Saturday, 22 August 2015

ATLANTIDA VOL. 8 [V/A]


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Atlantida Vol. 8 [V/A]
Format: A silver CDr disc in black and white professionally printed covers, courtesy of Mike at Dragon Design.  Another entry in Ruslanas' Atlantida series with 14 different international artists contributing material.  Released circa 2000.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing:
01. FOREFATHER  *  The Last Battle  4.49
02. ENFORCE  *  Slayer  5.24
03. VINTAGE SOLEMNITY  *  First Angel First Rebel  7.00
04. HANGMEN  *  Evil Century  4.33
05. ALEPH  *  Gift Of Prometheus  4.26
06. STRANGULATION  *  Mercenary  3.13
07. ROYAL QUEST  *  In The Name Of Man  5.36
08. ANCIENT CEREMONY  *  Forbidden Fruit Sapientia  3.59
09. ELISABETHA  *  Isten Szek  3.49
10. KEKAL  *  From Within  4.52
11. INTO ETERNITY  *  Holding Onto Emptiness  4.53
12. SARCASMO  *  Viscisitud  3.56
13. SERBERUS  *  Dark Dream  4.43
14. DEATHGUY  *  Zero Frontier  5.05

A little like the pyjama-clad man who used to raid the fridge in the middle of the night looking for R. Whites lemonade (readers without access to 1970s British TV ads please forgive this fanciful diversion), here's yet another furtive but compelling repeat visit to the semi-legendary Atlantida CD series - this time, Volume 8!

Once again Ruslanas had scoured the globe looking for talent in all manner of improbable places, and the final assembly of bands is quite astonishing: in no particular order, Italy; Turkey, Austria; Germany; Australia; England; France; Mexico; Greece; Indonesia; Thailand; The Netherlands; Brazil and USA.  That's a different country for each band featured, which is testament to the worldwide appeal of extreme metal as it is to Ruslanas' own ability to attract these bands.  Some are splendidly obscure, and released only one demo before disappearing (Strangulation, being a case in point) yet somehow in their brief existence they found their way onto an Atlantida release!

Amongst the bile and fury is a heavily edited version of Elisabetha's epic demo "Isten Szek", originally reviewed back in 2009.  The tape version of this lengthy demo ran for in excess of 45 minutes, so clearly the truncated edit here is but a fraction of the original so can't convey the full horror and mystery of the full-length version. 

It sits amongst the black, death and raging metal offerings as rather a strange bedfellow, and one wonders what the hardcore Atlantida listener of the day would have made of it....  

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

URUK HAI > Ringwraiths coffee mug

Band: URUK HAI
Item: Ringwraiths coffee mug
Edition: 3 copies only

When the time for nibbling on a well roasted hobbit leg is upon Nazgul, his recent vessel of choice for imbibing the necessary accompaniment of strong ale has been this elegant and exceptional mug.  In durable white enamel with a great Ring design beneath the Uruk Hai logo, it's a grand addition to the steadily growing mound of crockery in the Castle collection! 

Yes it's probably designed for coffee, but given the option a robust ale is a far more enticing proposition to coat the virginal white enamel...!

It is, as you will have surmised from the pictures, the very same style of crockery was part of Zigor's epic Ringwraiths box-set but there's precious few of these mugs around - just 3 being made in a special limited order by Hugin.

The Castle's overall collection of mugs is steadily growing - here's the 'family' picture to date, allowing for the fact that there are still one or two yet to be posted (so we'll have to have another family reunion to include them!)

It's back to a more regular schedule here on Honour and Darkness, with your scribe having just returned from a weeks holiday in his ancestral lair, so look out for some new posts in the weeks ahead!


Thursday, 6 August 2015

EPIC


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Epic
Format: A unique CDr with colour cover produced as a gift from Hugin to fan Tom Kahr in 2014, no catalogue reference, but effectively released by W.A.R. Productions.  In a nod to early Hrossharsgrani releases, there is a rusty nail contained in the side spine of the rear jewel case.  The case contains a black envelope with a hand-signed letter from Hugin.
Edition: 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. Twilight
02. Music Of The Ainur
03. The Lost Road
04. The Return Of The Shadow
05. Embrace The Power Of The Ring
06. The Valley Of Gorgoroth
07. Days Of Bliss
08. The Great Battle
09. The Wars Of Beleriand
10. The Red Dawn
11. Nightfall (The Red Dawn part II)
12. Broken Blade
13. The Ring Of Water

One of the great challenges in maintaining Honour and Darkness as an archive to all things Hugin is that the man never rests, releasing private pressings and one-off specials to fans around the globe as well as music for commercial release.  He is, when all is said and done, a man of the people and an all round good egg.

A case in point is covered in today's epistle, with this one-off CDr produced for lucky fan Tom Kahr.  Not to be confused with entry #16 in our From the Vaults of W.A.R. series from last November, this version is entirely different and collates tracks from a number of the contemporary releases circa 2014 to make one special package for a fellow fan and collector.

The music here is drawn from a number of releases that will be familiar to you, being the well-versed reader of Honour and Darkness posts of old, including songs from the "Days Of Bliss" tape, from the split CD with When We Live, and also from "The Fellowship" CD release.  Of course the special thing about this release is the way in which the songs have been lovingly edited into this unique and therefore priceless release by Hugin's own hand.  It uses a graphic style on the cover that is the same as on Lady Nazgul's own "Shores Of Heaven" release too, giving us a good fix on when the piece might well have been created.

Topping off the release nicely is a letter of thanks from Hugin to Tom for the support given over the years.  On Uruk Hai personalised stationery too, I might add, which was a new one even for Nazgul!

Tom's own very practical take on this particular item is simply this: "It was an honour for me to receive such a great gift from Alex, and I hope to get more personal releases in future!!!"  Well, you can't really say fairer than that!

As you'd imagine it's highly unlikely that our Mr Kahr will ever be persuaded to part with such a treasure.  Occasionally, however, such a rare event does happen and before the year is much older Nazgul will regale you all with the short story of one such bespoke release, and how it came to have a home in the Castle library.... 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

DRAGONS OF WAR - update II


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dragons Of War
Reason for Update: Proposed colour cover for this tape release, to be released on Dragon's Breath Records, but which never made it to past the planning stage

#21 From the Vaults of W.A.R.

Occasionally Nazgul has made the odd comment in these pages on the lines of, "I wonder what that cover might have looked like in colour?"  This normally was in the course of reviewing some old demo tape where the cover was a 'traditional' black and white photocopy, full of character but determinedly monochrome in nature.

This archive inlay answers that particular question for one of Uruk Hai's past classic releases, "Dragons Of War", and forms entry #21 in the ever-expanding series documenting all things unusual and unreleased in the W.A.R. Productions vaults.

It's not an exact copy, however, as the colour copy was conceived as a release on Dragon's Breath Records whilst the final release came out on A.M.F. Productions with a few subtle differences, as you can see from the pairings of pictures below.

The main cover illustration remains the same, and to my eye looks a more powerful picture in colour.  The most profound difference is to the inside of the inlay, with the black and white copy showing just an enlarged version of the dragon's head that forms the far left panel of the colour version, the latter also adding three more pictures alongside.  One of these - the dragon in silhouette - makes the front cover panels of the black and white A.M.F. Productions version, whilst the colour draft has a different illustration again of the dragon amidst the desolate mountains.

You may recall that Dragon's Breath did produce a version of the "Dragons of War" demo but in a CDr version, limited to 1000 copies.  As the artwork of that release is entirely different, Nazgul hasn't included it here.


Comparative covers: the front inlays (above) and the rear/inside inlays (below).