So, you - the Honour and Darkness readership - voted for an Uruk Hai release to be the first post in 2011. Here it is - namely, the split album between Uruk Hai and the Czech Republic's finest, Mhnunrrn. And before we begin our review in detail, let Uncle Nazgul be one of the first to wish you all the best for the New Year ahead.
Released in summer 2010, this album contains three tracks that had previously been released by Hugin on a variety of Uruk Hai demos and albums in the year just ended. That said, the three particular tracks chosen for this release are collectively interesting as they each show rather different perspectives on the contemporary Uruk Hai sound.
Opener 'The Fate Of Man' has far more of a edgy, black metal feel to it than its two counterparts, courtesy of the buzzing guitar tones and rasping vocals of guest musician Lord Messir (Dark Domination). 'Lebensende: Winter' - here in its alternate 'different' version - manages to cunningly combine harsh vocal parts with spookily effective keyboard effects, the latter especially notable near the beginning of the song where chime-like effects generate a most pleasing ethereal atmosphere. The final track 'Gil-Galad' is a rhythmic and hypnotic keyboard-fest of a track, being far more in keeping with the lengthy musical panoramas recently penned by Hugin on Wulfrune Worxx releases such as "The Lord of the Rings", and is largely instrumental in nature save for some sampled narrative from the Lord of the Rings films.
For reference, the tracks in question can also be located on the following releases:
'The Fate Of Man' - on the "Dragon War" split tape with Bestia (in a non-vocal first take version), on the "Angband" 4CD compilation release, and on the CD pressing of "Black Blood, White Hand"
'Gil-Galad' - the original version was on the 2008 split release "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" with Moloch, but in re-mastered format appears on the self-titled "Gil-Galad / Bounded By Blood" split with Hugin, on the split CDr with Sieghetnar, on the "Angband" compilation, and on no less than two very recent tape releases: "Gil-Galad" on Depressive Illusions, and "Gil-Galad (The Whole Story)" on Wulfrune Worxx.
Given the variety of the three Uruk Hai songs on offer, this is a worthy release for anyone looking for a good representation of what this project is sounding like circa 2010/11. Assuming that you haven't already got a copy of "Angband" then you really might want to add a copy of this album to your collection. Whilst 'Gil-Galad' was fast becoming the ubiquitous Uruk Hai song of 2010 - still, better ubiquitous than iniquitous one would suppose - the other two tracks are not so easy to track down and as an overall listen you could do far worse than spend half an hour of your life in the company of this trinity
It's apposite that the "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" should have been mentioned in that round-up, as a first glance at the artwork to this split release shows a edged border quite reminiscent of the jute bag that the split 3"CDr with Moloch came packaged in. The remainder of the artwork struck Nazgul as being somewhat similar to the famous Lascaux cave paintings, a setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic drawings. It's not often that Nazgul hits the nail so squarely on the head (ususally it's more a case of squarely on the thumb) but as we shall see later in this post that initial impression was pretty much on the money.
To complement the Uruk Hai tracks we have a lengthy piece from a band previously unknown to Nazgul, Mhnunrrn. Now, knowing nothing about this project (and assuming the majority of you to be in a similar position) Nazgul took to some online sleuthing to track down the man behind the music - Klat Ba - and put him through the now-traditional 'ordeal' of a mini-interview to enlighten us further on his intriguing music.
This interview is produced below, complete with a few images of Klat Ba himself together with some of his art work:
Q1: Can you tell us about yourself, and where you are based?
Q2: Can you tell us what is the philosophy or purpose behind Mhnunrrn?
Q3: I have to ask of course - where does the name Mhnunrrn come from?
Q4: I'd never have guessed that! The band logo is perhaps the most obscure I've ever seen, and that's amongst some stiff competition in the Black Metal genre - why is this?!
Q5: How would you describe your music in general, and in particular the track "II" on this split release?
Q6: You designed the artistic layout of this album - tell us a little about the theme you were looking for?
Q7: How did you first come across Hugin's music?
Q8: How did this split release come to be?
Q9: Do you have a favourite band and/or recording that Hugin has made?
Q10: Clearly releasing a split with Uruk Hai and featuring in Honour & Darkness puts you well on the way to success!! What will 2011 see from Mhnunrrn and any other projects you are involved in?
Q11: Do you have any thoughts for Hugin that you'd like to put in print on the Blog...?
Q12: ...And any thoughts for the readers of Honour and Darkness?
Q13: Thanks for your time, Klat Ba
Incidentally, the label that this album was released on - Le Crépuscule du Soir (literally, The Twilight of the Evening) - is an small-budget, independently-run, underground record label from France. Their stated goal is to release underground music, mostly original dark art, and the release roster is based on their own personal tastes and beliefs. It is a label worth checking out, which you can via http://lecrepusculedusoir.yolasite.com