Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: the year in review

The theme of 2012 ... a sample of box-sets
It's time for Nazgul's traditional wander down memory lane, a seasonal wrap-up of the year's events across Hugin's many bands. As ever, it has been a productive year in terms of total output (this is starting to sound dangerously like an economic forecast) and - as always - certain projects have seen more activity than others. Well, with so many balls being kept up in the air at any one time, it's going to be hard to churn out product across the whole catalogue! This years 'winner' is Uruk Hai, with a splendid tally of 19 official releases, whilst other previously fruitful bands - Elisabetha for example- have now effectively disbanded so nothing to report on those fronts.

The Castle library shelving is now literally groaning under the weight of accumulations of box-sets and other ephemera, and a major redesign of the museum is needed to accommodate the growing treasure trove within. Smaug's horde? Pah! A mere bauble compared to the pile of gems that Nazgul has accumulated over the years. 

That said, parallels do exist: centuries spent sleeping atop his gold hoard caused gold and gemstones to become embedded in the flesh of Smaug's belly, augmenting the already essentially impenetrable armour of the scales that covered most of the rest of his body. Last night, whilst bending over to move a box of bits, a crossbow (yes, I know how odd that sounds) fell atop Nazgul's head, causing small pieces of metal to become embedded in the flesh of his scalp, augmenting the already essentially evil facial features. A dangerous business, this hoarding lark....

The reason for vintage weaponry to be in the library becomes clearer when you understand that Nazgul added to his collection in the year in a slightly different way: purchasing from Hugin a selection of the armour and weaponry used on the covers of many a demo of old - broadsword, chainmail, morning stars, crossbow, helmet- you name it, it's now here. Nazgul has been meaning to put up a post about these for months now, but has failed miserably in finding the time to do so. Perhaps 2013 will be the year!

It's also been a vintage year for catching up with Mr Wieser in person, as the man himself made the perilous journey overseas to the UK bringing with him Australian guitar-ace Joe Matera too. A great week was had with some gigs, some laughs, some driving, meeting new and old friends, and just generally hanging-out. Hugin also managed to have additional tattoos added to his already impressively coloured physique, including the inking of Tony Dolan's autograph on his arm as part of Hugin's Venom ensemble. Those of you following Hugin on Facebook will have seen all of the action already! 

This has sowed the seed of an idea in Nazgul's mind to have a Hugin-themed tattoo of his own done, complete with signature of Hugin underneath, and if sufficient support and brave pills can be found within the Castle then that might be something on the horizon in the future. Back to the road-trip though, and it was a real pleasure to be able to spend time with such a nice gentleman as our hero Hugin, who proves to be the exception to the rule in that you can be something of a rock star without having a bad attitude. More power to his (tattooed) elbow on that score.

In other year-end news, baby Nazgul continues to grow and consume flesh at a fearful rate. Now standing and babbling, it will surely not be long before he takes flight for the first time and wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting villagers nearby.
A windswept Hugin (left - but you knew that) and Nazgul (right)
But enough of such matters, it is the prowess of Hugin that you are hear to hear tell of, so let Nazgul do his usual mostly accurate festive round-up starting with...

URUK HAI

Can you say "box-set"?

2012 has been an epic year (pun fully intended) in terms of reissued material on box-set. Some have found their way onto Honour and Darkness, some are yet to make an appearance, but if you are a fan of Uruk Hai and haven't yet taken the opportunity to lay your hands on any of these sets then (a) what on earth are you doing?! and (b) get on with it, before they sell out! Some really rare early demos are to be found on these releases, ones that are now impossible to find anywhere else. 

Chief amongst these might well have been the "Everlasting Wrath of the Tyrant" set, which contained amongst others the rare "Über die Nebelberge Weit" and "Gone With The Wind" demos, the long-lost "Blutreich" compilation, and "Thousand Lightnings Strike" too! Some of the rarest material in the Uruk Hai canon, all in one box?! Madness!

Normally you might expect a band to release a box-set once in every few years, so clearly Hugin has been making up for lost time in 2012 with no less than twelve hitting the proverbial shelves, including "Legacy Of The Tyrant" (in two different versions), "Tales Of Glory & Mystery", "..And In The Darkness Bind Them", "The Orcish Battle Hymns (...From the Dark Ages)", "Elbenlieder", "Darkness", "Cirith Ungol (The Whole Story)" which also came in two different versions, "Smell the Stench from a Battlefield Without Honor", "Epic Part 1" and "Epic Part 2". Hells bells! And that's not counting the unofficial Tryby 3" box-set release!

Add to this the odd demo and EP - you'll remember "Long Before the Creation of the Sun & Moon" and "Orc Funeral" of course, not to mention the demo "Orc" itself. There's also been "The Darkest Treasure", "Return to the Green Fields" and "Dagor Dagorath" too. And let's not forget the split releases "Dark Secrets" with Nebula VII, and the split tape with Crucifixxx Sodomy.

In short, it's been a busy year even by Hugin's own prolific standards, and also quite a pricey one too if you have collected each and every one of these releases (if so, see the men in white coats immediately).

Nazgul's pick of the year: Would probably be "Elbenlider", but it's a close run thing with so many excellent releases

HROSSHARSGRANI

By comparison, something of quiet year for the Viking Battle-Machine.

Here too, however, the box-set has reared its head with the release of "The Ancient Path" in early 2012, as well as the double-disc compilation "Das Ende des Pfades". The former box-set was a definite boon to fans, however, bringing together the "Sanguis/Blut", "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (Parts 1 and 2)", "Die Rückkehr Zum Pfade (Parts 1 and 2)", "Ancient Tales (Parts 1 and 2)", "In The Mystic Forest" and "Der Ring Der Macht (Parts 1 and 2). Quite the collection.

There is a wooden box set (oh my god- another box-set!) that has just been released at the end of this year, and which is so hot off the press that Nazgul has paid for his copies just this week. Yes, that's 'copies' in the plural sense as there is a black and white version as well as a colour version of this release, totalling another 92 pieces of gold. No wonder the treasure chest beneath Nazgul's bed is dwindling in size: more indiscriminate pillage is clearly required to replenish supplies.

Let's also not forget the band's appearance on the excellent "FatheR:LanD" compilation CD.

Nazgul's pick of the year: For value for money purposes, "The Ancient Path" takes some beating and a more complete early demo collection would be hard to conceive

HREFNESHOLT

It's a similar tale here, too. One big treat that came at the end of the year was the compilation set "Trostlos", which has yet to feature on Honour and Darkness. A full review will appear in 2013 of course, but this set contains "Hrefnesvinter", "Heidensturm", the very rare "Wolf" demo, "Flüsterwald", "Uraungst", and the "A Haund voi Dreck" compilation. For anyone curious about the transition of Hrefnesholt from an ambient black-metal style project through to an almost unique Alpine folk-restoration project, this is an collection not to be missed.

2012 also saw the release of "Schworzeichn II", a short split EP release with Australian guitarist Joe Matera. This is another one that needs a review (honestly, what has Nazgul been doing in 2012?!) so eyes open for that one early next year.

Nazgul's pick of the year: "Troslos"- epic in scope and awesome in content.

BONEMACHINE

Despite the workload in re-mastering old demos for all of the preceding releases, Hugin used his weird powers of time manipulation to somehow find opportunities to release new Bonemachine product in the last twelve months. Quite how he managed this remains something of a mystery...

We've enjoyed split releases with Kaelteeinbruch and Flutwacht in the past twelve months, as well as unearthing some older compilation excursions on the Smell The Stench label (and Nazgul's ears are still bleeding after those net releases!) We've also enjoyed the emergence of another version of the Novasak split tape (the third to come to light) and followers of that particular saga will be delighted to learn that Nazgul has recently received a photo of Todd Novasak's own copy of the tape, so a fourth outing will be posted soon!

