Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Infernal War zine #12

Band: URUK HAI
Item of interest: Infernal War zine #12 (2010) featuring Uruk Hai song on compilation CD.

Track Listing:
01. Artep * Eye of the Srpent 5.42
02. Astral Silence * HydrA 8.37
03. Uruk Hai * Durin's Hall (unmastered version) 8.13
04. Black Altar * The Void 5.47
05. Pestis * Lost in the Width of the Eternal Ice 4.00
06. Atritas * Blasphemic Madness 5.52
07. Profanus Nathrakh * Rigor Infinitatis Mors 6.24
08. Mal Etre * Son Ame Saigne 9.25
09. Leere * The Mystical Gate to Oblivion 8.25
10. Goatfukk * Kvltsatte 5.26
11. Atrium Noctis * In Memoriam Moriendi 7.20

Coverage of any of Hugin's projects in the printed media is pretty uncommon in Nazgul's experience, so it's with some pleasure that this copy of the German(?) metal zine Infernal War #12 came across my desk in Castle Nazgul, complete with sampler disc featuring Uruk Hai.

The song in question is "Durin's Halls", which features on the very first Uruk Hai demo from way back when in 1999. More recently - 2010 to be exact - Hugin has re-mastered this original demo and re-released it on both tape and CD as "In Durin's Halls (Return To The Mines Of Moria)". You, as a loyal and stalwart reader of this Blog, will be well aware that we have yet to cover that particular release in these pages. This sampler therefore acts as a suitable lead-in to that particular review, which Nazgul really ought to get on with.

Now, in truth it's been a fair while the "In Durin's Halls" tape has been given a whirl on the Castle death-deck. Nazgul's recollection of the demo in question was that it made a clear statement of intent to differentiate itself from the Hrossharsgrani demos of the same period by being a largely ambient and ultimately gentle canter through mystic rhythms and eldrich legend associated with Middle-Earth.

This new version of the title track - albeit in un-mastered format - starts off precisely in that sort of instrumental vein, but before long there is an attack of what can only be deemed 'aggressive vocals" from Hugin that gives the listener quite the wake-up call. It's certainly a different take on what I recall from the original piece, but whether that's a function of the updated recording technology or a different take on the song remains to be seen: perhaps, in truth, Nazgul's increasing age and senility is clouding his memory of the original song.

Hmmm - methinks a revist to the original demo tape is called for, followed by a more detailed consideration of the re-mastered version of this release. Watch this space!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Darkness box-set: media card-disc


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Darkness media card-disc (only found in the Darkness I-V box-set)
Format: Blue card-shaped mini-disc contained in a black envelope, sealed with an Uruk Hai sticker. The disc comes with a white paper 'inlay' describing the contents - 3 wallpaper designs, and a video clip for 'Darkness'.
Edition: Only in the Darkness I-V box-set (5 copies)

Contents:
3 x Uruk Hai computer wallpaper designs
1 x Darkness video clip 2010 [2.04]

Resuming our occasional and ad hoc trawl through the epic Darkness box-set, this small disc contains some rather splendid wallpaper designs for Uruk Hai fans and so Nazgul thought he'd share the pictures with you here so you can see what you're missing!

First up is a design based on the Eye of Sauron, ablaze in all of its glory in the illustration below. Throughout The Lord of the Rings 'the Eye' (aka the Red Eye, the Evil Eye, the Lidless Eye, the Great Eye) is the image most often associated with Sauron. Sauron's Orcs bore the symbol of the Eye on their helmets and shields, and referred to him as the 'Eye' because he did not allow his name to be written or spoken, according to Aragorn. Also, the Lord of the Nazgûl threatened Éowyn with torture before the 'Lidless Eye' at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (honestly, the things I do in my spare time).

In the Mirror of Galadriel, Frodo had an actual vision of this Eye: "The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."

