Thursday, 30 June 2011

WRATH OF THE RING


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Wrath Of The Ring
Format: A cassette tape release from 2010 on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France), cat ref WW163. Black and white copied inlays, standard C60 style commercial tape. The copy pictured has been dedicated by Hugin in silver pen.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 111 copies

Track Listing:
Side A
01. Wrath Of The Ring part I
Side B
02. Wrath Of The Ring part II

Another Wulfrune Worxx-released Uruk Hai demo from the prolific 2010 period, where Hugin seemingly was on a roll in terms of composing and releasing material from his perennially popular ambient project.

In much the same vein as other contemporaneous demos from the project - "The Lord Of The Rings", "Ash Nazg..." and the "Darkness" series - this is a lengthy and wholly instrumental ambient adventure into the shady forests and snow-capped peaks of a world far more enchanting than our own. Hugin, effortlessly assuming the mantle of the Pied Pier of Linz, leads his listeners on another epic and glorious journey into realms of mystery and magic, where anything is possible...

It must be said that this is a very gentle journey in musical terms: there is little 'wrath' on display here if one takes literally the dictionary definition of 'deep or violent anger, indignation or rage' as a yardstick against which to gauge the material. Any expectations of a bombardment of vicious guitar riffs or evil shrieks are soon headed off by the lush, relaxing tones of Hugin's trademark keyboard patterns and fills.

It's not to say that this is a demo without verve, oh dear me no, but it makes for a dreamy, occasionally distant listen. It conveys the sounds a traveller might hear floating on the winds as they edge around the borderlands of Mordor in the mountain passes of Cirith Gorgor, or whilst cutting a path through the overgrown, winding trials in Mirkwood. There's a range of synthesised instrumentation contained in the piece (the song is effectively split into two parts on either side of the tape) and if you're attuned to Hugin's mastery of all things keyboard-based then you'll have a pretty good idea what to expect from this demo.

The version of the song on this tape, incidentally, is advertised on the inlay as a first take rehearsal version of the track that is unique to this Wulfrune Worxx edition. A (presumably) revised version on CDr appears on the latest limited edition box-set release "Gorgoroth (The Land Of Darkness)" on the Tryby label, more of which at a future point.

Credit must be given to the enigmatic Skogen at Wulfrune Worxx for his ongoing support to Hugin's various projects in the issue of these limited edition demo tapes, many of which must be sold out almost as soon as they emerge from WW HQ in France. Without the backing of underground labels the availability of music like this would be practically non-existent: they are the very bedrock of distribution of a physical product as opposed to digital download, and long may that situation continue.

In conclusion, for an enjoyable if undemanding excursion into the majestic wilds of Middle-Earth you could do far worse than to play this through a quality set of headphones and let yourself drift...

Friday, 24 June 2011

DER PFED ZUM TOR DER TOTEN - update



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Der Pfed Zum Tor Der Toten
Format: Cassette tape released on the Wulfrune Worxx/Chanteloup Creations label (France) in 2010, cat ref WW200 / AWE00-02. Black and white copied inlay, inside of which is a Hrossharsgrani 'business card' promo insert. Contains 4 bonus tracks over the 1999 CDr release.
Edition: 200 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

Side A
01. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten
02. Schönheit Gibt Es Nur Im Kampf
03. Schwerter & Äxte
04. Blut Pt. 5
Side B
05. Heimfahrt Nach Hördaland
06. Barbarenblut
07. Bußfertigkeit
08. Anämisch In Einem Universum Auf Blut
09. Heideks Ende
10. Blut Pt. 6

Continuing the re-release of classic Hrossharsgrani releases from years gone by, the Wulfrune Worxx label in deepest France has contructed an absolute monster of a tape here with the newly remastered "Der Pfed Zum Tor Der Toten" (The Path To The Gate Of The Dead). Reviewed back in the early days of Honour and Darkness on 23 April 2009 in its CDr pressing, this latest version has 4 additional tracks and comes in an equal quantity to the CDr version - 200 copies. This latest tape has also been given all new cover art - another effective Middle-Earth battle scene complete with siege towers and an armoured horde of thousands - and Nazgul's copy (#8 of 200) bears Hugin's signature too.

