Friday, 10 June 2011

URAUNGST




Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Uraungst
Format: Digipak CD in fold-out sleeve released on the Percht label (Austria) in 2010, cat ref Percht16. Housed in an outsize colour sleeve, this is a silver pressed CD and the first official album released by Hrefnesholt. The initial recordings of Uraungst took place in the Flusterwald (whispering forest) Studio in 2009, and the album was finally completed and mixed at Luftschutzkerker Studio by Cz of Vinterriket in autumn 2010.
Edition: unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Percht (Da Einbringa) 1.11
02. I Bin Da Woid 12.59
03. Hexnfeia 5.37
04. Hoamat 5.41
05. Wurzlmann 11.51
06. Unruahnocht 3.54
07. Fuchtelmandln 23.56
08. Dunklmoos 6.53
09. Stoana (Da Aussischmeissa) 1.00

Well, here's a first: a Hrefnesholt release that is actually available via the Amazon website. From humble self-released demo tapes and a sporadic recording history over numerous years, Hrefnesholt has hit mainstream commerical accessibility! Better news still when you realise that 'Uraungst' is far from typical Amazon fodder, and stays true to the re-invention of Alpine folk music that has re-energised this band over the last two years.

This particular release has seen unprecedented numbers of emails flooding the inbox at Castle Nazgul requesting Nazgul to get on with reviewing the CD as it's so awesome. Yes, both of the emails received were forthright in their view that this was an album worthy of hero status, and that a swift review should be the order of the day. So here without further ado, and mere months after those plaintive cries were received, is "Uraungst" in all of its glory.

Originally there was the "Uraungst (advance tape)" preview of this album on the Percht label, limited to a scant 27 copies. Despite Nazgul enthusing about it in his usual fervered fashion, it is only on release of this CD that the world at large now has a opportunity to hear the music created by Hrefnesholt and share the sense of awe and wonder at what unfurls in front of you. It is, simply put, a wonderful album. The style of music, nicely described on the ear-rational.com webpages, is nothing like anything else you've probably heard and defies categorisation:

"Going back to far away times, Hrefnesholt digs out long forgotten, ancient tales amongst the myths of the Upper Austrian forests. These legends of sinister and primal fears were too terrible to be retold and people wanted to forget them over the centuries. Now these ancient tales are finally being retold in "Uraungst", the newly released debut album of Hrefnesholt. Uraungst is a mixture of dark, organic Ambient, Folk, a slight Black Metal touch and spoken/sung lyrics and tales in Austrian dialect. Hrefnesholt is purest Doom Folk and incomparable with any other music style."

What the listener receives on purchase of their copy of this album are a number of songs present on the advance tape - 'Furchtelmandln', 'Dunklmoos', ' I bin da Woid' and 'Hexnfeia' - plus the 'Wurzlmann' song from the demo tape of the same name as well as four original compositions, albeit two brief intro and outro pieces. Owners of the original tape will be pleased to see that they retain exclusive access to two songs - 's' Perchtenzeit' and 'Kum Mit Mit Uns' - but that the additional material (and digital sound quality) makes this version a worthwhile purchase too.

And it's not just Nazgul and a few crazed Honour and Darkness readers who rate this album highly: there are - for once - a reasonable amount of online reviews for this release so a quick search of the Internet will provide you with some independent corroboration of the delights to be had within this release. Here are a couple of them, starting out with an abridged review from the German site alternativmusik.de:

"Sturmpercht has proven more than once that the Austrian Alpine landscape has many legends. Whilst Hrefnesholt moves in a similar theme, musically it goes in entirely different directions. To describe this style is very hard, for "Uraungst" is a mixture of so much: one finds elements of Metal, Dark Ambient and Folk and even passage that remind one of Stoner rock. The music designates itself as a "Doom Folk", and this concept could be the most appropriate yet.

At least, if one uses the "Doom" in the sense of Doom Metal based on the drawn-out, gloomy sound, for that is true in any case. One could call it Dark Ambient also perhaps, because the music is produced first and foremost as entirely atmospheric and is very well suited to generating mental imagery. This album takes you into deep enchanted forests, in which one sees the trees in the wind. In addition, in with the twittering of birds and the rustling of the wind one hears acoustic guitar and a Didgeridoo (!) being repeatedly used. In addition there is spoken language that is in Austrian dialect and is unfortunately not always really intelligible, but speaks as actual forest spirits.

As a reviewer, it is rare to get music that one so never heard before. Such is the case with Hrefnesholt andit offers a fantastic experience to the listener. In contrast to that the packaging is noticeably poor: A digipak-style packaging in a plastic cover in which the CD is not correctly held. But at least this does not affect the music..."

and following that with another from French language site obskuremag.net, who gave the album a score of 72% in their review:

"After a good number of cassettes, Uraungst appears as the true first album of Hrefnesholt. Pulling his inspiration of the Austrian forests and landscape, the music of the group is situated on the edge between doom, pagan folk and experimentation. Slow, monolithic, frozen, mysterious, the compositions need long expanses to unveil their poisonous beauty such as on 'I bin da woid' and 'Wurzlmann'. Guttural voices narrate in strange languages while meditative folk beauty is constantly disrupted by relentless metal - 'Hexnfeia' - acting almost as alternating verse/refrain. Put to rest the short introductions and conclusions, the seven other pieces take the time to offer all their charm. 'Fuchtelmandln' does not last less than twenty-four minutes and the disc stretches itself near to an hour and a quarter. Suddenly, the album can seem a little repetitive in the end, but notably the psychedelic doom-pop of the title 'Dunklmoos' reminds us that this is nevertheless an original exercise"

Quite honestly, if you're not already compulsively gripping your wallet in one hand and searching online with the other to buy a copy of this then you're either braindead, reading the wrong web-site or you own a copy already. It's basically that simple - it's not so much the eagle that has landed as it is Hrefnesholt that has arrived, and with this album has unleashed a monster of a concept that in a perfect world should threaten Uruk Hai's place as Hugin's most popular band. Yes, it really IS that good.

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