Thursday, 30 October 2014

THE FELLOWSHIP

Band: URUK HAI
Title: The Fellowship
Format: Professional CD release on the Metallic Media label (America), catalogue reference METALLIC 023.  This album was released on 20 March 2014 and comes with full colour covers and a picture disc.
Edition: 500 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01.  The Red Dawn  5:21  
02.  Broken Blade  3:12  
03.  Mordor Coldness  8:12  
04.  Immortal Flame  5:24  
05.  Ring Of Water  3:21  
06.  A Blade Of Fire  4:42  
07.  The Wars Of Beleriand  6:17  
08.  The Great Battle  3:42  
09.  Mirkwood  6:48  
10.  The Stone Of Erech  3:19  
11.  Before The Battle  6:24  
12.  The White Tower  6:06  
13.  The Iron Doors Of Angband  8:10  
14.  Valar - The Rulers Of Arda  7:28  

Recently the delightful Lady Nazgul and yours truly have been enjoying watching the hit crime series The Following (in as far as one can 'enjoy' watching serial killers running amok in the community).  The title of that series bears uncanny similarity to Uruk Hai's "The Fellowship", the 'release of the day' here on Honour and Darkness, and so inevitably in Nazgul's tiny mind the two words have conflated to the extent that they have now become inextricably linked.

Which is all jolly unfortunate, really, as Nazgul had intended starting off this post with the up-beat thought that the wider Honour and Darkness community is something of a Fellowship in its own right, being an informal group of us all sharing a mutual interest in Hugin's projects and allied in the spirit of companionship and camaraderie.  Now, of course, it's become almost impossible not to think of you all as a crazed bunch of psychotic nut-jobs roaming the streets in murderous pursuit of victims.  Which, of course, may be true in some cases, but hopefully not for all....

None of which should distract us from the task at hand, namely giving "The Fellowship" a damn good airing and seeing what this recent Uruk Hai release (March 2014) has to offer us.  And the answer to that simple question is equally straightforward: it has loads to offer us, a veritable cornucopia of Middle-Earth themed goodness that will keep any fan of the project smiling broadly from ear to ear.  Or is that what you get from the so-called Razor Blade Smile, where a poor unfortunately is cut a new (ear to ear) smile with said razor blade?  Oh dear, murderous intent surges to the fore once again, please excuse Nazgul whilst he allows the blood lust to subside....

Ah, that's better.  Now where were we?  Well, first of all let's take a look at the album, with its striking artwork credited to Jaron Evil of Xenoscape.  This, it transpires, is none other than Jaron of Ringbearer and Funeral Fornication renown, who has worked with Hugin on a number of historical and contemporary releases.  Evocative silhouettes, colours and imagery combine to thrust you deep into the heart of Tolkien's realm, with the original literary Fellowship depicted on the cover booklet and led by that wily old fox Gandalf, looking for all the world like a rag-tag procession of ne'er-do-wells stumbling out of a Joe Matara gig.

And you can be certain from the song titles that we remain deep in the heart of Tolkien country, with numerous direct and indirect allusions to places and events across his majestic work.  The inspiration for 'The Red Dawn'?  Very possibly that part in The Two Towers when Gandalf cries, "It is a red dawn. Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest.  Good or evil, I do not know; but we are called.  Awake!"

'Broken Blade'?  Narsil springs to mind.  The 'Wars of Beleriand' would be those fought by the Sindar against Morgoth.  Mirkwood? Well you should bloody well know where Mirkwood is by now, or I'm assuming you've stumbled into this blog by accident.  Mind you, did you know that Mirkwood is a name used for two distinct fictional forests on the continent of Middle-earth: one from the First Age of Middle-earth, when the highlands of Dorthonion north of Beleriand were known as Mirkwood after falling under Morgoth's control; the other - and the more famous of the two - was the large forest in Rhovanion, east of the Anduin. This had acquired the name Mirkwood during the Third Age, after it fell under the influence of the Necromancer; before that it had been known as Greenwood the Great, and it is this Mirkwood that features significantly in The Hobbit.

