2. Wald 09:06
3. Uralt 08:09
Were you, dear reader, to follow the links from the main page of HonourAndDarkness to the Hrefnesholt MySpace pages you may still be in luck and able to buy for yourself a copy of this 2009 demo release from one of Nazgul's particular favourites. And lo, the masses rejoiced and gave thanks, for Hrefnesholt have once again recorded....
Intermittent doesn't really cover it - the last release before this one was the "United by Heathen Blood" demo of 2007, and only 5 other recordings pre-date that one. Yet Hrefesholt is one of those bands that gets under your skin and compels you to listen to its music - with the caveat that it is strictly for connoisseurs of what you might call the Pagan-Ambient style.
The power and majesty of this demo comes from the combination of subtle music with nature and natural sounds. Opener 'Asaland' combines the force of a storm - replete with thunder, rain and wind - with a slightly fuzzy guitar tone and the metallic strike of a heavy implement on steel. Short, poignant, yet setting the scene for a musical journey beyond the everyday humdrum of modern life into a realm of fantasy and wonder.
Second track 'Wald' continues the natural theme with the sound of dripping rain within a forest (thunder still rolling about you) whilst a simple guitar riff and huge drum bring an imagery of foreboding into your subconscious. There's plenty of freedom and space within the track, which is more akin to actually being in the forest with a distant hint of music than the other way around. Perfect listening for dark nights, especially at this time of year with the evenings drawing in and shadows casting their gloomy fingers across streets and gardens. A catchy yet spartan acoustic guitar refrain is heard at the 4 minute mark, amidst crashes of thunder, again emphasising the message that you are deep in the forest, and utterly alone, although those distant booming drums hint of others in the trees, hidden and of uncertain intent. The song finishes with an uplifting semi-choral piece, and as the thunder clears and becomes less intense perhaps your escape from the woods has been secured...?
The demo finishes with 'Uralt' (literally 'age-old'), which follows similar musical themes for the initial minute or so before the distant sounds of sword play and fighting becomes raised in the mix, leading not to the epic battle that you might imagine is coming, but to more eerie synthesiser and guitar work. Perhaps this is the distant echo of a fight that played out in the forest long ago, resurrected by your passage through the trees?
The packaging on this release is superb - the green inlays conveying the lush forest nicely, whilst the artwork is evocative of deep woodland and misty uncertainty. As for the mysterious female figure in the trees on the reverse of the 7" cover, make up your own minds! As stated earlier, this demo was limited to only 19 pieces (this is #2 of the 19) so if you want to add it to your collection - and if not, why not? Nazgul demands to know - act soon!