The second design is one that will be familar to those of you who've bought the remastered CD version of "In Durin's Halls (Return To The Mines Of Moria)", as the panoramic mountainous expanse depicted is the same as used on the cover of that album. In Nazgul's view you'd have to go a long way to beat the silent majesty of a mountain landscape like this one, and this single image manages to visually capture the sense of grandeur and wonder contained in the epic sounds unleashed on that particular album.

The final wallpaper design shows the unusal artwork for another Uruk Hai box-set, this time that of "Angband". It's an interesting mixture of brilliant colour amidst a predominantly grey-tone landscape, with ghostly ring-wraiths and mysterious machined cogs floated high in the background. Are they part of the inner workings of the sinister iron fortress of Melkor itself...?


The video track on this disc is a smidge over two minutes in duration, and to the edited tones of Hugin's ambience one witnesses a stange video: a distant blurred spotlight weaves and bobs around amidst a predominantly black field of view, with white circular patterns forming to the left and white of the screen. Doubtless terribly metaphorical of a journey through Darkness to light, or something equally cunning...

As an addition to the Darkness box-set, a great comendium of miscellanous Uruk Hai goodness!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

BATTLE OF THE SOUTHERN FLAME



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Battle Of The Southern Flame
Format: Cassette release on the Hosts Of Darkness label , run by Grav of Italian black metal horde Orcrist. A 2010 release, catalogue reference HOD002, with glossy colour double-sided inlay.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition limited to 33 copies

Track Listing:
01. Battle Of The Southern Flame 13.43
02. Piano Suite (Conan soundtrack cover) 5.48

You may distantly recall that on 15 January 2011 Nazgul reviewed the four-way split tape release featuring Errako/Morgvir/Nihiubtrath/Uruk Hai. On this particular split tape Uruk Hai contributed this very 'Battle of the Southern Flame' song. At the time of that earlier review, Nazgul was not over enthusiastic about this particular Uruk Hai recording. Given a few months to revisit and to re-listen to the piece, however, it's fair to say that the original review was a little hard on the song, so here is an excellent opportunity to put the record (tape?) straight.

It's something of an epic song, and kicks off with a segment not unlike an orchestra tuning up. Thereafter, there is all the usual lush Uruk Hai/Hugin orchestration and plenty to enjoy as the vibes of an epic journey into fabled realms wash over you. At the time of the original review Nazgul wondered if he was judging the song unfairly against the other bash-it-and-run contenders, and in retrospect I think this may be part of the problem. This particular Host of Darkness demo tape gives a proper context to the song, complete with one of the very few inlays to show Hugin in person, and on a blustery wet day as it is here at Castle Nazgul this afternoon one can't help but to warm to this song anew.

As a bonus, this short tape features a second song: Hugin's piano vesion of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack (original film score, not the new version from the remade 2011 film). At nearly 6 minutes in length it's far more than a cheap throwaway cover song, and in fact forms part of a entirely separate 4 song Uruk Hai demo tape "The Barbarian" on Wulfrune Worxx that was released as a tribute to the musician who crafted the Conan score, Basil Poledouris. That's another interesting release that Nazgul will be covering soon on these very pages.

With history now adjusted to give this song a fair trial, it's playing once again here in the vaulted Castle halls as I type as a reminder that even Nazgul doesn't get it right first time, every time. What a strange world we live in, to be sure...

S.T.R.A.N.G.E.


Band: ILL
Title: s.t.r.a.n.g.e.
Format: A cassette-only release (Nazgul presumes) released through the Smell The Stench label (Australia), date unknown, no catalogue reference. The tape comes with a blue photocopied inlay and is in a standard commercial C60 style.
Edition: Limited to 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Side 1
01. s.t.r.a.n.g.e #1 29.32
Side 2
02. s.t.r.a.n.g.e #2 29.39

Well, the consensus from the recently ended poll here on Honour and Darkness was that you were super-keen to get to grips with an old - yet mysterious and previously unknown - project of our favourite son of Austria. Who could blame you?

And yes, Hugin's only gone and done it again - just when you thought that there couldn't possibly be any more unheard of past projects lurking in the shadows, he re-discovers this one out of goodness knows where! It's old, it's evidently been absent without leave over the years, but now it's back ... and it demands your attention: this is "s.t.r.a.n.g.e." from recently the re-discovered and short-lived project, ILL.