And we could go on: 'The Stone of Erech' was a great black stone, spherical in shape and roughly six feet in diameter. It was half-buried at the top of the Hill of Erech. The Stone was a mysterious and eerie place, shunned by the people of the valley, who claimed it had fallen from the sky, and was haunted by restless spirits. 'The White Tower' will be the Tower of Ecthelion, a tall white tower (no, really!) atop Minas Tirith, which contained the the throne of the King of Gondor and a secret room housing a palantír.  And you may award yourself a gold star if you remember what a plantiír is, and where we last encountered its reference in Honour and Darkness?! *   

And much like Mirkwood, you'll surely be familiar with the Valar and also with the iron fortress of Angband by now....

So, we've firmly established a very strong Tolkien theme here.  And the music that follows reinforces this initial impression, with a dazzling panoply of styles and range being presented to us by Hugin.  Imagine yourself astride Nazgul's mighty Fellbeast, flying high over the land of Middle-Earth and looking down on it's denizens below.  The music on this album is the perfect cinematic accompaniment to such a journey.  The gentle strings and piano in certain songs bring to mind the countryside of this realm, as if you were looking down on majestic forests crisscrossed crystal-clear babbling brooks, teeming with fish and cavorting Hobbits (yummy - lunchtime for Nazgul!)

Other tracks are bombastic and dramatic, and would be the perfect soundtrack to watching battalions of Elven cavalry in gleaming armour sweeping across windy ridge tops, or to witness the countless hordes of Orc and Uruk Hai hosts swarming the walls of the fortress at Helm's Deep and decimating the armies of  King Théoden.  There's such a breadth and variety of music on offer - all with the hallmark sounds of Hugin's keyboard, guitar and instrumental talents - that it's a pleasure to delve into this album again and again just to re-listen to particular songs.  The album has been on almost constant rotation in the Castle Library these past few weeks, and still it impresses with its depth.

Frankly, if you are any sort of fan of Uruk Hai you need to own this album.  It's not optional - this really can be seen as the definitive statement of the modern Uruk Hai sound and is the perfect example of where Hugin is at the current moment in terms of compositional skill and entertainment value.  By rights the edition of 500 copies should be long sold out, as if that small number can't be shifted by those of us sufficiently interested in this project then God help us all.  If you've not got a copy, email Hugin via his various band/Facebook pages to ask him for one.  Besiege the record label, or if you have to search the depths of the Internet online auctions to snaffle a copy.  This should be a mandatory purchase for any true follower of Uruk Hai, simple as that.

Quite honestly, someone ought to pop a copy of this CD in the post to Peter Jackson ahead of his next Tolkien film project!

As a statement of intent Nazgul would go so far as to say this is the defining album by the band in the last few years, surpassing "...And All The Magic & Might He Brought..." as the epitome of the Uruk Hai sound in 2014.  Complex and epic as that anniversary album was, the contributions from so many other musicians did pull the sound in all sorts of unusual (albeit interesting) directions: on "The Fellowship", however, it's the pure spirit and sound of Uruk Hai that you encounter and the experience - in Nazgul's humble opinion at least - is all the better for it.


* A palantír (sometimes translated as "Seeing Stone") is a spherical stone that superficially resembles a crystal ball, used for both communication and as a means of seeing events in other parts of the world.  Last referenced in the Uruk Hai/Onyx split release, trivia fans....!   

Saturday, 25 October 2014

MYSTIFIED Versus BONEMACHINE - update


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Mystified Versus Bonemachine
Reason for update: CDr disc and paper inlay from Mystified with their half of the split release tracks

A very quick update for you tonight, courtesy of this CDr in plain wrappers received eons ago from Hugin as part of a supply parcel to Castle Nazgul.

It is the very same disc - and accompanying paper with song and artist details - received by Hugin from Thomas Park of Mystified.  These were, of course, the tracks that formed the 2007 split release between this project and Hugin's Bonemachine, which was reviewed way back in the early days of the Blog over 5 years ago.

There's not an awful lot to comment on about this particular piece, save it shows Mystified to have been based at the time in St Louis, MO, USA, as the 7 songs are as on the final release of the very limited edition split that Hugin wrapped so carefully in a metal tin and handmade fabric bag.

