Monday, 30 September 2013

KRIEGSLIEBE

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Kriegsliebe 
Proposed format: Bonemachine / Institution D.O.L. split release on CDr

#6: From the Vaults of W.A.R.

Many moons ago Nazgul remembers reading somewhere about a forthcoming split release between Bonemachine and Austrian noise/power electronics project Institution D.O.L. (or I.D.O.L. for short).

Whether this was on the inlay of an existing Bonemachine release, somewhere online or through an email exchange with Hugin is now long lost to the midst of time and the vagaries of Nazgul's memory, but whatever the source of the memory it is nevertheless absolutely accurate to say that the proposed release never did happen.

The objective on "Kriegsliebe" (literally: Love War) was to record two long collaborative tracks, both 25 minutes in duration, as the finalised artwork reveals.  One of these pieces actually became the track 'Jetzt!', and appeared on the "Upcoming Releases" promotional CDr covered by Honour and Darkness.  This track then became 'Now' from the "Right Now" CDr, in a 're-mastered Napalm version' no less.

The Heathen Harvest review of this particular song recorded, "...the charnel house and factory rhythms are prevalent beneath a spoken word sample.  This track bears the hallmark of vintage Coil and Foetus where strange sonics build over glitchy machine effects and shards of metallic percussion batter away remorselessly.  This is cold, industrial and metronomic.  Fifteen minutes in and the pace quickens as the rhythms divide and fragment.  The remainder of the track undergoes subtle variation before concluding with a vocal sample instructing an invisible other to ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’.

But what of the other, second song?  Hugin explains:

"The plan was for each of us record a 25 minute long song and for each of us to add his sounds to the other's song - a collaboration track split!  My track is on "Now" but IDOL's track is still unreleased. Matthias, the guy behind IDOL, cancelled the split a few days after I had recorded my part for it :-((

It´s sad because I like this idea behind that split.... anyway he decided to cancel it and I had to agree"

And that's a shame, because it would have been a most interesting track to hear.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

ORC

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Orc (The Black Blood Demo Remixes)
Format: Professionally released tape by Hexenreich Records (Estonia), on 7 August 2012, cat ref HXNRCH040.  The inlay is colour printed on quality glossy paper, and the cassette has printed side panels.  Although implied as unique to this tape release, the very limited edition Uruk Hai CDr release "Elves & Orcs" on W.A.R. Productions also contain the two songs on offer here.
Edition: 66 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Side A:
01. Orc (part 1)  30:19
Side B:
02. Orc (part 2)  28:58

One the face of it, this release might appear to be rather more of a curiosity than a must have for the average fan, advertising its existence as it does with the promise of remixed Black Blood demo tracks (read: stuff you already have).  Yet this tape release from Hexenreich Records is far from average in terms of content and is in fact well worth some further investigation.

It's now long established that Hugin has a tendency to repeatedly fiddle with his parts, meaning (behave yourself at the back) that older material and songs get stripped down and re-mixed into new creations which sound familiar but which have new life and form of their own.  It's sort of a variation of cloning, but enhancing the DNA to such a point that rather than getting a straight copy you end up with a new and improved version.  Rather like Sauron's creation of the Uruk Hai breed, in fact - a metaphor so dazzlingly appropriate that Nazgul finds it necessary to sit down, breathless from his own ingenuity.  
 
So what exactly are these two monstrous (literally, and figuratively) songs all about?  Well, both Parts 1 and 2 of "Orc" are, to quote the label, "the epic demo remixes of Uruk Hai's album "Black Blood White Hand" and represent an "orcish journey through dark worlds where Orcs rule the night!"  Blimey!  In more straightforward terms, "Orc" is based on Hugin's working tracks for the "Black Blood..." album and also includes unreleased rough tracks that were not used on the final "Black Blood..." album.   

Hugin's logic was simply that he thought they would sound great as a remix 2 years down the line, and there's little doubt that even the most cursory listen will find much to enjoy on this tape.  

Elements sound instantly familiar, both in terms of the overall 'sound' of the album (particularly the percussion, which has that Uruk Hai beat stamped all over it) and in terms of actual extracts from songs on the preceding album, which will trigger distant memories in you.  Part 2 in particular has this effect, with some very familiar keyboard and strings sections wafting out of the speakers, whilst Part 1 is a harder-edged beast, a little more Bonemachine than ethereal faerie-gossamer.

In short, it might be old stuff but it all sounds wonderfully refreshed and Hugin has managed to orc-hestrate the whole thing rather nicely.  And should you disagree, you might find yourself at the wrong end of an orc-hidectomy!

There's long been argument in the musical world over the merits of having different mixes and remixes of existing songs, more so since the advent of CDs in the early 80s and the trend to add remixes onto singles.  Remixes are most prevalent in commercial genres of music, particularly the contemporary R&B/dance scene (yes I know, wash your mouth out Nazgul, for mentioning such genres here) and seems far less common in the underground world of metal, where cover versions seem to be the more frequented path.  The evidence to date suggests that Hugin's occasional dabbles in the field are broadly twofold: either to to improve the fidelity of older songs, some long out of circulation, or simply to alter the songs for artistic purposes.  Certainly there's little evidence that Nazgul has seen to show Hugin's remixes are designed as a money-spinning exercise or to light up the nightclubs of Europe, but then in that latter respect Nazgul doesn't get out that much any more....