"Der Pfed Zum Tor Der Toten" was always one of the less common releases from Hrossharsgrani's early years to stumble upon. Although a good many of the band's early demos turn up eventually in one form or another, many years of collecting has only ever uncovered one sole copy of the CDr pressing and the original tape release - in a quantity of 33 tapes and with 3 more songs than the CDr, one less than the recent version - Nazgul has yet to come across even now. Consequently the demo being reissued in 2010 should be cause for celebration, and will give a few more happy devotees the chance to purchase a copy for their own collection.

As noted in the original review, this demo differs slightly from other Hrossharsgrani work of period by having a greater tendency to employ guitar higher in the mix as opposed to keyboards, hence the memorable riffs are often the guitar ones and not derived from synthesiser. The clarity in the remastered sound brings this nicely to the fore and whilst the drumming still sounds a little like Hugin was thrashing the kit to within an inch of its life whilst falling down a flight of stairs, the overall effect is a positive one. One aspect that the re-issue has taken full advantage of is the augmentation of choral parts on some of the tracks, where the much improved sound (and what sound like newly added sections) really give a sense of grandeur that the original demo didn't possess.

Of course, polishing up and remastering a Hrossharsgrani demo the late '90s is a little like taking a sabre-tooth tiger for a manicure - sure, those claws may look nice and clean, shining brightly in their new gloss, but they'll still tear your throat out at the drop of a hat. The sound may be much improved, and the new tracks (three of which presumably were on the original tape version, although not having a copy prevents Nazgul from confirming such) are very welcome, but make no mistake about it: this remains music for people who like their steaks raw and bloody!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

SO ALONE

Band: SOLID GREY
Title: So Alone
Format: Currently available as a downloadable file at the http://solidgrey.bandcamp.com website.
Edition: unlimited download

Track Listing:
01. So Alone 8.31

Following the mini-interview with Hugin in the last post, a follow-up plea from W.A.R. Productions arrived at Castle Nazgul requesting that an addition be made to advertise the fact that the first downloadable Solid Grey track was now available via the http://solidgrey.bandcamp.com pages.

Nazgul thought he'd go one better that a simple addendum to the interview, however, and thus here is the first review of Solid Grey material (hmmm...that sounds a tad unpleasant written like that, but you know what I'd getting at) on Honour and Darkness.

The track in question is 'So Alone'. Recorded in Austria & Belgium in January/February 2010 it features lyrics by Bart Piette (of Dead Man's Hill) and music from both Mr Wieser and Bart. The track was mastered at Luftschutzkerker, Switzerland in May 2011 and should be included on the band's debut album "Pull The Strings Tighter", due for release around November 2011.

If you've not already rushed off to download your own copy to listen to, then let Uncle Nazgul tip you the wink here and now to say that this is very different to Hugin's other musical musings! Solid Grey encapsulate that magical time of the early-mid 1980's when Gothic rock (as opposed to Gothic metal a la Within Temptation, Tristania et al) ruled the airwaves. We're back in the heyday of bands such as The Mission, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Fields Of The Nephilim, when black coats and The Cure t-shirts ran rife on the streets of Europe and dead-pan vocals and 'moody' music whirled around your ears in a bat-winged vortex of despondency.

Now, depending on your age and musical inclinations this new direction is either a highly enjoyable trip back to 'the day', or a possibly baffling excursion into new territories hitherto unexplored. For Nazgul, himself a teenager in the heady days of the 80's, it's all rather good fun and wholly reminiscent of the scene at the time, which one imagines was the point of this particular collaboration: nothing that's likely to set the world on fire, but some good honest music in a genre whose embers still burn on and refuse to extinguish.

If this is a taster for the album to come then it would seem that we're in for a treat.

If you've not already rushed off to download your copy of this may I politely request that you do so, thus supporting another venture from our favourite Austrian (and Belgian!), and expand your musical universe just that little bit more.

I'm sure Bart and Alex won't mind Nazgul reproducing the lyrics to this track as they are already printed at the Bandcamp site, so here they are:

Never again they'll leave me here
Without windows to look outside
Trapped in a prison of flesh
Without windows to gaze outside
There's nothing I can do
I want to take a deep look
Into the inside of me
But all the doors are locked
The unavoidable loneliness comes up
which has nowhere to go
Totally trapped in myself
Trapped in eternal loneliness
This is the sound of solitude
the feeling that will never pass
trapped between the white walls
The soul is imprisoned, and forgotten

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wondering what Hugin's been up to...?