Nazgul's pick of the year: The Kaelteeinbruch/Bonemachine split, recognised for interesting packaging as well as interesting music

SOLID GREY

It's out, it's out (so put it back, you all cry...) the Solid Grey album is out! "Pull The Strings Tighter" is the title, and melancholic synth-based Gothic rock is the name of the game. It's a project formed with Bart Piette (Dead Mans Hill) and the first song from the album "So Alone" is currently on the band's Bandcamp page (http://solidgrey.bandcamp.com/). Another one due a review, and a very interesting album it proved to be.

EISMOND

A new Eimond demo appeared this year, entitled "Behind The Moon We Are Looking Into The Distance".  As Nazgul has been saving this as a post-Christmas treat, he can't tell you anything about it yet other than the cover artwork is suitably out of this world!

The "not a lot to report" section

Encompassing quite a few side projects this time around, for various reasons. Elisabetha have disbanded as we know, and nothing has emerged from the vaults in the last 12 months which might indicate that no more unreleased material is left. The odds on a box-set release coming out might not be as long as you'd imagine, given the pattern seen in 2012, although of course the "Eternal Deathvastation" 3CD collection from 2008 might be the last word in compiling the band's output. 

Still no release of the expected Manwe album so nothing there to report at the moment, nor has there been an official release of the Drachenfeuer album either, which is a travesty given the quality of that music.

Following the excellent "Nordwand" album in 2011, the world holds its collective breath for the next WACH outing


Nazgul's musings...

So this is the part of the round-up where Nazgul sits back and ponders the world of collecting at large. Despite fewer posts this year than any other year since Honour and Darkness crawled into the light (you can blame baby Nazgul for that!!) it's still been a busy year on the collecting front, and also in bringing the less obvious to your attention. Nazgul trusts that you have enjoyed some of the more divergent paths covered this year, including Michele Brittany's "Felagund" video shoot narrative and the glimpse at the excellent collection of fellow Huginophile T, from the ExtremeAmbient blog. 

To date, a total of 139 countries have now visited Honour and Darkness (the last being Afghanistan, from which Nazgul suspects one of our armed forces comrades is a secret Hugin fan) and the total number of visitors to the Blog has now reached over 73,500 since the Flag Counter was set-up: that's a lot of fellow Huginophiles!

The total collection has expanded nicely again with the many releases in 2012 (not to mention some other goodies that are not official releases as such, and which have yet to grace the Blog) and along with the armoured items have filled the remaining few unpopulated shelves in the library. Counting up the beans, it's been quite an expensive year: ignoring shipping costs and/or items bought from elsewhere, the Castle coffers have had to stump up significantly this year to keep up to date with new releases, rare items offered elsewhere, and large pieces of weaponry! 

Indeed, taking a conservative estimate of £30-£40 per box-set plus over £500 for the various miscellaneous armour, this would put the annual total well into four figures pretty quickly, let alone the rest of the demos, CDs and bits and bobs purchased. Nazgul will have to review the insurance policy to ensure this lot is covered adequately!

One purchase yet to arrive at the Castle but of interest to fellow collectors will be some spare copies of super-rare original demos that Nazgul has tracked down. A fuller post on the subject will arrive in due course, but one item that should be of note to any collector out there is an original tape of Hrossharsgrani's "Uruk Hai" demo, reported in Honour and Darkness on 28 November 2009. This was, of course, the origin of the Uruk Hai project and only 6 of these tapes were ever made. Nazgul is very fortunate to own one already, courtesy of Hugin himself, and never though that a second copy would ever come to light, so if there are any interested parties out there who would be interested in buying this then drop your kindly Uncle Nazgul an email at the address shown on the right.

As previously reported in the previous post to this one, 2013 is destined to see the release of an all new Uruk Hai album, "And All The Magic & Might He Brought", and Facebook followers will have seen that Hugin has been releasing titles and extracts of songs for the past few weeks now.  A cursory look gives some indication of the quality on offer in terms of personnel, and the album promises to be the finest Uruk Hai release yet, and features something of a stellar all-star cast in its making. Keep an eye on Honour and Darkness for more.

So that's about all, fellow Huginophiles.  Many thanks once again for your continued interest and support, and a healthy, happy and prosperous Happy New Year 2013 to each and every one of you.  Thanks as well to all of the many labels who have released Hugin's work in the last twelves months - without them, and the support of the underground scene, we'd surely be without much this music.  And, of course, thanks on behalf of us all to Hugin himself - the Master of the Ring. 

See you all next time...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

URUK HAI > 2013 album preview

Band: URUK HAI
Title: ...And All The Magic & Might He Brought
Reason for update: A preview of the forthcoming Uruk Hai album

A quick post to update you on the new Uruk Hai album, due for release early in 2013. 

Hugin calls this album his Magnum Opus.  Not to be confused with the large Irish cat of similar name (Magnum O'Puss), this all-star outing promises to be an absolute killer and you might want to get your order in early to Mr Wieser.

Here are the track details to pique your interest: more details available through the Uruk Hai Facebook page.

Track 1:
"From The Ashes (Introduction)"
Music & Guitar: Joe Matera
Orchestrations: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser"
Spoken Words: Tony Dolan

Track 2:
"Far Away"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser
Vocals: Janos Krusenbaum
Guitar and first solo: Janos Jrusenbaum
Second guitar solo: Joe Matera

Track 3:
"Ancient Wisdom"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 4:
"Rise & Fall"
Music: Alexander "Hugin Wieser"
Solo guitar: Joe Matera
Vocals: Janos Krusenbaum
Screamed introduction: Pr Sergiy

Track 5:
"Fallen Leaves"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 6:
"The Door To The Paths Of The Dead"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser
Guitar solo: Trevor Sewell
Vocals: Bart Piette

Track 7:
"Valinor"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 8:
"Immortality"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser
Guitar: Joe Matera
Vocals: Terea "Tree" Chilcutt-Gutierrez

Track 9:
"Wrath"
Music & vocals: "Alexander "Hugin" Wieser
Guitar solo: Rich Davenport

Track 10:
"By The Light Of The Moon"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser
Vocals: Tony Dolan
Guitar: Joe Matera

Track 11:
"March Of The Forest Elves" (bonus)
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 12:
"Legolas" (bonus)
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 13:
"Glaurung" (bonus)
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Track 14:
"The End Of The Road"
Music: Alexander "Hugin" Wieser

Recorded at W.A.R. Studio between October 2011 and January 2013
Cover artwork by Notturno Goblin
Mastered by cz at Luftschutzkerker, Switzerland


One for the ages....

