Tuesday, 23 December 2014

J.O.Y.


Band: ILL 
Title: J.O.Y. (or j.o.y.)
Format: Currently a free download available through the band's Bandcamp page, recorded in December 2014
Edition: unlimited 

Track Listing: 

01. j.o.y.  7.26

We last encountered ILL back in the mists of time (July 2011 to be precise) when their debut demo "s.t.r.a.n.g.e" came to light.  It was a someone eclectic mix of Bonemachine-esque machinations, both in the industrial/martial sense but also in the more synth based recording style that was "Extraterrestrial Death".

Despite being an enjoyable listen, the general belief was that the ILL project had been a short-lived whim of Hugin's and that single tape release was both their beginning and their swansong.  As Hugin himself commented at the time, 'with ILL I wanted to do something noisy but still atmospheric - it was just this release only, I never wanted to me with with ILL....

And so it had proven to be ever since, until a random email found it's way to Castle Nazgul from deepest Austria, clearly suggesting that a germ of an idea had been flourishing in the dark, dank Austrian forests and that the time was now right for ILL to lurch forth once again from fetid ruins into the glare of the public spotlight...

Or - in other words - ILL is back!

Hugin's been very busy penning and recording new music for the project, as you will quickly see by a quick visit to their Bandcamp page.  Now reveling under the title of Doom Ambient Metal, Nazgul's expectations for the band was for some dark and perilous material to invoke fear and trepidation in unwary listeners the world over.  And the first proof of that supposition would be the newly deceased - errr, sorry, released - song 'j.o.y.' released in December 2014.

Thus prepared the media player was cued up, and the Castle Nazgul inhabitants prepared for an onslaught of doom metal of bone-crushing weight and of soul-destroying vibe, where the title of the song 'j.o.y.' would surely prove to be a monstrous irony.  But.... that's not what came from the speakers at all.  Oh no, Hugin's played a cunning card here, and instead of jumping into an existing genre at appropriately funereal pace he has instead created quite unexpected and actually rather awesome!

It's just possible that 'j.o.y.' is the catchiest thing Hugin has ever recorded, and it's in some pretty good company across the canon of Uruk Hai and COI releases in that regard. Seemingly out of nowhere, that wily old Austrian fox has summoned the deceased souls of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal musicians and has channeled the resultant organ and guitar riffs into one monumental song.  Don't believe your old uncle Nazgul?  Then follow the link above and check it out - for free - for yourself.

From the first keyboard trills (repeated at the conclusion of the song) your expectations are thrown far out of the window, to drop aimlessly into the moat below.  Composure regained, some mighty riffs from what sounds like Uriah Heep's 1970s Hammond organ kick in, complemented by tasty guitar licks and bags of groove.

With all due respect to the Beastie Boys, if this is the future direction of the band then we should all lobby to give Hugin a 'Licence to ILL' at the first opportunity.  

Magnificent!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

FROZEN IN TIME


Band: When We Live (featuring Alexander Weiser)
Titles: 'Frozen In Time'
Format: Available as a physical CDr released in November 2014 on the Smell The Stench label (Australia), no catalogue reference, and as downloadable tracks on Bandcamp.  Both were recorded as collaborative pieces between Russian project When We Live and our old chum, Hugin.
Edition: CDr pressing limited to 33 hand-numbered pieces.  Download version unlimited in availability at date of writing.

Track Listing:
01. When We Live (featuring Alexander Wieser)  *  Frozen In Time 02:18    
02. Kirill Makushin  *  Fallen Leaves 00:58  

Today's offering is one of those collaborative efforts that Hugin is oft asked to become a part of.   We last crossed paths with Russian project When We Live back in September 2013 when their split release with Uruk Hai was reviewed (and well received it was too).  