Hugin takes all the credit for unearthing this one (from a dusty archive in the cellars of W.A.R. one has to assume) as the world at large - with the possible exception of Leigh Stench at the STS label - has missed this one completely, and even Hugin himself seemed to have forgotten all about the existence of this ILL demo until recently!

Such bizarre circumstances seem to add to the growing body of evidence that suggests that Hugin must actually have the ability to create and record demos whilst asleep, thus his conscious being isn't always fully aware of the somnambulistic activities of his other self until their musical paths inadvertantly cross in chance encounters...

You don't need old uncle Nazgul to tell you that nothing exists on the internet about this release: of course it doesn't, apart from being listed on the STS web-site under the 'sold-out' section of older releases. Amusingly enough, though, type into the UK version of Google the words 'ILL' and 's.t.r.a.n.g.e.' and the first link considers whether the strange bowel movements of one poor unfortunate may constitute a serious illness: very appropriate for a release on the Smell The Stench label, methinks...

The cover art of this release (Nazgul's copy being #3 of the 22) is a rather strange depiction in its own right, and quite honestly it's difficult to see quite what's going on here. It could conceivably be a monster/animal/thing falling upon (devouring?) a human victim, as a large pair of feet seem to be sticking out to the far right of the image with something large and menacing on top of the rest of the body. Frankly though, Nazgul's not sure what's going on here...

...Which also may be an appropriate link to the music! ILL are described inside the inlay as 'postnuclearhumandeathnoize', so we are all about to enter on a voyage of discovery here as Nazgul has yet to crank up this tape (received only this week from Hugin, with no additional information) on the Castle death-deck. This really is unexplored territory. Based on this description one might presume it's going to be more in the weird and wacky vein of a Bonemachine or a WACH song than it is likely to present the harmonious natures of an Uruk Hai song, or battle-crazed savagery of a Hrossharsgrani demo. However, we shall see.

And what's with the title of this demo? Is it, in fact, a cunning acronym or merely the word 'strange' with dots between the letters? Perhaps, in fact, the title might stand for 'Sundry Taped Rubbish And Nazgul Gets Enthused' or even 'Surreal Transcendent Recordings Are Not General Entertainment'?! It's so mysterious it's impossible to know.

Onwards and ever upwards, however: let's hit that play button and see what emerges from the speakers... And the answer is - early industrial musings that wouldn't seen out of place under the Bonemachine banner. Side 1 is a lengthy and repetitive set of poundings, hammerings and general industrial/machine-derived noise (with the odd burst of female 'voals') that thrusts the listener into being the witness to the death throes of an inanimate metal monster. Side 2, conversely, whilst starting off with a noise that sounds horribly like the sucking of brains out of a skull, develops into a rather cool sci-fi/spacey influenced track that would sit very nicely on the Bonemachine discography circa the online "Extraterrestrial Death" recordings.

Nazgul was rather taken with 's.t.r.a.n.g.e. #2' and when the time finally arrives that an Honour and Darkness compendium album appears to celebrate some of the more obscure elements of Hugin's output, this song will feature.

When pressed on the subject of the ILL project by your intrepid scribe, Hugin's comment on all of this was, "with ILL I wanted to do something noisy but still atmospheric - it was just this 1 release only, I never wanted to do more with ILL :-)"

Although lost to history, it's actually quite an interesting release: Although it exists as a short-lived project in its own right, this tape links the sounds of a very early Bonemachine project to some of the middle-period output of the band around the "ET Death" release as previous mentioned, and as such shows some of the developmental thinking on Hugin's part as his concept of industrial/noise output developed. All good stuff.

Somewhere it has to be imagined that the other 21 copies of this demo must exist (either that, or there's a box of them in Australia waiting to be sold), so if by any remote chance anyone reading this Blog out there in the big, wide world has one then Nazgul suggests you dig it out, dust it off, and see what you make of it.