Hexenreich should be congratulated for making a very good job of releasing this demo to a high standard and for very little cost: in fact, they were selling tapes on their website for only 3€ apiece, which seems like a crazy price to Nazgul given the quality of the product and the limited number of copies.  Allowing for the fact that Hugin would have had his artist copies to sell on, and one or two other distros might also have had a few copies, supposing Hexenreich had 80% of the stock for resale then their maximum revenue from selling the lot would only be about 160€ or thereabouts.  Not a lot, in other words, barely enough to recover their costs one might think?  The economics of the underground tape scene remain as mysterious as ever....

Incidentally, the original "Black Blood, White Hand" album of 2009 was Uruk Hai's 10 year 'Jubilee' album and was often described as the project's most varied album and "the absolute highlight in their history".  The forthcoming Uruk Hai full-length album "...And All The Magic And Might He Brought" might well outdo even this monumental release - time will tell....

Friday, 20 September 2013

FIRST BATTLE - update

Band: MANWE
Title: First Battle
Reason for update: Here we have lyrics for songs on their "First Battle" demo

The cliched phrase "once in a blue moon" has been replaced in these parts by the more Hugin-friendly aphorism "once in a Manwe post",  as coverage of this band has been rare and fleeting on the pages of Honour and Darkness.  Besides their original demo tape and unofficial CDr "First Battle", not a whole heap of activity has been going on with the project and the best bits have been covered in a few historical posts over the years.

However, this is as good a time as any to reveal something noteworthy on the Manwe front, namely the complete lyrics from Padre Adamo as spoken/sung/gargled on the "First Battle" songs.  What better reason could there be to break out the old tape, give it a spin on the death-deck, and read along to these lyrics as you go.  

You'll also notice that there is an additional and re-titled song in the mix too, no expense spared for you my loyal readership!

You may remember from Nazgul's first review of this demo that the whole affair is Middle-Earth based and written from the perspective of the Orc race, in an interesting twist on the usual handling of Tolkien's works in song.  Such interpretation allowed for some interesting and observational moments within the songs from Padre Adamo, as well as some mindless violence and foul activities too of course - it wouldn't be Orcish without those.  Ever wondered whose wretched husks were set ablaze in 'Elfcrusher'?  Who should be preparing for the ball and chain and eternal pain in 'Orc Dawn'?  What the link between 'Ode to Hobbits' and fine dining might be?  Read on in the spirit of adventure and enlightenment to find out....

Elfcrusher
 
(Spoken Word)
They lined onto the battlefield
In formation, weapons in hand
Prepared to face the nemesis race
The Elves…
 
Draw your weapons!
Face them with me!
Those that have oppressed us
We bring fear to them now!
Fear that will forever last
Until eternal dusk falls
On the world of Elvenkind
 
(chorus)
Face them!
Face the oppresors!
Draw your sword!
Show your Orcish pride!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!
 
Immortal life crushed and swallowed
On the battlefield…
Orcish blade meets Elvish skin!
Elvish life lost
Elvish holocaust!
Bleed red!
 
(chorus)
Face Them!
Face the oppressors!
Draw your sword!
Show your Orcish pride!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!
 
Mordor soil black to red
…and when the war is over
Orcish armor stained
Wretched Elven husks will be set ablaze
…and Pikes stamped with Elven skulls
will litter the battlefield
…Fear the Elfcrusher
Rivendell is next!
 
(chorus)
Face them!
Face the oppressors!
Draw your sword!
Show your Orcish pride!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!
Elfcrusher!

 
Manwe 
 
I am king
I am lord
I am stone
 
The Heavens are my throne
The Valar, my children
The wind my strength
The Eagles my brood
I am King of Arda
 
(Spoken Word)
“Say this to Manwe Sulimo, High King of Arda: If Feanor cannot overthrow Morgoth, at least he delays not to assail him, and sits not idle in grief.
And it may be that Eru has set in me a fire greater than thou knowest.
Such hurt at the least will I do to the foe of the Valar that even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it.
Yea, in the end they shall follow me. Farewell!”
 
There is but one whom I serve!
Eru – Illuvatar – The Demiurge
Creator of the World of being
Abortion of Darkness
True God!
 
Children of Darkness
Mere men and elfkind
Scum! Slime! Slaves!
From Darkness you have come
By Darkness you will return
 
By my might and my master
I cast you back!
Back to the void with you Dark One!
For you will feel the wrath
Wrath of the Winds of Arda!
 
I am king
I am lord
I am stone
 
The Heavens are my throne
The Valar, my children
The wind my strength
The Eagles my brood
I am King of Arda

    
Starlight Queen
 
Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady Clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
 
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea
 
O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossoms blown!
 
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
I this l far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas
 
A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
Silvren penna miriel
O menel aglar elenath!
Na-chaered palan-diriel
O galadhremmen ennorath,
Fanuilos, sle linnathon
Nef aear, si nef aearon! 



Ode to Hobbits 

The grass is green 
The Trees and flowers full of life 
In this world beyond the black gate far into the Eastern Lands 
There is no black 
There is no fire 
Peace is common in these lands of the Shire 
We bring them the pyre 
Orcish strife! Orcish knife! 

(chorus) 
Slice - dice, cook them twice! 
Orc hunger! Orc feed! 
Plead! Beg! You will never be Freed! 
Beat! Heat! Eat! 
Orc way! 
Orc say! 

