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.