Title: The Secret Fire
Format: Compact Disc, released 2001 by CCP Records (Austria), cat ref CCP 100224-2
Edition: First edition was limited to 1000 unnumbered copies
1. The Secret Fire 06:26
2. Luthien 02:50
3. Flesh and Steel 06:35
4. Dragonmagic 08:16
5. ... Where the Shadows Lie 06:59
6. A Dark Force (Shines Golden) 02:57
7. The Fireblade 08:03
8. Galadriel 06:30
Recorded in 2001 with a three piece, featuring Hugin, Fylgja (female vocals) and Munin.
Based on "The Silmarillion" and "The Lord Of The Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien in its concept, this album from Hrossharsgrani moved the band firmly into a territory of bombastic, epic songs which at times remind me strongly of Bal-Sagoth from the UK and Summoning (Austria) in their pacing and melody.
This is a good thing!
Sometimes criticised online for being a collection of samples and story-led narration with only a couple of good songs, I'd confidently say "pah" to all of them and invite you to listen to this with open ears and a clear mind. There are some rollicking tracks on here, full of catchy melodies and an epic, almost power metal-ish feel. "Flesh and Steel" and "The Fireblade" are worth the price of admission alone, and "Galadriel" is a good listen too. "Dragonmagic" has an almost Russian feel about the introduction musically, and as a whole the album is sufficiently varied to keep your interest throughout.
A word about the narration - both Hugin's own narrative and that of Fylgja are accented (well they would be, as they're not singing in their native language) and this too has caused merriment amongst online critics. Well, I'd like to wager anyone trying to sing/speak as distinct, multiple characters in a second language might find it hard (before you criticise, try reciting a piece of Tolkien in, say, Swahili and see how you think a local might find it) and to a certain extent the European accent gives the piece a Middle-Earth charm that you might not find on, say, a mid-western twang. My only minor gripe is that the voice of Bilbo Baggins in "A dark force (shines golden)" is too whiny to fit the character as I'd imagined.
All things considered, I've been living with this CD in my car stereo on the way to and from work this week (enough time for a play through once each way) and I really like it. For some odd reason in the back of my mind before I revisited the album I had a mental note that it was a struggle to get through ... I'm happy to report that nothing of the kind is the case!