...then wonder no more!

Anyone with even a vague interest in Hugin's music cannot help but notice that it's been rather a quiet start to 2011, particularly when compared to the positive avalanche of releases that came our way throughout 2009 and 2010. The reasons for this are both complicated and personal, and this isn't really the place to consider them. One dark evening this the week, however, Nazgul and Hugin arranged for a quick catch-up (the fire beacons atop of Castle Nazgul proving to be surprisingly efficient at sending and receiving messages to and from the deep Austrian woods) for a straight-from-the-horse's-mouth run down of current activities at W.A.R, all purely for your edification as part of Honour and Darkness' most honoured readership.

Before we begin though, it appears that Hugin has added another string to his bow - literally! The photographic evidence shown here would indicate that 'Alex Longshanks' may well be a distant relative of Robin Hood and is, by all accounts, something of a crack shot. Local gossip suggests that more than once the spoils of victory in bow shooting competition have gone to our musical maestro. Co-incidentally, Nazgul happens to know that the 1st world match-crossbow championships were held in Linz in 1979, so from this we can glean that (1) it's clearly a region that is steeped in shooting tradition, and (2) is probably not the best place to practice your party-piece impersonation of wild animals...

But we digress, so let us drag ourselves back to the main theme of this interview...

Firstly, Hugin, welcome back to the pages of Honour and Darkness! It's been a while since we've had a 'formal' interview with you here, although your ongoing support and contributions are always very welcome of course! Have you a message for the ravenous hordes of Blog readers that follow your work?

Yes! Thank you all for your great support over all the past years - it's just so appreciated! When I started out 13 years ago with a simple Yamaha keyboard and recorded the first Hrossharsgrani tracks I never NEVER thought about such success or popularity! Thanks guys - you are AWESOME! By the way, I still use that Yamaha on some tracks!

So, straight onto the million dollar question for all of your fans - what is currently being planned and/or recorded in respect of what we might call your three 'main' projects: Uruk Hai, Hrefnesholt, and Hrossharsgrani?

I need to take a little time out still, but even so some stuff is ready for release [cue festivities in the Grand Hall of Castle Nazgul]. In a few weeks Uruk-Hai's "Emyn Muil" will be released at Steel Blazes Records [the hills of Emyn Muil upon either side of Nen Hithoel were a vast maze of impenetrable rocky crags in the region of Rhovanion in Middle-Earth]. Meanwhile, Hrefnesholt will be part of the new Allerseelen tribute CD, "Mit Fester Hand". There's nothing new from Hrossharsgrani yet...

All sounds promising, and let's not forget that the Tryby label has also just released the very limited Uruk-Hai box-set collection "Gorgoroth (The Land Of Darkness)" too! Time to break open those piggy banks once again. So then, let's cover some of your other projects: what's the position with B-Machina - last time we spoke Max was very busy with other work, are any new recordings likely?

Only yesterday I met with Max and we talked about many things, including B-Machina, so I think new stuff will be recorded someday too!

Excellent, send our regards to Max - and tell him he's long overdue for an interview himself !! And how is Solid Grey coming along, is anything forthcoming from this new project?

The debut album is already recorded and mastered (at Luftschutzkerker, Switzerland), and the title is "Pull The Strings Tighter". The cover has been finished too and is by Chris H. [and here it is for you to marvel at]. Now we need to start to search for a label. I think that it might be released nearer the end of 2011 - watch out!

On the subject of labels to release things on, how has the hunt for a label to release the Drachenfeuer album "The Realm Of The Light" been going?

Sadly there is no news here. We'd really like to release this double-album because we like it very much - I think its one of the most epic albums I have ever recorded!!!

I'd have to agree here, having been fortunate enough to hear an advance copy of this release. In fact, you can revisit the post for this item from 22 May 2010 to remind yourselves how brilliant this album is. So come on - does any one out there own, or have the ability to influence, a good quality record label to get this album released? Let's make something happen! Meanwhile, have you made any more recordings with Jim Kirkwood since the Drachenfeuer sessions?

