Title: Emyn Muil
Format: CDr release on the Steel Blazes Records label (Russia) in November 2011, cat ref SBR14. The CDr comes with full colour inlays and booklet, a screen-printed disc, and multimedia bonus material.
Edition: Hand-numbered in an edition of 50 copies only
01. Emyn Muil 37.05
02. At the End of the First Age 29.03
'Beneath The Moon, Beneath The Sun' video track
As someone who has been listening to Hugin's music over more years than most, there occasionally comes along a song that seems to define and encapsulate the spirit of a particular project. 'Emyn Muil' - in its full-length version - is one such track, and is a serious a statement of intent for the current standing of Uruk Hai as you could hope to find.
We encountered the edited version of the song recently on the "Felagund" tape release on SfM, and the track also appears as the Uruk Hai part of the split CDr release with Sepulchral Moon. Whilst at 36 minutes plus it could be argued that there is a certain amount of unnecessary drawing out of the piece, the combination of (to quote Steel Blazes) "majestic dark ambient with clean female vocals" once experienced is both a triumph and a real position-statement for the ethereal heights of dark ambient beauty that Uruk Hai has now reached.
The female vocalist in uncredited, and indeed in conversation with Hugin it transpires that the vocals are sampled rather than specific to this release. That they fit so well and appropriately alongside the music is testament to Hugin's skill in weaving together complex sonic tapestries in a manner that creates such wonderful music.
Honestly, Nazgul couldn't recommend this highly enough to you, so it would be well worth checking out the Steel Blazes web-site (http://steelblazes.cjb.net/) or contacting Hugin in the normal manner to obtain a copy: with only 50 copies pressed (numbered on the rear tray inlay, and Nazgul proudly has #1/50) there really won't be much opportunity to lay your hands on a copy for long.
For those of you wondering about the title of the song/album, in Middle-Earth Emyn Muil was the range of hills upon either side of Nen Hithoel, a vast maze of impenetrable rocky crags that massed on either side of the Anduin above the inflow of the Entwash and at one time they marked the northern borders of Gondor. In Tolkein's '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. After a great deal of persuasion he agrees to show them the way through, leading them south into the Dead Marshes.
Paired with this singular song comes 'At The End Of The First Age', or to give it its full title 'At The End Of The First Age (an Opera about Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains)'. Featuring on the 2009 limited edition tape demo of the same name (and indeed on the split tape release with Orcrist in the same year together and then the later 'War Anthems' box-set) this is another lengthy track, showcasing the primal screams of Moloch's Pr. Sergiy. Apart from the tenuous connection of being named after mountain ranges, the approaches adopted in the two songs couldn't be more different in terms of the vocal approach adopted, and to that extent the songs make strange bed-fellows.
What it does demonstrate well is the variety of stylistic approach even within this one project, and as a song that was only ever available on two very limited edition tapes and one even more limited - and vastly more expensive - box-set it does provide a good opportunity for adding it to your collection should you have missed it first time around.
So far, so good! But there's more: a multimedia section!
There are two elements to it: a slideshow containing a combination of photos of Hugin in chainmail and in various poses with sword, and some fabulous images of snow-covered mountains and landcapes. These would form an interesting post in their own right. The second element is the video to the "Beneath The Moon, Beneath The Sun" track, a song that appeared originally on the "A Dark Force Shines Golden / Dreams of the Ancient Stone" split release with Saltvind back in 2008.
Nazgul was really impressed with this release through and through, from the quality and originality of the cover artwork to the general design and execution of the release by the label to the musical and multimedia content from Uruk Hai. It's a very promising start for Hugin's releases on the Steel Blazes Records label, and with the latest Hrefnesholt digipak release out on SBR and some awesome box-sets coming too things bode very well indeed for the future.