Friday, 8 July 2011

ABSINTHE - update


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Absinthe (Oder Das Andere Licht Der Wahrheit)
Reason for update: A closer look at the unusual packaging of this album...

Perhaps one of the more unusual updates we've had on Honour and Darkness it's true, but the lack of new B-Machina items to review means that desperate times have led to desperate measures being taken!

This B-Machina/Kreuzer split release was a tribute to Georg Trakl who, as we now know following the original review of this album on 10 April 2010, was an Austrian poet and is considered one of the most important Austrian Expressionists. He was born in Salzburg in 1887 and died on 3 November 1914 at a military hospital in Kraków, Poland. At the beginning of World War I, Trakl had been sent as a medical official to attend soldiers in Galicia (comprising portions of modern-day Ukraine and Poland).

Trakl suffered frequent bouts of melancholia. During one such incident in Gródek, Trakl had to steward the recovery of some ninety soldiers wounded in the fierce campaign against the Russians. He tried to shoot himself from the strain, but his comrades prevented him. Hospitalized at a military hospital in Cracow and observed closely, Trakl lapsed into worse melancholia and wrote to friends for advise, but died of a cocaine overdose before they could come to assist him.

Trakl wrote both poetry and prose, and his work includes Gedichte (Poems, 1913), Sebastian im Traum (Sebastian in the Dream, poetry, 1915), Der Herbst des Einsamen (The Autumn of The Lonely, 1920) and Gesang des Abgeschiedenen (Song of The Departed, 1933).

A page of one collection of Trakl's work adorns the outer jewel case of each of the 50 copies of this CD released through Beverina & WAR. Nazgul was privileged to receive his copy wrapped in the colour cover of the book, as opposed to a black and white printed page, and this is shown in the accompanying photograph. Some time ago Hugin included the remnants of the actual volume from which the pages had been taken in a supply parcel from WAR to Castle Nazgul, hence the reason why you are being treated to the sight of a seriously mangled paperback!

Another innovation in CD packaging from the wilds of Austria, and a nice addition to the other weird and wonderful Bonemachine/B-Machina tape and CD packaging that we've enjoyed over the years. It's an odd thing to have a half destroyed book in the middle of a collection of pristine items, but think of it as evidence of the hand and creative genius of Hugin at work!

That's pretty much all there is to say on the subject, really, so let's end with a totally random piece of trivia: did you know that an anagram combining the words 'B-Machina' and 'Georg Trakl' makes the phrase 'Blackheart or Gaming'? Sounds like the title of an album from a dodgy hair metal band from the early 80's...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

MUSIC FOR THE RISING SUN [V/A]

Band: Ceremony Of Innocence
Title:
Music For The Rising Sun [V/A]
Format: Digital download album created in 2011 and in 7 parts, available via http://mftrs.bandcamp.com. This compilation is designed to raise funds for the relief programme in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and has been co-ordinated by Aaron Russell of Impurfekt.
Edition: Available in unlimited download

