Saturday, 19 August 2017

HELL:WACH


Band: WACH
Title: Hell:WACH
Format: Professional digipak self-released by the band on 23 March 2017.  Graphic design credited to Reverend Kim, with additional credit to the 'pedal those keys' inner image to Adam Voice.  Music recorded between 2004-2006 at the 'wachzimmer', recompiled and remastered in 2017.
Edition: 100 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Plague & Waste  4.30
02. The Real You  6.35
03. To Honour My Forefathers  6.19
04. Twenty Eight  12.45
05. Mind Control  3.34
06. Brume  5.30
07. 39 Gates To Hell  6.00
08. Eerie  4.00
09. Nostromo  5.20
10. Experiment Heimat  6.21
11. Der Knabe Aus Stahl  5.08
12. Behind The Mask  3.00
13. Wach Machine  3.10

Like a wraith ghosting around the peripheries of Honour and Darkness, nothing is heard from WACH for long periods of time and then, suddenly and almost always unexpectedly, the band returns briefly to disgorge its latest offering before departing as silently as snow on velvet until the next time...

And out of unchartered waters earlier this year fell this rather nice looking release, in gloomy but atmospheric black and white digipak format, limited to just 100 copies, and containing a selection of older music from ten years ago and more that has been reanimated - Frankenstein-like - to moulder and fester on your CD player in the year of our Lord, 2017.

You don't so much listen to a WACH album as you experience it, particularly when the songs are of this vintage rather than of the slightly more ambient and contemporary nature of a release such as "Nordwand".

Not knowing quite what to expect when pressing 'play' for the first time is a moment of uncertainty, excitement and trepidation all rolled into one; akin to queuing up to experience a monstrous new rollercoaster for the first time (or standing next to Odium's notorious ogre Phil Knight at the urinal in the Plough & Anchor after 7 pints of 'Old Buggerer').  In short, you'd better be fleet of foot and on your toes, in case the aural assault that follows requires volume modulation or a total change of proximity to the speakers.    

Reviewing something like this is a tricky business, as you don't typically get songs comprised in traditional verse-chorus-solo-verse format with WACH,  oh dear me no.  Instead, you have aural compositions blending sound in the most unexpected and challenging ways.  So who better to lead us through this potential minefield of sonic boom-ery than current WACH member, Reverend Kim:

"Hell WACH is a collection of very special WACH Tracks, at least very special for me, Plaque & Waste, the first song of the record, was also WACHs first song ever, and it was only available as special bonus video on the first record (and shared on Myspace back then) but not really accessible as audio track, which I always thought its a shame because its such a great track.

Similarly with 'The Real You', which was a bonus track on one of the "THE FEAR" Releases and only very few people were able to listen too, many of the other tracks were also used on different compilations back than, and now we have forged them together with some still unreleased songs from our still huge collection of unreleased material to create a unique, and sonically still typical WACH record, that is not just an compilation of rare tracks, but became an album with many highlight and melancholic moments that still sounds like it was recorded as an conceptualised album as we did the times before.

The Last Song on the record, is WACH-Machine, which was WACH's 4th recorded song, a very young and different song as typical WACH, and also Hugin created a great video for it back than, and it was intended to release it sometimes as vinyl single, but it has not happened during the years out of financial reasons, so it was just released as video but not properly on an audio CD which again, was a pity in my opinion, so we were really happy about the outcome and background of HELL:WACH.

Also we decided to self-release it without a Label, to keep it very simple, we also did zero promotion and there was also no heads-up about this record, so some of our loyal fans were very surprised about this suddenly new record, and it was very fun for us as well."


The album also continues the tradition of word play: 'Hellwach', it turns out, actually means 'totally awake' but of course makes for a nice pun too when split into two!
 
All in all this is great stuff, and really interesting to hear such a mixture of modern and early recordings in the one place.  Nazgul's copy has been signed both by Alex and Chris, and I'm sure if you were to order your copy directly from them (and I believe copies are available) then you might be able to arrange a similarly super signed item too...

Saturday, 12 August 2017

ENSLAVED IN EVIL DARKESS - update II

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Enslaved In Evil Darkness
Reason for update: A happy resolution to the previous post!

It was back in June as I'm sure you all vividly recall when Nazgul recounted the rather sorry story of the "Enslaved In Evil Darkness" debacle, which largely centred on some rather dubious sounding activity by the label in question.

Well, let's take a minute to update you on that saga given a few developments that have since occurred.

To recap on the salient points: the tape reissue of this demo was advertised by the label as coming with a small colour poster - the copy Nazgul bought certainly didn't, nor did copies received by another contact in the USA.  No copies of the tape had at the time of the original post been sent to Hugin, whilst the label page suggested all their copies were sold out.  All of which reeked rather of a rip-off in progress.

Well, behind the scenes a few emails have done the rounds between the various parties involved, with the upshot that Hugin has now received his copies of the release, which is the main positive outcome as far as I'm concerned. 

The guy who sold Nazgul the tape featured in the original post (which came from Discogs, from a seller who may or may not be connected to the label directly, it's been impossible to determine) got in touch and offered to send a copy of the poster to me along with a free gift.  And sure enough, after a passing of a few weeks a copy of the poster did indeed plop through Castle letterbox, along with a rather nice double cassette featuring a set of Summoning cover songs by French band Muldeponie.

As far as Nazgul can untangle the version of events put forward, the poster was only supposed to accompany the first 10 or so of the 30 copies of the tape but due to a cock-up in how the label advertised it the impression was given that all copies were so blessed.  This may - or again may not - be entirely accurate, but Nazgul is happy to have secured a copy of the post nevertheless as it is rather nice.

I just wonder how many other owners of this particular release ended up with one...? 

