Thursday, 24 September 2009

NACHTKRIEG



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nachtkrieg
Format: CD pressing on the Dungeons Deep label (USA), cat ref DDR012, released in 2009. A split album with US Black Metal horde Forgotten Land, whose sole member Lord Tetrarch (aka Lord Raven) is the owner of the Dungeons Deep label.
Edition: Presumed unlimited, no edition number visible or advertised

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
1. Blood of Heroes 29.39

Forgotten Land
2. Nachtkrieg 11.52
3. 2911 Fell Winter 4.38
4. The Silent Tombe 9.15
5. At the Gates of Internal Sadness 9.52


Gather ye round, friends of HonourAndDarkness, and listen to the tale that old uncle Nazgul has to tell about this release. Quite the obscure and hard to find release it is too, but not because of the usual restrictions on quantities pressed, nor because of it being an old and long unavailable item. Oh no, my friends, there is a longer and darker tale associated with this album, so charge your glasses, pull your chairs nearer the fire, and listen on....

You see, the only place this split CD was advertised for sale when released in January 2009 was through the Dungeons Deep website itself. Alex had not received his copies yet from Lord Tetrarch when Nazgul enquired after a copy, so taking the initiative your scribe contacted the label through their web-shop in February, sent off his $20 for the CD plus shipping, and sat in a state of suppressed excitement awaiting the arrival of his new acquisition. And he waited, and he waited....and he emailed Lord Tetrarch a few times (and was told a few plausible stories about delays due to house moves)....and he waited a little longer...and, well - you can see where this is going. In short, nothing ever arrived, no refund was ever offered or received, vague promises of items in the post turned to emails not being answered, and then a cold ominous silence descended. Many months had passed, Alex still had not received any CDs either, and all seemed pretty hopeless.

Quite by chance during this period, the only internet review of the album Nazgul had seen was written (by a certain 'GiganticBrain') for the Spirit of Metal website. Nazgul resolved to try to contact said author to see if he had a spare copy for sale, and whilst sleuthing for a contact address happened to come across the same chap on www.discogs.com with - you guessed it - his copy of this CD advertised for sale.

Following a good few emails and a well negotiated trade for both sides, some of Nazgul's treasured spare copies of Alex's work were winging their way across the Atlantic and in return not only did this CD arrive as promised, but also a copy of the earlier Forgotten Land debut "Ancient Runic Sorcery" on which Alex contributed the first track. A pair of rare finds indeed.

Nazgul is delighted to note that GiganticBrain is now a member of this Blog, albeit it under a different 'nom de plume', and once again offers his grateful thanks for the kind trade that led to this particular release finally arriving in the UK.

Now, to be fair, Nazgul's experience at the hands of Lord Tetrarach many well not be typical. Indeed, my trading partner clearly has had some massively productive trades with both the individual and the label, so I'd not want to lead you to the biased conclusion that Lord Tetrarch is a scallywag who'll run off with your hard-earned cash. Perhaps there were/are mitigating circumstances, and Nazgul would be delighted to hear from any readers with positive tales to tell if you too have tried to purchase this CD from Dungeons Deep. Nazgul merely speaks as he found, and with the notable exception of the 'Brain experience aside, the episode did leave a bad taste in the mouth....

So let us consider more wholesome matters - the 'Blood of Heroes' track from Uruk Hai. Despite its 2009 release, the song in fact dates from 2005 and spans a solid 30 minutes or so in length. Compositionally therefore, this fits into the discography around about the "Northern Lights" or "War Poems" era, although to these ears it's a much more sombre and measured piece of music than found on other releases of similar vintage.

Let Nazgul refer you to the words from the original Spirit Of Metal review, which depicted a story of the split CD telling the tale of a battle from outset to bloody conclusion:

"I really loved the atmosphere of Uruk Hai's track. It was very light and not necessarily happy, but certainly not depressing ... we move into the aftermath of this violent war with the epic ambient band Uruk Hai. The army served up vengeance to the other, with minimal losses on their side. This song describes it all with its title “Blood of Heroes”. This is the feast prepared for the warriors when they return home. The setting is a warm spring night, and the air is filled with content and festivity...."

Indeed, the Uruk Hai track does convey this sense of a panoramic survey of a battlefield interspersed only with occasional bird-song and other ambient touches, ending with the gently rolling waves of a distant shoreline cleansing the soul and the ground of spilled blood. This is an entirely synthesised song - no guitar, no vocals, no percussion, lots of slow atmospheric build and layers of sound and 'emotion'. And by golly, it works like a charm.

Whilst we're at it, let Nazgul clear up a slight misconception on the Metal Archives site in relation to this CD. It states on the Uruk Hai pages that this "is Uruk Hai's last official release". Not true, as evidenced by subsequent releases in 2009 being issued. What the inlay of "Nachtkrieg" does actually say is that "It will be one of Uruk Hai's last releases of many", an understandable misunderstanding (if you see what I mean).

An excellent piece of ambient music - minimalist, almost spartan in nature yet replete with emotion and redolent with charm and panache. Let us just hope that a few more people get the chance to actually hear the bloody thing.

And Mr Fritts - if you're reading this, Nazgul would still like his $20 back, please.....

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