The Russian project When We Live was founded by Jerry Norton and Kirill Makushin in March 2013, and taking account of the credits on the Bandcamp page, there certainly seems to have been some industrious work put in by the three musicians in question: credits for sounds and effects are taken by Jerry Norton and Kirill Makushin, whilst Hugin picks up the honours for electric guitar, keyboard and the final mix.  Meanwhile, synth, mixing and mastering is attributed to Jerry, and synthesizer and accordion (that most metal of instruments) goes on down the slate for Kirill.  

The track 'Frozen In Time' appeared on the aforementioned split release with Uruk Hai, but the kicker in this instance is that the 2013 version was not a collaborative effort whereas this version is.  Hence the additional 'featuring Alexander Weiser' credit appearing on the blurb, you see.  So what do we get on our very short two-song CDr's worth of plastic, then?

Well, the eerie nature of guitar and keyboards on the 'Frozen In Time' track can't be overstated.  Nazgul's morning commute is an early one, and ghosting through dark and abandoned city streets at 06:30 listening to this song is strangely apt, even given the imagery on the cover art of frozen trees and barren, snowy landscapes.  It all comes across as a bit 'unreal' if you know what I mean, not so much a song as it is the sound of a zephyr of wind passing gently through the branches of a gnarled oak.  It's nothing you'd hum to yourself as you go about your day, but equally nothing that you'd ignore if it were playing in the background.  All instrumental, and all good.

Second song 'Fallen Leaves' is very much the brainchild of Kirill Makushin, and is dedicated to his son.  It's so short that it almost defies description, and is even more sparse than the already lean-to-the-bone 'Frozen In Time', but at under a minute hardly has enough time to grab your attention before it's gone like a tiny leaf swirling away in a little eddy of sound...

One merciful thing about this release is that it has absolutely nothing whatever to do with that interminable 'Let One Go' song from the film Frozen (or is that 'Let It Go'...?  No, I think Nazgul had it pretty much nailed the first time), although the prospect of a future Uruk Hai cover song of this current seasonal favourite is not without its dubious charms.  After all, we all remember the sterling effort that was Hrossharsgrani's version of 'House Of The Rising Sun'....

Monday, 15 December 2014

REI REA / BONEMACHINE split - update


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Rei Rea / Bonemachine (untitled split CDr)
Format: CDr release in card-sleeve with inner wallet, released in 2007 on the Crater Records label (Canada), catalogue reference CTR02.
Edition: Believed to be limited to only 70 unnumbered copies
Reason for update: A different colour copy of this release has been located!

Track Listing (same as 'standard' release):
Rei Rea
01. Ulcer Vile
02. Degrees Of Guilt
03. Onward
04 .Silent Hunters
05. Sunken Part 1

 
Bonemachine
06.  Feindschlag 3:01
07.  Military Desaster 10:55
08.  Coldashell 3:00
09.  Hölle:Modern 3:25

In the grand tradition of Sesame Street, today's post is brought to you by the name 'Alex' and by the colour 'Yellow'.

'Alex' in two respects: the shadowy figure behind Bonemachine is - of course - our old friend Alexander "Hugin" Weiser, a man never far from an unusual sound effect to augment a song or two.  But also Alex as in another of Honour and Darkness' old friends, Alexander Ivanov of A.M.F. Productions in Bulgaria, who located this unusual release in his stockpile secreted somewhere in the underground catacombs of Sofia...!

'Yellow' for the very simple reason that the card sleeve of this version of Rei Rea / Bonemachine's split CDr is undeniably yellow in colour.  And that is something of a surprise, given that every other copy Nazgul has clapped his eyes on over the years has been the same muted grey/brown-toned affair as originally featured in the Blog way back in May 2009.  

That said, there haven't been too many copies surfacing over the years, given that there were (it's thought) only about 70 of the blighters to begin with.  However, as time has inexorably marched onwards Nazgul's found a few of these and shared them with fellow collectors around the globe.  But never one of a different hue, which is what we have to contend with here.

Precious little information can be gleaned through the Internet, although Hugin (our man in the know for these things) did offer the suggestion that Crater Records - home to Rei Rea - has been known to issue releases in multiple colours before.  So perhaps there could be a veritable rainbow of these things out there, just waiting for someone to catalogue them in all their glory?  Or perhaps this copy is the anomaly, the sole variant in an otherwise monochrome sea of card and plastic....?