Hobbits they call them; Halfling 
They stand no chance to the power of the Ring 
Orcish might tear through cloth, leather, skin, and bone 
Halfling corpses cooked, eaten, and thrown 
Never again to wake 
Not even for Gandalf's sake 

(chorus) 
Slice - dice, cook them twice! 
Orc hunger! Orc feed! 
Plead! Beg! You will never be Freed! 
Beat! Heat! Eat! 
Orc way! 
Orc say! 
  
Hobbit homes battered and broken 
Nazgul search for the sacred token 
Never to rest 
Never to give up 
Until the ring is found 
And the Dark Lord has his Crown 

(chorus) 
Slice - dice, cook them twice! 
Orc hunger! Orc feed! 
Plead! Beg! You will never be Freed! 
Beat! Heat! Eat! 
Orc way! 
Orc say! 


Orc Dawn (Slaughter of Innocents)

Orc warriors of the dark Lord
Prepared to face war with the eastern Horde
Waiting – waiting – waiting!
Waiting for the arrival of the Lidless Eye
As the free peoples of middle earth prepare for the ball and chain
Strength of Orcs will make them all suffer with everlasting pain!

(chorus)
March! March! March!
Through the Black Gate
Out to the World
Make Them Feel the wrath of Orcs Two-fold!

Kil!l Kill! Kill!
Men, Women
Dwarves and Elves!
A New Power will Dawn
When the world of Elf, Dwarf, and Man is gone
FAREWELL!

Structures of Man will come tumbling down
Men, women, children will drown
…in blood
The might of Mordor; slaughter of innocents
World of men, elves, hobbits, dwarves will face endless torments!
Middle Earth cannot circumvent
The power and will of the Ring

(chorus)
March! March! March!
Through the Black Gate
Out to the World
Make them Feel the wrath of Orcs Two-fold!

Kil!l Kill! Kill!
Men, Women
Dwarves and Elves!
A New Power will Dawn
When the world of Elf, Dwarf, and Man is gone
FAREWELL!

Fare thee well I say! Fare well to the world of man
You have tried and failed to defeat the power of Orcish Clan
The one ring has a will of its own and it’s will be done!
The battle between Middle Earth and Mordor will be won!
And a new age will dawn
Where Men and Elves are gone

(chorus)
March! March! March!
Through the Black Gate
Out to the World
Make them feel the wrath of Orcs two-fold!

Kil!l Kill! Kill!
Men, Women
Dwarves and Elves!
A New Power will Dawn
When the world of Elf, Dwarf, and Man is gone
FAREWELL!


Eternal thanks to Hugin for digging these lyrics out of his extensive archives, and do remember: these lyrics remain the property of Padre Adamo and Manwe, and should not be used without permission.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

URUK HAI / WHEN WE LIVE split

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Uruk Hai / When We Live split release
Format: This demo comes as a CDr pressing on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine) and was released in July 2013, cat ref cut1142, and comes in a DVD size case.  The album has a double-sided colour cover, and a picture CDr disc.  
Edition: 33 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
01. The Red Dawn  5:21
02. Broken Blade  3:12        
03. Mordor's Coldness  8:12
04. Nightfall (The Red Dawn part 2)  4:33

When We Live
05. Winter's Sorrow  6:32
06. Frozen In Time  2:23
07. Solstice Moon  6:00
08. Shadow's Cold  2:49

A new release in 2013, and one that slipped quietly into circulation like snowflakes landing on linen.

Coldness seems to be something of a theme through this split demo, with When We Live (hailing from deepest Russia, spearheaded by a mysterious type called Kirill) displaying evidence of the frozen tundra through both his song titles and the soundscapes he creates, which have a distinct feel of Symbiosis to them to Nazgul's ears.  It's very chilled out, musically, if you pardon the pun and envelops you in blankets of metaphorical snow as you drift away to places unknown and parts both bleak and frosty (beware the risk of hypothermia).

There is pretty much nothing online about the project or their music: a Bandcamp page exists but nothing is posted on it, and apart from that the band seems to be as mysterious as you like.  It may even be that Kirill has now moved away from this project to devote attention to his new band Crows In The Garden, more of which you can find out here.  Given that the When We Live music is good stuff, it might well be worth checking this other project too.

In terms of the Uruk Hai material, there's a frosty edge to at least one title in the four on offer but the prevailing theme again is drawn from the realms of Tolkien, which we will look at more closely in just a minute.  Musically Hugin has gone back to a more majestic sound on these tracks, part soundtrack and part grandiose and gallant soundscapes.  All four pieces are instrumental, composed in June 2013, and describe imaginary tales of darkened realms far away, alive with magic and wonder.  Hugin himself noted to Nazgul that, "it's a kind of new path for Uruk Hai, I tried to make Uruk Hai sound more epic this year..." and by Treebeard's ancient whiskers, he's pulled it off you know.

Lead off track "The Red Dawn" has a bombastic start and a racy feel thereafter, and takes as its inspiration Théoden's speech to Aragorn in The Two Towers, in which he cries, "Let this be the hour when we draw swords together! Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin and the red dawn! Forth, Eorlingas! Charge!"  Théoden's earlier decision to take his people to safety at the stronghold of Helm's Deep rather than to confront the enemy in open battle is presented by Tolkien as a grave strategic misjudgement, which Gandalf can only make up for by finding Éomer in time.  Such time pressures might account for the frenetic bursts of energy in this song! Typical of many differences between the Lord of the Rings films and books, when Théoden despairs Aragorn convinces him to ride out of the Hornburg (the fortress at Helm's Deep) at sunrise - the red dawn - to confront the enemy whilst in the book this is Théoden's own initiative.
 