Still, as the official archive for all things Hugin-related, this seems a suitable piece to attain a post of its own, and perhaps may prompt those of you with the official release in your collections to dust it off and enjoy it all over again....?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

BALROG - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Balrog
Format: Professional CDr release on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine) in July 2013, cat ref cut 1132, in DVD-size case with full colour covers.
Edition: 33 unnumbered copies
Reason for update: Re-release of this epic as a CDr in its own right, following the original tape appearance and subsequent inclusion in the box-set War Anthems.

Track Listing:
01. Balrog  56:08

Don't be fooled by that deceptively innocent-looking tree on the cover, sitting there minding its own business in a field of pure-driven snow.  It's not a tree at all, really, you know.  Oh no, you see it's all a cunning deceit , designed to trap the unwary and naive.  What's lurking in that field is - in point of fact - a Balrog....

Now, you can trust Nazgul on this one: you really don't want to get on the wrong side of a Balrog.  Tolkien describes them as tall and menacing (roughly twice human size) with the ability to shroud themselves in fire, darkness, and shadow. They frequently appear armed with fiery whips of many thongs and occasionally use long swords to wreak their havoc and misery. They cannot be readily vanquished and only dragons rival their capacity for ferocity and destruction.


There was a time when these creatures were prolific in number: A host of a thousand of them is mentioned in the Quenta Silmarillion, while at the storming of Gondolin Balrogs in the hundreds ride on the backs of the Dragons. They were fierce demons, associated with fire, and armed with their fiery whips and claws like steel they were readily deployed by Morgoth, who delighted in using them to torture his captives.

In the language of Gnomish Balrog literally means 'Cruel Demon', whilst the equivalent in the languages Quendi and Eldar gives a translation as Demon of Might.

Most senior in the hierarchy of Balrogs were Gothmog (who appears in the Silmarillion), described as physically massive and strong, some 12 feet tall, and who wields a black axe and whip of flame.  He holds the titles of the Lord of the Balrogs, the High Captain of Angband, and Marshal of the Hosts.  However, you'll probably be more familiar with the Balrog who dwarves called Durin's Bane.

It survived the defeat of Morgoth in the War of Wrath and escaped to hide beneath the Misty Mountains. For more than five Millennia, the Balrog remained in its deep hiding place at the roots of the mountains in Khazad-dûm, until in the Third Age the mithril-miners of Dwarf-King Durin VI disturbed it (or released it from its prison). Durin was killed by the Balrog, hence the name of Durin's Bane.


The dwarves attempted to fight the Balrog, but its power was far too great. Despite their efforts to hold Khazad-dûm against it, King Náin and many other Dwarves were killed and the survivors were forced to flee. This disaster also reached the Silvan Elves of Lórien, many of whom also fled the "Nameless Terror" (it was not recognized as a Balrog at the time, and even kindly uncle Nazgul picked up some of the blame for the atrocities committed).   For another 500 years, Moria was left to the Balrog; eventually Sauron began to put his plans for war into effect, and he sent Orcs and Trolls to the Misty Mountains to bar all of the passes: Some of these creatures came to Moria, and the Balrog allowed them to remain.

You'll know the story of what eventually happened: the Fellowship of the Ring travelled through Moria on their way to Mount Doom and were attacked in the Chamber of Mazarbul by Orcs. The Fellowship fled through a side door, but when the wizard Gandalf the Grey tried to place a "shutting spell" on the door to block the pursuit behind them, the Balrog entered the chamber on the other side and cast a counter-spell. Gandalf spoke a word of Command to stay the door, but the door shattered and the chamber collapsed. Gandalf was severely weakened by this encounter. 

The company fled with him, but the Orcs and the Balrog, taking a different route, caught up with them at the bridge of Khazad-dûm. The Elf Legolas instantly recognized the Balrog and Gandalf tried to hold the bridge against it. As Gandalf faced the Balrog he proclaimed, "You cannot pass!", and broke the bridge beneath the Balrog. As it fell, the Balrog wrapped its whip about Gandalf's knees, dragging him to the brink.  As the Fellowship looked on in horror, Gandalf cried "Fly, you fools!" and fell.  Rumours that Gandalf's actual words at this time were, "Oh bollocks" are yet to be verified.

After the long fall, the two landed in a subterranean lake, which extinguished the flames of the Balrog's body; however it remained "a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake". They fought in the water, with the Balrog clutching at Gandalf to strangle him, and Gandalf hewing the Balrog with his sword, until finally the Balrog fled into ancient tunnels of unknown origin. Gandalf pursued the creature for eight days, until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil, where the Balrog was forced to turn and fight once again, its body erupting into new flame. Here they fought for two days and nights. 

