Saturday, 31 March 2012

ANOTHER TIME - update II

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Another Time
Reason for update: the fourth badge of seven comes to light...

Today's brief update comes to you courtesy of Honour and Darkness reader Stormnetz, who is based in Germany.

To recap our story so far: the Eastern Front label released just 7 wooden box-set versions of the Bonemachine "Another Time" demo, each coming in a handsome slide-out box looking a little like a book. Each of these seven boxes contained a unique metal military-themed badge. Nazgul's own box (imported from Brazil, believe it or not) was reviewed way back on 28 February 2009 and contained a battleship badge.

A hunt was subsequently started to track down the remaining six badges to see what they were.

Two came to light fairly quickly and were displayed in the update of 22 August 2009. They came via the good folk at the Eastern Front themselves (hello Tanya & Igor!), and as you would see from flicking back to that post the two new discoveries were of a tank, and of a submarine.

And now, a mere two and a half years later (!) a fourth badge has now been unearthed, care of the aforementioned Stormnetz in Germany. His photograph adorns the top of this post, and shows his badge to be a Russian destroyer (at least, we assume it's Russian given the prominent red star, and as Nazgul called his badge a battleship I'm going to call this one a destroyer!)

Interestingly in the original post for this item is was noted that the Bomemachine MySpace pages did reference a 'military boat with a red star' existing as a design, so one assumes that this particular edition is that very item.

So, four from seven badges are now catalogued. Do you have one of the remaining three badges? If you do, please drop Nazgul a line at honouranddarkness@gmail.com and let's record it for posterity...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

LULLABY FOR WILLIAM

Band: HUGIN
Title: Lullaby for William
Format: MP3 track
Edition: A special one-off composition for Nazgul Jnr

Track Listing:
01. Lullaby For William 3.48

Like any proud father, Nazgul can't wait to show the world his beautiful baby son, born on Monday 19 March 2012 at 03:45.

Currently the Castle is reverberating to the sound of not one, but two new sounds: the lusty cries of baby William (which when in full flow drown out even the moans and pleas of the prisoners in the nearby oubliettes), and the tinkling refrains of this rather splendid lullaby composed by none other than Hugin himself to help get the little lad off to sleep!

What a fine fellow Hugin is, to be sure!

And, it has to be said, so far, so good: Although, even the mesmerising sounds of chimes and almost medieval Renaissance melodies from Hugin's talented fingers don't always win out against the voracious thirst for milk that Nazgul's heir possesses. Soon not even milk will slake his cravings, at which point the local population will need to be very wary indeed....

Friday, 23 March 2012

MARCH TO WAR



Band: URUK HAI
Title: March To War
Format: A single-sided 12" vinyl pressing self-released by W.A.R. Productions in 2010. The vinyl comes with a blank centre panel, and is housed in a white sleeve. The outer sleeve is plain black, with two colour card panels having been affixed to give the front and rear artwork. Each item is hand-signed and numbered by Hugin on the reverse.
Edition: Only 5 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. March To War 12.31
02. Death Is Just Another Path... 8.01

As the polydactyl dwarf who lurks in the castle dungeons is prone to remark, you really can count the number of Hugin's vinyl releases on the fingers of one hand....

This very limited edition from 2010 is one of the rare few, and came at an eye-watering price in a tiny fan-edition of just 5 copies, all signed and hand-numbered by the man himself. Nicely crafted, and for the obsessive collector just the thing to add to the treasure horde!

Those of you who were not able to lay hands on a copy should not fret, however, as the two tracks contained within are fairly widely available on other releases: both songs appear on the split releases between Uruk Hai and Sieghetnar and Funeral Fornication respectively, whilst the tape version of "Black Blood, White Hand" also has the two as bonus tracks, albeit 'March To War' in an edited format. The hard to find "Black Blood, White Hand" release party CD "Death Is Just Another Path" also contains the songs.