The 'Broken Blade' of track two is possibly a reference to a classic weapon from Middle-Earth, Narsil.  This sword was forged during the First Age by the Dwarf Telchar of Nogrod and was broken into two pieces in the overthrow of Sauron at the end of the Second Age, later being reforged as Andúril. In The Two Towers, it is written that Aragorn uses Andúril with a shield from Théoden's armoury during the Battle of the Hornburg.  In a tangent into trivia once again, a perennial Nazgul trait as you will well know, Peter Jackson opted not to make Andúril glow at all in his film, keeping that property only for Sting.  Jackson notes, in his DVD commentary on The Fellowship of the Ring, that this was an oversight, not a deliberate change from the books.

An alternative interpretation of this song is that it has nothing to do with Tolkien whatsoever, but refers instead to the unfortunate habit of Lady Nazgul in breaking all of the good knives in her annual pursuit of extreme Halloween pumpkin carving...

Both 'Broken Blade' and 'Mordor's Coldness' weave melodies and scales to fine effect, some new and some familiar from past Uruk Hai releases (this, for want of a better expression, is recycling Hugin-style!) and it's all good stuff and will be familiar territory for fans of the project.  There are few surprises, but the listener gets a solid dose of what they were expecting and to that end should come away happy.

A final word on the artwork on this release, which is a little unusual reviewed against the the comparable images on recent Uruk Hai releases.  It comprises 'artistically' blurred light effects on a dark background as opposed to images from Middle-Earth or themes of such an ilk. but there's nothing wrong with trying something different once in a while!

Monday, 16 September 2013

ANCIENT TALES - update IV


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Ancient Tales
Reason for update: The fourth instalment in an ongoing series, courtesy of a reader of these pages...

Ha - no one expected two Hrossharsgrani posts back-to-back!

We've seen a number of updates since the original post of "Ancient Tales" was posted back on 21 March 2009.  These have all been associated with various reissues or older formats of the demo that Nazgul has managed to get his sticky mitts on.  However, today's post is somewhat different as it covers an original tape demo for the release that - to date - Nazgul has failed to track down.  

Not everything Hugin-related is yet caught in the lair of the Nazgul, but it is surely only a matter of time....

The prompt for this post came from the recent Followers of Honour and Darkness interview with Thomas Kahr - during a look through Thomas' collection it became clear from the photos that he had something rather unusual in his group of Hrossharsgrani items:  Said item was the Werwolf Productions tape pressing of "Ancient Tales" released circa 2003, catalogue reference WP013.  This has different cover artwork to any of the other tape or CDr pressings of the album, featuring a hand holding a sword extending across its cover.

Abibial of Werwolf Productions (based in Italy) was interviewed by Nazgul on 20 March 2010 and you may recall from those discussions that the 'typical' Werwolf release was of very limited quantity and have consistently rated as amongst the hardest to find of all of the labels who have issued Hugin's music.  Uruk Hai's "Battle Magic" and "Battle Yells" were Werwolf releases, for example, as were the "Ea" CDr demo and the "Long Forgotten Tales" and "Honour" tapes.  

They also produced the very hard to find "Isten Szek!" demo from Elisabetha, plus a handful of other related demos too.  Pretty much all Werwolf items are impossible to find, so it's rather splendid to be able to feature an actual copy of this inlay at all, as Nazgul has never actually seen a 'real' one before.

The pictures you will find at the base of this post were kindly supplied by Hugin as original colour copies of the artwork, but close inspection will show that it does not contain details of the issue number under the photograph of Hugin himself that does appear on the final black and white cover.

Interestingly, going off at a slight tangent, all of the Werwolf covers were black and white photocopies, presumably of colour original artwork in most cases?  Nazgul is only speculating, but  somewhere out there - either with Hugin or with Abibial - just may be a set of full colour covers for all of the Werwolf releases: now that would be a sight for sore eyes!

The great thing about Thomas' find is that it clearly displays the issue number as 30/88, so we know for certain for the fist time just how many copies were produced.  88 copies is actually quite a lot for Werwolf, as runs of 20-50 were more common across most of the rest of the issues they did on tape, so there's some hope that other copies of this demo may eventually come to light!  Nazgul did see a copy with this artwork for sale on Discogs (and it's still there, in actual fact) but closer reading of the description for it confirms that the tape for sale is actually a later pressing with different artwork.

Thomas - the lucky so-and-so - found his copy online and for the princely sum of around 7 Euros, which sounds like quite the bargain!  

Nazgul will whip up the Castle minions to double their efforts to scour the internet for similar treasures, lest their hides be flayed from their worthless carcasses ... and as and when an original copy eventually finds its way to the Castle Library, Nazgul will organise a 'family' photograph of the "Ancient Tales" releases to date!

Original artwork, in colour, as conceived by Hugin

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Hrossharsgrani interview in Possessed Magazin


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Item: Transcript of a Hrossharsgrani interview with Possessed Magazin (sic) on 1 March 2003

Back in the annals of time - so long ago, in fact, that Hugin has forgotten all about this interview! - the online Possessed Magazin posted an interview with the Viking battle-machine that is Hrossharsgrani.  It's an interesting read for a couple of reasons: obviously, it's with Hugin and about one of his bands, and if you don't find that interesting by default then please leave the room.  It is also of note, however, as the Hrossharsgrani discography cited in the report contains releases that are as yet uncollected and in a few cases actually unknown before this interview came to light.  Finally, although some online interviews have been posted that continually recycle previously published material, this one does not and has some unique content.  Worthy enough, therefore, for republication.  

