Friday, 31 January 2014

ATLANTIDA VOLUME 15


Bands: RAVENCLAW and EUPRAXIA (who dey?)
Title: Atlantida Volume 15
Format: A compilation CD released on the Atlantida Productions label (Lithuania), number 15 in their ongoing series.  No catalogue reference, plain silver CDr disc in professionally printed black and white labels.  Estimated date of release circa 2002.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing:
01. Ravenclaw  *  Weltenbrand  1.16
02. Thyrfing  *  The Giant's Laughter  5.21
03. Icon Of Hyemes  *  As Burning Within  3.40
04. Trollskogen  *  Wolfsruf  3.39
05. Spellcraft  *  Season Five  4.51
06. Daemonlord  *  Mankind's Decay  3.05
07. Aisling  *  The Oracle Of Dehumanisation  5.38
08. Eupraxia  *  Spiegelbilder  6.55
09. Cropment  *  Fear Of Death  3.53
10. Ravenclaw  *  Battlemarch  1.10
11. Spiritual  *  When The Moon Shines  4.29
12. Dyspraxia  *  Warloot  3.04
13. Valhalla  *  Phonix Aus Der Asche  3.07
14. The Kovenant  *  Dragonstorms  5.22
15. Primal Dawn  *  The Cull  8.33
16. Ravenclaw  *  Ravenclaw  3.14
17. Dead Corpse  *  Walking In Fire  3.21
18. Crimson  *  Starry Eyes  3.08
19. Crossover  *  Errors  3.13  

Of the myriad Atlantida compilations that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s Volume 15 - for Huginophiles at least - is possibly the most significant of the lot of them as it contains the only song ever recorded by the band Eupraxia: another super-secret black-ops style project featuring Hugin, involving his fellow Elisabetha member Uwe Backer!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, for there are not one but three Ravenclaw tracks to consider here.  All three - including the 'previously unreleased' track 'Battlemarch' revel in the barbaric keyboard-influenced style of early Hrossharsgrani, and rumble along in a manner certain to trigger avalanches in the highest Alps.  Never the most sophisticated of bands, the songs are a slightly odd 'fit' against the spiky and spiteful black metal offerings on the majority of the compilation, but nevertheless one hopes it encouraged a few souls to track down the band's "Where Mighty Ravens Fly" album from whence two of the three songs derived.

But onto track 8 and that Eupraxia song, 'Spiegelbilder' (literally: mirror images).  Now, whilst the daughter of Vsevolod I, Prince of Kiev was named Eupraxia (you knew that, of course) and Professor Eupraxia Mole was Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the 1870's, the more likely source of the band name comes from Greek mythology, in which Eupraxia was the personification of well-being (leading to a chain of weight loss fitness clubs in Wisconsin being named after her: she'd be so proud!)

The song itself is presented in two distinct sections.  The initial part that is so-like Elisabetha that you'd swear it was either an old outtake or a demo pinched and worked over: spoken word sections abound, voiced by sombre, deep-voiced males and a slightly panic-stricken woman (albeit it that the lyrics this time are in French, not German) creating the traditional radio-play environment; edgy and scraping string sections craft a brooding atmosphere of unease and tension; and odd little flurries of keyboards making their presence felt with melodies occasionally reminiscent of the band Lacrimosa.  Which is interesting, in fact, as the second 'half' of the song  bounds along on an distinctly Goth-rock tinged bouncing bass line and puts another spin entirely on the song.  As a means of distinguishing this from Elisabetha, it's as if the Gothic Horror motif has been shared between the two bands, whilst Eupraxia assimilates more of the Goth-rock sound into its grooves than their more vampyric counterparts.

It would have been interesting to hear a whole demo by this particular project, but - alas - this one song was the entire recorded output before it was shelved.

You'd think by now that every project that Hugin had been in would have been covered in Honour and Darkness, but oh no: as we near the 5th anniversary of the Blog this new one pops out of the woodwork and - even more startlingly -  Nazgul has in his possession another 3 song demo by yet another as-yet undocumented side-project of the madman of Linz.  Honestly, where he gets/got the time from I have no idea, given that it's taken Nazgul 10 days between updating his posts and fitting them in with normal life stuff!  Hell's teeth!

