Friday, 8 May 2009

BLUT (Version 2003)

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Blut
Format: Original CDr pressed but not formally issued by W.A.R. Studios in 1998. Cassette version remastered in 2003 for Werwolf Productions (Italy), cat ref WP0011, including one unreleased bonus track not on the original recording. Artwork for the CDr version can be seen at the Hrossharsgrani MySpace pages.
Edition: Cassette version limited to just 66 hand-numbered copies.

Track Listing:
01. Ozeane Der Zeit
02. Kalte Night
03. Die Karpathen
04. Mitternacht
05. Der Pfahler
06. Sehe Deinen Tod
07. Ein Meer Aus Schmerzen
08. Herr Uber Die Winde
09. Aufstieg Verforener Seelen
10. Blut (Part I)
11. Blut (Part II)
12. Apokalypse
13. Ewigkeit
14. Leben, Tod, Untodt (bonus track for this release only)
15. Zu Ende

Somewhat of a complicated history to this release. As I understand it, the original "Blut" recordings were made in winter 1998/99 at the W.A.R. Studios in Linz, but although committed to disc with a rather nice 'werewolf' cover design the CDr was not officially released at the time. Jump forward to 2008 and the "Sanguis" digipak was released by Hrossharsgrani with the accompanying spiel:

"In the cold winter of 1998 a.d. the Austrian battle machine Hrossharsgrani formed for their first release in shape of the demo “Blut”. In the beginning Hrossharsgrani (feat Hugin of Uruk-Hai) wandered the worlds of dark ambient music to tell stories of creatures that walked by night, the undead, the vampyres. He paid tribute to the bloody heritage of Lord Byron and Bram Stoker. On the 10 year anniversary of "Blut", this gem, which was lost for a decade, is now digitally remastered and released once again."

However, in between these phases the 'Blut' album did receive a formal release, albeit a very limited one, courtesy of Werwolf Productions in Italy, in a hand-numbered tape format of just 66 pieces (my copy is #8) complete with an 'unreleased bonus track'. The tape itself is also autographed by Hugin towards the right middle side, as you can see if you click on the photo to expand it.

I managed to track my copy down on eBay some years ago, and it was the first - and last - time I've actually seen one for sale. So it's not quite the 'lost for a decade' release that the 'Sanguis' release would have you believe, but it's close! Incidentally, I'll be covering the 'Sanguis' digipak in detail on a separate Blog entry, as it reworks the many songs from the original demo into fewer, revised compositions and thus can largely be seen as a release in its own right.

So - back to 'Blut (Version 2003)' then. Well, with 15 tracks on offer you may be thinking "I know exactly what to expect from this Hross' release - epic drumming, extensive sampled battle-scenes, deep Germanic vocals over galloping Viking-esque synths, and so forth." In fact, leave your preconceived notions by the door on the way in, as this release is far more ephemeral than later releases proved to be, possibly a function of the Hrossharsgrani identity developing over time from this early beginning.

The tracks run into one another, and without the benefit of clear track demarcations offered in the digital world it proves difficult to attempt a review of this tape on a song by song basis. That said, to undertake such a task would be somewhat futile as the demo taken as a whole is the best way to approach what is on offer here. And what a mixed bag that proves to be, to be sure: we have orchestral parts, choral parts (female and male), ominous and eerie keyboard passages that would suit an Elisabetha horror-play, brooding atmospheric segues (spoken and musical) that lead into slower, more measured drum-led songs or synth pieces that nod quietly to old-school OMD at times.

It's a real cornucopia of atmospheric ambiance, and whilst it may not be entirely what you might have expected the original demo of this project to sound like it's certainly a winner with me!

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