You'll also come across the pair on two further releases, both of which are yet to be covered in Honour and Darkness. The first is the metal-box set "Angband", long overdue a review in these pages and something that Nazgul will have to get on with. The second place is on the just-released 6CD box-set "Everlasting Wrath Of The Tyrant", which has assumed almost legendary status in the length of time from being announced to being unleashed. It's well worth the wait, however, as a future post will reveal....

The Tolkien-themed musical odyssey of the songs has been well documented in past posts, so rather than repeat himself Nazgul urges you to revisit his earlier musings on the other releases mentioned above if you need a reminder of the epic majesty contained within.

In conclusion, I suppose you could see "March To War" as something of an indulgent luxury; a thank-you, if you will, from Hugin to his die-hard customers for their support over the years. The cunning pun in the title (not only a march to battle, but a trip to W.A.R. Productions too) is augmented by the fact that this review comes in the month of March: not so cunning, but a happy coincidence!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

GUTS FOR DINNER DEMO 1 - update


Band: Guts For Dinner
Title:
Demo 1
Reason for update: The original colour artwork for the demo has come to light!

Of the myriad of items covered in Honour and Darkness since February 2009 this particular demo would be pretty far down the list of one expected to receive an update. After all, it was a one-time deal in terms of output, with this CDr being the band's only formal demo. As a reminder for those not keeping notes, Guts For Dinner was Hugin's very short-lived grindcore project which recorded this sole demo, and was apparently inspired by a fan who also happened to be a grindcore fan - see Nazgul's post of 21 July 2009 for the full story.

The one additional Guts For Dinner-related item that Nazgul has been on the look-out for is a long-deleted (and currently missing-in-action) compilation cassette called something on the lines of "American Graveyard volume 1" on which, it is alleged, a Guts For Dinner song resides. If this proves to be true and the tape is ever found then that update will be a happy day, for it has so-far eluded the fiery eye atop Castle Nazgul.

However, as Nazgul has learned over the years, always expect the unexpected!

More pertinently for this update, though, is the story of this discovery: In a recent parcel of new releases from W.A.R. came an innocuous looking sheet of paper that proved to be quite the find! As you will have seen from the accompanying photos, it proved to be the original cover artwork for the first pressing of Guts For Dinner's "Demo 1". The two colour covers have been stuck onto a sheet of A4 paper by Hugin, and from this sheet black and white photocopies were taken for the inlays. The front cover, resplendent in black and silver, looks good and its choice of colours is no real surprise, but the purple rear cover tint certainly came as a bit of a shock and - Nazgul concludes - looks damn fine!

So much so, in fact, that a little colour copying might well be in order so that a colour version of this demo can grace the Castle library!

The photos below show the cover of this coloured artwork (the upper image of the two) against the actual demo as issued by W.A.R.

Right - let's get back to the search for that bloody Graveyard tape....


Friday, 16 March 2012

TRIANGLE


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Triangle
Format: A plain CDr disc with a single-sided, colour-tinted paper sleeve, contained in orange plastic wallet. No catalogue reference number, but it is a self-produced demo by Hugin in 2007 not intended for commercial release.
Edition: 1 copy only

Track Listing:
01. untitled 5.12
02. untitled 4.25
03. untitled 6.09
04. untitled 3.26
05. untitled 7.19
06. untitled 5.42
07. untitled 9.56

Here is a unique CDr demo from the deepest vaults of W.A.R. Productions, and one that I am indebted to Hugin for having shared with the Castle archive late last year.

On the face of it, as you will have gathered from the title on the cover, it's a Bonemachine demo. The vast hand emerging from the briny depths to grapple with an ocean liner is a very cool image indeed, and one that complements the title "Triangle" perfectly. The name refers to the so-called Devil's Triangle that covers the Straits of Florida, the Bahamas and the entire Caribbean island area and the Atlantic east to the Azores. This demo has - and let us be thankful for the fact - nothing to do with Barry Manilow and his 1981 'Bermuda Triangle' smootch-fest (but then, who here does have anything to do with Barry Manilow?!)