In terms of practical issues - track listings, catalogue labelling et al - this is exactly as the 'standard' release, so other than the novelty factor there's actually nothing else of huge relevance here.  But that would be to miss the purpose of Honour and Darkness as the online cataloguing site for Hugin's work, and also would undervalue the efforts of Mr Ivanov who so kindly unearthed this little gem from his collection and made it available to Nazgul (along with a few other weird and wonderful things, more of which in future posts).

Friday, 12 December 2014

URUK HAI / MÜLDEPONIE split


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Untitled (split release with Müldeponie)
Format: Released as both a CDr in DVD size case (cut1177) and as a cassette tape (cut1504) on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine).  The CDr release date was July 2013, with the tape following in March 2014
Edition: The CDr pressing is limited to 33 copies, the tape to 66 copies, neither edition hand-numbered.

Track Listing:
Uruk Hai
01. Back to the Shire  4.26 
02. Bags End  1.38 
03. Samwise (Always a Friend)  7.14 
04. A Visit from Mordor  5.38 
05. Very Close to a Nazgul  2.56 
06. The Ring and His Slave  4.44 
 
Müldeponie
07. Vers l'Au Delà, à Travers les Montagnes... (version 1)  6.10
08. Necromancie I  4.02 
09. Necronancie II  8.00 
10. Retourner au Dongeon de l'Existence (version 2)  4.08 
11. Winterreise (ColdWorld Cover)  4.16
12. Vers l'Au Delà, à Travers les Montagnes... (version 2)  4.00

Another day, another Uruk Hai release to review!   As if Hugin's rate of issuing recordings wasn't high enough already, in the past few months he's gone positively crackers with the number of things coming out of W.A.R.  Indeed, a recent parcel that has winged its way over from the Austrian Alps contained so much new material that Nazgul immediately felt faint and had to have a restorative pint or two of Old Buttplugger's Hornswoggler finest brew to recover his composure.


This a largely instrumental release from both bands.  Müldeponie we came across fleetingly once before on Honour and Darkness, with their contribution to the "Tribute To Burzum" release.  Of their style, one website said of Müldeponie that their music "is composed entirely synthesiser in a style reminiscent of some Burzum album or the one-man band Austrian Uruk Hai". A-ha!

Their Bandcamp page depicts a much more varied context, however, citing a mix of Drone, Epic Ambient, Medieval Ambient, Dungeon Synth, Black Ambient, and lots of others styles in their music.  Well, that eclectic set of influences largely rings true with their songs on this release too, and it's all perfectly listenable without necessarily leaping out of the speakers and assaulting your ears.  And, by the way, there's a hell of a lot of releases to their name, so well worth some investigation one would suppose...?

Now, let's be honest: normally at this juncture Nazgul would wade off into a lengthy narrative about the Uruk Hai songs, but as he's suffering from a stinking cold and is up to his ears in leaves that need to be dredged from the Castle moat, you'll have to have some forbearance for a shorter spiel than usual.  Today also marks the birthday of that most fearsome of entities, the Castle Monkey, and as such its demands also create a terrible pull on Nazgul's time.

Let me be brief: 6 instrumental songs (save the odd spoken part), some beautiful piano flourishes (particularly on opening song 'Back To The Shire'), a heady mixture of driven melodies and more drawn-art epic parts, spiced with a healthy nod to the works of Tolkien and a rather touching allusion to your humble scribe in 'Very Close To A Nazgul'.  This latter track is accompanied by the gentle sounds of nature, highly relevant at this present time given Nazgul's seemingly endless traipsing through the mountain of foliage piled up on embrasures and enceintes alike.

Put another way: if you like the Uruk Hai stuff you've already heard from the past few years, then you'll get on famously with this collection!