So it does now seem to be a conclusion of all's well that end's well here, which is a nice thing to be able to report, and credit to the various people who invested time and effort to sort it all out.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

TOTENFAHRT


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Totenfahrt
Format: Professional released CD in standard jewel case in full colour cover on the Winter Wolf label (Germany) in 2015, cat ref WWP0139.  Picture disc CD.
Edition: 100 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Totenfahrt (Einklang)  5.25
02. Totenfahrt  22.48

Leaving aside the advisability of naming a song so, particularly to an English speaking audience with a juvenile sense of humour, todays outing into the weird and wonderful ways of Uruk Hai sees us encountering another CD from the WinterWolf label.  There have been a few of these released in recent times, in low volume but to a high standard of finish, including "The Dusk, The Dawn, The Earth, The Sun" and the untitled "Split" release with Huluefni, both previously reviewed in Honour and Darkness.

By Hugin's own admission, the "Totenfahrt" CD is not particularly representative of the 'classic' Uruk Hai sound (assuming one can actually claim that there is now a classic sound, given recent variations of style) and is instead more of an experimental release.

It certainly forgoes the gentle synths and cautious melodies of other contemporary Uruk Hai releases, instead throwing fuzzy guitar riffs and martial drum patterns our way.  After the taster that is 'Totenfahrt (Einklang)' one proceeds directly into the meat and potatoes of the main course title-track, which booms and buzzes along merrily whilst gradually introducing a chiming bell (sounding not unlike the opening part of Black Sabbath's debut album being chewed up in a cement mixer), vocals, keyboards and all manner of musical japery.

It will take you more than a few listens to get your head around, and some less intrepid souls may give up on the lengthy second song before the varied diet appears part way through.  But this would be a shame, as this song grows on you, in the same insidious way that mould and moss invade a tombstone left to stand in boggy ground.

The main song does suffer a touch from what you might term the 'Man Vs. Food' syndrome: taken as a smaller portion it would be perfectly appetizing and palatable: as an enormous helping, however, it does tend to repeat on oneself and this can lead to a tad of indigestion.

That said, Nazgul imagines that WinterWolf could probably sell you a copy of this still despite its limitation of 100 copies, so there's little reason not to pop over to their online shop to spend some of your shekels.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

ARCHIVES - update


Band: Moloch (featuring Bonemachine)
Title: Archives
Reason for update: Some rare pictures of the actual, physical item!

Early on in December 2016 Nazgul featured the Moloch release "Archives" as it contained a track "Berkana" that had been remixed by Bonemachine and which had previously appeared on just a couple of releases: one being the massive Moloch box-set "Traumklänge und Klagelieder" and the other being the blink-and-you'll-miss-it limited edition tape "Schicksalswinde".

At the time of that post the only photo of this item Nazgul could track down was the cover image in close up taken from the the Metal Archives pages, but as that was all that was out there it was used.

Most helpfully, the nice man behind Moloch forwarded the set of photos you see above to Nazgul, which gives us a rather better view of this exceedingly rare release in all of its glory.  Inevitably Nazgul did enquire whether a copy of the box-set was still available for sale, but alas: no.  All sold out, long ago.

However, in the interests of keeping Honour and Darkness as up to date as possible for all relevant Hugin-related items - no matter how tenuously connected to the great man - today's post continues Nazgul's crazy mission and rounds off a rather spartan July as far as updates to the Blog goes: mental note for August - must try harder...

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

An interview with ... Out Of Season


What's this then, Nazgul?  Well it's a rare interview feature, that's what!  Once a common sight in these hallowed pages, the 'An Interview With...' slot has lapsed somewhat in recent times so Nazgul is more than pleased to resurrect it today!
And who is it with...?  The American label Out Of Season, who have been referenced in more than a few recent reviews of Uruk Hai material, so old Uncle Nazgul thought he'd go forth and find out about them for you...


Welcome to Honour and Darkness!  Please introduce yourself?
Greetings, and thank you for the invite of the interview! My name is Kyle, owner of Out of Season, since its inception in 2015. The label releases dark ambient, black metal and 'dungeon synth' music on cassette tapes, and to date we have 45 releases.


So as the owner of underground label Out Of Season, how did your involvement in the music business begin?
I have been first listening to black metal and its related sub-genres since approximately 2001... A friend made me a tape copy of Summoning's "Nightshade Forests" EP and then shortly thereafter I heard the early Mortiis Era I albums (the forefather of the sub-genre that is now known today as "Dungeon Synth" in my eyes) along with various other black metal side project bands such as Neptune Towers, Wongraven, etc.


This really sparked my interest in both black metal and dark ambient music. After a few years, in approximately 2003, I started another label which lasted from approximately 2003-2008 releasing mostly black metal on tapes, as well. This gave me a lot of prior experience for down the line when I decided to start Out of Season a few years ago in 2015, but a lot had changed in that 7-8 year window when I had previously stepped away from running a label, for sure, in terms of the internet and technology, and people's tastes and expectations.

Is there a philosophy or mission statement behind Out Of Season?
Not necessarily, there is not a published one, but unofficially, I strive to release high quality product of artists that I think are special and bring something refreshing to the table in terms of their creative output and that they carry a certain 'spirit' of being which is not anything spoken, but just something that I can tell instinctively.

The entry for your label on Discogs states "Dungeon Synth/Black Metal/Dark Ambient tape label based in USA" - whereabouts are you based, and what is the local music scene like?
I'm based in the Portland, Maine area, which is a coastal city in the most northeastern state of the USA, which borders Quebec & New Brunswick (Canada) on the north & east, and New Hampshire to the west & south.


The metal scene here is very strong with most shows having good attendance. Perhaps the most well known band most would have heard of from our area right now is Falls of Rauros - but there is a number of other good bands too -  namely Apollyon, Feral and Obsidian Tongue to mention a few.

What's your view of the metal scene in the USA at the moment?
To be honest I don't really follow or care about this, aside from my local area. Since we are in a somewhat remote area of the country, not very many tours come here, and people often have to travel to Boston (2 hours south) or even Montreal (5+ hours northwest plus a border stop) if they want to see specific bands. This makes people appreciate the bands that DO make the effort to come to Maine even more, and also makes the shows a bit more special versus living in a place like NYC, where there are 100 great shows every week.