Everyone has a view on the relative merit of the Triangle legends, and I dare say we'll all have to agree to disagree on the subject or risk endless and interminable argument. Consequently Nazgul decrees that the best thing to do is to draw a line under the legitimacy or otherwise of the area's reputation and move onto the musical element of the release instead.

But first - a random quiz! Score yourself one gold star if you are able to identify another Bonemachine song with a direct reference to the Bermuda Triangle. Still thinking...? No hurry, the answer is to be found elsewhere in Honour and Darkness (and also at the foot of this post).

Anyway, back to the music, and let's take another look at that artwork. Conjures up feelings of immense power, vulnerability and the presence of mysterious forces at work doesn't it? You might assume that with such a cover the music is destined to be an industrial concept album based around disappearances within the Triangle, featuring the tortured sounds of rending metal, twisting girders and the screams of hapless crew members, perhaps accompanied by bursts of static from emergency radio transmissions as Hugin recreates the tragic loss of countless sea-faring vessels. And if, you continue to wonder excitedly, this also involves some input of that vast, mysterious hand emerging from the deep then all well and good - bring it on!

So you slip the disc into your death-deck: immediately unexpected but strangely familiar sounds begin to emanate from the speakers. This doesn't sound like the final moments of stricken ships, you cry, why these are ... they surely can't be, but they are ... songs from the early days of Ceremony of Innocence! What gives - has a temporal disturbance in space and time impacted upon this demo too?

Over to our Austrian friend for more details on the matter: "this Bonemachine CDr was made before I started Ceremony Of Innocence; I recorded it in 2007 and then never used again, I just did the cover for my own use. Later I decided to start a new project and so COI was born."

It's essentially a parallel (universe) with the situation previously described in these pages where the Hrossharsgrani "Uruk Hai" demo tape was recorded, didn't seem to suit the project, and led to the formation of a new band instead (being Uruk Hai, for those playing catch-up). On this demo, the distinctly upbeat keyboard rhythms are not in the vein of Bonemachine output of the time, yet were clearly too good to discard or ignore. The solution: pop them onto a CDr as untitled works-in-progress, revisit them with fresh ears and determine (quite rightly) that they were worthy of release but under a new guise. This in turn led to the foundation of COI and the inclusion of the first six of these songs on the "Horproben 2007" demo and "Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee" album releases.

The one exception to this is the final song, where compositionally over its near ten-minute duration it reflects more of a traditional Bonemachine dynamic, and actually does come close to creating the perfect atmosphere of fog-shrouded waters and impending disaster....

And the answer to Uncle Nazgul's quiz question? Crown yourself an official Huginophile if you answered 'Flight 19' from the 3"CDr release "Burn Down Psychosis" featured on the Blog on 14 February 2009 (Flight 19 being a training flight of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945, somewhere over the Triangle as the story goes, although recent evidence suggests that they may actually have been sighted on radar over swampland in Georgia shortly before their final disappearance).

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

NARGOTHROND - update



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nargothrond
Format: 2012 reissue of the tape demo in a 2 x 3"CDr package on Smell The Stench (Australia). Full colour front and rear card inlays, and two white label 3" discs. Item comes in a clear plastic bag.
Edition: Only 15 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
CD1
01. The Fellowship 03:14
02. The Ancient Tower (The Great Underground Fortress) 11:20
03. The Sound Of Nargothrond 05:13

CD2
04. Nargothrond (Return To The Great Underground Fortress) 08:44
05. A Dragons Destiny 10:13

There's something of a theme developing in the deep, dark realms of Austria: early tape demos from a variety of Hugin's projects are being reissued with new (or enhanced) artwork on CD format, either via elaborate box-sets or in other interesting formats, such as these 3" discs.