The issue of the 'new' demos will be covered in more detail at the end of this post, but before then let's get to the interview as undertaken back in 2003:

Please, tell us something about your band (history, members, recordings/releases, live gigs, label?)

In the cold winter of 1998 anno bastardi the battle-machine Hrossharsgrani gathered for their first strike, the rehearsal demo-CD "Blut". In these dark ages they still haunted the black realms of dark ambient music to tell their tales of those creatures who only come out by night: the undead, the vampires - a homage to the bloody heir of Lord Byron and Bram Stoker. More demo-CDs followed leaving this world behind and penetrating the battlefields of a barbaric world with as barbaric black metal hymns.

The first era of the band was completed with the bloodletting releases of "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten" and "Ancient Tales". The year 2000 marked not only the beginning of a new millennium but also of a new era in band history. Hrossharsgrani entered the CCP studios to create "…Of Battles, Ravens And Fire" – a giant step forward. Battle sounds and choirs lead the listener through a long forgotten time full of myths and legends. For the originators Fylgja, Munin and Hugin this was indeed the start for a new chapter in their musical journey: a journey far off the well trodden and boring paths of the metallic art.

This fascinated the new label CCP, with which Hrossharsgrani signed a contract, an alliance that showed to be successful for Hrossharsgrani in all battles yet to come. In the beginning of the following year the battle force Hrossharsgrani started to compose for "The Secret Fire" – an epic tale based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings and Silmarillion. For the listener, who is troubled by the boring daily routine of our world, "The Secret Fire" is a mighty stronghold in a better world full of magic and wonder.  Classical melodies combined with the grim face of metal music built the soundtrack for a crusade through the worlds of Middle-earth. Fylgja, Munin and Hugin sang of mystic, enchanted forests, of fire-breathing dragons, whose wings conquer the clouds, of gleaming swords in the northern territories and of powers that unfold to an insurmountable force when baptised in dark battles.

In 2003 new grim battles had to be fought. Blood froze at the sound of the charging blades. Born from flesh and steel and tempered in fire and ice, the iron force of Hrossharsgrani rose to war in the land of the shadows: sealed was the way of the warrior. Symphonic metal hymns, mystic bombastic battle choirs accompany you through moors of death, that rise high into the air and hunt dark creatures through haunted woods. Mighty guitar riffs, war-drums, giant percussion and fanfares form a sound-adventure which can only compared to a ride with the Valkyrie.

Hrossharsgrani's third attack is a perfect union of heroic battle hymns and strong charismatic radio plays, an epic tale that burns all boundaries down to ashes, and takes you to a world where flesh, steel and heroism will no longer be hidden in the mist of fear.  "Schattenkrieger" is an ode to war, a new incarnation of the violence of the sword, an album with a hypnotising magic attracting every metal 'warrior of the world'.

The rehearsals and releases so far:

HROSSHARSGRANI – Blut (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 1 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 2 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 3 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 4 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 5 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI - Rehearsal MC 1 (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI - Uruk-Hai (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (demo CD and tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Ancient Tales (demo CD and tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Die Rueckkehr Zum Pfade… (demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Die Rueckkehr Zum Pfade…(promotional tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Sagen & Gedichte (rehearsal CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Lieder Aus Mittelerde (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Der Ring Der Macht (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Ewig Winter (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Kampf (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Krieg (promotional tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – In The Mystic Forest (rehearsal demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – In The Beginning…There Was Fight (promotional tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – From The Dark Ages (demo tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Feuer & Eis (rehearsal tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Epische Gedanken (rehearsal tape)
HROSSHARSGRANI – …Of Battles, Ravens And Fire (professional CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – The Secret Fire (professional CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI/ MITTWINTER – Split (picture disc vinyl)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Schattenkrieger (professional CD)

How would you describe your position in the wide-world metal scene? What do you think about the underground movement?

It doesn't matter about our position in the world-wide metal scene – we are the warlords – we destroy everything!  The underground gets bigger and bigger (stronger and stronger) - I don't know where the underground ends and the overground starts. I'm very interested in the eastern European underground PAGAN BM scene – their kind of music takes me back to the glorious ages of heroism and war! Hail the ancient gods!  The real METAL you can find only in the Underground!

Which 3 CDs would you take with you to a lonely island?


(a) BATHORY – Blood Fire Death
(b) MEKONG DELTA – Dances Of Death
(c) PINK FLOYD – Dark Side Of The Moon

If you had enough money to shoot a video, what would the clip look like?

Battles like in Braveheart
Brutal like Braindead
Fantastic like Lord Of The Rings

It's a dream to create a short movie with a Hrossharsgrani soundtrack. Some guys told us our music was the perfect soundtrack for a fantasy movie, in a review I wrote: '…the Soundtrack Battle Hymn Combo…'  Maybe far, far away the dream will come true

If you've the chance to change one day of your life, which would it be and why?


Hmm, every single day in the past forged my destiny – I don't want to change it, I like the way it goes…  maybe some girls in the past would be better changed than others :o)

Which song shall be played on your burial?

Richard Wagner – Der Walkuren Ritt

Drums and Trumpets shall take me to the other side!

If you had the chance to kill someone and to bring back one person in the same way, who would it be and why?


Kill: George W. Bush (The USA is not the world)
Bring Back: Gerald Decarli (my best friend, died by a gunshot, so many things I have to say…, see you on the other side)

What does 'Metal' mean to you?