In the end, the Balrog was defeated and cast down, breaking the mountainside where it fell "in ruin". Gandalf himself died following this ordeal, but he was later sent back to Middle-earth with even greater powers, as Gandalf the White, "until his task was finished".


Strong buggers, these Balrogs.  As Nazgul advised earlier, you really don't want to mess with them.

Oh, and the music?  Epic, grandiose, powerful and emotive: you really don't want to mess with Hugin, either.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

ERZSEBET BATHORI - KAPITAL 2 promo


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Erzsebet Bathori - Kapitel 2: Eine Mär Aus Fleisch
Format: Double CDr disc housed in a plastic wallet with typed lyric sheets.  This was not officially released as a demo as far as is known and is presumed therefore to be a one-off promotional item.
Edition: 1 copy (assumed)

Track Listing:
CDr1  
01. Erzsebet Bathori - Kapitel 2: Eine Mär Aus Fleisch
CDr2  
01. Wenn Docn Der Morgen
02. Der Vampyr

Out of a clear blue sky (well, a grey overcast sky actually, as the perpetual miasma hanging over Castle Nazgul abhors anything resembling a sunny day) came this hitherto unseen promo CDr!  The source of the missive to Nazgul was none other than Fernando, of War Productions in Portugal (this being a different WAR Productions to Hugin's label, by the way), who had comes across something strange in his travels.  

Thus spake Fernando: "I got this double CDr call "Erzsebet Bathori - Kapitel 2: Eine Mär Aus Fleisch". I know from your site that "Erzsebet Bathori - Kapitel 2" was suppose to be out in a 7" but it never come out. Is this CDr some kind of a promo?"

Well, Fernando, it turns out that this is indeed is some kind of a promo, and no less an authority than Hugin himself has confirmed this.

But a quick bit of history: once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a plan to release 3 vinyl EP's to tell a saga of ritualistic bloodletting!  The first part of this trilogy was the "Erzebet Bathori Eine Ode In Blut" 7" release.  As the Blog entry for the release details, this 2002 EP - 'a story about blood and everlasting life' - was due to be followed by the "Erszebet Bathory (Eine Mär Aus Fleisch) Kapitel II" 7" EP except that it never came about: the lengthy 22 minute song appears instead on the "Vampyr" CD EP from 2003 and not in vinyl format. The proposed third 7" EP covering the Venom track "Countess Bathory" was also advertised, but again was never released.

As you might imagine, there was some horse-trading going on between the release of the first EP and the planned release of the second, in as far as the record label who released the initial EP did not want to do a second one, and thus an alternative label was needed to move the trilogy forward.  In the event, a label could not be found to support the project and as a result the second and third parts were scrapped.

One can only suspect that as part of that shopping around process this promo CDr was created.  Hugin confirms that this is not one of his creations, and that the handwriting is that of Uwe Backer (aka Elisabetha's own Blutgraf Gha'gsheblah) so it makes for an unusual item in the desirability stakes.

As such, a rare and unusual piece, and as the accompanying pictures will testify not one currently held in the Castle Nazgul archives.  Lucky old Fernando...!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

BLOOD & IRON


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Blood And Iron
Format: A wooden box-set on the Fallen Angels Productions label (South Korea), catalogue reference FAP048, released in August 2013.  There are two versions of this release, with the same albums inside but with colour and black & white artwork distinguishing them.  The box contains 1 x CDr and 6 x cassette tapes, featuring previously released Uruk Hai material.
Edition: There are 25 hand-numbered copies in total - 7 copies are in full colour, with 18 therefore being black & white.

Contents:
CDr  *  The_Nazgul

Tape 1  *  Lord_of_The_Rings
Tape 2  *  Wrath_Of_The_Ring
Tape 3  *  Gil-Galad
Tape 4  *  Blutreich
Tape 5  *  Felagund
Tape 6  *  Iron Age

This handy box-set unifies a number of past Uruk Hai releases into one tidy little collection.  The theme of unification is most appropriate, given the title of this release, as Blood and Iron (or 'Blut und Eisen' in the original German) is the title of a speech given in 19862 by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck about the unification of the German territories.  That eventually led to a war in Europe, and of course W.A.R. is in Europe and is the spiritual home for all things Uruk Hai.  A most cunning coincidence....