Thursday, 20 December 2012

SMELL THE STENCH COMPILATION 2 [V/A]

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Smell The Stench Compilation 2
Format: A 6-part download available on the Smell The Stench website, cat ref STS-NET 200, to celebrate the label's 200th release. This release also came with artwork to download, as did Part 1
Edition: unlimited download

Track Listing (very deep breath):


Part One:
01. Praew Jik - Spiral Frequency
02. Ambulance Voice - Fuck Humans
03. Idlness Distribution - Evolve Paradox
04. Stirner - This Wall Is Ours [You Gotta Move]
05. Audiocum - Song of Vengeance
06. Abhorrent Strain - Recluse
07. Garsokatastrofa - Orgasm of Pain
08. USURY - Monaural Drowning
09. +DOG+ - Paz
10. Novasak - The Crossing
11. Redglaer - Full Armor Of God
12. Hector Cuvelier + Emile de Potter- Insuffisance
13. Bore - Leathery Foreskin
14. F.D. Wyngarde - Disco Tomb
15. The Apex, The Harmony Of - Apprently Felt
16. Gen 26 - Untitled
17. Sebastian Crnich - Pay Street
18. SLUT KULL - Force-Feed
19. Lexes - Sunny Days
20. Extreme Volume Pop - Acid Spray

Part Two:
01. Xedh - Acidos Desoxidorrinubleicos
02. GAAD - Exotic Shit
03. DD6 - Technology is in the Wrong Hands
04. Oubliette - Pumpkin Mask
05. Sick To The Back Teeth - I'm Trying To Bleed To Death
06. Ecoute Le Merde - Agonie
07. The Dreadful Eardrum Assault - Ill-Defined Walsh-Hadamard Transform a.k.a. UZU.MAKi, courtesy of ELMOS
08. Undecisive God - No Input
09. XDUGEF - Kero Cell KWVA
10. Rasmussen - My 6502 Sploded All Over Your Face
11. Butchered Prostitute - Strawberry Shortcake Took Mescaline
12. Torturing Nurse - Death of Heart
13. Disthroned Agony - Cut Neck
14. Noise+Nurse - Plentiful Strangulation
15. AMPDT - Psycho Rubber Cybernetics
16. A Kinder Noise - Dogma Tricks and Shitty Dicks
17. Tea Party Violence - From Here To Oblivion
18. Trivial Pudding - World War 4.5 (Public Beta)
19. Fat Legs - Sally's Hair Oil
20. Machinamentum Vinctum Tortusve -Waltz

Part Three:
01. Dedxound - Zufundus
02. The Noisettes - Texas Storm Front
03. Mystified - Off-Kilter
04. Re dux tion - Forewarning
05. Loopool - The Pearl
06. TSIDMZ - Leave Your Dream
07. D.P.P. - Head Held High
08. Ghoul Detail - Dead Girls Eyes
09. Black Noise - Äiti The Creator
10. ATLÄS - Animal Bone (Part I)
11. EWE - La Voix des Morts
12. SKLO - Sea of Glass
13. Black Saturn vs. Subduxtion - Children of the Noise
14. Roberto Villares - Leto, El Invasor
15. J. Huntington Chase - White Buffalo
16. Man vs Nature - Shakes Alive!
17. Deathorientation - Midnight 23 June 2007
18. Djet - EVX

Part Four:
01. Federico Barabino - Dejando El Agua
02. Bonemachine - Wald aus Stein und Rost (edit)
03. Innominus - Metsänhenki
04. Herz Tod - L'Au dela
05. Chaoticum - Extincture
06. Ekasia - The Parody of Exaltation
07. Diable Amoroux - The Rescue Circle of Hans Holzer
08. Aveneva - Hordes Of Chaos
09. Ordinul Negru - Black Clouds
10. Zarach Baal Tharagh - Business Haunting
11. Cursed Cemetery - Aeternus
12. Demetrius Grave - Opium Saviour
13. GRUUTHAAGY - Chthonic Machineries
14. Persona - La Font de Sang
15. JeFF - Anatman
16. VIP Violence - Osteoporosis
17. LifeLoop - Praha With Dine

Part Five:
01. Amputee - Porphyric Hemophilia
02. Scumbag - Paris Smoked Crack At Disney
03. Sonic Disorder - Untitled
04. Scissor Shock - Tremolo Prick
05. Proyecto Panica - LLanto de Mamut
06. Syphilis Sauna - Syphilis Sauna vs The Seattle Noise Scene (vaginamix2)
07. METEK - Curves
08. Kenji Siratori - Brutal Brain
09. Pig Molester - Untitled
10. Mentalny Kolaps - Suicidal Nymphoslut
11. Death On Glamour - Depressed
12. 100PIECES - God Hates Babies
13. Neburonilecram VS Akratos - El Dret es Guanya per les Armes
14. Necroanal - Lord of the Stinky Finger
15. Children In Gas Masks - Un Giovane Tormentato
16. Third I - I
17. Harshcore - Wet Vibrations For Paris
18. DJ YSL - Valkyries (edit)
19. Duct Tape Sadist - nnnn
20. GOOSLI NOISE - Goosli3
21. MB10 - Return to Yesteryear
22. Our Scoring - Titrede Profondis

Part Six:
01. Fossils - Dance Zombie Fucker Dance
02. Rei Rea - Malinger
03. Encomiast - Delledonne
04. Guttersnipe - The Swarm
05. Front Sonore - Dark n' Cold
06. Better People - Courage
07. The Digitariat - ...,--,...
08. Messiah Complex - B.H.H
09. Mixturizer - Revolution Hard Sweating
10. Retro - ldm
11. Krosot - Melakpig
12. Olle Oljud - Our Nature #rmx07#
13. Life's Decay - Sziktalia
14. Ego Death - A Need For Glue (Remixed Irani music and Poetry by Charles Bukowski)
15. Noise-A-Gore-Gore - Ketawa Dan Kita
16. The When McGruff Was King - Cross Eyed Mary

Oh my God! Just when it looked safe to prepare another post, a second Smell The Stench mega-compilation swoops into view to maim and mangle poor defenceless Nazgul.

If the five-part compilation that was Part 1 wasn't epic enough, this second celebration of STS releases cracks the six-pack open with gusto, overloading your synapses with more obscenities and filth than a long weekend with Roy 'Chubby' Brown and Phil "Odium" Knight.

In the midst of the action come bands previously encountered on Honour and Darkness for their work with Bonemachine- we're talking the likes of Stirner, Novasak, Mystified, Atlas, Herz Tod, Gruuthaagy. JeFF, Kenji Siratori (booo!), and Rei Rea. The remainder of bands on this 113-band collection (!) will either be scarily familiar to you as a result of Smell The Stench Compilation 1, or as-yet unknown horrors poised to spring upon you like a resurrected corpse hungry for brains. Either way, if you are familiar with more than a dozen bands on this release then you really need to get out more and eat your greens.

Bonemachine appear at the start of Part Four, with an edited version of their 'Wald aus Stein und Rost' from the Miel Noir/Bonemachine split release "Weiss". Surrounding them is a sea of gore, grind, industrial, mad, bad and dangerous to know music that strips wallpaper at ten paces and would very likely liquify any CDr asked to contain their toxic potency.

If albums were beers (and there's a pleasant thought) this outing would be the equivalent of BrewDog Brewery's "Tactical Nuclear Penguin" or "The End of History", the latter of which until very recently was the world's strongest beer at 55% alcohol by volume and came in a bottle stuffed inside a small furry animal. God bless 'em, it's an interesting approach to selling a beer (even more so given the price of around £500 per bottle, and no Nazgul isn't making this up) even though drinking one would almost certainly leave you blind and dribbling like a lunatic. 

And be warned - similar consequences will befall you if you ingest this compilation in one go.
If Smell The Stench made beer... 

Friday, 14 December 2012

FELAGUND - The Video

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Felagund - The Video
Format: DVD-R in colour covers, independently made and released
What's this all about then, Nazgul?  Read the text and marvel at Hugin's crazy fan-base
Edition: Believed to be 4 copies

Something different today, on a couple of levels - "Felagund - The Musical".  Oh no, wait, that's another project, promised for early 2014. No, instead, something even better: "Felagund - The Video."  This is the first independently shot film for one of Hugin's Uruk Hai songs that has been made (well, Nazgul thinks it is).  Secondly - and you will be delighted to hear this - the tale of this epic achievement is to be told not by Nazgul, but by chief camera-wielder and writer supreme, Michele Brittany.

Read, be impressed and inspired by the incredible efforts of other fans like ourselves from around the world (specifically the USA in this instance: come on Europe, keep up!) and most of all: Enjoy.