Yes, together we've recorded just one more song for the upcoming "The One Ring" compilation CD, Volume II.

Let's now turn to another project that's been on ice for a while: Manwe. By my reckoning a new demo was due around 2010/11 but other than a few tracks on MySpace nothing has materialised yet - what's the position there?

Well, one more song has been finished, again for the second instalment of the "The One Ring" series. Slowly but surely progress is being made. I also talked with Padre Adamo recently and we discussed the future of Manwe - he had some really great ideas! Yeah - really GREAT!!!

Speaking of things being on ice (a cunning segue there!), what has been the feedback like for the first Eismond demo? Is a second demo likely?

I've had good, in fact very good, feedback. People like it! I'm at work on a debut album and am working together with the guy from Funeral Fornication - he was very inspired by the stuff I have already recorded for Eismond, so I think he will do a great job as he always does with his own project.

Well, despite the break there's clearly plenty going on! Are there any other plans for 2011 that you can share with us?

I have some tracks recorded for the Hugin project, just for fun, but maybe someday Wulfrune Worxx might like to release them on tape... In respect of W.A.R. Productions, hmmm... who knows! Maybe I will release the Solid Grey debut here, but I don't know yet!

Oh, one other thing I must ask you: some on-line sources (the usually reliable Metal Archives being one) currently list you as a live/session player for the band Walpurgi. News to Nazgul if so, is this true?!

Hihihi, no!! I did do an intro for one of his recordings, but I don't know much about what happened with it as I never saw the release :-) But I do like the music of Walpurgi very much!

Well, time being what it is and Hugin and Nazgul both having to be in two places at once, that's all the gossip for now. The seriously good news though, based on everything discussed here, is that - to paraphrase a Venom album title - we've clearly been in the calm before the storm: Hugin's back!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

STURMKLANG COMPILATION [V/A]




Band: URUK HAI
Title: Sturmklang Compilation
Format: Card-sleeved promotional CD from the Sturmklang label (Austria) with separate glossy inner card detailing track listing. This second card is stamped with the Steinklang Industries company logo on the reverse, next to which is a hand-written edition number. Both the sleeve and inlay are professionally printed in black and white. 2010 release, no catalogue reference.
Edition: 200 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Uruk Hai * ...Does Not Glitter 3.29
02. Orcrist * On The Wings Of Night 5.16
03. Vinterriket * Modranecht 6.34
04. Rauhnacht * Vorweltschweigen 6.45
05. Moonfrost * Ignorance 5.59
06. Death Temple * The Nightmare's Incursion 4.19
07. Golden Dawn * Return To Provenance (pre-master) 4.50
08. Woods Of Infinity * Worship Us (unreleased song from 1999) 8.15
09. Ekove Efrits * Faceless Moments (pre-master) 6.53
10. Natan * Volkskracht 15.01
11. Woodtemple * The Shields Light 7.42

Back in 2010 the Sturmklang label - the (Pagan) Black Metal division of Steinklang Industries - released their first label compilation, advertised by them as "featuring new and unreleased/upcoming tracks of Uruk-Hai, Orcrist, Vinterriket, Rauhnacht, Moonfrost, Death Temple, Golden Dawn, Woods of Infinity, Ekove Efrits, Natan and Woodtemple), free with every purchase of metal stuff from the Sturmklang shop." With only 200 copies identified in the edition (this copy being #83), one imagines that the great majority would have been given out over the first few weeks of this offer being made.

Many of the bands featured are familiar to Honour and Darkness through joint projects with Hugin: Orcrist, of course, have worked with Hugin before through various split demos, on Orcrist's own recent release "Fallen", and indeed have been interviewed in these very pages. Vinterriket is also a past interviewee, and a number of split demos and albums with Uruk Hai grace the library shelves within the castle. Golden Dawn have also recorded with Uruk Hai, this time on the extended "Gil-Galad" demo from 2010 that successfully managed to weave in their more gothic influences. Other bands here are exciting acquisitions to the Sturmklang label, not least the talented Woods of Infinity and one of Nazgul's personal favourites: Woodtemple.

