Friday, 12 August 2011

OF BATTLES, RAVENS & FIRE - vinyl update

Title: Of Battles, Ravens & Fire
Format: Picture disc vinyl edition released in 2001 on CCP Records (Austria), cat ref 10223-1.
Reason for update: a closer look at the artwork on this release.

As the fires of recent riots across England's green and pleasant land burn dimly in the distance, Nazgul sits within his castle on the hill, drawbridge firmly closed against passing hooded marauders, contemplating setting loose the dragons to ward off casual pillaging on the Nazgul estate.

And contemplating dragons put in Nazgul's mind this Hrossharsgrani picture disc - the only vinyl release in the Hrossharsgrani discography, fact fans - with the accompanying thought that it hadn't really been done justice in past posts.

So here it is in all of it's glory, with the first photograph above showing the most excellent illustration on the Hross' side (this being a split release with Austrian horde Mittwinter, after all), and the second photo showing the hand-designed inner paper with 'Hail and Kill' greetings to a number of Hugin's faithful following.

But where did the artwork for the disc come from, you may wonder? Well, wonder no more: it's another John Howe illustration that has been adapted for use on a Hugin release. We've seen a few over the years, most recently the superb cover of the Uruk Hai/Moloch vinyl release "Iron Age".

Here's the picture in full for you to enjoy, showing Smaug (from The Hobbit) in all of his splendour:

Interestingly most of the online references to this piece of art - which crops up on no end of Tolkien fan-sites - refer to it by the title "The Death Of Smaug". Strange indeed, for even the most cursory glance at the picture shows Smaug in anything but his death-throes. Indeed, if you ask Nazgu he's in full fiery fettle here and anyway, as we all know, it was Bilbo who finally put paid to Smaug.

No, the truth is discovered through John Howe's own website, where he reveals that the picture is actually called 'Smaug destroys Laketown' and was:

"Originally done for the 1988 Tolkien Calendar, I was of course overjoyed and flattered to see it make not only the chosen month, but the cover of the English edition. I remember spending ages trying to get Smaug the way I wanted him, and nothing seemed to work. Finally, I put that little kink in his tail that broke the smooth line of it, and the whole thing fell into place."

So there we have it - straight from the horse's mouth.

For completeness to round off this revisit to an old favourite, here's a photo of the Mittwinter side of the disc/inlay should any of you have been curious to see it.

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