Track Listing:
Part I
01. Rarefaction - For Ophelia and the Silent Sea 02:05
02. Marching Mind - Mission 03:23
03. Red This Ever - Only Survivor 04:22
04. The Oedipus Complex - Descend the Ascent 05:06
05. Anti-m - Deep 05:21
06. Fantome - Emerald Coast 04:27
07. Esoteric Sob (featuring Cellar Door) - Little Moments 04:55
08. Mezzamo - My Spaceship 04:17
09. Dudley Ghost - White Cherry 05:23
10. Cybo - Aqueous 03:18
11. Paula - The World Stands with You Now 05:43
Part II
01. Apparent Symmetry - Control Theory (r.roo Remix) 04:19
02. Fluxussyndrom - The Telling of Aikenn Drum 03:39
03. grauraum - Out of Ashes 05:39
04. ArcRunner - Umi 04:22
05. Nameless City - The Past 05:34
06. The Ghost of 3.13 - Overcome 03:59
07. r.roo - Birds 05:45
08. New Army - Kyoto Majestic 04:54
09. Pandora's Black Book - Burrowers 05:28
10. Miktek - Cracks on the Surface 05:44
Part III
01. Phantoms of the SS - The Persistent Heartbeat 04:40
02. Proyecto Alienoxir - The Rising Sun Nation 04:41
03. The Seventh Necronation - With this Life 04:45
04. Roughhausen - Voltage Control 05:41
05. First Aid 4 Souls - exJESUSnow (The Game) 04:34
06. R.I.P. - Temporary Evacuation (Ad Inferna Remix) 04:55
07. Systemshock - (I Take) The Sun 04:50
08. The Alacrity - Smoke and Mirrors (Alacrity Mix) 04:19
09. Dead Frail Honesty - Grasping for Air 05:36
10. LPF12 - For All That's Been Achieved 05:24
Part IV
01. A Bleeding Star - From the Depths of Orient's Ashes... 03:48
02. Access to Arasaka - Ninsei 04:21
03. Counterfiet i - Ikeru 04:31
04. Spunx - Where are You Atsuko 03:06
05. Schlafstoerung - Human 05:02
06. Scapegoat - Kaiju (The Demons Return Once More) 05:25
07. Verney 1826 - Sunrise 04:05
08. iN sCissorS - Adjoined Twins 06:33
09. Lisa Hammer - The Saddest Day of All 04:40
10. djozr - Dawn (White Day) 06:57
Part V
01. Nux Vomica - As I Searched for Answers 06:03
02. Starchasm and Protea - The Bardo of the Experiencing of Reality 04:42
03. XSRY with Kenji Siratori - Angel Mechanism 02:55
04. The Craft - Dark Angels 02:33
05. Gary Flanagan - A Train Passes by Mount Fuji 04:03
06. e-gens - I Can Touch the Sun 04:38
07. Eric Hausmann - Kimigayo 02:00
08. Tears of Nature - Scars of Gaia 05:59
09. Louis Guidone - Soaring Spirits 05:45
10. Chris Givens - Earth Changes 05:45
Part VI
01. 1 Phantom - The Skyline from Kyoto 06:51
02. Galati - Feels Like I'm Breaking Up Inside 05:21
03. Botham - Journey 05:25
04. A Fallen Mind - Illuminate 05:18
05. Johnny S. Pizano - 4 Japan 01:57
06. Rebischung - Aquatica Lucis 05:21
07. Testube - Mitate 04:06
08. Union of Intentions - Forever Japan 03:27
09. soundedit - mntjnt 03:52
10. Ceremony Of Innocence - Japanese Morning 09:55
Part VII
01. Kimber Bennet - Everything Will Be Okay 05:00
02. Geodesic - Denki 03:08
03. Biel Oliver - Villa Lilian 05:47
04. impurfekt - For the Rising Sun 06:01
05. Levkoy - Straight Off 04:33
06. United Gods - S.G.G. 0102 03:42
07. Heart of Thorns - Yin-Yang II 04:32
08. Wolfskill - Pinprick Melodies 02:20
09. Automating - Unideation 04:55
10. Josef Nadek - Meltdown 05:48


Were you to cross the drawbridge of Castle Nazgul and negotiate yourself past the portcullis and other outer defenses, you would emerge into a central cobbled courtyard, in the far left of which is a small wooden door at the foot of a lofty spire, draped in variegated ivy and scarred from sieges long since past. Enter through this door and proceed up the spiral stone staircase and you will emerge onto a landing where a small, hunched figure sits on the floor, blue in the face and distressed in appearance. The reason for this sight - this sad figure is the COI fan who has been holding his breath since the release of the band's "Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee" album back in 2008 (see post for 24 June 2009), waiting all this time for that elusive second album...

Yes, it's been an awfully long wait for any new COI product. However, the presence of a track on this enormous compilation (which manages to put even the recently reviewed 46-song SkullLine 5th Anniversary release in the shade) gives some sustenance to an audience suffering from a severe drought of available material. But before we get to the song, let's consider what this project is all about.