Behind the Camera Lens: Making the Uruk-Hai’s Felagund Music Video

By Michele Brittany

"The Lord of Castle Nazgul has kindly requested that I put quill to scroll and tell the story of just how I came to make the music video to accompany the instrumental song Felagund composed by Alexander “Hugin” Wieser for his Uruk-Hai project. I shall endeavour to spin a yarn that is worthy of the Honor and Darkness readers and satisfy Lord Nazgul adequately in order to arrest his threat of looping photographs of a certain drooling young prince in my email inbox for years to come. So, here goes.

An Idea Takes Shape

The tale begins innocuously enough with a trip that my boyfriend and I made to Joshua Tree National Park in early August, 2010 shortly after we moved to Southern California. We were struck with the unique beauty of the park punctuated by sparse looking trees and boulder formations of bare rock jutting up out of the desert landscape. It was magical and otherworldly; I was enchanted and inspired. I had my video camera and captured a lot of footage as well as taking several photographs. A thought took root and germinated. I mentioned to Nick that I wondered if Alex might have a song in his vast discography that would compliment the visuals that I had shot. Nick was supportive and suggested reviewing some of Alex’s songs – Nick has an extensive collection of Alex’s music (see Nick’s interview here) – then sending Alex an email with my idea to collaborate.

We listened to several tracks and I reviewed my footage. I emailed Alex, mentioning having visited Joshua Tree National Park and being interested in collaborating my visuals with one of his songs. Alex responded back with enthusiasm and offered that he would compose a new song as soon as he returned from holiday. In subsequent emails, Alex mentioned a future DVD release of music videos inspired by Lord of the Rings, which he thought could include our project. That was exciting news, so I set to work to develop a LOTR-inspired concept for the video as I waited for Alex’s track.

Since I now knew I would be making a video and that I wanted to use Joshua Tree as a focal point of the video, I made another trek out to Joshua Tree on my own. I knew from prior video projects I would definitely need more footage. Alone with my thoughts filled with Tolkien’s creation stories of Middle Earth and the filmic images of Jackson’s Mordor, I was on the lookout for interesting points of interest in the vast park that I could shoot. I made a lot of stops and trekked across a lot of desolate landscape looking for intriguing shots of the unusual looking trees and impressive rock formations. I was amazed at how much green vegetation – pretty petite pink flowers and mellow yellow cactus blooms for example - I found amongst the fallen trees, victims of some long ago fire that had decimated parts of the park. I wondered how to provide the video with a narrative structure so I was wasn’t dropping the viewer right into the park without some context. It may surprise the H&D readers, but I found help from Walter Ruttmann’s silent city symphony film Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (1927).


Michele making friends with the locals
Narrative Inspiration

I was on rather intimate terms with Ruttmann’s movie since I had spent the two plus years researching, watching, and critically analysing the city symphony films of the 1920s for my master’s thesis. A common component of all the films was that they were essentially structured around the day in the life concept, in this case, the life of a city. (Ruttmann’s film and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) are the two most readily available and critically acclaimed of the handful of films that make up this niche genre of silent films.) For both films, they started with early morning shots of deserted streets and ended with shots of dazzling evening city lights. I decided I would incorporate the same structural concept for my video.

Applying the same method as the silent films, I wanted to shoot either a sunrise or sunset at Joshua Tree and then figured perhaps just a sunset there, because I could use any footage to fake a sunrise to book end the video. However, I was still unemployed at that point, so trying to stay out there overnight wasn’t feasible financially nor was it safe, since Nick was working and unable to go. I needed to come up with an alternative. Fortunately, there was – the Santa Ana River Bike Trail.

The 20+ mile trail meanders alongside the winding Santa Ana River, but more importantly, was a short bike ride from home, so it would be easier to get an early morning or dusk shot. Although several sections along the trail the river took on unattractive characteristics that were more akin to festering cesspools of algae in a cement aqueduct, the river was dotted with natural looking waterway areas clustered with long stocks of cattails and accented with a variety of waterfowl. This would be workable for what was formulating in my mind. While I had a basic narrative structure taking shape, I was missing substance. I would have to wait to hear the song before I could make headway on that aspect of the video.

In late September, Alex sent me the first version of Felagund. Nick and I listened to the 9-minute track several times. It came as no surprise that it had an epic sound and most assuredly, inspired by the fighting spirit of Middle Earth humans, hobbits, wizards, and orcs. Felagund opened with a long, building introduction that spilled out into two alternating paradoxical musical styles – one gentle and meandering, the other driven and forceful with accompanying ambient vocals – then drifting to closure with the same composition that opened the track. In all, there were eight sections, so an introduction, three each of the gentle and harsh sections, then the conclusion. With the song pattern identified, I timed each segment and laid out a template on paper that I could fill in with the names of video clips that I would eventually lay down in Final Cut Pro.

I kept listening to the music for emotional cues. For me, the two styles sat at opposite ends of the spectrum. The images at Joshua Tree were also very strong and diametrically opposed – flower blossoms and greenery struggled against a backdrop of prickly, wasted trees and rocks that in some instances, still displayed the scorched marks from a fire or ravished by extreme heat and very little rainfall. I observed the same paradox with the Santa Ana River, which teemed with greenery and activity in the form of egrets, herons, ducks, and other feathered fowl, yet other parts of the river was nearly dried out with only dribbles of running water. It led to me think in more basic terms of the four elements – air, water, fire, and earth – each easily found in my images although fire was probably the most esoteric concept that would have be symbolised by the heat of the sun’s rays and the wind.

Working in tandem with the elements, I also considered the concept of creation. I felt that the heavens were first, so that would become the introduction to Felagund. I went out one early morning and I could not have planned it better. The clouds were darkly dramatic with the sun’s rays slicing through the clouds, which were constantly shifting as the morning progressed. I stayed out most of the morning, capturing footage of the morphing clouds, interspersed with shots of the morning light reflected in the moving water surface of the river. I felt quite happy with my footage, but it would be during the review process when I would determine if I needed to go back out and capture more footage.

Since I had the morning shots captured, I wondered if I should close with similar shots? I returned to the track again for inspiration and the closing sequence reminded me of waves. Of course! The Santa Ana River empties into to the Pacific Ocean, so I knew I would close with a sunset over the lapping waves of the ocean.

Being in close proximity of the coast, we had several choices for beaches. We chose the artistic community of San Clemente on the recommendation of one of Nick’s co-workers and because it had a lengthy pier that I could use to take photos out past the hordes of beach-goers if need be. And, on the first Saturday afternoon of October, it was a typically beautiful sunny day in Southern California. We drove south to the coastal city and I captured footage from the pier and the beach. Since we had plenty of time before the sun would be setting, we picked one of the restaurants on the pier to have dinner. It was perfect because we were seated out on the pier where we could look down and watch the waves roll in as we ate our delicious meals!

 After dinner, we strolled out along the beach where a small wedding was taking place right at the water’s edge. There were several passersby that lingered as the bride and groom exchanged vows, us included. I was scouting out a good location for my sunset shots while also taking some close-ups of the waves crashing gently onto the pebbly beach. I soon found a location and set up my tripod. Intermittently, I captured footage of the sun setting and even caught lone birds flying past off in the distance across the sunset. There was a peacefulness of slowing down and enjoying the beauty of nature, breathing in the salty air, and feeling the sand as it was forced up between my toes. Life was good and I was feeling good about the video. With the closing footage shot, it was time for the labour intensive part of the video: the editing process.

The lesser spotted Hatted Diak
Putting It All Together

It was a long laborious process of reviewing approximately two hours worth of footage multiple times, so I could catalogue each for length of time and descriptions of each shot. (Shot descriptions had to include concise details so that when I was looking for a particular shot, the log entry should cue me for what I wanted.) I then capture each shot in Final Cut Pro – 180 clips in total! It’s probably the most arduous task, but it is also the most important for organising a lot of footage. To me, being organised with one’s footage is the key to a project’s success, especially in this instance where I was working with three locales of multiple visits. Organised with concise descriptors of each shot really helped me to conceptualise the structure I had been formulating in my mind.