Running a label sounds like a glamorous lifestyle, but I imagine it's far from it! Can you give us some insight into life in the underground scene?
You are correct in that it is not glamorous whatsoever, especially at a label of this level... I do not have much of a social life, partly due to the fact that I spend many, many nights in my basement workshop putting together orders and taping up boxes by myself. A lot of days I will finish my job and then start work on the label for another 5-6 hours at night - its a bit taxing at times... Everything is done 100% by me - all the layouts, prepping for production, assembly (if required), order processing, packing, shipping, etc. It's a total DIY effort at its core!

Is music your sole business activity, or do you make a living in other ways too?
I would never want to depend on or make my "hobby" my main "job" - there is not much money involved, for one! Some releases I make just 100 of and it takes months and months to sell them all (if at all!). The appetite for this kind of music on the physical medium is still quite small and has even dwindled over the years... My normal runs used to be 300-500 in the early 2000's - now just 50-100 only.


I much prefer to have a normal job and then pursue the label as a separate part of my life as a labor of love, where it doesn't matter if I make any money doing it, I can just do it as i want and not care about any "profits."

Out Of Season seem very dedicated to the cassette tape format, which to many readers will seem like a long-dead format.  What's the logic there?
Cassettes capture the spirit of the underground perfectly. We are connected to the roots of these genres. Tapes you can hold in your hand and look at the art. They just have a certain 'feel' that I don't feel is captured by other formats.  They are also inexpensive to sell and produce compared to especially vinyl, which allows us to keep the prices down in the store. Now with some vinyl being around $30 each, you can buy 4-5 tapes for the same price, which I think is still really awesome!

Amongst the label releases have been some recent works by Uruk Hai - how did Alexander "Hugin" Wieser and yourself cross paths?
I have been a big fan and admirer of Hugin since the early days. Back when I was doing my previous label, I first got copies of his tape releases on Skullfucking Tapes in a trade (I believe this was "Across the Misty Mountains" and "A Viking's Journey"!)  The fantasy art and atmosphere really grabbed my attention and from then on I followed his work. The vast output of creativity and his ability to stick with it for so many years now - this is the 'spirit' that I mentioned before that I look for in the artists I work with. Its something unspoken, but he 100% has this!


Initially we discussed making the cassette of the U-H/Balrog split release as I quite enjoyed this upon hearing it, and then talks progressed into doing the 'Twilight' album on tape, as well.

How 'successful' have those releases proven to be, or is that not something that you measure?
I made 100 of each Uruk Hai release, "Twilight" and the split with Balrog ("Ashes of Battle"). Like I said, the appetite for this kind of music on tapes is not incredibly high unfortunately, but this is something I want to get released as it deserves to be out there in the tape format in my opinion. "Twilight" sold out a few months ago and "Ashes of Battle" is still available from me, with about 10-15 copies of the 100 left. So, in my eyes, these were 'successful'. It really depends on the release though and at times it's hard to know how many copies to make to meet the 'demand' that exists.


What are your impressions of Alex Wieser, the musician?
My interactions with Alex have been not that many, but we email from time to time, and he seems like a very nice and dedicated person to his craft as I elaborated on a few questions ago, which I admire. He isn't afraid to move beyond the boundaries of his 'comfort zone' and create new styles of music!

Do you have any particular projects or releases of his that you are particularly partial to?
Probably those first two tapes I mentioned before, the first two that I got so many years ago. I still listen to them often, and those are the two that I recommend if I get the question of where to start with Uruk Hai. I also really enjoy the split with Balrog that I released. I think this tape is fantastic.

Returning to yourself, which of your own label releases would you point someone towards to get a representative idea of the genres you support?
Someone else recently asked me this, and I suggested that from an acclaimed point of view, to check out Thangorodrim "Taur-Nu-Fuin", a true masterpiece work of 'dungeon synth' which I had the honor of releasing on tape. This is sold out, but will be re-released by Deivlforst Records on vinyl very soon!

From a personal/overlooked standpoint, I suggest checking out МИРА ДРЕВО "Следы на снегу" (Mira Drevo "Footprints in the Snow") - this is fantastic dark ambient music from Russia! And to round out for the black metal side of the label, to check out the Arath "Ungedul" and Emyn Muil "Túrin Turambar..." tape releases. All of these really capture the full essence of the label, I feel.


 Are there any funny tales from life in the underground scene that you'd care to share with Honour and Darkness? 
Unfortunately, I feel like the underground metal/dungeon synth/dark ambient scene is very straight laced for the most part. I've not had many 'funny' experiences per say, but I did always enjoy back in the day when I first started trading tapes with people from around the world, getting requests to 'send back my stamps!' so they could reuse them in  whatever country they were in. These were simpler times - people are too demanding now and have no patience!

Your house is on fire (no, really, it is...) - what three possessions do you save first?
My wife and cats, all the rest can be replaced or doesn't matter as much!

Your 3 books and 3 albums for live on a desert island would be....?
Wow, very difficult question! For Books, I would probably say a Norse mythology book, "The Odyssey", and Lord of the Rings! For Music, even tougher, but first three that come to mind would be the "Conan the Barbarian" soundtrack, Summoning "Minas Morgul" and "Storm of the Light's Bane" by Dissection.

Your vote for the best cover art to a demo or album you've ever seen?
Again, have to mention Summoning's "Minas Morgul" - it is an absolutely stunning painting and layout....Perfect!


Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us - do you have any message for Alex and/or the readers of Honour and Darkness to end this interview with?
Thank you for offering this interview, and for the engaging questions.

Please check out my website at
http://www.outofseasonlabel.com - there is a list of upcoming releases and more info there.
 
