Saturday, 6 March 2010

AT THE END OF THE FIRST AGE


Band: URUK HAI
Title:
At The End Of The First Age (An Opera About Ered Luin, The Blue Mountains)
Format: Cassette-tape only edition released in 2009 through Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW89, as part of the "Remember CC" series. Recorded in W.A.R. Studios between February/March 2009, with session appearance from Pr. Sergiy (Moloch)
Edition: 44 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. At The End Of The First Age 27.21

Opera. There's a genre guaranteed to split opinion even within classical music circles, let alone amongst metal and rock fans. The definition of the genre varies, but a workable approximation could be defined thus: "an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble." So could it really be the case that this humble tape release aspires to include all of these elements within its remit...?

Well, errr - no! What you do get - and this comes as a blessed relief for all Uruk Hai fans Nazgul would wager - is a nigh-on half an hour piece of ambient craft punctuated by the hoarse-throated screams of Moloch artist Pr. Sergiy. Not so much "it's not over until the fat lady sings" as it is "it's not over until the Ukranian screams his last."

The next logical question to ask - and before you've even put the demo tape anywhere near the death-deck - is what are Ered Luin, The Blue Mountains? Well, Tolkien Legendarium to hand, it transpires that:

"The Ered Luin or Blue Mountains, also known as Ered Lindon, is the mountain range at the far west of Eriador, in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-Earth.

During the First Age, the Ered Luin was an unbroken line separating Eriador from Beleriand. Seven rivers arose in it on the western side, and the land these rivers flowed through was known as Ossiriand, and later also as Lindon, therefore the mountains were sometimes referred to as the Ered Lindon. The dwarven cities of Belegost and Nogrod were located in this range.

The mountain range was broken during the war of the Valar against Morgoth, and at the middle of the range the sea broke through, creating a new terminus for the river Lhûn. In the middle of the gap, where the Lhûn met the sea, the Grey Havens were built. When seen as the border of Lindon the Ered Luin were called Ered Lindon."

So - suitably briefed and not troubled by large women clad in dubious breastplates and shouting heartily, what offerings are within this 2009 demo?

The piece begins with an expansive and majestic synthesiser moment, which does succeed in conjuring up images of cast mountain ranges and wild scenery. As the music develops, however, sonorous voices begin to appear, casting a shadow of uncertainty over what was previously a bombastic and friendly atmosphere. As time passes, the screams being - unsettling, emotive, distant yet in your face, Nazgul is troubled by the screams! It is akin to proceeding along a path cut through the mountains and coming suddenly across a lone dark creature of Mordor howling his heart out at the moon - a moment of uncertainty and fear, yet of compassion. A most effective and atmospheric demo!

Musically as well as synthesiser and what has become to be contemporary Uruk Hai style percussion there are some interesting piano interludes too, one minute playing in a light melody of its own and the next performing as the bass element to underpin the music generally. Keen listeners will also spot elements of Uruk Hai's 'Gil Galad' track in the mix, which was of course on the split release "Vereint durch die Kraft uralter Wälder" featuring none other than...Moloch.

As with all of the "Remember CC" series there are only 44 of these tapes in circulation (Nazgul's being #2), so the availability of the demo is uncertain. That said, the exact same track does appear on a split release with Italian horde Orcrist, itself issued in 2009 and reissued as part of Wulfrune Worxx's "split series" in 2010. More of this in another post.

Overall, a compelling and unusual release that highlights the benefits to be gained through partnership working with like-minded souls...

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