Unusually for a compilation featuring an Uruk Hai song, Hugin's composition is the shortest of all on this disc. It's more normal to find a lengthy Uruk Hai song dominating proceedings, but in this case Hugin's contribution is soundly trounced in the duration stakes by all comers! Still, it's quality not quantity as Mrs Nazgul is wont to say, and in that respect '...Does Not Glitter' is a fine piece of ambient Middle Earth tinkling that hits the nail squarely on the head. Compared to the other offerings on this disc, it must be said that the light airy keyboard washes and ephemeral female vocals are in marked contrast to the blood and thunder approach of what might be called more traditional black metal compositions.

It's an interesting development of Uruk Hai's style over time that whilst early recordings might once have sounded aurally similar to other tracks on this compilation (say, for example, around the time of the "Darkness" demo) the current output of the band is far more evolved since those primordial, raw songs of yore. As Nazgul noted for another recently reviewed compilation featuring this most popular of Hugin's projects, this does make for a rather strange 'fit' when the songs are taken together as a whole. Quite what listeners new to Uruk Hai but used, for example, to the bludgeoning power of Moonfrost or Orcrist would make of '...Does Not Glitter' would be interesting to know. Probably not what they were expecting, would be the short answer....

I'm sure I hardly need to add that '...Does Not Glitter' features as track 8 on Uruk Hai's seminal "Black Blood, White Hand" album, which itself was the subject of a lengthy dual-post between Nazgul and Blog reader Lt back on 27 October 2010. Mention of said album reminds Nazgul that he'd promised to publish some previously unseen publicity photos relating to this release in a future post, so watch this space for something on those lines very soon.

Friday, 10 June 2011

URAUNGST




Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Uraungst
Format: Digipak CD in fold-out sleeve released on the Percht label (Austria) in 2010, cat ref Percht16. Housed in an outsize colour sleeve, this is a silver pressed CD and the first official album released by Hrefnesholt. The initial recordings of Uraungst took place in the Flusterwald (whispering forest) Studio in 2009, and the album was finally completed and mixed at Luftschutzkerker Studio by Cz of Vinterriket in autumn 2010.
Edition: unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Percht (Da Einbringa) 1.11
02. I Bin Da Woid 12.59
03. Hexnfeia 5.37
04. Hoamat 5.41
05. Wurzlmann 11.51
06. Unruahnocht 3.54
07. Fuchtelmandln 23.56
08. Dunklmoos 6.53
09. Stoana (Da Aussischmeissa) 1.00

Well, here's a first: a Hrefnesholt release that is actually available via the Amazon website. From humble self-released demo tapes and a sporadic recording history over numerous years, Hrefnesholt has hit mainstream commerical accessibility! Better news still when you realise that 'Uraungst' is far from typical Amazon fodder, and stays true to the re-invention of Alpine folk music that has re-energised this band over the last two years.

This particular release has seen unprecedented numbers of emails flooding the inbox at Castle Nazgul requesting Nazgul to get on with reviewing the CD as it's so awesome. Yes, both of the emails received were forthright in their view that this was an album worthy of hero status, and that a swift review should be the order of the day. So here without further ado, and mere months after those plaintive cries were received, is "Uraungst" in all of its glory.

Originally there was the "Uraungst (advance tape)" preview of this album on the Percht label, limited to a scant 27 copies. Despite Nazgul enthusing about it in his usual fervered fashion, it is only on release of this CD that the world at large now has a opportunity to hear the music created by Hrefnesholt and share the sense of awe and wonder at what unfurls in front of you. It is, simply put, a wonderful album. The style of music, nicely described on the ear-rational.com webpages, is nothing like anything else you've probably heard and defies categorisation:

"Going back to far away times, Hrefnesholt digs out long forgotten, ancient tales amongst the myths of the Upper Austrian forests. These legends of sinister and primal fears were too terrible to be retold and people wanted to forget them over the centuries. Now these ancient tales are finally being retold in "Uraungst", the newly released debut album of Hrefnesholt. Uraungst is a mixture of dark, organic Ambient, Folk, a slight Black Metal touch and spoken/sung lyrics and tales in Austrian dialect. Hrefnesholt is purest Doom Folk and incomparable with any other music style."