If logging each shot was the worse part, laying the visuals to the audio is probably the best part of the creative process because it was the point in the process where the audio became manifest visually. The journey started out rather easy because I was just laying out clips in general areas that had really spoken to me and fit with the mood of the music. Clips were moved slightly by as little as one second and soon it became a matter of trimming the excess. I had to make hard choices to cut a few shots that I felt really shined (due to be composed well or having an interesting object) but they didn’t work with the overall progression of images that was developing. Then, the fades between shots were added. That was the first draft completed.

After many more hours labouring over clips, transition choices, and getting Nick’s opinion in areas of the video where I felt I was faltering, I played the video through several times, trying to find any anachronistic items (I had decided to keep my video void of anything modern, including the presence of people). And boy did anachronistic items pop up: specifically in the opening shots where I had tried to keep houses and power lines up on the mountains out of my shots – to no avail apparently! – and surfers at the ocean were the biggest offenders in my video. I soon became familiar with zooming in on a clip and then cropping the houses, power lines, or people out. I also figured out slowing down the movement of a pan in a shot to better match the pace of the music.

For the introduction, gentle and conclusion sections of the track, I used longer clip lengths and longer cross dissolves, which gave a smooth transition between images, adding to the meandering music. However, for the harder musical sections, I used a dip to colour dissolve that created a quick fade to black then fade in to the next image. I thought it provided an edgier look and by keeping the transitions shorter the clips took on a sense of urgency. I think this worked especially well in the last harder section which felt like the climatic part of the track before dropping off into the concluding portion of the song.

I added the credits that Alex provided for the musical acknowledgements and the logo for the Uruk-Hai name (beautiful font, by the way!) while I added my visual credits. In the end, I edited together 74 clips from the three locations into a 9 minute music video. I created the quick time movie and burned out four DVDs – to Alex, CZ, Nazgul, and myself. It felt great to get it completed and each copy mailed off.

Joshua Tree National Park, Nick lurking behind bush front-right
What I Would Do Differently

One: Less clouds! Oh my gosh, my beginning is slower than watching paint dry! Although the shape, lighting and intensity of the clouds change in the introductory sequence, they are still just clouds. Two: I think I would try a different location to incorporate more elemental concepts and perhaps shooting some stills of Tolkien’s maps and lettering that I could blend in to give the look of being double exposed, would boost the images I selected. Three: A replacement tripod for my old one for which one of the leg snaps broke and therefore would only occasionally work, on flat surfaces (figures!). I’m sure there were other things I could add, but these were probably my top three when I revisited my video.

That’s a Wrap

I sure enjoyed making the video and especially the opportunity to collaborate with Alex, who has to be the most prolific composer in the history of music! I hope I can work with Alex again in the future, perhaps on another one of his projects, such as Ceremony of Innocence. Revisiting Felagund while writing this essay has inspired me once again to knock the dust off my video camera and start looking at the world differently.

Well, H&D readers, that’s my tale of how my video came to fruition. I hope you found my yarn a good read, and that I have satisfied the taskmaster, oops, the lord of Castle Nazgul adequately so rather than receiving drooling baby photos ad infinitum, I’ll get cute, happy pictures instead.

Post Script: Miscellany, Bloopers & Other Nonsense

I have a couple of anecdotal stories to impart, which didn’t fit within my lengthy main narrative. First, while I was bicycling along the bike trail when the morning clouds were so dramatic, I soon experienced the first rains of the season. And, it was not a soft drizzle either. Oh no! It was like the sky opened up and dropped buckets of water on me. I tried to find cover since by that time I was riding home. I was passing a small block of shops and of course, not a one of them had an awning! The owners of the little corner mart took pity on my drenched self and let me take refuge inside their store entrance, trying not to drip too much on their floor. After about five minutes, the worst of the rain had passed. I conveyed my heartfelt thanks to the owners as I left. When I got home and happened to look in the mirror as I got a towel to dry off, I saw I had a wide line of road grime that had been kicked by my tire. My backside resembled a skunk’s markings, made all the more prominent from the white shirt I was wearing – how embarrassing!

And the second is when I was capturing footage of the setting sun over the ocean in San Clemente. While I was focused on the video screen, Nick sat with me so he could watch for people who would pass in front of my shot, letting me know ahead of time so I could pause my recording. He said there was one woman who, as she approached the frame of my shot, was staring in our direction, taking more than a passing interest. Instead of accommodating my shot and walking around behind me, she gave me a hard glass as she defiantly walked straight through my shot! Obviously, she is not an artist!"

And that, as they say, is that.  Nazgul thanks Michele for taking significant time and trouble to document this video and enlighten us all, and perhaps an update in future months should be organised to capture some stills from the actual video itself for your edification.  Watch this space...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

DRAGONS OF WAR - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Dragons Of War
Reason for update: Previously unseen Dragon's Breath promotional artwork

Here's a blast from the past - the Uruk Hai "Dragons Of War" release, which was released on the short-lived American label Dragon's Breath Records in 2005 (see post of 17 November 2009 for the full review).

Nazgul came across this promotional flyer whilst having a rummage through some old files, and surprisingly it's one that hasn't made it's way onto Honour and Darkness before.  So here it is, in full dragon-y glory, proclaiming the release to be a "masterpiece of epic fantasy music".

And, errrr....well that's it really, just something a little extra to throw into the mix to warm your cockles on this frosty winter's day.  Nothing like a bit of dragon-fire to light the Castle fires, and Dragon's Breath Records certainly had the right idea with their logo.

Monday, 10 December 2012

SMELL THE STENCH COMPILATION 1 [V/A]


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Smell The Stench Compilation 1
Format: Internet compilation from the Smell The Stench label (Australia) celebrating their 100th net release, released on 8th May 2007, catalogue reference STS-NET 100. Free to download from the label website, and comes with the music and high resolution artwork files. Intended to be burned to CDr and enjoyed!
Edition: Unlimited download
Track Listing (deep breath):

Part One
01 - Lexes - Haze (5:04)
02 - Boy+Girl - 5 (0:35)
03 - Audiocum - Foaming Blasphemy (5:25)
04 - Disthroned Agony - Perpetual Motion Disease (4:46)
05 - Garsokatastrofa - Fetus in Fetu (2:49)
06 - Antihuman - Square Anabolic (500dB twice a day) (6:01)
07 - Retro - Cuntrol (2:00)
08 - The Apex, The Harmony Of - Despite Her Weakness (0:40)
09 - No John - Scar in my Mouth (2:06)
10 - Stirner - Buttcrack (2:31)
11 - Abhorrent Strain - I Am Plague (3:56)
12 - FCKN'BSTRDS - Bastard Radio (4:03)
13 - Gland - Choice Is Just That (9:01)
14 - James Kiwi - Get Off My Lawn (3:35)
15 - AG Davis - 2 (0:37)
16 - Slut Kull - You Will Die... And I Will Cum (1:10)
17 - Ambulance Voice - Paroxysm (2:53)
18 - DerPooProject - Harsh Oak (5:01)
19 - Mein Kinder - Lumbar Puncture (5:06)
20 - Children in Gas Masks - Bed of Filth (4:01)
21 - Vomir - Untitled (5:41)