Monday, 20 January 2014

SPIRITS (FROM THE PAST)

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Spirits (From The Past)
Format: Cassette only release on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine), cat ref cut183, released in January 2011 and recorded as a demo in 2010.  Comes in professionally printed colour covers, and standard C60 style tape.
Edition: 111 hand-numbered copies

Track listing:
01. Eihwaz  

Do you know it was over 2 years ago since the partner release to this EP, "Spirits (From Ancient Worlds)" was reviewed on these hallowed pages?!  Nazgul had always intended to review the pair separately, but not quite with such a long period of time between them.  How time flies....

Here then, is something of a blast from the past.  Housed in a cover that wouldn't look amiss on a Saturn Form Essence release (also on the Depressive Illusions label), what manner of musical journey has Hugin conjured up for our delight with this release from early 2011.  Well, with cryptic songs titles in runic form, not much is to be gleaned from reading the inlay unless perhaps you're of Viking descent or in the habit of speaking in Elvish or Dwarf.  If so, Nazgul tips his hat to you.  The translated version of the rune is Eihwaz and was a Proto-Germanic word for the yew tree.  The rune is sometimes associated with the World tree Yggdrasil, which, imagined as an ash in Norse mythology, which may formerly have been a yew or an oak.

This track - taking up most of a single side of the cassette - is not one that you put on to bounce around the house to.  It is ambient in the extreme, a repetitive and soothing lullaby of a song that starts and ends with nary a bang, and potters around for a bit in the middle.  It would polarise opinion even amongst Uruk Hai fans, Nazgul would imagine, as it's certainly not the more spirited (if you'll pardon the pun) keyboard noodlings of many an instrumental release, nor is it an early demo in that spartan style that Hugin employed at the outset of his career.  

It is well composed and well played, and whilst not the most attention-grabbing thing you've ever heard, it is excellent for some mood music in the twilight of the evening when you can get on with some useful activity (re-roofing the Castle being one of the most frequent at the moment in this neck of the woods) and let the music waft around you.

There will be those naysayers, of course, who'll point and shout about simplistic chord progressions, repetitive and boring passages, and a lack of progression.  To those, Nazgul merely shrugs and utters 'each to his own'.  The cover artwork should really be the clue to this piece: in the vast emptiness of the eternal void of space, such gentle ambiance is the natural rhythm of the universe...

Monday, 13 January 2014

WINTER BATTLES


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Winter Battles
Format: 6 x Cassette tape box-set released on the Fallen Angels Productions label (South Korea) in 2013, cat ref FAP049.  Hand-made wooden box with latch, inlay booklet, and reissued classic Hrosshargrani albums in all-new artwork.
Edition: Limited to 26 hand-numbered copies, the first 7 in colour and the remainder in black and white

Track Listing: 
Tape 1: Of Battles, Ravens & Fire
Tape 2: Der Ring Der Macht
Tape 3: In The Mystic Forest
Tape 4: Ewig Winter
Tape 5: Blut (version 1998/99)
Tape 6: Blut (version 2011 

Castle Nazgul is in need of repair to keep its crumbling walls from falling into the surrounding moat, so what better time for your scribe to embark on costly and lengthy renovations when the Lady and Son and Heir are away visiting their ancestral homelands.  But where's a good Dwarf engineer when you need one?  Aah yes, dead and rotting under the Castle ramparts.  Such a shame, but Nazgul will toil on himself.

And to keep him entertained during strenuous endeavours that have already seen accident and incident going hand in hand, Nazgul has been enjoying this beautifully put together box set from Fallen Angel Productions. Indeed, so proud of it must label owner Jong Chen be that he has signed a photograph of himself on the accompanying inlay booklet: surely a first!?


A box-set of 6 cassettes is not an immediately obvious thing to be retailing in this age of digital downloads and media streaming, perhaps helping to explain why only 26 were produced, the first 7 of which were with colour tape inlays and booklet.  Nazgul has added one of each variant to his horde, and it is the colour version predominantly featured here (the black and white covers sport the same artwork, merely in monochrome).

The titles you will be familiar with (or if not, say 100 Hail Mary's and read the Blog from the very beginning) so let Nazgul merely take you on a tour of the box contents as he heads back off to the crenelations to find a way to stop water pouring in through the roof....  

Of Battle, Ravens & Fire

This is the generic reverse illustration on each separate inlay
Der Ring Der Macht


In The Mystic Forest


Ewig Winter


Blut (version 1998/99)


Blut (version 2011)


Overall a really good opportunity to wander down memory lane and soak in the violence and sheer unadulterated Viking fury that was the Battle Machine Hrossharsgrani in the late 1990s.  Nazgul believes copies may still be available at the label, so why not pop over there and see?