What the listener receives on purchase of their copy of this album are a number of songs present on the advance tape - 'Furchtelmandln', 'Dunklmoos', ' I bin da Woid' and 'Hexnfeia' - plus the 'Wurzlmann' song from the demo tape of the same name as well as four original compositions, albeit two brief intro and outro pieces. Owners of the original tape will be pleased to see that they retain exclusive access to two songs - 's' Perchtenzeit' and 'Kum Mit Mit Uns' - but that the additional material (and digital sound quality) makes this version a worthwhile purchase too.

And it's not just Nazgul and a few crazed Honour and Darkness readers who rate this album highly: there are - for once - a reasonable amount of online reviews for this release so a quick search of the Internet will provide you with some independent corroboration of the delights to be had within this release. Here are a couple of them, starting out with an abridged review from the German site alternativmusik.de:

"Sturmpercht has proven more than once that the Austrian Alpine landscape has many legends. Whilst Hrefnesholt moves in a similar theme, musically it goes in entirely different directions. To describe this style is very hard, for "Uraungst" is a mixture of so much: one finds elements of Metal, Dark Ambient and Folk and even passage that remind one of Stoner rock. The music designates itself as a "Doom Folk", and this concept could be the most appropriate yet.

At least, if one uses the "Doom" in the sense of Doom Metal based on the drawn-out, gloomy sound, for that is true in any case. One could call it Dark Ambient also perhaps, because the music is produced first and foremost as entirely atmospheric and is very well suited to generating mental imagery. This album takes you into deep enchanted forests, in which one sees the trees in the wind. In addition, in with the twittering of birds and the rustling of the wind one hears acoustic guitar and a Didgeridoo (!) being repeatedly used. In addition there is spoken language that is in Austrian dialect and is unfortunately not always really intelligible, but speaks as actual forest spirits.

As a reviewer, it is rare to get music that one so never heard before. Such is the case with Hrefnesholt andit offers a fantastic experience to the listener. In contrast to that the packaging is noticeably poor: A digipak-style packaging in a plastic cover in which the CD is not correctly held. But at least this does not affect the music..."

and following that with another from French language site obskuremag.net, who gave the album a score of 72% in their review:

"After a good number of cassettes, Uraungst appears as the true first album of Hrefnesholt. Pulling his inspiration of the Austrian forests and landscape, the music of the group is situated on the edge between doom, pagan folk and experimentation. Slow, monolithic, frozen, mysterious, the compositions need long expanses to unveil their poisonous beauty such as on 'I bin da woid' and 'Wurzlmann'. Guttural voices narrate in strange languages while meditative folk beauty is constantly disrupted by relentless metal - 'Hexnfeia' - acting almost as alternating verse/refrain. Put to rest the short introductions and conclusions, the seven other pieces take the time to offer all their charm. 'Fuchtelmandln' does not last less than twenty-four minutes and the disc stretches itself near to an hour and a quarter. Suddenly, the album can seem a little repetitive in the end, but notably the psychedelic doom-pop of the title 'Dunklmoos' reminds us that this is nevertheless an original exercise"

Quite honestly, if you're not already compulsively gripping your wallet in one hand and searching online with the other to buy a copy of this then you're either braindead, reading the wrong web-site or you own a copy already. It's basically that simple - it's not so much the eagle that has landed as it is Hrefnesholt that has arrived, and with this album has unleashed a monster of a concept that in a perfect world should threaten Uruk Hai's place as Hugin's most popular band. Yes, it really IS that good.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

ÜBER DAS PRINZIP DER UNSCHULD - update


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Über das Prinzip der Unschuld
Reason for update: Early narrative and lyrics (in German) intended for what would become Elisabetha's last album
Format: Colour A4 pages stapled beneath full colour cover, showing the classic Elisabetha line-up. This copy has been autographed by Hugin
Edition: Only 4 hand-numbered copies

Proposed Track Listing (showing author/date):
01. Einleitung (Des Lebens Süßer Saft) * Höllenfürst (07.02.2004)
02. Im Herbst Der Niemals War * Höllenfürst (04.10.2003)
03. Masturbation: Eden * Höllenfürst (25.02.2004)
04. Sakralis Erotika * Neon Ästhet (07.04.2004)
05. Folterqualen Der Inneren Hölle: Die Frau In Schwarz * Blutgraf (27.03.2004)
06. Blut * Höllenfürst (18.03.2004)
07. Nachruf Zu Lebzeiten (Blut Und Lust Sind Unzerstörbar) * Neon Ästhet (24.03.2004)
08. Des Prometheus Funke * Höllenfürst (26.03.2004)
09. Exorzismus * Höllenfürst (27.03.1004)
10. Ein Mittel Zum Zwecke? * Höllenfürst (27.03.2004)

Here's an interesting historical artefact from the now-defunct Elisabetha project, casting a new perspective onto their 2007 album "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld".