100% Power
100% Spirit
100% Party
100% My Life

What is your opinion on political lyrics?

Hrossharsgrani doesn't give a f**k about politics!

What can we expect from your band in the future?

The new album “Schattenkrieger” will be out on 24 March 2003 at CCP Records: the first edition is a limited (1000) digipak version with different cover artwork. We are working on a war-page to present Hrossharsgrani online too.

Destroy the world – total war!


An interesting insight into the mind of Hugin, circa March 2003.  Now, the discography mentions a few interesting items, new to Nazgul and possibly to you too:

HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 1 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 2 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 3 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 4 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI – Rehearsal CD 5 (rehearsal demo CD)
HROSSHARSGRANI - Rehearsal MC 1 (rehearsal demo tape)

The first Rehearsal CD has been covered on Honour and Darkness historically, but the existence of a further four discs was news to Nazgul!  Similarly, whilst the odd early demo tape has been retrieved from the ages for the collection, the one referred to here is also a potentially new release.  Hugin thinks that early rehearsal CDs like these may have been sent out to various friends and labels back in the day, possibly in quantities of only 3-5 at a time, so the chances of finding any survivors now would seem to be nigh on impossible.  However, Nazgul has overcome such odds before, and with Hugin's hardcore fan base now aware of their existence let  us see what can be uncovered...

HROSSHARSGRANI – Epische Gedanken (rehearsal tape)

No trace of an "Epic Thoughts" tape release has yet been found, nor details of its content revealed, so was one ever actually released?  This interview would suggest so, and as a result antennae are now twitching worldwide as the hunt begins....!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

ATLANTIDA Volume 11 [V/A]

Bands: HREFNESHOLT and ELISABETHA
Title: Atlantida Volume 11
Format: A plain silver CDr disc in jewel case with pro-printed black and white inlays, on the Atlantida label (Lithuania) from circa 2004/05, no catalogue reference.
Edition: unknown

Track Listing:
01. Hrefnesholt  *  Trollsturm  3.22
02. Fall of the Leafe  *  Deference, Diminued  6.12
03. Blood Tears  *  Blood Tears  5.22
04. Witches Sabbath  *  Darkness Kingdom Crusade  3.47
05. Foscor  *  Old Winds Revenge  5.47
06. Crimson  *  Starry Eyes
07. Delirium  *  Silent Art  4.28
08. Sirens  *  Mindfood
09. Vexed  *  Bringer Of Death  3.16
10. Immemoreal  *  Immemorial Ages  3.31
11. Elisabetha  *  Tanz Der Vampire  5.42
12. Nightspirit  *  A Crystal Palace  5.05
13. Valhalla  *  The Sword Of My Father  2.45
14. Epheles  *  Les Livres De Sang  4.19
15. Stonehenge  *  Impaled By God  4.59
16. Moonsorrow  *  Vihrealla Valtaistuimella  8.47

Mention the term Atlantida to people and you'll likely have a number of different interpretations of the term depending where in the world you are.  For a biologist, it may refer to a specific genus of brachiopods (come back Cthulhu, all is forgiven); to Central and Southern Amercians it is a town Uruguay and Honduras, and also a football club in Paraguay; for historians, an ancient city along the Amazon River supposedly founded by Phoenicians; for the literary critic a French novel by novel by Pierre Benoit; and for the musically inclined a Serbian heavy metal band.

But for the doyens of the dungeons of Castle Nazgul, it is best known as the label that was run by our old friend Ruslanas Danisevskis of Ravenclaw, on which a myriad of bands were featured across the many volumes of the tape and CDr series sharing the same name.  Back in 2009 Honour and Darkness had covered some of the entries in the series that featured Hugin's bands: Volume 15 (Ravenclaw) in July of that year; Volume 16 (Hrossharsgrani and Ravenclaw) in the August; and Volume 19 (Hrossharsgrani and Elisabetha) in the November.

Since then we've not heard much of Atlantida as a series, but now dear readers it's back, courtesy of a recent deal struck between the twin-powers of W.A.R. and Castle Nazgul, which sees the Atlantida back catalogue come to roost in Nazgul's collection.  A fine looking body of work it is too, with the early parts of the series being tape-only releases before moving into CDr format.  Not all of the twenty-odd releases had content from Hugin's bands on them, but at some future point Nazgul will do a special post of the cover artwork of all of the items in honour of our departed brother, Ruslanas.

As with most compilation albums - and todays offering of Volume 11 is no exception - there is a mixture of bands that you've heard of, and some that you haven't.  Some of the bands are actually quite well known (or, went on to be well known at least) including in this example Fall Of The Leafe, Valhalla, and Moonsorrow.  However, the primary focus for us today are the tracks contributed by Hrefnesholt and Elisabetha, which are not new to us but were previously unreleased at the time that this CDr was released.

'Trollsturm' finally made an appearance on Hrefnesholt's "Rabentanz" compilation of 2005 and falls into the style of music that Nazgul is wont to call 'Uruk Hai-lite': all of the swirling keyboard atmospherics without the Middle-Earth connection.  Howling winds and magical keyboards combine to present a very engaging piece here, and whilst simplistic the song is always a pleasure to listen to.  Hrefnesholt are almost unique in Nazgul's personal experience in as far as he greatly enjoys both principal iterations of the band's sound (old school, and the 'percht' Alpine folk evolution) equally as much: normally such a radical change would polarise opinion, but not in this case.

