Wednesday, 16 February 2011

UNITED BY HEATHEN BLOOD - update

Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: United By Heathen Blood
Reason for update: Alternative artwork and an intriguing little story...

The three-way split release "United By Heathen Blood" was originally reviewed on Honour and Darkness back on 1 May 2009, and was positively received by Nazgul. This AMF Productions tape featured contributions from Hrefnesholt, Italian project Symbiosis (since interviewed on the Blog of course) and Bulgarian band Bagatur, brainchild of Alexander Ivanov - owner of AMF Productions.

Nazgul was fortunate to renew correspondence with Alexander recently, and a number of interesting items came into the possession of Castle Nazgul. Sharing those with you will be Nazgul's pleasure in the coming months, so let us begin with the fascinating tale of how this particular release came to be.

The image you see at the head of this post - of an advancing body of warriors with the fallen body of an enemy ahead of them (presumably a foe, as he's facing the other way to the advance!) - was the original design for what was proposed to be a split 7" vinyl release just between Bagatur and Hrefnesholt. However, it proved impossible to find a suitable label to release this single, and so it was back to the drawing board. The artwork shown above was the intended cover, hence the inclusion of just the Bagtur and Hrefnesholt band names.

The second plan was to expand the split into a CDr release, at which stage the services of the excellent Italian ambient band Symbiosis were engaged to make the package a better balanced one for a longer compact disc format. The intended label for the release was the Mistress Dance label from Portugal, and a rear CD inlay mock-up shown below illustrates the intended track listing from the three bands (which stayed the same throughout from this point) and shows the Mistress Dance label logo to the left.

However, for various reasons that we won't dwell on here the Mistress Dance label proved to be a case of the wrong label at the wrong time, and so the proposed CDr release was also canned. Thank goodness for old fashioned cassette tape! Sensible heads prevailed, and AMF Productions decided to give the split album a tape release and unleash it on the world at large!
The third image (below) shows a mock-up of another cover - the design for which, incidentally, was by Hugin as was the rear CD inlay - in tape format, identifying the third band Symbiosis to the bottom of the picture and showing the AMF Production label details on the panel to the left.

But wait - there's more! The final version of the tape - issued in 2007 - eventually had entirely different cover art altogether, and is shown below and in the original post of 1 May 2009. The three bands now appear at the top of the cover in equal prominence.

Last, but by no means least, when Nazgul published the original post for this tape the photo used at the time showed only one side of the inlay. To rectify this somewhat, the final photo in this Blog shows the interior panel used to illustrate the Hrefnesholt portion of the album (each band had a panel each on the folded inlay), which I hope you will agree shows a most excellent image!

Of course, none of this fascinating story would have been possible without the kind help of AMF's Alexander: you know, the more Nazgul collects and the further into the history of Hugin's projects he delves, the more characters and interesting stories emerge on the way. The story of the AMF Productions label may be one for another time, but the invaluable help and infinite patience of Alexander will always be appreciated here on Honour and Darkness.

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