Title: Feuer & Eis
Format: Cassette-only demo self-released by Hugin in 1999 through W.A.R. Productions (Austria), no catalogue number. The inlay is hand-typed, with a rare colour cover and photo of Hugin. The recordings are shown as having been made between 25 May - 12 June 1999. The edition number is shown both on the tape sticker and on the reverse of the cassette case.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of only 10 copies
1. Heimatleid (Intro)
6. Der Drachentöter
9. 1000 Years
11. Feuer & Eis
13. Asgard (Part 2)
14. Langsam zerfallen wir zu Staub (Outro)
Would it be a dreadful pun if Nazgul observed that Hrossharsgrani's "Feuer & Eis" demo was, in truth, something of a hot and cold affair? It probably would be, no let us not entertain such mischevious thoughts any longer!
The 14 tracks contained on this release all bear the hallmark signatures of early Hrossharsgrani recordings: the guttural, snarling bite-your-hand-off vocals from Hugin (sometimes spoken, sometimes almost chant-like), the ever-present keyboard and synth touches that create the melody and atmosphere, and the stabbing guitar that crates a melee from time to time. On this particular demo - more so than others of the time - the drum machine seems to have been turned up to 11 in terms of tempo: some of the tracks, notably 'Ulvin' and 'Leithan-Lied', positively speed by in a flurry of aggression. Nazgul can't remember any other Hross' demo having such a tempo underpinning it, and it creates a rather diffferent and more upbeat listening experience as a result compared to some of the more dirge like tunes from later recordings.
The sharp eyed amongst you may have already spotted some familiar looking track titles from the listing above, and you would be quite right in thinking that over the subsequent years since this demo was released a few of them have reappeared again in various revitalised versions. 'Wintertod', for example, appears on the die-hard bonus disc of the "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" CD release (and on the Part II tape in the tape release of that album), although the manner of re-mastering on that later version gives it the granular hiss that was commented upon at the time. This version - the original - is a much purer listening experience. In a similar vein (pun intended) 'Nosferat' appears as a re-worked bonus track on the CD release of "Sanguis", covered elsewhere in the Honour and Darkness canon.
Although the majority of tracks here are pieces in the Hross' tradition, there is some interesting variety on offer. 'Nosferat' does sound rather like an Elisabetha track at times with a most haunting melody at its begining and end. 'Langsam zerfallen wir zu Staub' ['Slowly We Decompose To Dust'] is quite a slow, gloomy affair - given the title of the song, perhaps not surprising - whilst the sampled battle sounds often associated with older Hrossharsgrani songs appear on the intro 'Heimatleid' (the title of another of Alex's projects, of course) but then nowhere else on the demo.
As one of the few remaining early demos left uncovered by Honour and Darkness until now, it was a pleasure to have replayed this tape on the Castle death-deck on this misty autumnal afternoon. It is amazing to consider that from such modest little acorns as this demo, vast oaks grew in terms of Hugin's later work and projects. But grow they did, and thanks should be given to all of those who were present in those halycon early years and who supported Hugin's projects to the extent that they did, for without them the current successes may not have been possible...