Some context: four months on and relief efforts are still underway in the wake of the 11 March earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Beginning his efforts on the day of the disaster, Aaron Russell of Impurfekt spearheaded work on a charitable compilation entitled "Music For The Rising Sun" with 100% of profits going to fund Red Cross efforts in Japan. Impurfekt, an American project on the Shinto Records label, is described on www.impurfekt.com as "dark electronic music ... most influenced by artists such as Velvet Acid Christ, In Strict Confidence, [:SITD:], Massive Attack, Enigma, The Future Sound of London and composers Michael Kamen and Akira Yamaoka."

Featuring over 90 different acts from the Electro-Experimental, Gothic Rock, EBM & Neo-Classical genres, "Music For The Rising Sun" is chock full of brand new tracks, recorded exclusively for this release. Another different element to this compilation is that it is planned to be serialised in IX parts, each being released on a weekly basis, keeping the ball rolling and the relief effort constantly in the public eye. So far we're up to Part VII, so there's still more to come although at this time Nazgul believes there will not be any more Hugin-related material on the remaining parts. Apparently the original plan had been to enlist enough bands to make a double-CD release of material, but the sheer number and quality of compositions sent into Aaron led to this novel approach being taken.

Speaking on the Shinto Records website Aaron Russell said, "At its heart, Music for the Rising Sun is an international community effort. Musicians from around the globe have donated time, passion and inspiration for the benefit of Japan. It is our sincere desire that our music will inspire others to give to those in need. We also wish for the people of Japan to feel our compassion and support during this unimaginable trial."

Thus what we have here is an immensely worthy cause that you can visit via the BandCamp link and purchase each part for whatever you feel is a fair price to pay. You can actually donate once and then download anything between just one and all parts of the available music, so there really is no excuse not to dig deep and have a look around this site as all funds received will be transferred to the American Red Cross for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami effort.

Now, let's have a listen to the COI track itself, called 'Japanese Morning' (note the cunning play on words, fitting of former Skyclad vocalist Martin Walkyier). The first thing that is evident is that this sounds very little - save for one section right at the end - like the Ceremony Of Innocence we've been used to in the past (cue sound of blue-faced man in tower crumpling to the floor in disbelief). Instead, the sombre tones and melodies, together with some 'clean' if dead-pan vocals from Hugin, give the piece a fitting timbre that is almost gothic in nature at times. In fact, it sounds not dissimilar to Solid Grey, which perhaps is a reflection of the state of mind Hugin was in whilst recording this track.

Following an almost dirge-like bass introduction, a light yet sad-sounding melody of keyboards and an early vocal appearance from Hugin, we're off and running! As the song develops there's an unexpected but most welcome appearance from an electric guitar, amidst the more normal mixture of synthesised drums and keyboards that weave a sonic tapestry around the lyrics. There's a lot going on here, and whilst the song might take a few listens become familiar, you can't doubt the effort it must have taken to pull it all together.

The lyrics from the song are reproduced below, and show insight into the emotional and traumatic issues going on in Japan at the time, whilst reflecting on a personal state of 'emotional meltdown' as a apt metaphor into Hugin's own feelings.

I’ve got up with a certain premonition
And felt the world is so much different today
I switched the TV on and realized
A global - a global disaster is underway

Although they keep telling you
The situation is in hand in the power stations over there
Millions of people run for shelter
And I can’t do anything but sit and stare

So I can feel
My next emotional meltdown is approaching …
I try to contact you by all means of communication

But eventually all lines to - lines to Tokyo are dead
I do remember those happy days we spent together
There is no moment that I do regret

So I can feel
My next emotional meltdown is approaching …

This state of uncertainty drives me crazy
More and more and more I try to make believe
That you are – that you are still alive
But there is no sign from you that I so desperately seek
So I can feel

My next emotional meltdown is approaching …

I know my security system is about to fail
I try to keep - to keep the pressure low
I’m so afraid – afraid of losing you
There is no way to keep me in the flow
My next emotional meltdown is approaching...

