Saturday, 11 September 2010

UNDER THE WHITE HANDS FLAG


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Under The White Hands Flag
Format: Cassette- tape-only release on Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2010, catalogue reference WW107. Part of the 'Split Series' of releases, with Estonian horde Bestia on the reverse side. Female vocals on track 3 by Neuf
Edition: Numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:

01. Where No Light Dwells 3.12
02. Tales From The Misty Mountains (edited video version) 4.19
03. Hidden Path (different version) 5.04
04. Shadow Of The Orcs (remastered version) 6.07

An intriguing little release from Uruk Hai, let loose upon the world through French label Wulfrune Worxx and bearing a very appropriate dedication to Skogen from Hugin on the inlay in honour of the great support from this label to a number of Hugin's projects.

The title of the demo comes straight from Tolkien's works, as you might summise: in the Lord of the Rings Saruman's Uruk Hai used black shields emblazoned with a white hand, a symbol of Saruman, as opposed to the Red Eye emblem of Sauron's hordes.

The reason for this release being described as 'intriguing' comes from the choice of track-listing: a real mixture of songs being offered here. There are a couple of tracks - in different versions - that would eventually be released on the "Black Blood, White Hand" album later in 2010, one brand new instrumental ('Where No Light Dwells') and one remastered old track from the "Elbentanz" demo of 2000, which recently featured in Nazgul's top 10 Uruk Hai rarities post.

The gestation of "Black Blood, White Hand" was a lengthy one, involving as it did a small cast of notable musical figures from collaborations past with Hugin, including CZ of Vinterriket, P. Sergiy (Moloch) and Dimo Dimov (Ravenclaw) amongst others. Given the variety of items comprising that particular release, it will be the subject of a special two-part Blog entry later this year.

One can't help but feel though, given the unusually long time it took to get the final mastered versions of that album's songs finished, part of the reason for the "...White Hands" release was to get something out there as a taster for the forthcoming album and to act as a release value from the creative process. Hence two tracks make it onto this demo tape in alternate versions to those on the final album: the edited version of 'Tales From The Misty Mountains' that accompanied the video version of the song found online, and a reworked version of 'Hidden Path' with different introduction but retaining the beautiful choral vocals of 'Neuf'. Nazgul knows little about 'Neuf' other than she features in her own right in Nuef Le Muet, but on the strength of this contribution alone she adds a real ethereal dimension to the Uruk Hai sound.

New track 'Where No Light Dwells' is an atmospheric instrumental in the recent Uruk Hai vein, full of brooding atmosphere and Middle-Earth mystery. Final track 'Shadow of the Orcs' is something of a surprise reappearance , recorded as it was back in 2000 and originally featuring on the impossible-to-find Odium Records "Elbentanz" demo CDr. Also to be found on the second disc of the spic "Angband" compilation, this is a revitalised song that benefits from a modern-day sound whilst retaining the quirky charm of the original piece.

Assuming you can lay your hands on this tape (Wulfrune Worxx releases not being the easiest of items to find) you will have at your disposal one of the shortest - yet most characterful - Uruk Hai demos of 2010.

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