Now, where's that chisel got to....?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

SCHLACHTHAUSTANZ


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Schlachthaustanz
Format: An unreleased project, a proposed split release with Inferi Nebula Mortuum (Germany)

#9: From the Vaults of W.A.R. 

Another lost release from the darkest vaults of Hugin's archive!

This rather graphic cover image (taken from the Hellrazor film series) is the only remaining evidence that a planned split release between Uruk Hai and Inferi Nebula Mortuum was ever mooted.  I doubt that when Marillion penned 'Hooks In You' they had anything quite like this in mind....!?

Details for this item are scarce, so bear with Nazgul on this one.  The title of the proposed split was "Schlachtaustanz", which was actually a song by Inferi Nebula Mortuum, which was used on the compilation "Tobende Donner 1" released in 2006 on the Eclipse of Live Promulgation label.  Certainly online evidence points towards there being a song of this name, of 3:53 duration, recorded by the band in question.  The title of the track, by the way, fits the image on the cover nicely as it translates as "Slaughterhouse Dance".

Indeed, if you were inclined to want to purchase a copy, Nazgul notices that the Todestrieb Distro is currently advertising one for sale for only £3.50!  

It has to be said that Inferi Nebula Mortuum are something of an elusive band to find out much about, as their web presence is pretty minimal and their MySpace page redundant.  However, Nazgul has learned from the powers that be that Inferi Nebula Mortuum are members of various other bands including Heldentum and Goblin Spell (who also appear on that EoLP compilation) and was led by Aamon from Eclipse Of Live Promulgation.  Nazgul did discover that they were also supposed to have released a split 7" with Vomit Church (a Mexican/Greek black metal consortium) but that this fell through as the EoLP label went out of business.  The same fate almost certainly affected the destiny of the proposed split with Uruk Hai.

Going off at a brief tangent, have you ever considered the oddness of the label name Eclipse of Live Promulgation?  To eclipse something is fairly well understood - essentially, to completely or partially obscure an object.  Promulgation, on the other hand, is the act of formally proclaiming or declaring a new statutory or administrative law after its enactment.  So.....the label's meaning is to overshadow the physical (live) event of public declaration?  Hmmmm....    

Anyway, back on-topic, the planned contribution from Uruk Hai was never finalised, as plans for the split were cancelled very early on, so from that perspective there is absolutely nothing more to tell you!

The only place to find the original song....

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Hugin interviewed in Total Commando War Zine

Band: URUK HAI
What's this then: An interview with Hugin, published in the Total Commando War Zine (Russia) back in the summer of 2013

As we know, the thoughts of Chairman Hugin are in demand the world over.  The interview below is one Hugin did with the Russian music zine Total Commando War in the middle of last year, so references a few things that have now come to pass in terms of forthcoming musical projects.  Nazgul thought you might find it an interesting read to kick off the new year, and assuming you don't habitually frequent the underground Russian music press it will be something new to you...and brings news of interesting releases yet to come...!

Q1. Salute, Hugin!  What news in the Uruk-Hai camp?


A1. Salute!  I'm close before to release my new opus "...And All The Magic & Might He Brought" on limited (300 copies only) digipak CD! This album features a lot of great guest musicians this time as they are Joe Matera (ex Geisha), Tony 'Demolition Man' Dolan (M:Pire Of Evil, Atomkraft, ex. Venom), Rich Davenport (Greyhound Bridge), Bart Piette (Dead Man's Hill), Teresa Chilcutt-Gutierrez (Vos Intereo), Trevor Sewell (ex Venom, ex Tygers Of Pan Tang, Tervor Sewell Band), Janos Krusenbaum (Seeking Raven) & Pr. Sergiy (Moloch). You can expect a lot of musical changes this time, many more (Metal-) Guitar parts and different vocals styles are on "...And All The Magic & Might He Brought". The limited first edition digipak contains also 4 epic bonus tracks!

I'm also working on a split album trilogy with mighty Ringbearer from Canada – it is entitled "Moments Of Mythic Grandeur Part 1 – Part 3" and the Uruk Hai tracks for this split series are a mix of Epic Metal and Ambient – I call it always Fantasy Metal Ambient.  I'm doing also a split tape with Valtiel from India and a split CD with Lousberg from Germany with ambient songs only and a split Cdr with When We Live from Russia with a mix once again of epic stuff and darkest ambient! I also plan to do a re-release of my debut album "A Night In The Forest" re-mastered and with a brand new artwork.

Q2. Uruk-Hai is the musical landscape of Middle-Earth, it shows dark sides of J.R.R Tolkien's personality. How did you find such ideas for your art?