Ultimately it's a cause well worth supporting, and gives the splendid opportunity to investigate a host of new music at whatever cost you feel is a fair one to pay. Go on - make a difference.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

URUK HAI / FUNERAL FORNICATION split - update


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Uruk Hai / Funeral Fornication split
Format: Cassette release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) from 2011, cat ref WW199. As usual with WW releases, there is a standard format C60 style tape contained within a copied black and white inlay. The cover features different artwork to the CD version released in 2010.
Edition: Hand-numbered in an edition of 100 copies

Track Listing:
Uruk-Hai
01. Orcish Battle Hymn (Introduction) 01:36
02. March to War 12:31
03. Death is Just Another Path... 08:01
04. Cirith Ungol (edited version featuring Pr. Sergiy of Moloch) 11:39

Funeral Fornication
05. The Weeping Tree 05:42
06. Stargates Eternal Beheld My Nightmares 06:45
07. Chamber Below the Abyss 05:35
08. The Keep (Solstice cover) / Obsidian Tarn 07:50

It was only a short while ago - 17 April 2011 to be precise - that Nazgul covered the split CD release between these two bands issued on Hypnotic Dirge Records: the meeting of the depressive black metal of Funeral Fornication of British Columbia, Canada and the dulcet tones of our very own Hugin of Linz, Austria. As such, there's little to add to the description of the musical content of this split release save that the Uruk Hai stuff really is worth treating your ears to should you not already have heard it.

The mighty 'March To War' rumbles along like a invasion of the infidel whilst 'Death Is Just Another Path' is a magical mystery tour through Tolkien's deepest terrains. 'Cirith Ungol' is represented in very truncated form, and this song will be covered in more detail when Nazgul finally gets around to collating the myriad of versions on CD and tape that he has of this particular track - it's apparently becoming as ubiquitous in 2011 as 'Gil-Galad' was in 2010...!?

Unusually, the tape version of this split has been issued after the CD pressing: in recent times, for the majority of Hugin's releases coming in multiple format, the demo versions tend to come first on tape followed by a CD or CDr release with the final versions of the songs. Bucking the trend and being ever unpredictable, this reversal of the pattern puts 100 tapes out into the world (Nazgul's copy is #52) presumably in order to sate the collector's frenzy of Huginophiles everywhere, some of whom may have missed out on the CD pressing. And why not - there's a certain old school charm about the tape format, and it creates an opportunity to create a new piece of design for the cover for us to enjoy!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

5 JAHRE SKULLLINE [V/A]



Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: 5 Jahre SkullLine / 5th Anniversary SkullLine [V/A]
Format: DVD released on the SkullLine label (Germany) in 2010, cat ref DVDR100-10. The release celebrates the fifth anniversary of the label and compiles 46 audio tracks onto a DVD disc, housed in a slimline DVD size case. There is a more limited edition steel-box version that comes with additional goodies (sticker, pin, shirt, etc) along with a 100 track USB containing rare demos/songs.
Edition: Standard edition limited to 100 hand-numbered copies. The steel case edition is limited to just 50 numbered copies.

Track Listing:

SECTION 1. FOLK - MILITARY POP
01. Angry Young Formation - Masters Of Silence
02. Argheid - Innocent Eyes
03. Barbarossa Umtrunk feat. Schattenspiel - Vive le Quebec Libre
04. Droefheid - Alarm
05. Durch Herr und Kraft - Câteau de Trianon (French pre-version)
06. Gabe-Unruh - Heimat Guben
07. Heiliges Licht - Am Ende des Tages...
08. Hrefnesholt - Hexnfeia
09. Hybryds - Never trust an Angel (Vocal Mix)
10. In Scherben - Sachsenland
11. J Orphic - Scisma
12. Kazeria [KZ] - Marching Solstice
13. L'Effet C'Est Moi - Rite Nacht
14. Primeval Existence - Roar of the Warchiefs
15. Rose Rovin E Amanti - My Blacky Europa (early demo version)
16. Shattered Hand - Dreaming of Prypiat
17. Sinweldi - Jeunesse Nationaliste Révolutionnaire
18. Stormfagl - Ve er!
19. Strydwolf - Frii Es De Estsang (Mantra)
20. Truart - Panzertanz (Tribunal version)
21. Zr19.84 - Beautiful Lies

