Tuesday, 19 May 2009

SCHATTENKRIEGER

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Schattenkrieger
Format: CD release on CCP Records (Austria) in 2003 in both first pressing digipak format and regular jewel case edition. Track listing on both versions is the same (photo shows digipak at the top). Recorded with Austrian symphonic metal band Estatic Fear, and a host of guest musicians.
Edition: Digipak limited to 1000 unnumbered copies, jewel case pressing unlimited

Track Listing:
1. Einleitung (Erster Schattenzyklus) 01:17
2. Das Flammende Auge 03:27
3. Zweiter Schattenzyklus 01:04
4. Im Feuer der Rache 04:16
5. Dritter Schattenzyklus 02:04
6. Ein Gar stolzes Heer 01:16
7. Vierter Schattenzyklus 00:37
8. Schattenkrieger 02:52
9. Strahlend Schwarz 02:19
10. Fünfter Schattenzyklus 01:35
11. Donnerschlag 02:43
12. Gar schemenhaft Die Schatten Trügen 03:28
13. Sechster Schattenzyklus 00:39
14. Wenn Winters Sang und Klang Verstummt 03:56
15. Oh´ Schatz 03:42
16. Siebenter Schattenzyklus 00:42
17. ...Krieg Entbrannte (Nacht der Helden) 04:47


There are (Nazgul imagines) two fundamentally different schools of thought about this release.

On the face of it - and on the first couple of spins - it's a very catchy, commercially adept sound (rather like Elvenking jamming with Folkearth in Tarja's' kitchen) with plenty of melody, 'hummable' songs, short bursts of female narrative, choruses galore, and more instrumentation and musicians than you could shake a stick at.

On the other hand, what - you might reasonably ask - has all of the above got to do with a Hrossharsgrani release? Commercial sound? Varied vocalists and instrumentation (including a bass, of all things)? Songs you can actually hum? Bah - Humbug!!

The sad fact is that this album is the equivalent of the debacle that was 'New' Coca-Cola, or any other modern commercial marketing exercise that you might care to name. It might look the same in name, it may even come from the same respected company as past releases (and yes, CCP Records, Nazgul is looking hard in your direction at this juncture) but at the end of the day there is precious little of the essence of the original product left.

In the case of this album the reasons for this mysterious departure from plan are difficult to fathom. Did CCP Records decide it try and capitalise on it's investment in the Hross' project by shoe-horning in a bunch of guest musicians (no less than 19, according to the inlay booklet!) to bolster a part-recorded product? Were local symphonic metal band Estatic Fear also in the CCP studio by coincidence, leading to an unplanned and unholy alliance of sorts? Was there a mutiny by sometime Hross' members Fylgja (female vocals) and Munin (instruments) leading to a capture of the master tapes in the dead of night after Hugin had thrown his hands up in despair at all of the goings-on?

Nazgul doesn't know. But then, Nazgul doesn't need to know. If you want to listen to a perfectly respectable folk-metal album with nice songs you can whistle along with and which won't offend granny, then you could do far worse than this. But a plague of boils on CCP Records for releasing said album as a Hrossharsgrani product, as it certainly lost that right long before the final masters were recorded.

Ironically it's one of the more available Hrossharsgrani releases, and as such it's received a share of good reviews. Fair enough for the music, but most misleading if you are/were a long-time fan and picked this up expecting to get a dose of the good stuff. The words below (courtesy of Durandal1717 on Metal Archive) are not untypical of online commentary:

"The third release by the reformed (good) version of Hrossharsgrani, and the second full-length, this amends some of the problems that plagued the old releases, but in the process, loses some of the charm of the previous albums. I don’t know if charm is the right word, but it certainly sounds different as a whole as well as the individual songs"

Nazgul will instead opt to pop Ancient Tales back on the death-deck and leave this disc well alone....

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