Thursday, 11 June 2009

LIEDER AUS MITTELERDE


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Lieder Aus Mittelerde (Songs From Middle Earth)
Format: Cassette-tape only release through Irrlichter Distro (Germany) in 1999, catalogue reference IRR001. Black and white photocopied inlay, recorded at W.A.R. studios between 4th and 21st September 1999.
Edition: Hand-numbered limited edition of only 200 copies

Track Listing:

Side A
1. Geschichten aus Mittelerde (Intro) 4.15 [Tales from Middle Earth]
2. Luthien Tinuviel 6.15
3. Thror`s Wiederkehr 3.48 [Thror's Return]
4. Über Die Nebelberge Weit 11.01 [The fog over the mountains far]
5. Vergeltung 5.42 [Retaliation]
6. Am Wassertor 8.18 [At The Water Gate]

Side B
7. Gollum's Rätsel 12.20 [Gollum's mystery]
8. Felagund 11.03
9. Feuersturm 7.14 [Firestorm]
10. Quenta Silmarillion (Outro) 4.26

Well, as Nazgul had squeezed in a Hrossharsgrani compilation track in his last post it seemed only right and proper to detail a full length Hross' release in the next, so here we have a blast from the past in the form of 1999's rehearsal tape "Lider Aus Mittelerde."

In 'classic' fashion this is a hand-numbered release (I have two copies, #120 and #84) with xeroxed inlays, and as the copies I have are not exactly excellent in terms of the quality of the photocopying I've also dug out a rather nice photo of the cover as originally produced for your edification (compare to the more grainy image in the second photo). It's a nicely detailed inlay in general, however, making full use of the fold-out paper with some atmospheric images and useful release information.

Musically this sits fair and square in that early period of Hrossharsgrani that polarises opinion so firmly - you either love it, or hate it! Plenty of snarling vocals, long and atmospheric synthesizer passages, pounding drums and unexpected odd snippets from what sound like a square-dance (!) in 'Felagund' and spoken word (in German) in the final track. As a rehearsal tape it is prone on some occasions to sounding primitive, both in terms of the sound quality and also in the construction of the songs - not always do the keyboards and other instruments stay in time with each other... :o)

Having said all of this, I really like this period of Hross' output so will happily bang this on for a listen whilst doing all of those other chores that prevent Nazgul keeping HonourAndDarkness as frequently updated as he would like. There is enough variety in the songs to keep one's interest throughout both sides of the tape, and I would commend this to anyone who has a passing interest in the Tolkien genre and a liking for synth-driven black metal-ish music.

This particular tape used to pop up all the time on eBay, which is where I bought both of these in years past. More recently, however, I really cannot recall when I last saw one for sale and as I have not yet managed to determine how many copies Irrlichter Distro actually produced (although you might imagine it to be in the 300-500 range, based on other of Alex's tape releases) it's rather hard to know how much of a rarity this particular release is.

Some good tunes lie within and, as is the nature of demos, you can detect themes and passages that made an appearance on later releases from the band over the years. It's also interesting for that design of the Hrossharsgrani logo, which was replaced by the 'sword through the name' logo that was used for some time thereafter.

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