Part Two
01 - Idlness Distribution - Primitive Skills (6:08 )
02 - Population Control - Doctorate Eugenics (3:45)
03 - +DOG+ - Leaking (2:08 )
04 - rev777? - Where's The Beef (1:30)
05 - The Digitariat - Hackney Gal Dub (5:16)
06 - The Dreadful Eardrum Assault - Anthrophobic Dictators of Blues (2:29)
07 - Space Monkeys - 6 Beers and Something to Drink (1:47)
08 - Bassfucker - Bassbanger (1:28 )
09 - Rats With Wings - Thawing Wrists (1:16)
10 - Death On Glamour - Outlaw Noise (3:15)
11 - Necroanal - When I Said Help Yourself to Anything in the Kitchen, I Wasn't Refering to My Most Cherished Pickled Tumor Collection! (1:46)
12 - RedSK vs Doormouse - Skelechairs On My Front Porch (7:11)
13 - Black Rock Retreat - Charlotte (8:26)
14 - Spakka - Statement Of Intent (6:59)
15 - Tea Party Violence - Scrambled Violence - Haywire (2:58 )
16 - Deathorientation - Colouring Books' Seller Looked Like Grey (4:26)
17 - Armenia - No No Future Fest (15:55)

Part Three
01 - Extreme Volume Pop - Mourning Side (2:55)
02 - Gonroise - Blimanufiktzet (3:10)
03 - SKLO - Cloaca Maxima p.1. (8:18 )
04 - Amputation Desire - Cresta (5:38 )
05 - Novasak - Passing Moons (8:29)
06 - Mystified - Incidental 1 (4:52)
07 - Dedxound - Invia (6:25)
08 - MIGRA - Zoid (5:30)
09 - SKLO - Cloaca Maxima p.2. (6:37)
10 - Undecisive God - Scatter (5:34)
11 - Noisettes - 2 (3:28 )
12 - Xedh - Kaiolak (live at sototik radio) 20070308 (11:15)

Part Four
01 - Trees - I Conclude (3:20)
02 - Hybrid Frequency - Paralisis (8:00)
03 - FCKN'BSTRDS - Wrong S LALALA (5:48 )
04 - Planetaldol - 100 micrograms (3:09)
05 - Sonic Disorder - No Threesome For You (5:18 )
06 - XV Parowek - Woke Up In A Mailbox (2:31)
07 - GAAD - x5 (0:57)
08 - Oubliette - Grind Core (10:07)
09 - Federico Barabino - Guitarra Copleara (3:42)
10 - Trivial Pudding - Phosgene Breakfast (4:17)
11 - Ego Death - Foliation (4:37)
12 - Syphilis Sauna - Copy of a Copy (kinokoremix) (6:40)
13 - Third I - Phantom of Liberty (4:50)
14 - Maskinanlegg - Big Organ (1:47)
15 - NeburOnilecram vs aKratos - 0101010101 (1:53)
16 - Alex Spalding - Electro Piss Take (3:26)
17 - Zion Punch - Legion (1:06)
18 - Page 27 - 15th Street Tavern 010607 (3:00)

Part Five
01 - Bonemachine - Iron Age (2:15)
02 - Gruuthaagy - Ustanak (3:22)
03 - Die Rote Form - x1 (5:40)
04 - Demetrius Grave - Spider's Den (5:19)
05 - Napalm Noise - Hate War and Destroy (0:16)
06 - Cripple Slaughter - I Removed Her Adrenaline Gland (1:55)
07 - Our Scoring - American Democrazi (2:36)
08 - JeFF - Destroy All Weapons On The Earth (5:30)
09 - Ekasia - Urbanic Child (11:45)
10 - Awful Majesty - The Turquoise Temple (Nath-Horthath) (9:20)
11 - Gnosis Noise Project - Movement 1 (2:44)
12 - Pope On Acid - Dysarthria (2:12)
13 - Project-Six - Frustration Fuck (6:27)
14 - Stirner - Not Just Another Nervous Breakdown (2:22)
15 - Night Mother - Dungeon (9:50)


As my dear friend Hugin would say, "Holy Hell!"

The experience of listening to a double-disc compilation from Smell The Stench left lifelong emotional scarring - witness the infamous content of "Skull The Stench" reviewed on 24 March 2010. The prospect of working your way through a five-part compilation is - quite frankly - terrifying and certainly not to be recommended for those of a nervous disposition. Marginally more fun than an open casket funeral, this is akin to walking blindfolded through an unmapped minefield: you know at some unspecified but imminent point you're going to stumble across something violent and shocking that will launch you 200ft into the air and scatter your body parts over a wide area.

The impetus behind this sonic lobotomy came from label owner Leigh Stench and (Nazgul believes) Todd Novasak, and in their own words: "After the first year as a NET label, and into the 100th release, Smell the Stench has arranged a compilation to reflect the range of sounds we have supported through the year. As we can see from the support shown by the participating artists, we can safely say that we will continue to produce free downloadable releases for all to enjoy. Thank you everyone who has kindly supported the Smell the Stench net label from the start. Thanks again! You Rule! Todd and Leigh"

Some of the bands featured have also been part of collaborative releases with Hugin's Bonemachine project: JeFF, Novasak, Pope On Acid, Stirner, Maskinanlegg, Mystified and Gruuthaagy. Nazgul trusts that from past posts you'll be familiar with these bands and the various releases in question, so we'll not go into detail here. Other bands are as obscure as you like, and the quality of material ranges from excellent through to ... ummmm .... less than excellent. Let's just say that you can pick and choose what you download or decide to keep permanently, and as it's free what is there to complain about? The sheer endeavour involved on behalf of Leigh and Todd is to be celebrated, and the fact that Smell The Stench is still going strong is testament to the dedication and effort behind the scenes at such independent labels.

The reason for highlighting this epic collection on Honour and Darkness appears at the very beginning of Part 5, where Bonemachine appear with the song 'Iron Age'. To save you looking, this is a short song from the "Bonemachine Vs. Mystified" split CDr and is most certainly not to be confused with the Uruk Hai vinyl release of the same name! It fits in well enough with the vibe of the release, and is a small island of familiarity amid a raging sea of madness.

Can't think how to get your relatives to leave early after Christmas lunch this year? Download this to an iPod and you'll have the perfect solution...

Friday, 7 December 2012

URUK HAI / CRUCIFIXXX SODOMY split

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Uruk Hai / Crucifixxx Sodomy split release
Format: Cassette release on the SkullFuckingMetal label (Canada), released in 2012, catalogue reference SFM-047. The split includes the band Crucifixxx Sodomy, in which Keegan 'Khaos' of the SFM label plays. The tape comes in a photocopied inlay and is of a standard C60 style.
Edition: No indication, presumed to be unlimited

Track Listing:
Side A: Crucifixxx Sodomy
01. I Am The Highest Power (GG Allin cover)
02. Hell House
03. Swine Slaughter Annihilation
04. Cannibal Girls Wanna Eat My Dick
05. Swine
06. Untitled
07. Bite It You Scum (GG Allin cover)
08. In His World

Side B: Uruk Hai
01. Lebensende: Winter (different version)
02. Over Old Hills (Summoning cover)
03. Northhammer

Let's not beat around the bush: Crucifixxx Sodomy are simply an insane Canadian band, formed in Toronto in 2007 and playing what is probably best described as a blend of punk-ish black metal. Featuring our old friend Keegan Khaos on guitars, the band seems to have generated a notorious local reputation for wild live shows, which are reflected on some of their demo tapes (all available via Keegan's SFM website). Their portion of this split release features songs that will be familiar to owners of tapes such as "Live At Duffy's Tavern" and "Banned From The Hard Luck Bar", but if you've not yet had the 'pleasure' then this split release with Uruk Hai could be just the eye-opening start that you need! Rob Halford once sang about "pounding the world with a battering ram" - Crucifixxx Sodomy attempt a similar feat except their weapon of choice is a rusty meat hook and it's destination is straight up your jacksy!

