Track Listing:01. URUK HAI * Over Old Hills [Summoning cover]
02. URUK HAI * Hermodr A Helferd [Burzum cover]
03. HROSSHARSGRANI * Countess Bathory [Venom cover]
04. HROSSHARSGRANI * Down There [Beherit cover]
05. ELISABETHA * Transilvanischer Hunger [Darkthrone cover]
06. ELISABETHA * The Priest Must Die [Countess cover]
07. B-MACHINA * Beth [Kiss cover]
08. B-MACHINA * The Power Of Love - rehearsal [Frankie Goes To Hollywood cover]
By Nazgul's reckoning it was back in 2007 - with "The "First Evil Spell" emanating from Aussie label Smell The Stench - that the last compilation spanning a number of Hugin's bands was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. It's taken another three years until now, but stepping into the void comes enigmatic Frenchman Skogen - owner of Wulfrune Worxx and all round 'good egg' - to release another set of songs from the fevered mind of Alexander Wieser.
The name of this album may have given you a clue, being an adaptation of an old Led Zeppelin title. If not, and if the track listing above has also passed you by, then allow Nazgul to elucidate - this is a compilation of cover tracks by four of Hugin's projects (sadly no Hrefnesholt material, but you can't have everything!). Some have been included on previous releases, some not. Some cover the sort of territory that you might expect they should, others cut a path down some very unexpected avenues.
As an overall package it's great value - 8 songs, the odd unique-to-this-release track, and another quality addition to any Huginophile's collection. Nazgul's copy is #7 of the 66, and the tape is playing on the Castle death-deck as I type...
So let's start at the beginning: Side A. Straight off the bat we're in for a treat - how many times have you asked yourself the rhetorical question, "I wonder what an Uruk Hai cover version of fellow Austrian artists Summoning might sound like?" If the answer is never, then you possibly have strayed here by mistake. Austrian symphonic BM band Summoning are one of the more recognised bands in this genre, and their albums are a triumph of epic metal over major label indifference. The track covered here - 'Over Old Hills', from their "Dol Guldur" album - is recognisably Hugin in interpretation, but retaining those unmistakable melodies that make Summoning the band they are. Unique to this album, and worth the purchase price alone, you really do need to listen to this...
The second Uruk Hai cover song (there are two from each featured project) is an old chestnut - Burzum's 'Hermodr A Helferd', previously recorded for the "~2~" split CD with Vinterriket, and also appearing on both the original "Heidensturm" demo from Hrefnesholt and Uruk Hai's later demo "A Viking's Journey." The original appears on Burzum's 1997 release "Dauði Baldrs" and translates loosely as "Hermodr On A Journey To Hell". It's an easy choice, one might suppose, to cover a Burzum track given the dark ambient nature of some of that band's output. To choose this song, from perhaps Varg's least well received album and recorded during his incarceration, takes some balls too. Nazgul has never been a Burzum follower, so can't really comment on the quality issues, but found this an interesting listen for the duration....
Next up we have pair of Hrossharsgrani recordings, both on the recently reviewed "Dead:Meat" CD from Steinklang Industries. 'Countess Bathory' has that catchy keyboard melody piping through it to keep your toes tapping, whilst the slightly off-kilter but hugely engaging cover of Beherit's 'Down There' is another highlight of this compilation, with it's wacky piano accompaniment.
So far, so good (so what?!) - well, let's flip to Side B. Here we find a new and an old couple of Elisabetha covers. 'Transilvanischer Hunger' has been made the subject of a limited edition release in its own right on W.A.R. Productions, so although appearing in slightly edited form here we'll leave the critique of that track until Honour and Darkness covers it specifically. Suffice to say, it adds to the original and is a good version! The second of Elisabetha's pair of songs is 'The Priest Must Die', the product of Dutch madness (via Countess) in 1995 and last heard off on the 2003/2009 Elisabetha release "Vampyr". A lengthy song of numerous transitions and plenty of black metal riff-ery, it sounds better here than Nazgul remembers. A good sign!
And so to the B-Machina tracks. Now, as you might imagine from a neo-folk-industrial-hell sort of outfit, any cover song is unlikely to instantly sound like it's forbear. In this instance, I would imagine even the original song-writer might be hard pressed to seek royalties after a listen here! The Kiss cover "Beth" is not entirely as I recall the original, but what the heck: Nazgul knows little of Kiss the band. Sadly, being a teenage of the 1980s, Nazgul does recall Frankie Goes To Hollywood (not to be confused with UK rock 'legends' Paddy Goes To Hollyhead), but the good news is that the cover of 'The Power of Love' sounds bugger all like their effort from back in the era of shoulder-pads and mobiles the size of a brick. Personally, a 'Two Tribes' cover would have been more appealing, but Nazgul's not in charge of affairs so who is he to criticise?
The final scores on the doors, were Nazgul to be broken on the rack until revealing his favourites on this release, would see his choice for the top 3 songs on this album being:
1. 'Over Old Hills' - a classic, and surely a future Uruk Hai track for a CD release or my name's not Nazgul;
2. 'Down There' - mad, bad, and entirely brilliant; &
3. 'Transilvanischer Hunger' - something to get your teeth into...