2. Durins Zeit 3.27
3. Kortirion 5.56
4. Luthien 10.18
5. Elbenwald 2.22
6. In Durins Halls 4.50
7. The Tunes Of Tinfang Warble 7.43
8. Uruk-Hai 7.29
9. In Times Before The Light 1.37
10. Nordhimmelstag 3.21
11. Over The Hills 3.56
12. The Ring Is Melting 1.10
If you're reading this post and thinking to yourself "Hmmmm, that's one I've not seen before" then Nazgul really wouldn't be surprised at all. For in actual fact, it's a release that probably hasn't been seen for many years and was only recently re-discovered by Alex in the depths of W.A.R. Studios earlier this year. In a gesture of typical kindness this particular CDr has found its way from Austria to England to become part of the ever-growing collection that is the Alex Wieser Museum of Contemporary Ambient & Black Metal Music (AWMCABM), located deep in the dungeons of Castle Nazgul. This is #1 of the 6 produced, and if you are one of the other lucky 5 owners then Nazgul sends hails to thee....
One of the great things about this release - which the sharp eyed amongst you might already have spotted is a very limited CD version of the "Elbenwald" tape demo of 2000 - is the hand-drawn designs on much of the product. From the dragon on the rear inlay to the dragon-in-flight motif on the inner tray, and from the band logo on the reverse of the cover to the cover itself, it is a monument to the effort and industry that Alex put (and still puts) into these sorts of releases: very personal, very professional, and a joy to own. Worth recording for posterity, hence the photographs above.
Musically this is early-period Uruk Hai, and thus possessing of the slightly naive charm of that part of the band's existence. There is a fair amount of repetition between the songs in terms of the underlying melodies on keyboards, which are accentuated in some tracks by a different drum beat or lyrical approach. There are also the trademark longer songs sandwiched between the shorter pieces (this being a demo after all) such as 'The Ring Is Melting'. There is sufficient variety amongst the songs to make the listen an interesting one, and the longer tracks - 'Luthien' being a particular example - allow for a mixture of styles, including an introduction that smacks of medieval lute and a black-metal style vocal later on. Sounds bizarre, Nazgul will grant you, but it works!
The "Elbenwald" demo added a couple of bonus tracks and changed the artwork on the cassette release, so Nazgul will cover that particular release elsewhere. For Nazgul, the beauty of this long-forgotten demo is that it is one of the earliest surviving digital recordings documenting the origin of Uruk Hai, pre-dating by three years the "Elbentanz" demo that is widely seen by many as the earliest Uruk Hai demo on disc. And, in keeping with most early demos from established bands, it does show the artist finding his proverbial feet in the genre and as such is far from a 'classic' recording. Yet there is a simple and undeniable charm to this demo that clearly stimulated Alex to develop the style and content of Uruk Hai further and further over the years, and without these early steps the world would not be in a position to enjoy the might and power of the band in its more recent inception.