Striking whilst the iron is hot, metaphorically speaking, here is the second of the recent 3"CDr releases on the STS label following on from the recent coverage of Hrossharsgrani's "A Long Grey Path" release. To complement the CDr pressing comes a tape version from the ever-wonderful Depressive Illusions label, whose attention to detail and glossy colour covers are becoming quite the collectable thing for Uruk Hai fans around the globe.
The essential difference between the two releases - other than the format, of course - is the fact that purchasers of the cassette version will enjoy a bonus track in the form of the instrumental song 'Rivendell', originally recorded in rehearsal back in 2000. This not the first time that the track has appeared on an Uruk Hai release: those of long-memory may recall the "Dragon War" split tape release with Bestia (released on Wulfune Worxx) having this as a bonus track. If your memory is lacking, feel free to visit Nazgul's earlier post of 21 May 2010 and return whenever you're ready...
Personally, Nazgul considers 'Rivendell' to be one of the more memorable of the early Uruk Hai releases, coming as it did if the chronology is to be believed only a year or so after the fledgling project spawned from within the shadow of the Hrossharsgrani battle-machine. It's a mature keyboard piece, and a worthy addition to this EP as frankly you can never hear too much of Hugin on top-form like this.
What both versions of the "Elves & Men" do have in common, however, is the title track itself. As in keeping with many Uruk Hai releases of the last 6 months it's wholly instrumental, with a keyboard section at the beginning reminiscent of the breathing pattern of a large animal (hey - perhaps it's that dragon on the cover...?) before a piano part comes in on the four and a half minute mark with a little counterpoint melody and change of pace. Later in the song there is something of a flurry of drums in quite a martial style, before the track ends at just over the sixteen minute mark.
Some of the melodies within the title track do remind Nazgul of (say it quietly in case Metal Archives moderators are listening) 'pop' songs from yesteryear, although this may be entirely unintentional on Hugin's part of course! Elements of the piano parts put in mind the early parts of Moby's beautiful 'Porcelain' single, and also there's something about it that also reminds Nazgul of 'Drive' from The Cars! Similarly, the initial keyboard parts of the song have the faintest resemblance at times to the melody of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' from Sinead O'Connor. All of which proves very little, other than Hugin clearly has a good ear for a catchy melody and Nazgul is probably hearing things again.
A quick word on the various album artworks: the CDr version (now sold out) has two post-card sized inlays sandwiching a plain white 3" disc in a white envelope. The first card carries the illustration of the Uruk Hai band logo above a golden harp, whilst the second depicts a black and white photograph of a chain-mailed Hugin along with the edition number (this one being #4 of 14). The tape version, conversely, has an entirely different cover showing an ascendant dragon in front of the sun, with a dedication on the inside from Hugin to "my true friend Pr. Sergiy"
A very worthwhile release, and one that Nazgul would recommend to you although at this stage your options are probably limited to the cassette version only unless you were quick off the mark.
To finish up - a treat for you! The images below are of a unique version of the "Elves & Men" release that is owned by a German friend of Hugin's, Andreas Müller, who has very kindly allowed me to include the images within this post. It's effectively the 2-track tape version but on CDr and in special packaging, courtesy of that prolific and ever-lovable rogue, Hugin.