Whilst the numbers being released are still very small in the majority of cases - this reissue of the 2011 demo "Nargothrond" sees only 15 copies being produced, in contrast to the original tape edition of 86 copies on Wulfrune Worxx - the opportunity is nonetheless there for intrepid fans to avail themselves of the majestic sounds of Uruk Hai (and others) in what is sure to become a collectable format.

And there's more - some of these 2012 reissues are themselves already becoming the subject of third pressings on different labels! This sounds like an expensive and potentially ruinous business for the collector who must have everything ("guilty, m'lord"), but which may offer something different again in terms of content or format. And, let's be honest, one can never have too much material from Hugin in one's Castle after all...!

This Smell The Stench pressing of "Nargothrond" is an excellent example of the current trend. Sporting the same cover artwork as the Wulfrune Worxx pressing (though this time presented in glorious technicolour), the songs are the same as the original demo although put into a different running order, presumably to accommodate the limited playing time of the 3" disc format.

Musically this is the same release as that reviewed in Honour and Darkness on 8 December 2011, so there are no surprises to spring on you on that count and Nazgul encourages you to revisit the earlier post should you need more details. In short, it's a great release and well worth an investment of time and money.

Nazgul has occasionally pondered what some of the earlier demos would look like with a colour cover rather than their original black and white ones, and if they would all look this good then a limited edition box-set reissue of early tapes with colour inlays must surely be something to lobby W.A.R. Productions about!

And what odds are there on a special CDr box-set to reissue the miscellany of strange, scarce and downright unique demos from the likes of Ill, Ravenclaw, Raben Nacht, Heimatleid and/or the infamous Guts For Dinner? Well, bloody small Nazgul would imagine ... but he'd be first in the queue to buy one!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

THE ANCIENT PATH



Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title:
The Ancient Path
Format: A 10CDr box-set released in 2012 by Kadaath Records (Russia), cat ref Kadaath 17. Each disc has screen printed artwork orginally seen on the band's "Feuer and Eis" demo of 1998. This release sees ten early demos from the 1999-2000 period being remastered and reissued upon an unsuspecting world.
Edition: Only 10 unnumbered box-sets produced

Track Listing:

CD1 "Sanguis/Blut"
Remastered Version:
01 - Pax Vobiscum
02 - Libera Me
03 - Silentium
04 - Nosferat
Original Version:
05 - Ozeane Der Zeit
06 - Kalte Nacht
07 - Die Karpaten
08 - Mitternacht
09 - Der Pfähler
10 - Sehe Deinen Tod
11 - Ein Meer Aus Schmerzen
12 - Herr über Die Winde
13 - Aufstieg Verlorener Seelen
14 - Blut I
15 - Blut II
16 - Apokalypse
17 - Ewigkeit
18 - Zuende

CD2 "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (Part 1)"
01 - Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten
02 - Schönheit Gibt Es Nur Im Kampf
03 - Schwerter & Äxte
04 - Blut V

CD3 "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (Part 2)"
01 - Heimfahrt Nach Hördaland
02 - Barbarenblut
03 - Bußfertigkeit
04 - Anämisch In Einem Universum Aus Blut
05 - Heidek´s Ende
06 - Blut VI

CD4 "Die Rückkehr Zum Pfade (Part 1)"
01 - Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten
02 - Aufmarsch Der Todeskrieger
03 - Von Blinkenden Schwertern
04 - Asgard

CD5 "Die Rückkehr Zum Pfade (Part 2)"
01 - In Der Nacht Des Todesscheins
02 - So finster Wie Es Niemals War
03 - Heimfahrt Nach Hördaland
04 - Schönheit Gibt Es Nur Im Kampf

CD6 "Ancient Tales (Part 1)"
01 - March Into Battle
02 - The Riddle Of Steel
03 - Fire & Ice
04 - Mjölnir
05 - Hel - Godess Of The Underworld
06 - Song To Hall Up High
07 - Blood On My Sword
08 - Born In The Fight
09 - The Unknown Land
10 - The Eternal Halls Of Valhalla
11 - Ancient Tales
12 - Myrkvid
13 - Riding The Wind
14 - Triumph In Every Fight

