Saturday, 14 August 2010

OF BATTLES, RAVENS AND FIRE - update


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Of Battles, Ravens and Fire
Format: Multiple - three new tape versions released in 2010 to complement the 2 existing CD pressings and picture disc vinyl edition. See details in text
Editions: various - see text
Reason for Update: New versions of this early Hrossharsgrani release released on tape in 2010

One possible question that might be asked of Nazgul were he ever interviewed in context of Hugin's work might be, "So, what demo or album in your collection do you have the most copies of?" Who might ask this is left to your imagination, but the answer he or she would receive would most certainly be "Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" by Hrossharsgrani.

This is, on the face of it, a surprising answer (not least to Nazgul) as recent inventory work reveals no less than 6 different versions of this recording on official releases from W.A.R. and other labels. There was, back in the beginning, the 7 track 2000 CD EP pressing on CCP Records (Austria). This was followed by a limited edition (300 copies) picture disc vinyl pressing (a split 12" with Mittwinter) in 2001, and then a CD reissue in 2005 with two bonus tracks, both on CCP Records. That took the tally to 3 at the end of 2005, and have been covered in past posts on these pages.

The 3 new tape reissues, 2010
Skip ahead 5 years into 2010 and 3 more versions of this demo/EP have seen the light of day, so for convenience sake Nazgul will deal with them all together here. Clearly, akin to some form of rampant Viking rabbit, putting two copies of this album together spawns numerous offspring!

In no particular order in February 2010 the legendary French label Wulfrune Worxx released two tapes in their Split Series, both featuring this particular Hrossharsgrani recording. One - a split release with self-titled project Hugin, with the "Differences" tracks on the flip-side - featured the 'extended version' of "Of Battles, Ravens and Fire", being in other words the 9 track version formerly on the 2005 CD reissue. Two - another Split Series release with Hugin, this time with the "Brotherhood" release - featured a 'first take recording session' of the original tracks together with a separate song, a medley called 'March & Fight'.



Copies of the Split Series releases were limited to just 66 hand-numbered copies of each tape, and the photos below show the particular tapes detailed above:


"Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" split with Hugin "Brotherhood" (#10/66)

"Of Battle, Ravens and Fire" split with Hugin "Differences" (#10/66)


No sooner had these hit the world at large then Ukrainian label Depressive Illusions released a 3 track cassette demo in March 2010 - cunningly entitled "Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" - in a limited edition of just 33 hand-numbered copies, with full-cover cover with the extended version of 'Of Battles...' as track one, the 'March & Fight' medley as track two, and an extended version of 'Fimbulvinter' (the original version of which is part of the extended version of 'Of Battles....', if you follow me) on the reverse of the tape as track three.

You will recall that 'Fimbulvinter' has also appeared as a Hross' track in various other places, notably the "Ewig Winter" demo (2000), the 2010 split tape "The Long Grey Road", and in entirely different form on the "From The Dark Ages" compilation tape of 1999. Oh - not to mention as the song on the one off blue CDr pressing that Hugin made for Nazgul. It's eternally complicated, but endlessly rewarding, being a collector...



Anyway, photo detail of the Depressive Illusions release is shown here:

Depressive Illusions pressing "Of Battles, Ravens and Fire" #2/33

Head spinning following this summarised discography, the burning question that remains therefore is, "Which of these releases should I buy, then?" Well, like all things you pay your money and you take your choice: collectors of the rare and obscure might favour the vinyl pressing (although be warned, the few you'll find for sale are usually ambitiously priced); advocates of modern digital sound will doubtless head towards the CD selection, of which the reissue offers more value given the additional tracks; old school tape addicts might favour the colour print, 3 track limited edition version from Depressive Illusions. In any event, there's a fair chance in your online search for all things Hugin you'll stumble across at least one of these releases, and well worth your time and investment it will prove to be.

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