Tuesday, 17 November 2009

DRAGONS OF WAR



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dragons Of War
Format: CD pressing on Dragon's Breath Records (USA) released in 2005 in clear DVD-size case with insert and picture disc. Tape pressing on AMF Productions (Bulgaria) followed, with 2 tape-only bonus tracks, a different running order and alternative artwork.
Edition: CD pressing of 1,000 unnumbered copies, tape pressing unknown

Track Listing:
CD version
01. Remember the Ancient 20:01
02. Minas Morgul 04:52
03. The Eternal Halls 29:06
04. Isengard 09:23
05. Dragonfire 10:06

Tape version
Side A
01. Remember The Ancient
02. Minas Morgul
03. Dragonfire
04. Lebenin (tape-only bonus track)
Side B
05. Isengard
06. The Eternal Halls
07. Hill Of Tears (tape-only bonus track)

"Thus began the fourth of the great battle, Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame. In front of that fire came Glauring the Golden, father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs in multitudes such as the Noldor had never before seen or imagined. And then assaulted the fortress of Noldor, and broke the leagues about Angband, and slew wherever they found them the Noldor and their allies, Grey-Elves and Men..."

There is something of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde about this release, not because of the differences between CD and tape versions but because of the two styles of music on offer within the overall package. On one hand, you have some of the best ambient/atmospheric Uruk Hai music ever composed, including the lengthy and multi-part 'The Eternal Halls' (which truly do give the impression of having been recorded in a cavernous location) and the brooding 'Remember The Ancient'. At the same time, you have some tracks featuring Krom of Arkillery - 'Minas Morgul' and 'Isengard' taken from the 2004 split release between the two bands, and which are heavily augmented with guitar and Krom's unique vocals.

Now, you'll not find Nazgul complaining about either of these styles as they are both excellent in composition and content. No, the (minor) problem is that they don't sit that well next to each other at times, as the peaceful mood generated by the longer ambient tracks are rather broken by the guitar-rhythms of the split recordings. Of course, you could programme your CD player to play them in different chunks, or perhaps Nazgul is getting old and doesn't like being shaken from his reveries when listening to the quiet bits!?

It's certainly no reason not to rate this album as a fine one, though, and of course if you were unable to get the Arkillery/Uruk Hai split CDr in the first place then it is a nice bonus to have two of those songs available more widely, and you can't fault Hugin for making that possible. Indeed, talking of bonus songs and wider availability it's worth noting that 'Dragonfire' and 'Lebenin' (tape-only bonus) appear here, and had previously only appeared on the legendary 'Elbenmacht' demo (which, until very recently, was limited to only one unique CDr copy in Nazgul's collection - more of this in another post later!) The second tape-only bonus track 'Hills Of Tears' is very reminiscent of the finer elements of "A Night In The Forest" or "Songs From The Woods", with the sounds of nature and music being beautifully interwoven.

There is some very good artwork on both of these releases too, the CD version in colour throughout and the tape version in black and white. Incidentally, the inside of the tape inlay answers the trivia question from Nazgul's recent Blog on the compilation CD "All That Was Once Lost...", for the wording on the inside reads "What Was Once Lost...We Remember It!"

A fine release - none the worse for having two sides to display, just choose which you're in the mood for or submit yourself to the entire performance with gusto - and nicely summed up by AMF Productions on one of their promo inserts: "cold, majestic and ritual battle-ambient."

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