Thursday, 12 February 2009

DER RING DER MACHT



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Der Ring Der Macht
Format: Cassette tape-only demo released in 2000 by Chanteloup Creations (France), cat AWE 31.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 100 copies only

Track Listing:

Side A
1. Durch folde und fenmark 08:32
2. In hollow halls 06:56
3. Mettanye 07:15
4. Am stein von erech 06:47
5. Regunglose leidenschaft 02:00

Side B
6. The durinsday 12:20
7. The final battle 04:43
8. Fleischeslust 02:51
9. In tiefster finsternis 06:49

Firstly, the band name: Hrossharsgrani. Not a word that trips off the tongue (unless you're of Viking decent, presumably) but a significant name for all that:

"Vikar and his men landed on an island to rest. When time to leave had come, there was no wind and the warriors had to wait day after day for the opportunity to head for the open sea. Finally they only knew a one last solution in their desperate situation. They promised Odin a human sacrifice. The rolled the dice - and fate chose Vikar! All men were embarrassed and decided to wait for the next morning in order to discuss what had to be done. In the night Starkad was waked and before him stood HROSSHARSGRANI a man, who once saved his life. He asked Starkad to follow him and on his little boat the rowed to a small piece of land just before the island. They went in a little wood where everything was prepared for a Thing. Twelve chairs stood there, eleven were occupied, the twelfth was empty. HROSSHARSGRANI sat down on this twelfth seat and all the people greeted him as Odin, so Starkad knew at once, who brought him here."

History lesson out of the way (never say you learn nothing in my Blogs!) let's move on to this 2000 demo from Hugin's one-man 'Battle Machine", which was another very limited release (my copy is #029 of the 100 made) this time released by the French Chanteloup Productions.

Early demos from this band are a real swine to find, and this one popped out on eBay a few years ago to my great delight. And well worth the purchase it was too. Throughout all of the tracks there are some common elements - use of harsh, German spoken word vocals in a BM style, the use of light female choirs and spoken word female vocals in English, simple and repeated keyboard refrains, bludgeoning drumming (not blastbeats, varied tempo) and sampled sound effects.

All in all, it generally works and there are some very good moments on this release. The first 2 tracks combine most of the elements described into a pair of atmospheric tracks, before the third song "Mettanye" weaves itself into being quite the catchy tune with a mellow keyboard opening giving way to a riff reminiscent of 'three blind mice' over which some furious drumming and vocals take precedent. "Am Stein Von Erech" (at the stone of Erech) has a church-like opening with organ and bell and a nice gunshot effect punctuating the melody, and is interesting as it contains a few seconds of trumpet fanfare that later resurfaces at the start of the "Gondolin Falls" track from the 2004 'Honour' release from Uruk Hai.

The final track on side A amused me too, as it's only 2.00 in length and begins with a nice piano part, so it's going to be a mellow instrumental to end the side, you think....but oh no: 3 seconds in and you're back into the battle with a sampled ending of female screams to scare the willies out of you!

More of the same on Side B, but in the sense of playing to the established strengths rather than being repetitive. A rather nice female choir appears intermittently in "The Durinsday" (more Tolkein themes at work) whilst the sound of a coffin lid opening slowly and being cast to one side greets you at the outset of "Fleischeslust." My minimal knowledge of German suggests to me that this is something unpleasant in terms of a lust for flesh, so the less said the better?!

The demo ends with a sampled piece at the tail-end (pun intended) of "In Tiefster Finsternis" that strongly hints at a creature - let's surmise a werewolf - stalking a man through a forest before falling on its prey and devouring him. All good, wholesome stuff!

It had been a while since I last played this tape, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it again and played it twice through this morning before writing this. The trouble with a large collection is that you can forget sometimes how long its been since you actually listened to some of it....

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