CD7 "Ancient Tales (Part 2)"
01 - Hlidskjalf
02 - Wotans Ehre
03 - Fimbulwinter Part I
04 - Mjölnir (different version)
05 - Steel Meets Steel
06 - Fimbulwinter Part II
07 - Heroism
08 - When The Gods Come To Earth
09 - Fimbulwinter III

CD8 "In The Mystic Forest"
01 - Menegroth (Intro)
02 - Mordor
03 - You & Me
04 - Khazad-Dum
05 - Mithrandir
06 - The Sign Of Nargothrond & Nargothrond
07 - Zwergengesang

CD9 "Der Ring Der Macht (Part 1)"
01 - Durch Folde & Fenmark
02 - In Hollow Halls
03 - Mettanye
04 - Am Stein Von Erech
05 - Regungslose Leidenschaft
06 - Sternenpracht

CD10 "Der Ring Der Macht (Part 2)"
01 - The Durnisday
02 - The Final Battle
03 - Fleischeslust
04 - In Tiefster Finsternis
05 - Zwergengesang (different version)
06 - Gollum´s Rätsel


It's rare that guilty feelings sweep over Nazgul as he surveys his collection, but on this occasion they creep up on him unbidden like a nagging conscience in the dead of night. These retrospective box-sets from Kadaath Records (whose parent company is Rigorism Productions) cover a distinct period in the early history of Hrossharsgrani. The demos thus captured are for the most part hard to come by, even allowing for tape reissues of some in recent years, and the existence of this material in CDr format is very rare indeed. With only 10 boxes existing, it would seem only fair to allow those without access to the original recordings the chance to get their hands on this material: despite such laudable aims Nazgul has still gone and bought one in order to keep his collection up to date. Sorry, everyone...!

By far and away the biggest single compilation of Hrossharsgrani material yet seen, it seemd only right and proper to get some thoughts direct from the mouth f Hugin himself about the background to this release:

Q1: How did you choose which albums to include in the box?
A1: I chose the albums because I thought they fitted best together, they are mostly in the Barbarian Black Metal style that Hrossharsgrani did between 1999-2001, except "Blut/Sanguis" from 1998/99. This last album could be the long introduction to the whole box-set, and it includes the rare original recordings + the remastered 2008 version. All the other stuff includes the 2010 remastered versions + bonus tracks from those early demos!

Q2: Are other early Hross demos not included (e.g. Feuer & Eis, Kampf, Lieder Aus Mittelerde, Sagen & Gedichte etc) likely to feature in a similar box-set in the future?
A2: Yeah Mr. Nazgul, this is a very good idea for another box set - that stuff is even more rare than the first lot and I have tons of unreleased Bonus stuff from those recording sessions too - definitely a good idea for an future release! I have a lot of cool pictures taken in this period of time too to use for some nice cover art!!

Q3: What was it like revisiting this early material after such a long time?
A3: It was absolutely great to remaster these old recordings - a kind of time slip, I really enjoyed it a lot. I have to say that I think this was the best age in the whole Hrossharsgrani era, it's rough and epic together. I always wanted to do something new with the "Der Pfad..." recordings, and now I'm really happy with the result. Rigorism Productions really did a great job too - thx guys!

Q4: Do you have a personal favourite album or song from these recordings?
A4: The 'Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten' track is my fave from all the songs, and "Ancient Tales" is my fave album, it ever was and it ever will be!!

Q5: How long did it take to produce the final recordings, and what sort of work is involved in creating a 10CD set?
A5: As I mentioned I did the remastering back in 2010 and it took just a few weeks to get them all remastered! To choose the albums and create the cover art was very fast; I think I decided to do it in that way in just 1 day and all was finished! Rigorism also did a fast job and the release was finished and sent from Russia with hate in just 2 weeks!