A2. Tolkien's books have long been my favourites and as a Metal fan I always was fascinated by the dark side of things – in Tolkien's works you can find a lot of dark and mystical places and also evil creatures along with beauty and epic landscapes and mighty elves.  I was totally blasted away when I read first time about all those things and later in the 90's I started my project Hrossharsgrani and after several releases back in 1999 I created a demo rape called "Uruk-hai".  Only 6 copies where made for good friends of mine; these friends told me that after listening to that tape that they liked it very much so I decided to start a new project doing this kind of 'Battle Ambient' under the name of Uruk-Hai.  

At first I decided to do music only relating to Tolkien's world but later in 2004 I lost a bit of my fascination about it and I started to create Nordic mythology influenced music together with a concept album about the ancient Inca culture in South America. But the fascination about the wonderful world of Tolkien's books comes back to me stronger than ever. Up to today The Silmarillion is my favourite of his books, the story of 'Beren And Luthien' from it is my all time favourite, It's so sad and epic in my eyes, but there are stories about dragons, mystic mountains, orcs, elves,... plenty of stuff for serval other musical journeys in the future!

Q3. For what level of thinking your music is created? What do you expect from a potential audience?

A3. Hmmm, that's hard to say.  At first I try to expect nothing, I just start doing music to create my own Middle-Earth Soundtrack, like a radio-play journey to the world of Tolkien.  After the release of an album I always hope to find others who could be interested in my kind of music, and I'm always happy for positive feedback from fans and reviews in magazines; however, it's very good to get constructive critics too in order to learn from past errors and try to make it better next time. The best case always is if the audience try to listen to a full album at once and not only pick out some tracks of it.  It's an honour to me if a listener take its time and spent an hour with my kind of music because it's not often you can do that in our fast living age!

Q4. You're older than a large percentage of musicians in the current underground scene. It's really excellent, that you didn't lose inspiration and that you're always open for contact!  So the Uruk-Hai project was born when you were about 30 years old: what music experience did you have until that moment?

A4. Really, I don't feel so old :-)  My musical interests changed over the last 14 years. I formed Uruk-Hai as a response to the Black Metal I listened most in the past, also to the Melodic Rock and old school Metal that I listen to today, but over the years I always listened to Industrial and Folk too. Variety is the spice of life!

Ambient Music is one of my drugs I used to take since the middle 90s too. it's strange but it is Bathory who animated me to run my own ambient project because I loved Quorthon's Intros and Outros so much.  I recorded them together on one tape in a row and listened to it every night – a strange thing but one that led me to the idea to found my own ambient project. I still listen to ambient and I´m a huge fan of Vinterriket and Cz from Vinterriket is also a very good friend of mine – we both started our musical journey in the late 90's and sometimes I think we are very alike and sometimes you cannot compare us: that's what I really like, it's again variety that keeps everything interesting I think (and so we are!)

Q5. You have a lot of releases and you're working with many different labels. Can you name the most favourite your own releases and labels, that makes the best releases in your opinion?

A5. It's definitely the new album "..And all The Magic & Might He Brought" released through W.A.R. Productions, my very own label.  I worked on it from October 2011 till January 2013, with all the blood of my heart – deep friendships bonded me with all the other guest musicians over the time of one year, and it really means something special to me!

From the older releases I would say "Cirith Ungol" from 2010 is my favourite release from the musical point of few, released by Kristallblut Records, and from the label point of few I would say "Black Blood White Hand" at Sturmklang Records because it is my dear friend Max's (Sturmpercht, Rasthof Dachau) label!

Q6. Tell us, please, about the place where you live. What do you do in everyday life? Have you any activities apart from music?

A6: I live in Linz, the third biggest city of Austria.  It is an industrial city with a huge iron & steel company. I live on the border of that city more into the country side beside 2 lakes and the river Danube and a great forest. It is a beautiful place to stay, I can honestly say I enjoy my life here! I live from creating music with my projects Uruk Hai, Solid Grey, Elisabetha, Eismond, Hrossharsgrani, Hrefnesholt, C.O.I., Bonemachine and WACH and run my own small label W.A.R. Productions. My wife and my two kids support me very much too!  I love to do sports to free my mind, I do biking nearly every day as long as the weather is good enough. These kind of sports gives inspiration for my music too, without it I think I could not do that much music for such a long period of time!!!

Q7. What are your principles of life and creativity?