And what a splendid fellow Kyle proved to be!  It's down to the dedication of good souls like him that the underground scene thrives and - ultimately - gives you the music that you want to hear at affordable prices.  So why not point your browser towards Out Of Season and see if there's anything there to tickle your fancy?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

BEYOND UNIVERSE


Bands: URUK HAI and EISMOND
Title: Beyond Universe: A Journey Through Atmospheric Dark Arts
Format: Promotional sampler with a silver CD on the Kristallblut label (Germany) released in 2016.  Comes in a DVD size case with a wrap around cover, no other inserts.
Edition: unknown

Track Listing:
01. REMMIRATH  *  Shambala Vril Saucers
02. THE EARTH KING  *  Autumn Temple (edit)
03. FROZEN OCEAN  *  CE-4 (edit)
04. URUK HAI  *  Cirith Ungol (edit)
05. BEHEAT GORUM DE MENTHEURD  *  Winds Of Loneliness
06. FUNERAL FORNICATION  *  Sorrowspell (edit)
07. SIEGHETNAR  *  Flug Des Raben (edit)
08. OBSCURA MONOTONIA ANIMAE  *  Crepesculum Aeternorum Cruciatuum (edit)
09. OBSIDIAN GATE  *  Plagues Upon Them!
10. FORGOTTEN WINTER  *  Chuva II (edit)
11. SCHATTENVALD  *  Winterkonig I
12. DIABOLICAL PRINCIPLES  *  Sowers Of The Lie (edit)
13. EISMOND  *  Moonsick (unreleased bonus track)

Life's a funny thing.  There I was, preparing an entirely different post on a super-secret previously unreviewed release featuring both Eismond and Uruk Hai, when along came this compilation featuring, errr.... Eismond and Uruk Hai.  Weird.  Much like a London bus, you don't see any for aeons and then two come along at the same time...

This effort is a sampler released on the Kristallblut label, hence featuring acts signed to that particular label.  Many of these will be pleasingly familiar to regular readers, either through having had split releases with Hugin's projects in the past (Sieghetnar, Funeral Fornication) or though association with other projects covered in passing in this blog: The Earth King, for example, being an off-shoot of Dead Mans Hill (who release the split "Dead:Meat" with Hrossharsgrani).

Of interest to us in this compilation are two tracks in particular: an edited version (thankfully, as the full length version would have filled the available recording space!) of Uruk Hai's 'Cirith Ungol', but - excitingly - a previously unreleased Eismond track, 'Moonsick'.

The former is a very truncated version of what was an extraordinary release (or more accurately, set of releases) from around 2010, when the myriad of versions of this song ran from a mere 57 minutes in standard format to a whopping 78 minutes in a 'special extended version' that seemingly never ended!  Here, at a paltry few minutes, you'll get a taste of what's on offer but nothing more than that.  But that's rather the point of a label sampler release, of course.

The Eismond track is a highly contagious affair, and is credited as previously unreleased.  This is because, Nazgul can reveal, that it is from the upcoming Album "Moonchild", release date unknown but highly anticipated!  This song was finished in November 2015, suggesting that the "Moonchild" album tracks were likely to have been completed in 2016 and awaiting unveiling ever since.

It's a relatively cheap buy, for once: this sampler is currently floating around Discogs and other similar sites for only a few Pounds, and is well worth picking up on that basis.  Nazgul's copy has a large crease through the cover as it was originally sent out by the label in that manner (silly sods) so at some point I might have to pick up a cleaner copy for the library collection.

Something different - but reassuringly familiar - for you in the next post, the like of which we've not seen for around 10 months or so on Honour and Darkness: stay tuned!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

ENSLAVED IN EVIL DARKNESS - update



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Enslaved In Evil Darkness
Format: A cassette tape release on the Obscure Dungeon Records label (France) in April 2017, cat ref ODR013.  Tape comes with a full colour pro-printed cover, and is advertised as being accompanied by a small poster of album artwork.
Edition: Limited to 30 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:
01. Out Of The Shire   
02. Enter Mordor   
03. Orc-March   
04. Beneath The Moon   
05. Morgoth   
06. Dark (Are The Fires Of Mordor)   
07. Underneath The Stars   
08. Lay Of Leithian

Oh dear, this may take a little untangling both from a content perspective, and from the business side of things too.

Let's do the music side of affairs first, which is by far the happier part of the story.  What we have here is essentially a rereleased and expanded version of the original "Enslaved In Evil Darkness" tape release on AMF Productions from 2005. 

That release was a split tape between Uruk Hai and Finnish band Valar, with both projects contributing 3 songs: in the case of Uruk Hai, the tracks in question were 'Out Of The Shire', 'Dark (Are The Fires Of Mordor)' and 'Underneath The Stars'.  The three songs are faithfully included on this new tape, albeit jumbled up in running order at track positions 1, 6 and 7 respectively.

You may also recall that back in May 2015 Nazgul included as Part 19 of the 'From The Vaults of W.A.R.' series coverage of a proposed - but ultimately never issued - CDr version of the "Enslaved..." release that had been mooted by US label Lifeless Productions.  This is of interest here as that release had contained 4 Uruk Hai songs, the additional one being 'Orc March' which, as the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted, is included on this 2017 reissue at track 3.

So far, so good - a reissue that pulls together all 4 intended Uruk Hai songs onto one release.  And not only that, it sprinkles a further 4 songs into the mix as well.  You'll be interested to know from whence they come, Nazgul perceives, so let's deal with that next: 3 of the songs are drawn from the "Lothlorien" CD (and, to be fair, appear on a few other releases too but this is the principal source), and they are 'Enter Mordor', 'Beneath The Moon' and 'Lay Of Leithian'.

The final extra track, 'Morgoth', is a product of the 2009 demo of the same title.

So on the face of it, this is a good news story wrapped in some nice artwork and a welcome 2017 release in the Uruk Hai discography.

Except ... there's often a complication on the path to Nirvana, and in this case it seems to be a potential case of 'dodgy business dealings' by the label that has brought a bit of a cloud over proceedings.

Now, I have no reason to unnecessarily besmirch the reputation of French label Obscure Dungeon Records but a couple of interesting facts have come to light since the 'release' (and I say that guardedly) of this tape.  Firstly, Hugin has yet to receive any artist copies of the thing for his own resale, which is a big no-no in this world, especially if the label are selling copies already.

And we know the label have been because Nazgul bought a copy.  Now, my copy came from a dealer trading under a different name on Discogs so I can't definitively connect the seller to the label, but given they are based in France it is more than a coincidence I'd imagine.  And - I might point out - whilst the tape did eventually arrive it was sans the promised 'little poster' and no amount of badgering of the seller has led to its arrival, despite claims it was being posted out to me (it wasn't).