That particular release - covered in Honour and Darkness on 29 September 2009 - is to all intents and purposes a Hugin solo album recorded under the Elisabetha banner, taking the listener down entirely new avenues in terms of neoclassical keyboard compositions. None of the band's former 'radio play' heritage remained in the grooves of this particular album, nor did the trio of original members play on the album together. Since this 2007 release there has been little material released under the project name, save for old demos given a breath of life by Wulfrune Worxx ("Rehearsal 2001") and another older recording given a release, the Darkthrone inspired 'Transilvanischer Hunger' cover self-released in 2010. Further neoclassical musings have yet to see the light of day...

And so back to these few sheets of paper, originally printed in just 4 copies (this is #3) for Üwe (Blutgraf), Arnold (Neon Ästhet), and Höllenfürst (Hugin). For whom the original fourth copy was intended...remains a mystery! The papers contain various narrative connected to proposed songs for the album, presumably dating back to when this title was destined to be a full-and release. As detailed in the track listing above, the dates of these contributions range from 2003 to 2004 and the number of compositions listed were in excess of the final predominantly instrumental-only songs on the final release.

What would this album have sounded like using all of these lyrics and the original line-up? Well, unless any rough demos are kicking around W.A.R. Productions the answer is that we can speculate all we like but we'll never have the answer to that one. It's not impossible that such a scenario might exist, as Nazgul has in his possession a number of sampled pieces of dialogue and narrative spanning quite a few CDr discs that at one time or another have had connection to past Elisabetha work. However, given the use of limited narrative on "Über das Prinzip der Unschuld" by guest-narrator Seigor and the extensive use of samples on past Elisabetha recordings, it's pretty unlikely that the discs in Nazgul's possession would yield such treasure.

Interestingly, though, there is a track on the Bonemachine "Rehearsal 2002-2004" demo tape (reviewed on 26 November 2009) called 'Masturbation: Eden". Same title, right time frame, thus highly likely to be a genre spanning translation from one band to another under Hugin's mighty portfolio....

By the way, the photos used for this post - the signed title page, and contents sheet - are representative of the contents of this anthology, and to save on too many shots of plain white paper Nazgul has limited the illustrations to those two pictures alone. Should anyone like to have a full suite of photographs then drop me an email to the normal address and Nazgul will furnish you with a set.

In any event, an intriguing insight into part of this band's eventful history.

Friday, 3 June 2011

STAHLZEIT



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Stahlzeit
Format: CDr pressed demo self-released from W.A.R. Productions circa 2001 (no catalogue reference). The inlay tray is a fetching shade of blue, holding a plain silver CDr disc.
Edition: 11 copies only

Track Listing:
01. Schall & Rauch
02. Raserei

Now here's a disc that you don't see everyday. Uruk Hai fans will remember that way back in 2001 Hugin found himself in the CCP Records studios in Austria recording some tracks for what was destined to become the Bonemachine (later B-Machina) project. One of those tracks - 'Schall & Rauch' found its way onto a split 7" vinyl release with Grimthorn, and was published bearing the Uruk Hai logo in error. The story of this particular release can be found in the post for 8 May 2009.

What is less well known is that Hugin pressed up a small batch of CDr demos under the Uruk Hai name, featuring both that song and an as-yet unreleased second track 'Raserei' under the title "Stahlzeit", which is what we have here.

Hugin has annotated this copy (#1 of the 11) with the legend "before it turned into Bonemachine", and indeed the 'Raserei' track whilst unreleased here eventually found its way onto the Bonemachine demo tape "Zeit" (see Honour and Darkness 15 August 2009 for details).

Credited on the inlay booklet is one "R.K." for session guitar work, presumably being Hugin's friend Roland Konigstorfer who has also appeared on a number of other releases from Hugin's projects, including Hrossharsgrani's "Schattenkrieger" album.

