Thursday, 10 December 2009

~ 2 ~

Band: URUK HAI
Title: ~2~
Format: CD only pressing on the Drama Company label (Spain), no catalogue reference, with colour inlay booklet and picture-disc CD. Split album with German Black Metal legends Vinterriket. Released 2005.
Edition: Limited to 1,000 unnumbered copies
Track Listing:

Vinterriket
1. Am brennenden nördlichen Firmament 06:57
2. Stumme Winternacht 06:30
3. Monde ewiger Verdammnis 07:02
4. Vom Echo der Melancholie 06:51
5. Der Tod Wuotans (Burzum cover) 06:46

Uruk Hai
6. Der Schrei des Blutes 11:26
7. Stahlzeit 19:20
8. Hermodr A Helferd (Burzum cover) 02:56

As a precursor to this blog, Nazgul came across Vinterriket's patented style of keyboard-driven frozen black metal slightly before discovering Alex's brand of ambient metal, and this split CD from both bands was one of the earlier introductions to the Uruk Hai ethos for me. A really well put together package from the Spanish label Drama Company, with some nicely thought out duality in the artwork (cold, bleak winter scenes for Vinterriket alongside scenes of Viking significance for Uruk Hai) to complement the music on offer.

Until recently Nazgul would have been suggesting that the Uruk Hai tracks were unique to this release, but of course the existence of the previously-reviewed "Blutreich" album puts paid to that theory for the first two (lengthy) tracks on the latter part of the album. Even the cover-version of Burzum's "Hermodr A Hrelferd" is not technically a unique track, as the same song appears on the original 2004 pressing of "Heidensturm" from Hrefnesholt (although, interestingly, not on the recent Wufrune Worxx reissue of this demo, which has an alternate final bonus track). Hmmmm - Nazgul thinks a full concordance of Hugin's songs may be overdue....

The two longer Uruk Hai songs on this release are effectively soundtracks to a movie only known to the mind of the composer, as both are redolent in effects and atmosphere befitting an unknown and unseen film. This is not to suggest that they don't hold-up as pieces of music in their own right, but there are so many nuances and passages of music that hint at mysterious goings-on that you can't help but feel there's more to this than meets the eye! By way of example, there is the creaking sound of wood on a boat that commences at the outset of 'Der Schrei des Blutes' yet which is also heard part-way through 'Stahlzeit', suggesting a united theme between the songs (and also, by association, hinting at some of the past Elisabetha songs involving the passage of Dracula by sea to England).

There are some samples from the Conan The Barbarian film on 'Stahlzeit' that neatly split the song into listenable segments, and are perhaps some of the best melded segues of music and film elements that Hugin has yet put forward to his audience.

By comparison, the Burzum cover (clearly a factor in this release, given the Vinterriket cover-song) sounds somewhat one-dimensional and almost trite by comparison, as it's complexity does not stack up against the densely populated songs that precede it. The song originates on Burzum's "Dauði Baldrs" album, by the way. That said, it's a short and entirely listenable piece, book-ended with some ominous thunder and faithful to the original, given that the source material was recorded whilst Varg was in prison for church burning and the Euronymous murder sentence (he wasn't allowed any musical instruments in prison, so made his album with MIDI format sound).

It's another of those CD's that once was a relatively common find online, yet now has become harder to track down at a sensible price. It's also quite an unusual album in as far as the tracks are only available in CD/digital format, and there has been no corresponding cassette release of the Uruk Hai tracks here.

Nazgul commends this release unto thee!

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