This beautifully presented set - as are all of the Fallen Angels Productions releases, to be fair - lacks the usual smattering of stickers, posters or accoutrements typical of such boxes, save for a couple of feathers.  One is taped to the inside of the lid, the other loose within the box.  What might they signify - who knows?!  White feathers were used as a symbol of cowardice in the First World War, but these aren't white (nor would they fit with the thunderous theme of the box either!)

So, strike Nazgul with down with, errrm, well, a feather, as it turns out that there's a whole sub-culture about the meanings behind feathers (well, it keeps people busy I suppose).  Feathers were worn by Native American Chiefs to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom, and also represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind.  In a Celtic context, the feather was worn by Druids in the form of ornate feathered robes to invoke the sky gods and gain knowledge of the celestial realm. It was believed that the feathered cloak along with the presence of the sky gods would allow the Druid to transcend the earthly plane and enter the ethereal realm.

The Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul. In Christianity feathers represented virtues.  Even dreams aren't out of the equation: here (apparently) dreaming of feathers means travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.

So perhaps we should infer from this that "Blood & Iron" will invoke both thunder gods (but hopefully not Gene Simmons) and virtue, and will elevate us fortunate to own it to ethereal realms in the sky as long as we wear ornate robes and travel extensively...?

Anyway, back to the other contents!  

This set is notably for compiling some genuinely hard-to-find Uruk Hai releases and for that there should be much rejoicing.  The CD pressing of "The Nazgul" is by far the rarest of the bunch, not least because there was only a single tape copy made of the release as a gift from Hugin to Nazgul back in the day!  This airing in CD format with new artwork too, and is an instant gem in a collection of many treasures.

Also of note in this box are a tape release for the highly elusive "Blutreich" compilation - again with bespoke artwork on this version - and a tape release for the previously vinyl only limited edition outing "Iron Age".  Those three releases alone would make any box-set worth acquiring as they are all pretty hard to find now (less so Iron Age, but it's hardly commonplace!) and copies can get pretty expensive if when you can track them down.

To this trio you can then add some classic tapes from a few years back - the "Wrath of the Ringsand "Lord of the Rings" both epic and grandiose in their scope, whilst the multi-song "Felagundis also well worth hearing and - despite being in an apparently unlimited initial pressing - suffered slightly by being on a relative obscure label.  Here all three get new artwork and a fresh breath of life and add value to the collection.

The sole 'oddity' in this release is the inclusion of "Gil Galad", which is a good demo in fairness but was made available in so many formats and versions that it hardly needed another release here.  There are plenty of other contemporary demos that would have benefitted from inclusion, but then again perhaps the game-plan is to save them for later releases and not put all of the golden eggs into one basket?

A stupendous release, in short, and a good excuse - if you need it - to listen to some classic Uruk Hai releases all over again!

And look at the fabulous artwork too - the black and white covers are the same as the colour ones in terms of design and content, so forgive Nazgul for majoring on those colour versions here.  Some awesome looking covers for these tapes and discs, which really establishes the quality of the box overall. 


A minor mystery to end with: the Fallen Angels Productions webpage listed this as being in an edition of 26 copies, 7 colour and 19 black and white.  Nazgul's copies show that the edition number inside the tape inlay runs to only 25 copies, so there is a presumption that there will be 7 colour copies and 18 black and white versions (although it could be 6 and 19 respectively).  

Saturday, 11 October 2014

HANDS FROM SHADOWS [V/A]


