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!