclusion chapter of the epic themes created in the previous tracks.

The very name 'Baggins' hardly conjures anything epic-sounding in the mind, but on listening to this piece your perception will surely change. I agree, perhaps the theme of this song is from a passage of The Hobbit, when Bilbo & company are rescued from trees surrounded by fierce wolves by the eagles, or years later in the Return of the King when Sam & Frodo are rescued from the savage volcanic eruption of Mount Doom by the same proud group, led once again by Gwaihir. Either way, it is an excellent track!

Song Of The Ainur:
In the beginning of time, it was the Ainur's music that created Arda. It begins with a soft piano introduction which unexpectedly turns into a techno-beat. I enjoyed this track, and I think it would work great as a background track to any RPG video game. It is also said that the Ainur will sing again at the end of time.

And lo, for it is also said that it is never over until the fat lady sings; thus beware, accursed stranger, of portly singing Ainur standing in your path as you stride the dusty roads of time...! This is a strange song. Morax correctly identifies a distinct dance influence within it, and try as he might Nazgul can't quite get his head around the concept of these immortal spirits - beings created by the very thought of God - entering Eä to the sound of a techno beat. Surely they would have come into the world to the strident tones of a band named after one of the most famous of the Ainur, Manwe?! Most perplexing....

Perplexing indeed! Sounds like it came straight from the dance floor of Arda's own Ibiza.

The Mirror:
Featuring a sampled introduction from The Lord of the Rings by Cate Blanchett, this track is named after Galadrial's water basin of visions, from which she sees visions (reflections) of distant times and places. I think this track is a good companion piece to Song of the Ainur, as once again it has a very techno-video game feel to it.

A song based on Galadriel's mirror? Hmmm, methinks we've come across something similar before, and a quick check through the Blog reveals that indeed we have, throughout "Black Blood, White Hand" as an ongoing concept, and also directly via the song 'Into The Mirror' on Uruk Hai's "Lothlorien" release.

Uruk-Hai (Part 6):
It seems appropriate to label this and the previous 2 tracks as very "video game inspired" and here is a good example why: this track contains the exact sound effects used in Super Mario Brothers! I would consider this trilogy Hugin's excursion into the realm of gaming, certainly unique and welcome to my ears. A trilogy of gaming influenced songs?

A drumroll please, for Hugin: Prince of Persia! Removing tongue from cheek for just a second, you can see where the analogy comes from, and whilst the various beeps from Super Mario Brothers are foreign to Nazgul's ears he is quite prepared to take Morax at his word for that reference. Will the emergence of this track lead to a revised pressing of "The Uruk Hai" split tape with Vinterriket is the burning question of the hour, thus compiling all 6 parts of the saga (to date...)?

Hobbiton:
I think the back-story of this track needs no introduction, besides, Nazgul does a great job describing The Shire below! I will simply say I find it to be a peaceful track for a peaceful land, with a building adventurous feel as well.

Hobbiton was a village in the central regions of the Shire, within the borders of the Westfarthing. The village was overlooked by Hobbiton Hill (usually called simply 'The Hill'), in which was Bag End, the ancestral home of the Baggins Family and the famous Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. Hobbiton was located on the Water, approximately a mile northwest of the neighboring village of Bywater. After the War of the Ring, Hobbiton was devasted by 'The Scouring of the Shire'. Frodo and his companions were stunned to see their homes, trees and hedges all torn up on their return. Given the various phases in its history, it would seem a fair bet to say that this composition looks upon Hobbiton at a time of peace for it is indeed a pleasant and restful track with narry a hint of an uprooted tree to be found.

The Glory of a Dragon:
Glaurung, Ancalagon, Smaug - Tolkien's universe contains many winged beasts that wreak havoc on the lands of man. So, we obviously need a mighty track for a mighty beast, and this one clocks in at a staggering 24 minutes long! In my mind, I see dragons soaring through the air, and at certain points in the song, you can even hear the heavy wings beating against the wind.

Well put, my friend, and most apposite. The talk of 'heavy wings' reminds Nazgul that it is time to give the Fell-Beast requires another lengthy flight to keep it in shape.

The Power of the Ring:
Alas - here we lose Morax for a second as his version of the demo is from Depressive Illusions and thus lacks this additional track added courtesy of Skogen and the hard working Elves at Wulfrune Worxx. This short bonus track is a continuation of what has gone before, revealing Hugin's playful side in a mini-symphony of metal and melody.

Indeed, I am left crawling in the dark on this one. Yet there seems to be something shiny on the ground, something like a tiny ring of cold metal.I'll slip it in my pocket for now, I'm sure it is not of much significance.

In Conclusion:
I would say all in all "Elbentraum" is a strange mash-up of varied work from Hugin but it is certainly worth checking out! I think this is likely the best release by Uruk-Hai to simply put on while you work. All of the tracks seem full of tranquility, and if your job is as hectic as mine has been as of late - A little tranquility is very welcome and hard to come by! Thanks so much Nazgul for the chance to collaborate with you on this review!

A pleasure, Morax old thing, and long may your ears revel to the sounds of Uruk Hai. Nazgul feels he should point out that Morax has submitted his prose for this review despite being in the heart of the recent upsurge of tornadoes and general destruction in the deep south of America, and such dedication to Honour and Darkness and Hugin's music is marvellous to see. A round of applause please, if you will, for Mr Draug!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

CONFUSING ME


Band: ALEX
Title: Confusing Me
Format: This is not a formally released song (at least, at date of writing), rather a special track written for a friend, Michaela Lindbichler.
Edition: Technically, 1 copy (see text)

Track Listing:
01. Confusing Me 2.17

Just when you thought you'd seen everything, here's another curve ball thrown by our Austrian maestro.

This single track release was especially recorded by Hugin on Christmas Eve 2010 for a friend - Michaela Lindbichler - and given this rather natty cover. Formally, Nazgul presumes, only the one copy was intended to be sent, but with Hugin being such a staunch ally of Nazgul's all consuming quest for collecting all of his output this second copy also found its way into the Castle archives too. As ever, my thanks to Hugin for this.

Recorded under his own name 'Alex' this song is something of a dance track, most akin to Ceremony of Innocence of all of his other projects but still different in many respects. There's a subtle backing vocal not unlike the chanting effect that early Enigma work used to have, and almost a rave bpm percussion overlain with some bubbling synth and dance-groove.

It's fair to say that this song won't be featuring in Metal Archives any time soon!

It live up to it's title perfectly, as it is a step away from Hugin's other projects and - if anything - sounds like a demo or outtake from a song that he might be working on as we speak. What price a new commercial Hugin project lurking in the wings? Well, anything is possible so who knows...