Format: CD released in April 2010 on the Steinklang Industries label (Austria), cat ref SKD26. A split album, with songs from Hrossharsgrani and dark-ambient/post industrial band Dead Man's Hill (Belgium). Comes in a transparent DVD slimline case with full colour inlays. Session vocals on the Hrossharsgrani tracks performed by Bart Piette from Dead Man's Hill and Pr. Sergiy of Moloch, with guest appearances from Uwe Backer and Els.
"from the ashes"
01. Come My Phoenix 4.06
02. Znischy Jih 1.06
05. Down There (Beherit cover) 7.19
Dead Man's Hill
06. The Birth Of Death
07. Mother Destruction
08. And Nature Created Yellowstone
09. The Dangerous Emptiness
10. All Saints Day Rituals: To Baron Samedi
Coming as it did after the "Sanguis" release, this is something of an unexpected turn of events for followers of Hugin's barbarian horde, Hrossharsgrani. As you'll recall, "Sanguis" featured a re-working of the tracks from the bands early "Blut" demo, and was shrouded for the most part in a sound mix that was, to be polite, challenging on the ears. The first song on this split release teases at a similar 'sandstorm in a oil drum' effect before launching into a much clearer sound, and a massively more varied set of tunes.
And Nazgul uses the words 'tunes' intentionally, as the Hrossharsgrani offerings here really are in the category that you can more easily remember, and whistle on your way to work. Whether it's the guest vocalists, whether it's the cover versions, this is a cracking collection of songs. The only lingering doubt in my mind is that these tracks are entirely different from much of the back catalogue of this band, and whilst no one should expect Hugin to churn out another "In The Mystic Forest" every year you can't help but wonder where the fan-base for modern-day Hrossharsgrani comes from...?
But on with the commentary: links to the video of opener 'Come My Phoenix' have been on YouTube and the band's MySpace pages for a while now, and is most likely familiar to many of you already. It's a groovy sort of thang, with an indie feel to the vocal delivery underpinned by an industrial rhythmic beat. Martial metal in the toe-tapping mould! 'Znischy Jih' is a short spoken word piece, a dark minimalisic ritual of a song that segues nicely into the fanfares that launch 'Countess Bathory', the old Venom chestnut. This was in fact previously released in 2009 as a teaser for this forthcoming album on the Steinklang Industries sampler CD "Pagan Folk & Apocalyptic Psychedelia", reviewed on the Blog on 18 November 2009.
That takes us to the two remaining songs in the Hrossharsgrani half of this album: 'Warriors of the Wasteland' is the most 'traditional' song of the five on offer, in as far as the theme is of battles and ancient heroism and the style isn't a million miles removed from past Hross' recordings. Recorded with sampled extracts from the 2004 film Troy (notably the famous quote from Hector - 'honour the gods, love your woman and defend your country'), this is the epic track on this release at over 11 and half minutes in length. some catchy keyboard melodies, coupled with another largely spoken word delivery and spartan percussive background, makes for an engaging listen and a handy link between the old and new stylings of this project.
The final track 'Down There' is a Beherit cover. Now, Nazgul has heard of but never actually listened to Beherit, despite the fact that the original version of this song is drawn from what is deemed one of the seminal Black Metal albums of all time, "Drawing Down The Moon." This album is usually referred to as eerie, evil and downright maleficent, and one fine description of the song in question called it "bouncy yet evil, a blackened song belted out with sheer ferocity" as it completed its short two plus minute duration. This version I suspect Beherit fans wouldn't recognise - expanded to over seven minutes, complete with female vocals, a extended jazzy piano accompaniment near the end, and a swaggering rhythm that supersedes the discordant keyboards at the outset to give the track an almost trance-like dance vibe. Extraordinary, but a definite winner!
The remainder of the album is utilised by Belgium's Dead Man's Hill, who describe their sound on their MySpace site as influenced by nature, animals, trees, traditional yidaki, alternate reality, and hallucinations, sounding like "extreme occult storms, All Saints Day in Haiti, a bad trip...." Nazgul is not familiar with their past material - of which it appears there is quite a lot, including split releases with Japanese bootlegger, errr, artist Kenji Siratori - and it all makes for an enveloping and ritualistic listening experience.
This split album hasn't seen much in the way of online coverage from the usual websites, although the label's own shop page does (entirely impartially of course) note that the release is:
"A great mix between Martial / Industrial / Ambient / Electronic and more. Five new HROSSHARSGRANI anthems featuring vocals by Bart Piette from D.M.H. and
Pr. Sergiy from MOLOCH, as well as five new monumental epics from the master of Dark Ambient, Dead Man’s Hill – this time a lot more intense and song-oriented than on earlier releases. "Dead:Meat" is the so far most mature and complex album of both artists. composition, interpretation and design feel like a smack in the face and leave no room for compromise! Morbidity meets iron avant-garde, romanticism encounters the frozen coldness of metal! When will people finally realize: if you want to feel you MUST listen!"
If you had been put off slightly by the experience of "Sanguis" and the more modern Hrossharsgrani sound, then this is truly a record to savour - available in unlimited pressing at Steinklang Industries, it'll make your day!