Some while ago - the 13 August 2010 to be exact - the cassette "Brotherhood" was reviewed in Honour and Darkness. This tape is in essence an anthology of work that Hugin has done over the years for other bands, which usually exists in the form of an instrumental track at the start or end of a particular album and thus gifting the 'magic rub' of his keyboard skills to another band. We have seen contributions to albums from Dark Domination (Latvia), Nachtfalke (Germany), Hugin Munin (Brazil), and Forgotten Lands (USA) fall into this category - quite the international assortment! To this list of contributory works we can now add one further band, namely Orcrist from Italy.
Now Orcrist we have come across before on these pages, specifically because they had a split release with Uruk Hai in 2009 that combined a rehearsal version of their "We Come In War" album with Uruk Hai's lengthy "At The End Of The First Age (An Opera about Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains)" demo. You can refresh your memory of that particular item by referring back to 19 October 2010 if you so wish (we'll wait for you to go and read the piece, so go on - you'll not miss anything). Right, back again and up to date? Then Nazgul shall continue...
Orcrist's style is described simply as Black Metal on their Metal Archives page, with themes of blood, forests, and darkness to send shadows creeping down your spine. An extract from the band's apparently defunct web-page (www.orcrist-horde.com) provided a more fulsome description of the early days...
"As the funeral pyre of the Italian Death Metal band "Eld" burned low, from its smouldering ashes there emerged a new force onto the underground Black Metal scene – Orcrist. Founded on the 5th April 2000 by Grav (drums/lyrics) and Bhaal (vocals/guitar/lyrics), the band recorded their first, unnamed, rehearsal tape in December 2000, to be followed by a second - “Over Man's Doom”- in 2001. In early 2002 the band were joined by Lucyfer on bass and Ghosta (Fullmoon Promises, Morgen and Ephedra) on backing vocals, to record their first official demo "The Third Imperyum". November of that year also saw the release of their second demo/promo "Primitive Damnation". "Det Hedenske Norge", a split 7" with Norwegian Black Metal band Isvind, was released in December 2003 on Hearse Records. Orcrist's first official album, "Slaged Ved Trollheim" was released on Desolate Landscapes in 2003, and is now completely sold out.
Just as the band's reputation was to be further enhanced by their contribution of two tracks on the Ildjarn tribute album "Gathered Under the Banner of Strength and Honour", a serious accident forced Bhaal to quit the band. The band's former session vocalist, Ghosta, together with GM (Svalbard and Human Regression) on guitars and bass, stepped in to replace Bhaal for the recording of the two tracks on the tribute album, these being "Intro", and "Unknown Harmony". Orcrist wrote both the title and the lyrics for the latter, a previously unnamed Ildjarn piece, taking as inspiration the title of Ildjarn's first demo "Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths".
October 2005 saw the release of "From the Forgotten Forest" on the Oath label. This is a re-release of the long sold-out "Third Imperyum" demo and includes a bonus track from the 2000 rehearsal tape and 3 previously unreleased rehearsal tracks. The band's second album "Black Blood Raised" is scheduled for release in December of 2005 on Hearse Records in both CD and 12” versions, with Ghosta permanently taking over as vocalist, together with Never999 (formerly of Calvary and Tears of Christ) on guitars and bass.
Now fully recovered from the accident that at one time looked likely to end his musical career, Bhaal has rejoined the band, bringing with him a renewed energy and creativity. With their strongest ever line-up in terms of both writing and delivery, and joined by Lunedei (Morgen and Fullmoon Promises) on session bass, the band have already started work on their next album. An album that promises to maintain the underground tradition of the 'Old School' Black Metal that Orcrist firmly believe to be the true life-blood of the genre."
....although clearly there is a gap missing up until the recent period, as no mention is made here of current members Goblin or Mane.
The promotional blurb for this 2010 release tells us that:
"Orcrist's new album "Fallen" combines ice cold riffs with melancholic sounds, which will send a shiver over your backbone and create darkest sadness in your minds. The song 'Fallen' was written by Goblin of Isvind and is dedicated to his friend Valfar of Windir who died in 2004. Goblin composed and recorded guitars and bass for the tracks "Fallen", "Holocaust of Dreams" and "Judgment of the Demon" and performed vocals on all tracks beside 'Outro/The Return of Silence Part 2' which was written and recorded by Hugin, of the Austrian band Uruk Hai."
Equally unusual is that the vocal performance on this song takes precedence to the musical element. The latter is one of those eerie and slightly jarring keyboard pieces that Hugin is adept at producing, creating waves of uncertainty through its rippling timbres. In a strange parallel, it reminded Nazgul of the occasionally discordant music created by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark on their seminal "Dazzle Ships" album. The vocals are performed through an effect that creates a harsh, whispered style of delivery and if Nazgul didn't know any better the subject matter could have been about the lovely Mrs Nazgul herself:
'The Return of Silence Part 2'
Despite this difference in style from the remainder of the album - which thunders along like a barrelful of demons rolling down a hill - it all fits together well, and is a recommended purchase.
Given this is the second appearance of Orcrist in Honour and Darkness in only a few short months, it seems high time that we found out a little more about this dark Italian project. Nazgul wonders whether a small interview might not be in order....
Nazgul thanks Hugin for access to his personal copy of the promo tape from Grav to include in this feature.