'Tanz Der Vampire' by Elisabetha is culled from their "Sterbegesänge" demo of 2001, although this fact is curiously omitted from the details printed on the rear inlay regarding the origins of each song.  This particular dance of the vampires was originally reviewed waaay way back on 8 May 2009, and remains the sprightly nip to the jugular that you might expect.

One wonders how many of the contemporary purchasers of the Atlantida series were ever tempted to explore the individual recordings by bands contained therein, and how many found Hrefnesholt, Elisabetha, and other bands from Hugin's stable that way.  Alas, we shall never know, but should you chance across any CDr or tapes in the series online they are always well worth picking out for a listen one dark and stormy night...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

DYNASTY

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dynasty
Format: An unreleased concept album

#5: From the Vaults of W.A.R.

A brief entry today, but one of interest nonetheless.  The cover you see above was for a planned concept release that Hugin had in mind for Uruk Hai, involving the history of the samurai (and not - thankfully - the Carrington family of Denver...!)  The idea had come to him after the release of another themed album, that being "Tawantinsuyu" from 2006, but sadly the project never developed beyond the proposed cover artwork.

Although not greatly advanced, the core of the idea was to cover the history of the samurai from the beginning until the early 1900s.  Hugin notes that whilst this may not now appear as an Uruk Hai project, the idea is still on the back-burner, possibly for another project....

Nazgul's knowledge of the samurai is fairly limited: Samurai were essentially the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. While the samurai numbered less than 10% of Japan's population, their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.  Samurai warriors described themselves as followers of "The Way of the Warrior" or Bushidō, defined as "a unique philosophy that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi period. From the earliest times, the samurai felt that the path of the warrior was one of honour, emphasising duty to one's master, and loyalty unto death".

One of the more interesting facts about the samurai was that it took until 1873 to abolish the law enabling them to execute any commoner who had shown them disrespect - a tradition kept alive and well at Castle Nazgul, it should be noted.

Japanese swords are the weapons that have come to be synonymous with the samurai, and indeed one appears front and centre on the artwork for the cover of this project.  Ancient Japanese swords from the Nara period (Chokutō) featured a straight blade, by the late 900s curved tachi appeared, followed by the uchigatana and ultimately the katana (wearing a katana in public was also outlawed in the 1870s). Smaller swords (commonly known as companion swords) were the wakizashi and the tantō. Wearing a long sword together with a smaller sword became the symbol of the samurai, this combination of swords was referred to as a daishō (literally "big and small"). 

It transpires that Hugin has a small collection of such swords at W.A.R. so keep your eyes peeled: you never know when they might appear on a forthcoming release....

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Top 10 most popular posts on Honour & Darkness...

The thought initially crossed Nazgul's mind one sunny afternoon as he was dredging the moat for the corpses of dead hobbits (well, they do cause a stink if left in there to rot):  "I wonder," thought Nazgul, "what the most popular post has ever been on Honour and Darkness?  Which one had had most visits and can therefore be crowned as the post of choice for my discerning readership?"

Armed with statistics drawn from the web-site as at today's date, Nazgul sat down to answer that very question, and the results below may just surprise you as they did him.  

Nazgul's thinking was that the most read posts would probably be covered by some 'obvious' criteria:
(1) the older the post, the more times it would have been accessed and read;
(2) the more popular projects (Uruk Hai) would have been looked at more times than less popular ones (WACH, for example); and
(3) reviews of the 'bigger' releases (e.g. box-sets) would be more widely read than more modest releases (e.g. those on tape, for example).

So: with all that in mind and other criteria of your own no doubt, what would you consider to be the particular post to have been most read?  The end result was unexpected not least because the winning post not only had more views than the rest of the top ten added together, but was almost 10 times as popular as the post in second place!  The plot thickens, the mystery deepens, and in traditional reverse order here are the Top Ten most read posts in Honour and Darkness history:

10. Nazgul's Top 10 Uruk Hai rarities
Posted: 19 August 2010
Views: 354

One of the least surprising entries in the list, the interest in Uruk Hai material is always high and never more so when it involves the most rare items.  This list is now likely to be in need of an update, given the time elapsed since Nazgul's original post and the discovery of various of these items by other collectors.  "Battle Magic", for example, may now not be the hardest item to find as two have come to light since this post was published, and a number of copies of "Land Of The Shadow" seem to have been discovered, whereas the metal box version of "Angband" remains unobtainable.  Hmmm ... this may require Nazgul to do a little work....

9. Nargothrond [Uruk Hai]
Posted: 8 December 2011
Views: 363

It's a good demo and an interesting item for collectors, but 9th on the all time read posts list? Gadzooks!

8. Of Ravens, Battle & Fire - vinyl update [Hrossharsgrani]
Posted: 12 August 2011
Views: 461

A little more detail on proposed artwork for this release, and it positively rockets up the ranking order leaving the original post covering the vinyl itself trailing in its wake.  What a strange bunch you all are...!

7. After The War (Orcish Battle Hymns Part IV) [Uruk Hai]
Posted: 6 November 2010
Views: 463

As with "Nargothrond", another modest and unassuming Uruk Hai tape demo attains unexpected popularity.  Can Nazgul explain this - no he cannot.  Is Nazgul pleased - yes he is.

6. Morogth [Uruk Hai]
Posted: 2 July 2010
Views: 518

We seem to have said something similar before: as with "Nargothrond" and now "After The War..." another modest and unassuming Uruk Hai tape demo attains an unfeasibly high popularity?  Answers on a postcard to ...