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Hands From Shadows [Various Artists]
Format: Online compilation released on 30 June 2014 on the Bandcamp website with a purchase cost of £6.66.  The aim of the compilation is to raise money to help victims of the recent flooding in Serbia: "all income from the compilation will be used to buy supplies directly for people and families affected by the flood."  Tracks were compiled by Timur Iskandarov, and the artwork designed by Marc Hoyland.
Edition: Unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Akoustik Timbre Frekuency - Processed Cello & Chimes Improv 06:40  
02. Caroline Jago - Renaissance 04:28  
03. Cecilia Bjargo - The Second Attempt - part II-II 05:31
04. Crows In The Garden - Height (Edit) 05:23    
05. Cyborgs On Crack - Butcher Is A Good Talker 03:47
06. dead.circuit - Requiem et Lux Aeterna 04:01  
07. Desolation - The Light is Gone.... 10:48
08. Din Brad - Amar 05:20    
09. Druhá Smrt - Earth Water Soul 07:30  
10. Echo Grid - Isolated 05:16  
11. Elsewhere Shine - Downpour 02:24  
12. Embrace Our Nature - Vocalise 05:26  
13. Equal Stones - Breathe 07:35  
14. Faerydae - Ajde Jano 05:46  
15. Front Sonore - The Fall 03:30  
16. Gold and Water - Sequence of Pictures Taken At The Moment When The Mothership Flew Right Above Us Pt. 1 09:10  
17. Howling Larsons - Midnight Folk 03:52    
18. Hoyland - Empyreal Pagan Kingdom 16:28  
19. Immundus - A Distant Call 04:11
20. In Slaughter Natives - Definition of NOT Being Alive (Trip Wire Mix) 05:22  
21. Jiibay Shadow Dancer - Upon Lost Waves 07:55    
22. Kold - Frost Byte 04:06  
23. Last Winter I Died - Summer Reveries 03:50  
24. Loell Duinn - Ples Života 04:47
25. L'Oiseau Du Paradis - Odin's Eye 04:02  
26. Lost Kadath - Presence of Pain (Mutilation of the Soul) 03:03  
27. Lucid Static - Stillness 05:52    
28. Meho - Poplava 15:00  
29. Melankolia - Obrenovac (Requiem in A Minor) 11:33  
30. Milena Tomic - G Prelude 01:58  
31. Mind Divided - Safe Spot 07:22  
32. Miss Kitty - To The Ocean 03:39    
33. Mors Omnibus - I Offer You 06:31  
34. MRT - Pogubljeni Raj (Unspoken) 03:20  
35. My Own Cubic Stone - Ithaqua 09:24  
36. My Silent Wake - My Sorrow Is Yours 03:51  
37. Mystified - Tread Sprint 03:50  
38. Nam-khar - Sekhet Aahru 07:55
39. Nevhar Anhar - Raiding Islands 05:33
40. Ov Mhurn - The Long Walk to Solitude 14:33
41. Pineal Vertigo - Floating Souls 04:05  
42. Plaguewielder - Putrescent 08:40
43. Pylae - Est 03:38  
44. Retro Grad - Final Days 01:55  
45. Schattenspiel - Todesahnung 04:12  
46. Shadow Biosphere - Bylakupee 03:59
47. Snowfade - Ridden signals 08:41
48. Svart1 - U Strahu Su Velike Oci 07:24  
49. Tamerlan - Like Gods At Dawn (Live) 03:43    
50. Tearpalm - Biće Dobro (Hands from the Shadows Exclusive Mix) 08:52  
51. The Grave Dominion - Rabbit Trance 11:44    
52. The Hare And The Moon - The Rolling Of The Stones 04:36    
53. TLGBP - Le Couloir Luna 02:10    
54. Tokee - Genesis (2014 Version) 04:00    
55. Tony Wakeford - Lucy Flower 03:20    
56. Tribes Of Medusa - Solar Cross 04:15    
57. Turnavel - Dejection 01:55    
58. Uruk Hai - The Sea Bell 07:43  
59. Valerio Orlandini - Camera Di Compensazione Postuma 06:07    
60. Vedan Kolod - Grey Bird 04:51  
61. Viginti Tres Saecula presents Weltensprung b. Kaiserwetter - Untitled 03:14  
62. Walden - Wanderung Im Moor 03:03    
63. Youth A.D. - Swarm 03:46  
64. Zoran Peternelj - Don't Ask Me Why. I Don't Know 08:20  
65. Crows In The Garden & Nam-khar - Dark Sea 04:47

This mighty compilation weighs in with a whopping 65 songs, and has been issued to raise funds for flood relief work in Serbia by Sombre Sonics Studios.  Their Bandcamp pages notes that they "specialis[e] in Projekts of a Ritual and Ethnomuzikogikal nature" - they also apparently specialise in the unorthodox use of the letters 'k' and 'z'.

