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!