That seller is no longer retailing the tape, and surprise, surprise (not!) the label's own webpage shows the tape to be 'out of stock'

The unavoidable conclusion therefore seems to be that this label has printed off a batch of tapes, sold them all (in whatever quantity they felt like most likely, as would you trust them at this point to stick to a limitation of 30 copies as advertised?) and not given any to Hugin for this own benefit. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, smells like a rip-off to me.

So I'd tread cautiously around this particular bunch in the future, from a buyer's perspective and indeed from an artist's perspective too.

Which is a shame, as in theory this would have been a very nice release to celebrate had all things gone as they should have.  Let's pop on a pair of rose-tinted spectacles then, and postulate the theory that the reason the label reports being 'out of stock' is because they have belatedly done the right thing and shipped the agreed number of remaining copies of this tape over to WAR Productions in Austria. 

Time will tell, and if there is a happy ended then Nazgul will be happy to set the record straight, as he did with the Dungeons Deep label's "Nachtkrieg" CD saga of 2010!

Update:

Nazgul drafted this post about a week ago, but in agreement with Hugin we gave enough time for the label to reply to Hugin's last emails querying the whereabouts of his own copies of this release.  At today's date nothing has been heard from Obscure Dungeons, so Honour and Darkness press on to publish and be damned!

Interestingly, also at today's date, I see another copy of this tape listed for sale on Discogs but this time from a seller in the US who I know has retailed a lot of Hugin's tapes in the past.  That listing also advertises the tape as not coming with the advertised poster, so I do begin to wonder if any other posters were actually printed up by the label at all (apart from the one used in the picture, below)?

Label's own promotional photo of this release with the elusive poster pictured (left)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

ATLANTIDA VOL. 14 [V/A]


Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Atlántida Vol. 14 (various artists)
Format: Black and white cover, silver CDr disc, it's a traditional Ruslanas home-produced compilation!
Edition: Unspecified (800-1000 copies)

Track Listing:
01. ENORHTED  *  Twisted Fabrics
02. SVARTALFAR  *  Firnwulf
03. ENIGMATIK  *  Enter The Realm Of Enigma
04. FOREFATHER  *  Into The Forever
05. SYLVA MALA  *  Fine Veil
06. LOITS  *  Veri
07. CLAWN  *  Endless Suffering
08. PRIMAL DAWN  *  Cold Hills
09. LITHAM  *  Empire Of Ibliss
10. RAVENCLAW  *  Fenriswolf
11. FAUSTRECHT  *  Impetigo
12. ARCHETYPE  *  Hands Of Time
13. AZAGATEL  *  Atlantis Descendent
14. VALHALLA  *  Gloom Of War
15. DIFENACUM  *  Elemental Disease
16. FREUND HEIM  *  To Be - What A Shame
17. MALEFICIO  *  En La Destruction Creemos

Well, all good things must come to an end as they say, and here it is: the last of the Atlandia releases to be covered in Honour and Darkness.  There are other volumes in the series of course, but nothing that features any of Hugin's many and varied projects so today's entry - "Volume 14" is the end of the line.  A bit of a sad day here for Nazgul, and doubtless for Hugin too (which makes Valhalla's offering most pertinent, being 'Gloom of W.A.R.'...!)

As always, the late Ruslanas Danisevskis compiled a range of the weird and the wonderful for this release, trawling the world for bands to showcase under his label's wing.  On this outing we have bands from diverse locations spanning Brazil, Singapore, Italy, Switzerland, Algeria, Spain, Austria, Lithuania and the United Kingdom, to name but a few.  Quite astonishing really, though very few of them has Nazgul actually ever heard of apart from Ravenclaw: Valhalla is a familiar entity, being part of that vinyl split release with Elisabetha back in the day, whilst Forefather hail from literally just down the road from Castle Nazgul, in sunny Leatherhead.

Ravenclaw's song is, of course, from their "Where Mighty Ravens Fly" CD, which was released 15 years ago this year believe it or not.

Another excellent cover from Mike Schindler (Dragon Design) which is co-credited to a Thomas Hammer too, and that's your lot really: a 'classic' Atlántida compilation where everything is suitably noisy, wrapped up in a stylish black and white covered package.

One of these days Nazgul is going to have to dig around to try to locate the published Atlántida zine that Ruslanas periodically published, as doubtless there are many nuggets relating to Hugin's bands within those pages .... another part of the collection yet to be completed!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

NEVER BOWED, NEVER BROKEN - A REMEMBRANCE [V/A]


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Never Bowed, Never Broken - A Remembrance [V/A]
Format: An online compilation on Facebook to raise funds for the victims of the Manchester terror attack of 22 May 2017
Edition: Unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Appalachian Winter  *  Miri It Is  4.29
02. Jaron Evil  *  Starfall  3.42
03. VOND  *  Alene I Stillhet  8.27
04. Nam-Khar  *  Sangchod  6.26
05. Ringbearer  *  Men Of Gondor  5.52
06. Caroline Jago  *  Submergence  7.28
07. Mortiis  *  Sins Of Mine (feat. Raison D'Etre)  6.51
08. Anndra  *  She Mourns Amidst The Ruins  6.14
09. Randal Collier-Ford  *  Childhood  2.12
10. Caine Rose  *  All The Leaves  3.20
11. Hoyland  *  Within My Heart  6.53
12. Thaumiel Sonozaki  *  Fear Will Be Your Enemy  4.55
13. Randal Collier-Ford  *  Thinking  3.24
14. Eloheim  *  Du'Wintre  12.38
15. Embers Below Zero  *  Limbo  4.31
16. Gorthorn  *  Days Of Rain  4.56
17. Randal Collier-Ford  *  Resolve  4.24
18. Uruk Hai  *  Far Away  6.00
19. The Dead Soul Communion  *  For You  4.00

Permit me to 'break character' for the duration of this post, and put the persona of Nazgul to one side for just a moment.

Honour and Darkness has never been a platform for discussions or opinions about politics and 'real world' issues, though the occasional passing reference to current affairs has been known to crop up. The reason for this is simply that the primary focus of this blog is on music, specifically the music of our favourite Austrian, Alex 'Hugin' Wieser, and having a bit of escapism away from the nonsense and horrors that the world actually contains is sometimes quite a nice thing to do.