An interesting period of Uruk Hai history this - we saw how at the turn of the Millennium the Hrossharsgrani war-machine spawned a side project that became Uruk Hai; now the history books would seem to add weight to the evidence that Uruk Hai begat Bonemachine at some point in the early 2000's. So at what point does Heimatleid fit into all of this, one might reasonably ask, as it is cited on the B-Machina MySpace pages as the precursor to that band despite the Heimatleid sound being far more associated with the pummeling barrage of Hrossharsgrani? Clearly a melting pot of ideas were running around the brain of Mr Wieser around this time (and currently too, judging by the ever-flowing creative juices).

The two tracks here, incidentally, are both excellent industrial/martial songs and really are well worth tracking down if you can through the Bonemachine back catalogue.

To end, a photo from inside the inlay for this release wherein lies the edition number from Hugin's own hand.

MELANCHOLIE EINES HERBSTES IN DREI AKTEN - update




Band: URUK HAI
Title: Melancholie Eines Herbstes In Drei Akten
Reason for update: alternative format for this 2004 split release
Format: Same compilation CDr but in first edition pressing of DVD sized case with printed inlays and labelled CDr disc.
Edition: unlimited

Track Listing:
Svarrogh
01. Samota
02. Slunce Moe, Kum Tebe E Moyata Molitva
Uruk Hai
03. Nebelland 03:33
04. Barbarians 04:15
05. Hügel der Tränen 03:16
06. Mit dem Schwerte 04:01
07. Sagenreich 03:00
08. Tyrannentod 10:34
Rubixx! Project
09. So Many Tears (instrumental
10. Angel & Demons
11. Archetypal (instrumental)
12. Perceiving Subject
13. D.I.V. (dem Irdischen Verfallen)
14. Flowing Tears (instrumental Outro)
Uruk Hai (with Arkillery)
15. Minas Morgul 04:50

Mention of Dimo Dimov in the last B-Machina post put Nazgul in mind of this CDr, which has been nestling in the Castle library for quite some time now but for one reason or other has never led to an update of the original post of 9 May 2009 covering this 3-way split between Uruk Hai, Svarrogh and Rubixx!Project.

Given that original review was over two years ago (how time flies) it seems like a timely moment to take stock of this particular release in this revised format. The first thing to note is how much better the DVD case format suits the album. Nazgul's original copy of the CDr in standard jewel-case has a decidedly d-i-y feel to it, exemplified by the hand-written stickers that adorn the sides of the jewel-case to identify the album title. Nothing wrong with that, but compared to the properly printed inlays and inside contents sticker of this bigger version, together with a properly finished disc, you can't help but be impressed by the latter edition.

This was, if Nazgul's recollection of what Hugin told him holds true, the work of Svarrogh's Dimo Dimov himself, and although an unlimited number of copies in this format were produced they are still impossible to find! Therein lies one of the underlying snags with this release, actually, in that the Uruk Hai compositions are some of the best of this period (circa 2004) that the band recorded. That the vast majority of the songs are unique to this release, which is so obscure as to be totally impossible to find no matter what format you're looking for, is a crying shame. If ever an enterprising label wanted to put out a quality Uruk Hai EP then they could do far, far worse than securing a deal with Hugin to use this material, as it really should have a wider audience amongst his faithful fan-base.

Some additional information has come to light about the third band on this split, the enigmatic Rubixx!Project. Since the 2009 review the band seem to have developed something of a web presence, and have their own MySpace page now. The overall theme for this German group seems to be one of a fusion of ambient sensibilities with Gothic overtures, through a keyboard driven sound. They have a couple of releases out in their own name now too, so if that sounds like your thing then worth checking out. Svarrogh are still plugging away too, with their last release being the "South European Folk Compendium" of 2009. Nazgul also came across a Spanish review of this demo at www.extremeambient.net dating from 2007 that he'd missed first time around, which might be worth a glance too.

Sadly, for the reasons outlined above, you're no more likely to find a copy of this demo than before without some pretty diligent searching and a hefty slice of luck. In more years of combing the internet for Hugin's material than I care to remember, Nazgul has still only come across the original jewel-cased version of this release on open sale. This alternate version was totally unknown to me until Hugin kindly made it available out of the blue.