SECTION 2. INDUSTRIAL - AMBIENT
22. Nocturne - Un Dimanche dans la Gorge (avec Jule à la guitare)
23. Svart1 - Display of Hate
24. Area Bombardment - Baile Átha Cliath 1916
25. Bleiburg - Concept of Reality
26. Brandkommando - Cops
27. Camisole - Clitoridian Temple
28. Disciplina Urbana - Industrias Tóxicas
29. Eldar - Silence in the Wind
30. Electric Uranus - 3min
31. Erntegang - Parker Barrow Memorial
32. Escuadron de la muerte - Cruz de Hierro
33. Forests And Communism - Raindrops
34. Founiersches Gangraen - Total War
35. Front Sonore - Skeleton Dance
36. Grabstein - V2(44)
37. Irikarah - I will
38. Kaelteeinbruch - Grey Ships
39. Kenji Siratori - Ground Scream
40. Kristus Kut - Disco Fever
41. Life's Decay - Feythium
42. Nuevo Ideal Nacional - Hvetramannaland
43. Siege - A Honorable End
44. Zyankali - Gefahr im Verzug
45. Melek-tha - 8,42 Good
46. Ierophania - Ritual of Rising Child

Celebrating the 5th anniversary of the German SkullLine label (www.skullline.de) is the reason for the existence of this monster of a compilation album featuring a raft of songs from bands associated with, or released through, the label. It's a mighty affair too, cramming the artists on thick and fast in two 'sections', the first covering Folk and Military Pop, the second Industrial and Ambient sounds. The reason for this release coming onto the Honour and Darkness radar comes from the Hrefnesholt song located at track 8 of the first part (firmly in the 'Folk' section).

As a passing thought, it seems strange that the label hasn't seen fit to include a B-Machina track on the Industrial or Military Pop sections of the release. This is especially so when Kaelteeinbruch are represented with the same 'Grey Ships' song that was on their split release with B-Machina marketed through SkullLine only recently (see Blog of 19 June 2010)? Ah well, beggars can't be choosers, and the presence of just one of Hugin's many projects still makes this a note-worthy release for us to consider here.

Surprisingly there is very little review of this release online, which is strange given the 'usual suspects' (Heathen Harvest, et al) who positively revel in this type of thing. Unsurprisingly, Nazgul is not going to wade through 46 separate songs to give you his informed view on all of them as - quite frankly - there's not enough time or available willpower to face up to that particular task. Instead, let me just note that the majority of bands on this album are unknown to me although a few familiar names loom up out of the track-listing: notably the aforementioned Kaelteeinbruch, Kenji Sirotori and Rose Rovin E Amanti from their past collaborations with Bonemachine/B-Machina, along with one or two others that ring a vague bell from reading reviews of other compilations.

The Hrefnesholt track 'Hexnfeia' is a song familiar to Hugin fans already from the 'Uraungst' CD and advance tape releases, and fares well in this setting as an interesting introduction to the band. That's rather the point of these sorts of compilations of course, and spending some quality time with a release like this should enable a casual listener to find a few projects that hit the spot and avoid others that are most definitely not to one's taste. As described in some detail in previous posts, the 'new' attitude struck by Hrefnesholt really does hit the mark as far as Nazgul is concerned, and Hugin really deserves critical acclaim for trying something fresh and new without losing sight of the early roots of the band's output.

In usual SkullLine fashion some care and attention has gone into this release: who can forget, after all, the Minimal Baby collection in deluxe version complete with a baby's nappy! The steel-box version (happily) fails to be quite so strange but offers some interesting additional content and comes in a pretty collectable item with only 50 being made, albeit at nearly 50 Euros in price (see image below). This cheaper version offers the same essential musical experience for a much reduced price, and really if you have a passing interest in one or two of the genres covered it has to be seen as a value for money purchase.