And yet sometimes events out in the real world are difficult to ignore, and occasionally have a very personal resonance too.

Such is the case with the subject of this commendable fund raising project, designed to raise funds for the 22 victims and 116 injured by the suicide bombing during a concert by Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena on 22 May this year by passporting your donations to the British Red Cross and local victim advocacy groups.

My brother-in-law was in the Arena with his daughter that night: thankfully not in the foyer when the bomb was detonated, but in the auditorium nonetheless but - mercifully - safe.  They witnessed the aftermath as did many others that night though on their way out of the building, and you put yourself in the shoes of a father having to explain the scenes of horror that they saw to a young, innocent child.  Yet they were among the lucky ones.

Last weekend we celebrated my birthday, and my good lady wife treated me and our 5 year old son to a weekend in London.  We stayed overnight in the city, and on Saturday had been walking down from our hotel in the evening towards London Bridge area, taking photos of the city skyline as the skies darkened.  The fact that it was getting a bit late for the little lad to be out of his bed, and that it was starting to rain, were pretty much the only reasons we never walked down as far as London Bridge, instead deciding to go back to our hotel.  And there, by the grace of God, we went, given the events that followed only an hour or two later in that part of the city.

And so it goes on.  Back in 1988, my sister had a close friend who had family in Scotland.  Two of them were unlucky enough to be on the ground in the wrong place at the wrong time and were killed by the debris of bombed Pam Am flight 103, wherein another bunch of barbaric terrorists murdered 270 passengers, crew and civilians that night over the town of Lockerbie.

Normal people, doing normal things, but having their lives ended or put at risk through no fault of their own by those who would kill and harm innocent civilians in pursuit of their own warped delusions.

There is simply no place for such demented extremists (irrespective of what agenda they follow) in modern society.  And that's all that I want to say on the matter.

Just for the (musical) record, there's much to commend this collection of songs and not just from a charitable perspective; we can see some excellent contributions here from old favourites Jaron Evil/Ringbearer, together with interesting material from a number of other established and emerging bands.

The Uruk Hai track you may be familiar with already, being taken as it has been from the "...And All The Magic And Might He Brought" album of 2013, and featured as it was on another online compilation "Crossing The Borders" from 2014.

Dig deep, and enjoy the music despite the sad events that has led to its existence.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Nazgul's second collection...


What's all this then?  It's one of Nazgul's other areas for collecting, that of Jim Kirkwood related CDs!
Who?  You remember: Jim Kirkwood, one half of Drachenfeuer alongside Alex
Ah yes, and so....?  Nazgul promised something a little different a while ago, and here it is!

There are a number of striking similarities between our Austrian hero Alex "Hugin" Wieser and UK musical maestro Jim "Crowman" Kirkwood:

  • Both are primarily solo artists, though have been in bands;
  • Both have created and maintained a number of main and side projects;
  • Both have an early background in extreme metal before moving, to varying extents, into more ambient territories utilising keyboards as their main instrument;
  • Both have a prodigious number of releases to their name in tape and CD format;
  • Both are highly regarded 'cult' figures; lauded by many, derided by some;
  • Neither individual's musical output is particularly easy to find or collect;
  • Both individual's musical output can be ruinously expensive to find and collect; and
  • Both men possess strong personal faith, which in Jim's case has led him away from this musical path and he no longer makes, or sells, any of his music.

No wonder then, that the evolution of this collection has happened over a number of years...

Releases in Jim's own name
Let's have a little resume about Jim's career to date though, for those less familiar with his background:

Jim has been writing Electronic Music since the late 1980's when he stepped back from fronting a black metal band to explore a solo career in instrumental music. He has his own unique style of Gothic EM which moves easily between huge symphonic slabs of music, dark ambient and sequencer driven soundscapes.

The music itself, inspired by Gothic and Symphonic Rock and Berlin School Electronica, is quite often a CD in length, moves and shifts in tempo and mood, sometimes dark and sombre, sometimes ethereal and melodic, yet the whole gels perfectly into a single experience that grips the imagination and brings you into a world of dark and exciting beauty.

 In 2012 after completing the 4 hour album A Day in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Jim took a break from the music industry to concentrate on his art and to reassess his spiritual direction, to look again at the influence of the Christian faith on his early life.

Jim had until recently, embraced a heathen/gnostic philosophy and had been openly hostile toward religious organisations and in particular the Christian faith, a stance which is reflected in many of the titles of his music and comments.

However, according to online sources I've read, certain events in his life forced him to rethink his position and conclude and regret his former position. Jim openly confesses that he believes in the person of Jesus Christ, both historically and spiritually and this will no doubt be reflected in the future content of his art and music.

Lucifaere
I've had the pleasure of a few email exchanges with Jim over the years, at the time of the original Drachenfeuer demo, when The First Ring compilation came out (on which he was also represented with a song), and in more recent times too.  Always a kind soul, Jim expressed some (only partly mock) horror when Nazgul mentioned he had paid actual money for old CD releases of Jim's music, distancing himself from their merit and commercial worth.

Yet Jim Kirkwood releases continue to command high prices whenever you see them, which is hardly ever as anyone who has used the obvious outlets of eBay and Discogs to find his work will be able to attest.  Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that Jim's CD's now rival if not exceed those of even the rarest Uruk Hai releases in terms of price (not accounting for box-sets there, though) with single discs tipping the scales at over £25-30 and double albums nearer £40-£50 apiece now, more in some cases.

Not a hobby for the faint of heart!