5. In Memory Of Miguel Serrano [V/A, feat. Bonemachine]
Posted: 23 February 2010
Views: 659

Perhaps there was a general belief that someone connected to one of Hugin's projects called Miguel Serrano had actually died?  There's no other likely reason for this relatively obscure Russian compilation CD to score so many hits, even allowing for the presence of the ever-conquering Bonemachine on the playlist.  Still, it's nice that one of Hugin's less well known projects can break into the list of the top ten most viewed posts, however it happened!

4. Followers of Honour and Darkness #1
Posted: 3 January 2010
Views: 664

Testament to trying something new, perhaps, this originating post in the 'Followers...' series clearly was of interest to readers, and has been followed by a number of successful instalments over the years.
 
3. Oak Folk [V/A, feat. Hrefnesholt]
Posted: 4 March 2011
Views: 975

Nazgul suspects the popularity of this post may have been triggered by the presence on the compilation of more widely acclaimed bands such as Agalloch, and people searching for reviews of this album online with those bands in mind.  After all, it seems improbable that a relatively obscure Hrefnesholt song would have garnered such interest all by itself, but for a Hrefnesholt post to reach the heady heights of 3rd most popular post is good news indeed!

2. An Interview With Nazgul
Posted: 21 December 2010
Views: 2474

How gratifying to learn that the lengthy interview him the Witch-King of Angmar himself proved so popular with the ravening hordes.  Most likely retaining interest because of the photographs of the collection to date, rather than because of Nazgul's ramblings, it was a fun item to do and to post all the same.

1. Balrog  [Uruk Hai] 
Posted: 17 December 2010
Views: 23,749

And so "Balrog" is the king of the Castle, and by a colossal margin!  Nearly 10 times as popular as the next most read post, and probably with more viewed hits than the majority of the rest of the Blog combined!  "What gives", you cry?  Well, frankly, Nazgul has no idea!  The suspicion is that the hits must be associated more with generic searches for 'balrog' on Google in light of the Lord of the Rings films than anything to do with this particular demo, but you never know.  Not at all the post that Nazgul expected to see sitting atop Hírilorn in Forest of Neldoreth, but there you are.


In the interests of balance, there's always the other side of the coin to consider, of course.  Amongst all of the most visited posts reside a hardcore of unloved and little read Blog entries, those meagre scratchings from Nazgul's virtual quill that are almost entirely unread.  Perhaps the list of the 5 least read posts might encourage you to revisit the early days of Honour and Darkness and give some of these original posts some much needed attention....?

Again in reverse order, with 1st place having the dubious distinction of being the least read, the results are:

5. Apocalyptic Streams [V/A, feat. WACH]
Posted: 23 April 2009
Views: 8

=4. Schwarzes Jerusalem [Bonemachine]
Posted: 7 April 2009
Views: 7

=4. Wolf [Hrefnesholt]

Posted 11 June 2009
Views: 7

2. Nachtmarfahrten [Elisabetha]

Posted: 11 June 2009
Views: 4

1. Ancient Battles t-shirt [Uruk Hai]
Posted: 3 July 2009
Views: 3

So Uruk Hai has the dubious distinction of being atop of both lists!?  This time next year, who knows what might be king of the hill....!

Monday, 2 September 2013

ZALGIRIO MUSIS

Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Zalgirio Musis
Format: The cover from a proposed but ultimately unreleased cassette release of this set of songs from 2003, which ended up as half of a split album with Svarrogh.

#4: From the Vaults of W.A.R.

Our opening post for August contained the sad news of the passing of Ruslanas Danisevskis, Hugin's fellow brother-in-arms in the project Ravenclaw.  So let us begin September with a tribute to our fallen comrade with another item drawn from the sepulchral vaults of W.A.R. - a Ravenclaw release that never quite came to be, at least in this format.

Stardate - 2003:  Ruslanas and Hugin have recorded the 6 songs that would rejoice under the title of "Zalgirio Musis", which from the Lithuanian translates as 'Battle of Grunwald'. This momentous event was fought on 15 July 1410, during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The battle was one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and is regarded as the most important victory in the history of Poland, Belarus and Lithuania.  It was surrounded by romantic legends and nationalistic propaganda, becoming a larger symbol of struggle against invaders and a source of national pride.

We've come across this Ravenclaw release before, of course, but as part of a split album rather than a demo in its own right, covered in Honour and Darkness on 1 May 2009.  It was formally released on Ruslanas' own Atlantida Productions label in 2003 as "Baxas Xebesheth 1883 / Zalgirio Musis", a combined work between Ravenclaw and Bulgarian band Svarrogh.

We've also come across this artwork before too, although not in quite the same colours as those on the proposed Ravenclaw release:  Step forward Uruk Hai's "Battle Yells" best-of tape for that claim to fame.

It would have been a great demo tape had it come out in this format, but like many of these lost treasures from the W.A.R. archives subsequent events overtook Plan A and led to an alternative reality - there's probably entire parallel universes out there a la the series Fringe, in which the old Hugin demos exist in that time and space whilst his actual releases from our timeframe don't.  Hmmm, there would have to be an alternate Honour and Darkness blog too, with an alternate Nazgul in charge.  Or maybe more than one other ... hell's teeth, that's a scary thought!

Ruslanas helped to create a lasting body of work, not least with perhaps his most successful and well known undertaking Folkearth, yet these early demos are still worthy of acknowledgement and attention.  Raise your flagons high this evening in memory of one of the fallen, taken before his time but not to be forgotten....