The inclusion of a pair of GG Allin covers also tells you a lot about the influences of the band: the very mention of this artist's name invokes fear and outrage.  GG Allin is best remembered for his notorious live performances, which often featured transgressive acts, including coprophagia, self-mutilation, and attacking audience members. AllMusic and G4TV's That's Tough have called him "the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history" and the "toughest rock star in the world", respectively.

Although more notorious for his stage antics than for his music, he recorded prolifically, not only in the punk rock genre, but also in spoken word, country, and more traditional-style rock. His extremely politically incorrect lyrics, which often covered subjects such as misogyny, paedophilia and racism, polarised listeners and created varied opinions of him within the highly politicised punk community. When questioned about his music and concerts, Allin often replied that he was trying to make rock music "dangerous" again.

Allin's music was often poorly recorded and produced, given limited distribution, and was met with mostly negative reviews from critics. Despite (or perhaps because of) these factors, Allin maintained a cult following throughout his career, and a fan base that has greatly expanded since his death. Though Allin promised for several years before his death that he would commit suicide onstage during one of his concerts, he died June 28, 1993 of an accidental heroin overdose.

It's a lot to live up to, but give them time....
 

The second part of this split could hardly be more different, short of including a couple of Bee Gees songs. The cultured keyboard tapestries of Uruk Hai aren't an obvious bedfellow for the obscenities of Crucifixxx Sodomy to sit alongside, and the degree of crossover between fan bases would be interesting to understand. One imagines that more people will buy this tape for the Uruk Hai content -thus exposing Crucifixxx Sodomy to a wider and potentially interested audience- than the reverse scenario, but quite what one set of fans will make of the others' music remains to be seen!

And what of the Uruk Hai songs on offer? The three on offer represent an interesting mix drawn from demos of various vintages between 2005-2010, and whilst they are generally available across a number of other releases they make for a very acceptable listening experience, particularly on a cold, wintry day such as today. First up, the alternate version of 'Lebensende: Winter', originally on the Depressive Illusions tape demo of the same name released in 2010. A bleak landscape of cold synthesisers and frosty melody, perfect for midnight walks through dark, snowy forests. Just remember to wrap up warmly before you venture out, you don't want your extremities to blacken and shrivel. 'Over Old Hills' remains a galloping romp of a cover version, and if you managed to miss it on either of its two previous outings ("The Song Never Remains The Same" or "In Durin's Halls (Return To The Mines Of Moria)") then shame on you, and here's your chance for redemption. Finally, the saga that is 'Northhammer' makes a welcome return, having been originally issued on the "Northern Lights" demo and subsequently included on both the "Blutreich" and "Angband" compilations.

Full marks, incidentally, if you've spotted that the cover artwork on this release is a reversed copy of the blooded face featured on "The Truth" by Bleeding Through.

It has to be said that SFM have made huge efforts over the years to bring underground releases to the masses at an affordable price, and their distro stock is always interesting and varied. Anyone looking for bootleg live releases of some classic bands would do well to check out their stock too, and whilst you're there spending your loot say "hi" to Keegan for Nazgul, and ask for a copy of this tape as part of your order. You may end up shell-shocked and ravaged by his half of it, but rest assured the Uruk Hai side will calm you down again afterwards.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Updating the update...


Band: BONEMACHINE (sort of)
Title: That Novasak/Bonemachine split tape again
Reason for update: an outbreak of West Coast lunacy...

Jim Morrison said it best: "People are strange..."

And they come no stranger (in a nice way, Nazgul assures you) than Michele Brittany and Nick Diak, of Orange, California.  Nick will be familiar to you as the subject of a past Followers of Honour and Darkness post (#4, 18 March 2011), whilst Michele will become known to you all soon after a forthcoming post is finalised concerning a video she made for Hugin (all to be revealed in due course).

The title of today's post - an update to yesterday's Novasak/Bonemachine tape update - comes in the wake of Nazgul's throw-away comment from yesterday, which read: "Doubtless some technical-types out there could identify what the components on the circuit board actually did in practice".

And that's precisely what Michele and Nick have done, courtesy of the photograph at the head of this post which arrived via carrier-hobbit into the Castle inbox last night.  And people say I have too much time on my hands....!?

Great stuff though, and for sheer endeavour and sense of humour deserves a post of its own.

So some of the mysteries of the Bonemachine circuit board design are now revealed, and all that remains to be done is to place that phone call to the nice men in white coats to bring a pair of straight-jackets round to Chez Diak before it's too late...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NOVASAK/BONEMACHINE split tape - update II

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Untitled split release with Novasak
Format: It's another one of those funky tapes again....
Edition: 16 hand-numbered copies only (see text)
Reason for update: Keep up - it's another one of those funky tapes again....

Your starter for ten: what's the connection between CSI New York; Star Trek (original series); Spongebob Squarepants; X-Men; and Sliders? No? Well, allow Nazgul to enlighten you - they've all had an episode called "Obsession" in their broadcast histories, and today's post is very much fuelled by that concept.

Back on 16 April Nazgul regaled you with a story of how he felt the urge to add a second copy of that Bonemachine/Novasak split tape release to what is already an alarmingly expansive collection- you know the one, the tape with the unique circuit board cover design on the front. The thinking here was fairly vague, something on the lines of, "but they look so appealing and interesting, and you can never have too many circuit board-covered tapes on the shelf". The April update also covered a third design, pictured on the Club Debil website, and thus nearly one third of the proposed edition run for this tape was identified and illustrated for the benefit of history. 


Nazgul uses the word 'proposed' advisedly, as you may also recall that the full run of 16 tapes were not actually made in the end, due to the complexities/time involved putting the thing together, so the remaining unassembled pieces of the last few copies remain somewhere under lock and key in the deepest Austrian forests.

Of course, with the collecting mania biting hard, things couldn't rest there: more of these tapes must be out there somewhere after all...! Poor Todd Navasak is doubtless already fed up with Nazgul periodically pestering him to send a photo of any copies that he may have lurking in his own collection, and the all-seeing fiery eye remains constantly vigilant should further copies of the tape break cover. 


Obsession - I know thy name!

So it was mightily kind and typically Hugin-like that the mighty Austrian warrior himself offered for sale his own copy of this release - the 'Holy Grail' #1/16 - from the depths of the W.A.R. archives. And as you will already have seen from the photos, isn't it a whopper! With more (and larger) bells and whistles - technical term - than either of Castle Nazgul's two existing copies, this is both a magnificent piece and a real honour to own. Doubtless some technical-types out there could identify what the components on the circuit board actually did in practice, but for the less IT-literate amongst us let's just say that lots of clever things happened in the gubbins of the machine and these bad boys helped out ... somehow. Particularly that big pink thing (stop sniggering at the back) which was doubtless very important.

With phaser set to stun and fake pointy ears firmly stuck in place, Starship Nazgul continues to split infinitives and boldy go in a financially ruinous but ultimately entertaining endeavour to find yet more versions of this tape. If you have one, and wish to share a photo with the wild hordes of Hugin's fans, you know where to send it. And if you want to sell a copy to augment the growing family of such releases sheltering in the Castle, then get in touch!

Castle Nazgul's family of Novasak/Bonemachine split tapes!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

LOTHLORIEN - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Lothlórien
Format: 4 x 3"CDr release on the Tryby label (Poland) in 2012, cat ref 28/2012. Two large colour covers house the discs, the front mirroring the original CD artwork but the reverse design being different.  Discs are plain silver 3" CDr.
Edition: Limited to 25 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
CD1
01. The White Trees of Minas Ithil 0:40
02. Enter Mordor 3:06
03. Rohan Riders 3:13

CD2
04. Lay of Leithian 19:26

CD3
05. Into the Mirror 3:21
06. Galadriel's Message 13:46

CD4
07. Keeper of Nenya 3:13
08. May It Be (Enya cover) 3:14
09. Gates of Summer 4:32

A rather unexpected release in truth, but nonetheless a welcome one, 2012 saw the return of Uruk Hai's "Lothlórien" album. Recorded in 2005 and originally released on CD only by the Russian label Othal Productions in the following year, it was followed by a different Russian label (Valgriind) reissued this album on tape in 2010 with 4 bonus tracks. That seemed to be the whole story: in a nutshell, original CD release supplemented by tape version with extra material. 