Ancient Technology Cult
Jim's music is broadly split into three projects, by the way: those under his own name, those under the Lucifaere name, and those as Ancient Technology Cult.  In total Nazgul has identified around 80-odd releases under his various banners, of which 49 reside in the collection so far.  The full list, surpassing that on Discogs, is as follows:

Where Shadows Lie (1990) (Cassette)
King of the Golden Hall (1990) (Cassette)
Middle Earth (1990)(Cassette)
Tales From A Melnibone Tavern (1991) (Cassette)
Souls That Dance On the Edge of A Sword (1991) (Cassette)
Nightshade In Eden (1991) (Cassette)
Master of Dragons (1991) (Cassette)
Uruk Hai (1992) (Cassette)
Ancient Fields (1992) (Cassette)
Castles of Sand (1993) (Cassette)
Through A Dark Glass (1993) (Cassette)
Lord of the Dreaming (1993) (Cassette)
Tower of Darkness (1993) (CD on the Nue Harmony label)
Celtoi (1994) (Cassette)
Pilgrim On A Crooked Path (1994) (Cassette)
The Serpents Kiss (1994) (Cassette)
Beyond the Fields We Know (1995) (Cassette)
Dancing the Dark Power (1995) (Cassette)
Sisters of the Web (1995)
Weaving the Red Thread (1995)
Haminja (1995) (Cassette)
The Age of the Wolf (1996) (Cassette)
Heljaruna (1996) (Cassette)
Dark Well of Urdr (1998)
Embracing the Dark (1999)
Bones of the Earth (1998)
One Amongst the Fallen (1999)
Bones of the Earth (1999)
An Alchemy of Beliefs (2000)
The Midnight Tree (2000)
This Temple of Strange Lights (2000)
In the Shadow of Angels (2001)
The Dragon of Old Night (2001)
Twilight of the Celts (2000)
Sacred Engines (2001)
Transfiguration (2001)
Bloduewedd (2002)
Blood And Feathers (2002)
Shroud of Many Colours (2002)
Liber Obscularium Praedictionum (2003)
The Blessing of Shadows (2003)
Communion of the Damned (2003)
Decencus Ad Inferos (2003)
Hawksmoor (2003)
Architects of Heresy (2004)
The Darkening Hour (2004)
Voices From the Edge of Night (2004)
House of the Crowman (2004)
In the Deep Places of the World (2005)
Corvis Christi (2005)
Foxhalt Edge (2005)
One Amongst the Fallen (2005) (different)
Hecate Vol. 1 (2006)
Hecate Vol. 2 (2006)
Rituals of Intelligent Design (2006)
Queen of the Golden Wood (2006)
After the Fire (2006)
Canterbury Black (2007)
Nightshade In Eden (2007) (different)
Where Shadows Lie (2007) (different)
We Are Nightingales (2007)
Widdershins To the Way of the World (2007) (EP)
Foxhalt Marsh (2008) (EP)
The Distant Light (2008) (EP)
The Legend of Sam Gangee (2008) (EP)
King of the Golden Hall (2009)
Morningstar Part 1 - Revelations of the Fallen (2009)
Morningstar Part 2 - The World Behind the Mirror (2009)
Morningstar Part 3 - Helmsman On A Ship of Dreams (2009)
Morningstar Part 4 - A Once And Future Heretic (2010)
Morningstar Part 5 - Kings Beneath A Pale Sky (2010)
They Walk Amongst the Stars Like Giants (2010)
Castles of Sand (2010)
Bones of the Earth (2010)
The Bears Withdrew Their Claws In Her Presence (2010) (EP)
The Light Beyond the Hedgerow (2010)
Playing in an Age of Stone (2010)
The Geometry of a Lark Ascending (2010)
Dreaming in Amber (2010)
A Season of Mists (2010)
Tales from the Crooked Tree (2010)
The Cello Tree (2011)
A Day in the Garden of Unearthly Delights Parts 1-4 (each part is 1 hour in length) (2011)

Ultra rare early cassette releases - practically impossible to find!
but I really wouldn't be surprised to learn of others that exist above and beyond this.

All told, another great collection of music and one that I am very proud to own.  You do have to be careful of people trying to sell you copied CDr's and non-original tapes through online shops though, as I found to my cost recently with an unscrupulous seller in the USA effectively bootlegging copies of his collection into slimline cased silver CDr's.  Worthless tat, in other words.

And of course the collection continually expands - 2 more items have been recently tracked down (both CDr's) which haven't arrived in time to make this post (Nazgul thought he'd better post something soon or else you'd all be convinced I'd died or something).  Onwards, and upwards...

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

DIE RÜCKKEHR ZUM PFADE - update II

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Die Rückkehr Zum Pfade
Reason for second update: The original self-released demo is finally located!

Track Listing:
01. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten  24.52

Detailed reviews of the two other copies of this ancient Hrossharsgrani demo exist within Honour and Darkness, covering the Chanteloup Creations tape release of 2001, and the reissue on Wulfrune Worxx back in 2010. 

And a splendid demo it proved to be, with the Chanteloup pressing reissue adding two songs to the original self-released demo, and the Wulfrune reissue adding one further song to that.  Why not point your browser at the links above and have a merry trip down memory lane revisiting these two tapes?

The long standing problem, of course, was alluded to in both of those reviews - Nazgul's collection was bereft of the original release of this tape, which Hugin had put out in a typically miniscule quantity of only 7 tapes back in the year 2001.  Oh boy, another mission impossible on the cards, it seemed.

And yet ... here it is!  Entirely due to the munificence of Herr Wieser, mind you, who made the copy you see here available to Nazgul out of the blue one day and thus completed the reunion of the 3 cassettes that you see pictured below.  Happy families!

Rather than get into a lengthy reappraisal of the music, which was covered in Nazgul's two prior posts, let's have a quick look at this rare-as-rocking-horse-shit release that sits before us.  Well, it's only listing the single long song on the intro (a 2001 re-recording, states the inlay) for a start, which rather flies in the face of the 5 per the information in Nazgul's previous posts.  This is presumably either due to it being a portmanteau song of sorts, or previous online information being incorrect!

We learn that recordings of this release were in the January of 2001, so the release date must also have been in that year and no earlier, which makes it the same year as the Chanteloup reissue and not the preceding year as I thought.

The 'usual suspects' from back then get a credit on the inlay, next to an early photo of our Austrian hero with broadsword (as featured on this blog!).  And finally, also contrary to received wisdom, there were evidently 7 copies of this tape in circulation (this being numbered 1 of 7) rather than the 5 as believed.