In splendid old school fashion, Depressive Illusions have seen fit to issue this split as both a limited edition tape release and an even more limited edition CDr pressing.  Both are illustrated here, and both well worth seeking out for your personal horde.  One imagines the CDr would be a better seller than the tape, though in balance Nazgul has been contacted in recent times by a few individuals who still eschew modern formats for their music and seek out nothing but cassettes for their collections, so perhaps Depressive Illusion's strategy is more cunning than you'd think...?

With normal (lengthy) service to be resumed as soon as better health and less hectic schedules come his way, Nazgul bids you festive greetings from the snow-capped peaks surrounding his domain, and hopes to have at least another post up on Honour and Darkness before the impending arrival of Santa.... 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

NOSFERAT "BLUT EDITION"

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Nosferat "Blut Edition"
Format: Tape edition of this demo released in a special limited edition by W.A.R. Productions (Austria) in 2003.
Edition: 10 numbered copies
Track Listing:

Side A
01. Des Abends Rotes Seelenblut 1.20
02. Wurdulak 3.44
03. Das Blut Meiner Ahnen 1.34
04. Todessehnsucht 6.45
05. Nachtherrscahft 1.33
06. Der Vampyr 8.30
07. Fleisch 1.22
08. Leb' Wohl Lieb Land 17.29
09. Akasha 1.59

Side B
01. Im Schatten Jener Nacht, In Der Ich Starb 11.54
02. Verwoben Im Netze Ewiglicher Finsternis 11.18
03. Kabinett Der Angste 14.08
04. Bathori (Sturm Einer Winternacht) 8.28

Some things take a little time to work out.  In this case, however, it's taken Nazgul about 5 years to piece together the full story behind this most enigmatic of releases, the "Nosferat - Blut Edition" demo tape!  To be fair, mind you, it's not as if Nazgul has been slaving away at the puzzle for 5 years non-stop: even he's not that slow!

No, this is just one of those little stories where a sequence of events over time has shed light on a previously untold story in the Hugin discography.  So pull your chair closer to the fire and listen to the words of wisdom from your old Uncle Nazgul....

So back on 4 August 2009 the original Honour and Darkness review of "Nosferat" was published, covering both a rare CDr version of the demo, and the official tape version released by Smell The Stench (Australia).  It is the tape version that we are interested in today, with the original version being an unlimited edition and wrapped in a white inlay cover.  This is the version that most of you will probably have in your collections.  However, an update to that original post followed within a matter of days (oh - those were the days, upward of 20 posts a month on Honour and Darkness...!) which showed the same demo but with a red cover.  This was also a Smell The Stench release, number of copies unknown, which Nazgul had seen on the internet and had eventually managed to track down via the Hexenreich label.

And as far as Nazgul was concerned, that was that: two different colour copies seen online and procured for the Castle collection.  Job done ... or was it?  For only last month some random browsing online threw up another strange find.  Listed for sale under a stock picture of the red-cover Nosferat tape was an interesting sounding item from our old friends Tanya and Igor at The Eastern Front; their copy was titled "Nosferat Blut Edition" and purported to be a limited edition of 10 copies!

Correspondance began between Israel and Austria to get at the heart of the matter, and it emerged that back in the day Alex had released a very limited W.A.R. Productions copy of the "Nosferat" demo in a so-called 'Blut Edition', each being wrapped in silver ribbon and having a hand-written and numbered tag attached to it.  This uber-rare release had flown under the Castle Nazgul radar for years, but happily had now come to light!

And that is why the pictures you see accompanying this post show a 'new' edition of this long in the tooth (pun firmly intended!) demo.  The songs are the same as all of the other editions, but the source and edition distingish this version as the one to have!  Indeed, in such good condition is this copy that the ribbon clearly has never been removed from the tape since it was put together all those years ago by the hands of Hugin himself.  

Nazgul's copy is #3 of the 10 made, which begs the inevitable question of where the other 9 copies are now.  If you are lucky enough to own one, why not let Nazgul know about it....? 

The Nosferat family ... not so much Nosferatu as it is Nosfera-three...