So the purpose of this Tryby reissue in the grand scheme of things is hard to fathom: the very limited release of 25 copies hardly makes the material more accessible (and, to be fair, the original Othal Productions release came in an edition of 500 copies and you can find copies of that for sale without too much trouble), whilst the bonus material offered on the cassette version is absent on this latest reissue so it can't claim add in the extra elements for the first time on a digital copy. Most curious, and rather a missed opportunity.

It seems to be - whisper it in dark corners - one of those 'diehard edition' thingamajigs for lunatic fans like Nazgul to purchase....

Now, to be fair Nazgul is always a sucker for a new release from Hugin's most popular band, and similarly is happy to entertain nay number of 3" discs in his collection as the format is particularly pleasing to his ravening eye. A four-disc 3" release is a decidedly uncommon format too, and with the exception of a reissue of "Upon The Elysian Fields" there are none others in the collection that immediately spring to mind. The benefit of the larger size covers (measuring about 8" square) is that the original artwork is shown to best effect, and one can also enjoy the new image on the reverse with better clarity than the traditional CD inlay allows for.

Musically this is familiar territory, but that's not to denigrate the songs on offer here: all fitting into that period of Uruk Hai music which many fans hold so dear. A mixture of epic and shorter songs, this works well as a balanced release and allows the listener to dip in and out accordingly, rather than asking you to devote half an hour or more to inwardly digest a truly massive piece of music as some of the later demos did.

A few more goodies inside might have been a nice touch - some colour cards, a map of Lothlórien, something of that nature - but this minimalist packaging style is not uncommon to Tryby, and I suppose at the end of the day there is a benefit in that the price isn't being pushed up to cover the cost of including miscellaneous crap!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

BONEMACHINE / KAELTEEINBRUCH & CATGIRL split CDr


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Bonemachine / Käelteeinbruch & Catgirl split
Format: A split CDr on Hugin's W.A.R. label (Austria), released in 2012, cat. ref. WAR075. The disc comes sandwiched between 2 colour inlay cards, and the release contains various other small card inserts (see text). The gold coloured disc is housed in a plastic wallet, with a sticker showing Hugin's contact details.
Edition: Hand-numbered in an edition of 16 copies

Track Listing:
01. Bonemachine * Knochenwerk (Teil 1)  8.04
02. Bonemachine * Knochenwerk (Teil 2 Rostrausch)  8.27
03. Käelteeinbruch * Commercial! Commercial!  14.53
04. Käelteeinbruch/Catgirl * The Dusty Trucker & The Lady With The Purple Hair  16.49

Certain combinations instill terror into the general public: Jekyll & Hyde, Burke & Hare, Rogers & Hammerstein ... you get the idea. Well, add another to the list for future reference: Bonemachine + Käelteeinbruch/Catgirl. Simply terrifying, and probably a less sensible idea than letting a pyromaniac with a blowtorch loose in a firework factory. In fact, parts of this recording sound very like they might have been made by a pyromaniac let loose in a firework factory, so incendiary are they. So don your best asbestos suit and grab a fire extinguisher as we venture unwisely into another bizarre split release in that oddest of genres: that of industrial, rhythmic-noise experimentalism.

All four songs seem designed to push the listeners tolerance to new limits, with staccato bursts of static and noise sitting side by side with repetitive percussive beats and - in Käelteeinbruch's case - snippets of what sounds like pre-war German radio broadcasts. Taken as a whole it is a bewildering experience; disorientating, occasionally painful and distinctly lacking in accessibility. For seasoned listeners of bands such as Merzbow, Whithouse, Brandkommando, MSBR, and the like this is probably a walk in the park, but for those of us honed on the principles of song-structure and melody it is challenging to say the least. Nazgul recalls that one of his early reviews of a Bonemachine demo likened it to the sound of an orchestra falling down a staircase: on this demo the participants have upped the ante further still and conspire to sound like a staircase falling down a staircase. If, on playing this release at high volume, Beelzebub himself were to manifest and join in the hellish dance then Nazgul for one would not be in the least bit surprised.

The first of the two Bonemachine 'Knochenwerk' compositions (literally: 'bone work') utilises repetition as its medium through a lengthy drawn-out sonic attack - akin to a drawn out cymbal splash- and this forms the backbone of the piece, sounding not unlike the Toy Dolls' drummer Dave "The Nut" Nuttall doing a soundcheck! The second part (translating literally as 'bone work part 2: rust intoxication', though I suspect in its original language it may be more elegant that that!) has more variety of sound, and is all the better for it, although it remains as inaccessible as a military-grade chastity belt and will still loosen all of your teeth at twenty paces.

Käelteeinbruch translates into English to mean the 'sudden onset of cold weather', although Kaltblütigkeit might be more appropriate a name given the cold-blooded way they inflict aural pain on their audience. Catgirl are more typically described online as purveyors of finest porno-noise (and Nazgul remains uncertain if he wants to know what that actually means in practice). The songs titles of their two pieces here (especially the second) draw a vague comparison with those employed by Gothic/doom romantics Autumnblaze but that's as far as any similarities go in that direction. 
 
Their similar approaches- spiky and thunderous static bursts interspersed with odd radio broadcast clips and assorted weirdness - is pretty hard to sit through more than once, which quite possibly may have been their intended aim. However, to paraphrase an early review of Napalm Death in Kerrang! magazine; whilst they may well be addressing great social injustices through their music, if the singer sounds like he's drowning in a bucket of sick and you can't understand the words, what's the point? Käelteeinbruch don't employ a singer per se, but the principle remains valid.

Their track 'Commercial! Commercial!'- and you have to smile at the irony of that title - is described by the band thus: "Manufactured, extinguished and recovered in 2012 by Jack Mountverno at the Old Railway Control Centre after a shopping expedition in Germany". Oooookaaaay then.....?! 
 
The background to the second collaborative song 'The Dusty Trucker & The Lady With The Purple Hair' is more bizarre yet: "The first 50% dieselized, industrial dustized and broadcasted by Jack Mountverno for the Old Railway Control Centre to Shira Tails in her local radio station, predominant[ly] called The Red Tokyo Hotel Lounge in Japan. For creating the last 50% Shira was inspired by her long purple hair twinkling in the sun". 
 
Whatever these guys are on (presumably purchased on that German shopping trip) I want some.
 

The packaging is nicely conceived on this release, as we have come to expect from W.A.R. Productions. There is an attention to detail, some colourful inserts to admire, and an overall impression of quality and care. Bonemachine has a colour card showing our hero A.W. in casual pose somewhere near Vienna, whilst all three bands get a personalised truck for their efforts in a matching style to the decaying images on the cover artwork. There's also an promotional card advertising W.A.R. and a card giving the song information/descriptions detailed above.


With only 16 copies of this release out there (Nazgul's is #1 he is proud to note) there is a theoretically limited scope for this release to terrify dogs and scare small children out in the real world, although in this age of streaming and digital piracy one suspects that accessibility to the music will not prove to be that restrictive in actuality. You could most likely find the tracks online within a few clicks of your mouse, a practice which is not to be condoned (always buy originals and support the artist) but leads to the inevitable closing question: how brave are you feeling today...?