A7. My number one principle of live is respect - it is based in music, in private live and in each job too, without respect you are not able to exist!  Creativity is based in inspiration, and I take my inspiration from doing sports in the nature like biking, climbing a mountain or just walking through the nature.

Q8. What is the meaning of "ritual" for you in the modern world?

A8. I think the modern world co-exists with ancient rituals and without those ancient rituals our whole system would break down. We always try to reach to the future as far as possible but you should never forgot to keep one foot on the ground – that means you never can loose your contacts to that ancient ages too!  We have a lot of modern rituals like carrying our mobile phone to each place we go, but we also celebrate traditional things like Christmas in the same moment. The modern world is full of ancient rites but we simply forgot the origin of them, we just celebrate it because everyone does it!  Are we really living in a modern world or do we simply just have more technology!?

Q9. Do you support conspiracy theories about shadow governments and/or masons or do you think it's just a bad fiction? What do you think about the near future of Europe - will everything become much worse or can any happenings change the current position?

A9. These conspiracy theories are really interesting and a trend of our modern life I think – its hard to believe and its same hard to not believe it!  I'm the kind of guy that still believes in some of that theories but I try to keep distance from it a bit because that whole internet makes it so easy to spread wrong but very fantastic theories. Area 51, Twin Towers, Illuminati,..... conspiracy for the masses, believe it or not it has its very own charm and it's very hard to keep your distance and not to get fooled!

Q10. Are you interested in politics, religion, economics? What kind of relationship do you have with these behemoths of civilization?

A10. In recent years I am no longer interested in politics because I hate all these lairs around the world – each political vote is just a farce and totally worthless to me, the politicians have lost our confidence! Religions are different I think: yes I am interested in religions but no I don't believe it all. The basis of each religion I think is a good one and if you just take it by its very own roots than you still can trust in it!  I try to deal with the best of both worlds and so I can live my life together with my family in a very comfortable way!

Q11. What can you tell about industrial music and styles, like power electronics, harsh noise, military industrial? Do you have - or plan - albums in these styles?

A11. I did some industrial releases and also Noize albums with my projects Hrossharsgrani, Bonemachine (B-Machina) and WACH.  At the moment I'm working on new Martial Noize tracks with Bonemachine for a new split release with Kaelteeinbruch from Germany, it will be released in summer 2013 via Catgirl Records.  I like Industrial music since I discovered Laibach back in the middle 80's, I was more than blown away by their kind of music.  Today we have a really huge Industrial scene all over the world with a lot of great bands. Also Noize becomes more and more popular, yes there is also 'music' to hear when you listen to Noize, you just need to try it!

I also like to use some Industrial or Noize sounds for my project Uruk-Hai, its often good if I want to show the very dark side of Middle-Earth or the Orcs, these thematics fits perfectly with Industrial and Noize compared with Epic Ambient and Metal!  Everything is allowed and again you just need to try it! The most important in the whole underground scene from the musical point of few is to try something others have not tried before, and Industrial, Ambient, Metal, Noize, etc. builds the perfect basic to try it!

Q12. You used the concepts and fantasy of Robert Howard in your music. Do you like Conan the Barbarian? (If you know, Rob Darken is a big fan of him and he collects all related stuff - books, comics, posters, etc.)

A12.  I´m a huge Conan fan too since I saw it first time in the early 80's – it was a breathtaking moment! I know Rob and his passion to collect his stuff, but I don't collect it. My passion is to collect everything I can get from British Metal band Venom, I started to collect stuff from them back in 1983!!  I'm addicted to buy Venom stuff, often I spent days to search for stuff I don't have like CDs, vinyl, patches, shirts, tapes, posters, buttons,.... my wife calls me silly but its one of the passions I won't stop in my life!

Q13. Of course, I can't pass over a question about Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" film. What are your impressions from it?

A13.  Shame on me, I have not seen The Hobbit so far, I still wait for the Extended Cut on Blu Ray disc which will be released in December 2013 I think. But I already saw the new trailer of part two "The Desolation Of Smaug" and it was simply amazing!!  I don't know if I'm strong enough to myself to wait until December but I still try :-)

Q14. Tell us three adjectives, which you associate with Uruk-Hai music.

A14.  Epic, Mystic & Magical.  These came very fast into my mind and I will not change them – so take it like it is!

Q15. Thank you for interview! And a last some words for people, who read our zine and listen our music.

A15.  Thanks a lot for your great support! Keep the flame of true underground burning!  In 2014 Uruk-Hai will celebrate its 15th year anniversary – expect something special !!!