Tuesday, 2 August 2011

URUK HAI / SEPULCHRAL MOON split


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Untitled split release with Sepulchral Moon (Switzerland
Format: CDr release on the Black Ambient Records (USA), released in April 2011. There is no catalogue number but this is one of 8 releases on that label. CDr has a picture cover, and comes in a slimline jewel-case with pro-printed black and white cover.
Edition: 33 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

URUK HAI
01. Emyn Muil 37.07

SEPULCHRAL MOON
02. Shadows Flying Over Orodruin 3.12
03. Passing the Gate of Eternity 2.56
04. A Majestic Moon 5.28
05. To the Snowy Lands 2.10

Just the appearance of this CDr release took Nazgul back to the halcyon days of 2004 and specifically to the visually similar Uruk Hai "Ea" demo on the Italian Werwolf label, which also has a slimline case and black and white inlay. Whilst the picture disc and the pro-printed inlay are welcome and add a touch of class it has to be said that the process used to produce them gives off a ferocious odour - this could be the first Uruk Hai demo with the ability to transport you to distant realms as much as a result of the print fumes as the music!

This CDr came directly to Castle Nazgul from our Austrian hero, but Nazgul notices that were you to order a copy from www.blackambientrecords.storenvy.com you may also land yourself a pair of 1" badges, one for each band, whilst stocks last. Given that there are only 33 of these releases out there (Nazgul's copy is #2 for those of you keeping score) then one suspects stocks won't last very long at all...

Both of these bands conjure up some intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable music with various twists and turns on the ambient/dark ambient spectrum. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been paying even the most cursory attention to recent Uruk Hai product, although by even Hugin's own mighty standards the epic 37 minute plus offering on this demo is one hell of a recording. Swiss horde Sepulchral Moon are new to Nazgul but on this showing will be a band to investigate in more detail in the future for sure.

This full-on version it is as majestic as the mountain range after which is was named: In Middle-Earth Emyn Muil was the massive range of hills that spread above the inflow of the Entwash. At one time they marked the northern borders of Gondor; This craggy, impassable highland region located upon either side of Nen Hithoel (the large lake upon the Great River Anduin, amid the Emyn Muil to the east of Rohan).

In The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam, attempting to reach the Black Gate of Mordor, are lost in the eastern Emyn Muil for days until Gollum finds them and, after a great deal of persuasion, agrees to show them the way, leading them south into the Dead Marshes.

This journey ties up rather nicely with the first of the Sepulchral Moon songs, 'Shadows Flying Over Orodruin', with the latter being the Sindarin term for Mount Doom, found of course in the black heart of Mordor...

'Emyn Muil' contains many of the modern-day Uruk Hai hallmarks in terms of the style of percussion employed and the epic length of the song in question. It also contains some uncredited female vocals to lend the song an ethereal touch in places, underscored by a distant buzzing guitar which gives a nice juxtapositioning of styles. It may sound rather terse to describe a half hour plus song in such brief terms, but as with many of Hugin's lengthy compositions it's all about the atmosphere generated and the sense of grandeur invoked rather than a detailed description of which riff kicks in at which moment, or how catchy the chorus is. Let's be honest, the only way you're going to appreciate songs like this is to immerse yourself in them and let your mind drift rather than reading the crazed ramblings of an old hack like Nazgul.

As previously noted Sepulchral Moon are unfamiliar to Nazgul but on this showing some further listening is clearly needed. The Swiss horde describe themselves as minimal black ambient and black metal and, based on online reviews of other material they've released (the Khazad-Dum demo being one such example), most of the tracks fall into the extreme dark ambient arena. As one commentator had it, "very interesting to listen to during those long night walks in the blistering cold forests of wherever you are".

Nazgul would confidently expect this particular Uruk Hai song to reappear on a more voluminous release at some point in the future to give more people the chance to appreciate this epic song, so keep your eyes peeled for it. In the meantime, if you are able to get your hands on this particular split release Nazgul can only encourage you so to do, as it's rather special.

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