Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 333 copies
"In honour of absent friends...."
You know, Nazgul finds this collecting lark is sometimes quite a perplexing thing! Take this particular Uruk Hai CD which, to all intents and purposes, appears to be a fairly conventional compilation of tracks primarily from the "Elbenmacht", "Across The Misty Mountains...Far, Far Away", "Northern Lights" and "~2~" split releases of 2006 and 2005, with a bonus track thrown in.
But the more you look into it, the more peculiar things become. For example, as you may have gleaned from these virtual pages Nazgul has long been a fan of Alex and his works, yet until last month I'd never even heard of this release before. It's mentioned absolutely nowhere online that I can see in any discographies or even label pages, and it was only by complete chance Nazgul stumbled on its existence at all: in checking the dates of certain releases against the official Uruk Hai MySpace page I noticed that nestled in the midst of the 2005 releases was something called "Blutreich". Asking the obvious question of Alex, it transpired that this was indeed a formal release and one that had apparently escaped the notice of the world at large!
Now this I could understand if the CD had come out in some minuscule pressing, as some of Alex's releases tend to do. But no - this was pressed in a volume of 333 units (this one is #2/300), and so there are presumably either a large number of people sitting on collectors gold out there without knowing it, or Ancient Pride sold none and have a room somewhere with these CDs piled from floor to ceiling?! Very, very odd!
Alex very kindly offered me this CD for the vaults at Castle Nazgul and thus through this act of kinship the most improbably rare Uruk Hai for some time landed in Nazgul's hallowed halls shortly afterwards. Of course, Alex being Alex also mischievously added something else to the parcel that in Nazgul's humble opinion is an ever rarer Uruk Hai item, but more of that on another day!!
Some great artwork and design accompanies this collection, including a most familiar rear cover image (although don't ask me where I've seen it before) and the lyrics to the epic track 'Northhammer' appearing on the inlay. The cover illustration - a view down-river with distant hills and fields - is also rather fitting to the theme of the release, although it's a shame that the quality of the printed image is not as high as the rear cover. Still, beggars can't be choosers as they say!
The choice of tracks is interesting - Nazgul has yet to post anything on the split CD "~2~" with Vinterriket from where 'Stahlzeit' derives, so we'll keep the analysis of that epic until later. For the record, the track also appears on the 2006 tape release "A Vikings Journey", as does 'The Plague', which also needs a review on Honour And Darkness. So many releases, so little time!
'Asenheil' is all is didgeridoo glory is, of course, the same introduction as graces the CD version of "Across The Misty Mountains..." album and is still a rather wonderfully wind-swept piece of music. The two tracks from "Northern Lights" were two of the more vigorous pieces from that particular release, being more guitar-focused than much of the rest of contemporary Uruk Hai output, and as such add an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the album.
For humble fans, however, it's the last track that will hold most interest, for the 20 minute plus 'On An Evening Of Autumn' is unique to this release (Nazgul believes....but then another 'lost' release may yet prove him wrong!)....
One thing Nazgul would observe is that the CD is a bit of a swine at being recognised in either CD or PC to play - one wonders whether that might have contributed to the album not being widely distributed if other copies proved equally reluctant to play, or whether this particular disc is just rather inconsistent?
And, of course, having written all of this Blog entry whilst listening to the CD we reach the final track and - the blessed thing refuses to play! Cue much swearing, changes of CD player, but all to no avail. And so, dear readers, bear with Nazgul until normal service is resumed as soon as possible: a 'Blutreich' final track update post to follow...!