A cracking cover adorns the inlay, with an intrepid warrior battling an enormous dragon atop a waterfall.  That would be quite something in colour, as it's pretty striking in black and white!

Another fabulous find for the Castle collection, and though there (surely?!) can't be many such rarities yet to be tracked down, it does make you pause for thought that in the nigh on 14 years Nazgul has been at this collecting lark there are still things out there to be found...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

REHEARSAL 2


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Rehearsal 2 (September / November 1999)
Format: A CDr disc in colour paper cover, released on the Smell The Stench label (Australia) in 2016. There is no catalogue reference for this release
Edition: Limited to 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. The Gates Of Mordor (first take)  8.32
02. The Gates of Mordor (second take)  8.32
03. Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor (first take)  7.43
04. Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor (second take)  7.46
05. Quenta Silmarillion (early version) 40.41

Well we were well on the way to having no posts for the month of May, with recent events around Castle Nazgul being as frenetic as ever. However, a small window of opportunity has opened and Nazgul is seizing the moment to bring you a little something to while away a few minutes of your life!

This CDr is - to say the least - primitive! In the grand pantheon of Uruk Hai recordings, this would be akin to a wall of cave paintings, scratched onto the wall with a charcoal-tipped stick. Recorded way back in 1999, when Hrossharsgrani demos and Uruk Hai demos were fairly indistinguishable from one another, there are plenty of moments herein - both vocally, and instrumentally - when you'll think to yourself, "oh yes, I'd forgotten Hugin used to do that/sound like that/scare me with that funny deep voice/insert your own pithy epithet".

Does the world really need two versions of the first two songs, you might challenge? And do they sound appreciably different to merit inclusion? Well, arguably 'no' and 'not very' would be the honest answers to those questions, but this sort of release isn't aimed at the casual listener but at the die-hard fan who is interested in the gradual evolution of ideas and sound. And on that basis, and in a die-hard limited edition of 22 copies - the idea does work.

What is interesting here, given my previous comments, is that 'Rot Fiel Der Tau In Ramas Edor' is of course better known to us as a Hrossharsgrani song: it was on the tape-only compilation "From The Dark Ages", which in turn was drawn from the uber-rare Christhunt release of "In The Mystic Forest" where this was a special bonus track. The fact that it appears under the Uruk Hai (war) banner here shows the degree of overlap between these projects back in 1999 when the latter was essentially founded.

"Quenta Silmarillion" was a full length demo on the Bulgarian AMF label you will recall, though didn't see an official release until 2004 when it appeared in a much more polished version than the rough and ready 'early version' here. Again, it's quite interesting to compare the two versions just to see how much more professional the 2004 release was, but there is something of a rustic charm to hear that funeral drum beat looped over and over on the 1999 demo!

Gracing the opening pair of songs are the vocal talents of one Sabine P., credited on the reverse of the inlay. Let's assume that this isn't the same Sabine P. that Discogs records has on their books (who is part of the German euroreggae band Pandera, so you never know...?!). Her vocals are quite eerie on both versions of the song, being of the oxymoronic 'harmonic dissonance' school of performance, but it works well and injects a welcome extra dimension into the music.

All in all then, a real blast from the past / rave from the grave. Nazgul has pondered the question of how he would have reacted had this been the first ever recording of Uruk Hai that I clapped ears on at this time in my life (as opposed to a far more tranquil introduction to the band through the "Darkness" demo). Honestly - quite hard to say! It's not unappealing by any means, but does seem to be a thing of its time now.
 
As a historical artefact though, absolutely priceless and if you were lucky to get hold of one at the time then I'd hang onto it if I were you!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

END OF TIME


Band: GUTS FOR DINNER
Title: End Of Time
Format: A recent song recorded by Hugin, scheduled for inclusion on an upcoming new GFD release!
Edition: N/A

Track Listing:
01. End Of Time  2.17

Ah those three little words which epitomise the heart-warming, spring in your step feeling of true first love: 'Guts For Dinner'.  Or is it 'I Love You' I'm thinking of there?  Oh well, no matter (more splatter) because as a treat at the tail end of 2016 Hugin had recorded new Guts For Dinner material, and here it is reviewed for your delectation!

Clearly this is an alarming development.  GFD is most certainly not for the squeamish, and any attempt to handle material from this malevolent entity usually ends in tears.  Almost banished from Castle Nazgul for unnecessarily traumatising the castle monkey, the head-spinning, projectile-vomit inducing pummelling that a GFD track entails is more than sufficient to cause local seismic activity and kick-start riots and unrest.  And just downright annoy the gorgeous Lady Nazgul, who already has to put up with a lot god bless her...

What's more, this isn't just a one-off song you know.  Oh no, Hugin has only gone and created a limited edition re-issue of the original demo with this new song (and one other) bolted onto it - you'll find out more about that as 2017 unfolds.

But for now, let us revel not only in the new GFD logo that proudly adorns this post (and which will be used on the upcoming release too, which - it must be said - has some excellent artwork of its own), but also dissect the new song: it's not long and it's not pleasant!

Spiky black metal guitar meets raspy-burpy-drowning-under-water vocal style in a dark alley in a broken beer bottles death match is how you might fairly describe this.

I'd like to leave you today with an unusual thing: a rare flash of brilliant insight from your old Uncle Nazgul.  Let's take a parallel between the world of film and the world of music.  Hugin, as we well know, has a string of musical projects to his name of differing genres and styles, from the majestic Middle-Earth musings of Uruk Hai to the splatter/gore world of Guts For Dinner. Akin to this is film producer Peter Jackson: who would ever have guessed that the man responsible for gore-tastic Bad Taste in 1987 and Braindead in 1992 would, a mere decade later, be responsible for bringing Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings to the silver-screen with such style and panache?  Absolutely no one, that's who!

So who's to say that such an improbable turn of events could not befall our Austrian hero, catapulting his music from the underground into the realm of fantasy film (and yes, before you remind me, I do remember "The Nebula Dawn"!)  So don't be surprised when Hollywood does come calling, cheque book in hand, earning Hugin sufficient loot to build a huge chateau in the heart of Linz and elevating him to the dizzy heights of super-stardom...!