However, this is a worthy cause so let not Nazgul's grammatical musings get in the way of a noble fund raising effort.  The 'Hands From Shadows' page details the story:

"The second half of May has brought the worst floods in the known history of Serbia. Several towns and cities were almost completely submerged, many lives lost, and the amount of people forced to flee their homes (and lose everything in process) is measured in thousands.

Even though I haven't lived in that country for some time, Serbia is a place where I grew up and spend the biggest part of my life in. I know how wonderful people there are (the fact that has usually been missed in the rest of the world). For these reasons, I have started this charity compilation, in order to provide at least some help to those who suffered through the floods.

For the last few years I have been in touch with some of the most amazing artists worldwide, and calling upon them to support this cause brought the results I could have never expected. Their desire to help, to donate a song and support this cause in any possible way was in one word: epic! This shows the fact that we already know. Even in the shadows where this kind of art is placed, there are those willing to give their helping hand. Always sincere!

What we ended up with is a massive size compilation, with 65 songs and over 6 hours of music that you have in front of you right now. Whole income from this compilation is going to be used for helping the victims of a flood, and by buying this compilation, you too have shown the support for them. Thank you!"


For more details about the Sombre Soniks Studios click on the link.

Within the monstrous compilation of music the intrepid listener will uncover - at #58 (handily alphabetised!) - the song 'The Sea Bell' from Hugin's incomparable Uruk Hai.  Now, it won't come as a surprise to learn that this title has Tolkien connections, but you have to admire Hugin's ingenuity in combine a fittingly water-based song title with a Middle-earth twist!  For you see "The Sea Bell" (or "Frodos Dreme") was a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien that was included in his 1962 collection of verse "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil."  The poem is in the form of a first person narrative by a speaker who is never identified in the main body of the poem.

"The Sea-Bell" opens with the speaker coming across a white shell "like a sea-bell" as he walks by the shore. He hears the sound of distant harbours and seas as he holds the shell in his hand. Suddenly a boat appears and he is borne away "to a forgotten strand in a strange land./ In the twilight beyond the deep". The land he arrives in is glittering, beautiful and mysterious. He hears the sound of distant music, voices and footfalls, but when he seeks the source of the sound the mysterious inhabitants of the land flee from him. Climbing onto a mound he presumptuously names himself king of the land, and challenges its people to come forth. Darkness descends upon him and he falls to the ground, blinded and bent. For a year and a day afterwards he dwells in the wood "wandering in wit" and growing grey and old.

Eventually, broken and weary, he seeks out the sea and boards a ship that will take him back to his own land. However, when he arrives home the sea-bell no longer carries sounds from over the sea to him. The poem ends on a note of anguish as the speaker finds himself alienated from his own world, misunderstood and forsaken by those he once knew. The final image is of the narrator walking along a dark, rainy street talking to himself "for still they speak not, men that I meet".

The work is based on an earlier poem entitled "Looney", which Tolkien had published in The Oxford Magazine in 1934.  The later 1962 version of the poem is considerably darker than, and twice as long as, the earlier version. Although "Looney" was composed long before Tolkien began work on The Lord of the Rings, the 1962 version is subtitled "Frodos Dreme". Tolkien's mock-academic introduction to the collection suggests that, although the poem may not have been composed by Frodo Baggins, it was associated with him by its readers and reflects the dark dreams that plagued him in his final days in the Shire.  No less an authority than W. H. Auden considered it Tolkien's best poetic work.

So does no less an authority than Nazgul *cough* consider this amongst Hugin's best compositions?  Well I tell you what, it's pretty tasty!

Starting with a rumble of thunder and a crash of waves, there's a simple repeating keyboard riff overlaying some sampled effects of the sea to lull you into a maritime frame of mind.  A bit of funky synthesizer joins the party before Hugin treats us to a more forceful melody of guitar, percussion and synth combined.  Add a little sea-salt and repeat until full baked.  

Sprinkle a few cascading guitar solos in the brine a little later on, and what you have is a blend of old-school Uruk Hai with Hugin's wider influences as evidenced on more recent releases.

Good stuff indeed, with the main repeating riff being both catchy and strangely relaxing at one and the same time.  A successful instrumental composition then, and contributed in support of a worthy cause.