Thursday, 26 May 2011

BATTLE MAGIC



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Battle Magic
Format: Cassette-only release on the Werwolf Productions label (Italy) in 2004, cat ref WP017. A standard C60 style tape is housed within a black and white inlay in classic demo format. Inlays are hand-numbered in silver pen.
Edition: Only 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Warg Riders
02. Battle Magic
03. Riding Through Green Fields

Rejoice! Nazgul has not fallen off his perch, he's merely been away on a short break in Turkey and has now returned to the Castle to spread the good word still further about the many and varied works of one Mr Alexander Wieser of Linz, Austria: Hugin, if you will.

And rejoice still further, for today's offering pretty much completes the detailing of early Uruk Hai material on Honour and Darkness and covers an item that has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult of Hugin's releases to track down: ladies and gentlemen, Nazgul presents to you "Battle Magic"!

Topping the top ten list of the rarest Uruk Hai releases on 19 August (solely on the basis that there are vanishingly small numbers of these demos out there, to the extent that over 7 years solid searching has only revealed this solitary copy), it's fair to say that Nazgul was elated when this tape finally came into the possession of the Castle archives.

No one - literally no one, Hugin included - had an original copy of this demo. Sure, the tracks had been used elsewhere on other recordings, notably as 2 bonus songs on the tape version of "Barbarians" and dotted across the "Thousand Lightning Strikes" demo (although that latter demo was never formally released from the W.A.R. vaults). For long years Nazgul would trawl through distro mailing lists, online sales and other dubious corners of the internet looking for this elusive cassette, but to no avail.

Then, unexpectedly, disaster struck! A fellow Huginophile sent an email last year asking if Nazgul had seen an auction listed on eBay for - yes, you guessed it - "Battle Magic". It turned out that the tape had been listed and already sold (and sold for only a few Pounds too) without the fiery eye having noticed its presence. To say Nazgul was distraught was something of an understatement. However, much like the Loch Ness Monster, Elvis and a Vinterriket album cover sans mountains and trees must surely all be out there somewhere, further patient searching finally tracked down this copy of the demo (#3 of 22) in deepest Poland and a deal was subsequently struck. The agonies of a week or more waiting for the item to navigate the international postal system safely were soon past, and "Battle Magic" finally arrived earlier this year.

Musically, incidentally, in release date terms this falls into the middle period of Uruk Hai work: post the Casio keyboard noodlings of 2003's "Elbentanz" demo but long before the more produced, symphonic recordings of 2008 to date. Interestingly though the tracks were recorded back in 2002, but even so this demo has a very similar sound to other releases in same 2004 period, including the classic "Honour" demo. Great stuff!

You may consider this an awful lot of fuss for a three track tape in a photocopied inlay. To the collector, however, such moments really are a revelation, the securing of that 'holy grail' item to complete a collection. That second photo above, of the unfolded inlay, may be the only one actually published anywhere too...

Who knows, another one of these tapes could turn up tomorrow but then again - and based upon past history - this might just be the only one known to exist for another few years to come!

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