Thursday, 23 April 2009

DER PFAD ZUM TOR DER TOTEN

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Der Pfed Zum Tor Der Toten
Format: Released on both cassette tape and CDr format in 1999 on the W.A.R. label (WAR004). The tape version has three additional bonus tracks. The CDr pressing has hand-designed inserts within the cover depicting track listing and illustrations, plus a photo of Hugin with a guitar.
Edition: CDr format limited to 200 hand-numbered pieces. Cassette version originally limited to just 33 pieces.

Track Listing:
CDr version:
1. Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten 15.10
2. Schönheit Gibt Es Nur Im Kampf 7.40
3. Schwerter & Äxte 10.10
4. Heimfahrt Nach Hördaland 6.10
5. Barbarenblut 5.02
6. Bußfertigkeit 11.21

Literally translating as "The Path To The Gate Of The Dead" this 1999 demo from Hrossharsgrani is somewhat unusual in the general body of Hugin's music in that there is a predominance of electric guitar in the mix, together with some blast-beat style drumming. Overall therefore a 'traditional' black metal ambiance is created on this release, differing to (and pre-dating) the more epic Viking saga-esque keyboard driven pieces that followed in the early years of the new Millennium. As Hugin himself said in a rare online interview with Succubus at the website http://www.thesummoning.free.fr/ about a later album:

"We always try to put the spirit of the ancient ages and of some long forgotten legends into the music of HROSSHARSGRANI. Its not just a musical evolution its more the personal feeling from the time we recorded the songs. Maybe someday in the future we [will go] back to the roots and do some raw and primitive Black Metal"

Sadly for me I've yet to find the cassette version of this, so once I have it safely ensnared within my collection (it's only a matter of time!) I'll post a separate Blog and look at the 3 bonus tracks on it. For now, we'll concentrate on the 6 tracks that both CDr and tape releases share as edition #7 of 200 gets an airing on Nazgul's death-deck....

On a first, casual listen it would be relatively easy to be dismissive of this demo - the drums are a tad repetitive (and not always entirely in time with the music) and the tracks in the main are lengthy affairs that might try the patience of many listeners. But the thing about many of Hugin's projects is that if you give it sufficient time - allow the music to wash over you for the first few listens and then take a proper listen on subsequent spins - you do appreciate what the man/band is trying to achieve (on this demo, Hugin plays all the instruments and there are no guest players as on later releases).

It's not to say that this is a full-on Black Metal blast-fest, however! The opening track kicks off in lavish style with a created scene of what sound like werewolves chasing and feeding on a poor unfortunate on horseback, the third track 'Schwerter & Äxte' begins with a most excellent sampled choral piece for around two and a half minutes, and whilst I couldn't put my hands on where it is sourced from you'll know it when you hear it, and you'll enjoy it too!

The principal difference to listening to this demo is that the memorable riffs are often the guitar ones and not deriving from keyboards, and this is a great thing if you want a change from synth-driven music once in a while. Each track has its own style and panache, and whilst the drumming occasionally grates I would suggest this early representation of the Black Metal side of Hrossharsgrani is well worth seeking out for those interested in this genre.

Stop Press!! I also recently discovered that the original CDr release came in a coloured jewel-case and had a rusty nail enclosed as a gimmick! Clearly my copy - a bargain on eBay many moons ago - had lost these attributes. For shame! Alex - if you're reading - have you got any spare nails left lying around..... !!

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