Q6: What is the artwork based on?
A6: The artwork is based on an old picture of Helen of Troy. In Greek mythology she was the daughter of Zeus and Nemesis, and the picture is painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style by Frederick Sandys. The background picture is the same as I used for the "Ancient Tales" CDr release. Incidentally, the title of the box-set "The Ancient Path" is a mixture of "Ancient Tales" and "Der Pfad..." (Pfad = Path).

Q7: Why only 10 copies of the box-set: will it be enough to go around (or is this a label decision)?!
A7: I think 10 copies are enough for this kind of box set - we need to see first if people still like the old Hrossharsgrani stuff as much as I do :-)

Whilst you would need to be certifiable to try to sit and play all ten discs back to back, dipping in and out of the set over the last week has revealed a huge improvement in sound and some great memories invoked by these early songs which - as Hugin notes - are very much in the blistering black metal style that the band was known for back at the turn of the Millennium.

The extent of material that this compilation encompasses can be seen from the photograph below of the original releases - this 10CD set is certainly a lot more portable, that's for sure!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A HAUND VOI DRECK



Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: A Haund Voi Dreck
Format: A CDr in a handmade black digipack, released on 2011 by Steel Blazes Records (Russia), cat ref SBR15. Colour stickers on either side of the digipak form the front, rear and inner artwork, whilst the disc itself is screen printed.
Edition: Limited to 50 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. S' Perchtenzeit 1.55
02. Pestnogl 4.12
03. Die Glockn Von Dahoam 3.29
04. Aufi Zua 4.31
05. A Haund Voi Dreck (1) 4.48
06. Schworzeichn 4.02
07. Berg 2.27
08. A Haund Voi Dreck (2) 7.12
09. Kuah 1.24
10. Nocht 2.19
11. Kum Mit Mit Uns 1.41
12. Wurzlmann (Intro) 3.04
13. Wurzlmann (Extended Uraungst version) 11.51
14. Wurzlmann (Wurzelwelt version) 14.41

Well now, here's a treat for the ears!

Described by Steel Blazes as "experimental industrial/ambient with guitar touches and clean vocals", and by Nazgul as "Hugin's camp-fire songs", this collection of Alpine-Folk melodies brings together tracks from recent Hrefnesholt demo releases (notably the "Wurzlmann" and "Kruez" tapes) and adds a sprinkling of new songs and alternative versions to the mix.

And quite frankly, you really should own a copy of this tremendous album. Bringing limited edition tape-only tracks together onto a single CD is always a good idea, as you get the enhanced sound and the prospect of different artwork to enjoy. Whilst the limitation on this particular Steel Blazes release is only 50 copies (of which this is #1/50) there still seem to be some copies available for sale both via the label and via Hugin's Facebook pages, so well worth paying a quick visit there to grab one while you can.

The title of the album has defeated the best online translation software, but Hugin tells me that it is Upper Austrian dialect and means "A Fist Full Of Dust (or Thrash)". The cover artwork gives us another example of the phenomena of Pareidolia, the psychological condition where random stimuli (often an image or sound) are perceived as significant - the common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, faces in trees or on Mars), and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. Have a look at that cover picture - what image do you interpret it as...?

Nazgul's reference to 'folk' in the context of this release shouldn't be construed to mean that Hugin has straddled the mighty Bat-Öx (© Kerrang!) and started to emulate the mighty Skyclad in melding furious fiddles with thrash metal. Oh no, this is a more leisurely and measured approach involving the breathing of new life into a traditional form of music and thus reawakening the 'Perchten' - wild pagan spirits widespread throughout the Austrian countryside. Consequently above the intermittent crackle of flames and the howling of the wild wind the listener becomes immersed in the rhythms of traditional wooden percussion instruments, the throaty vocalisation and spoken word passages of forest shamen, organic and haunting keyboard melodies and sporadic guitar parts, and a whole heap of woodland atmosphere.

Whilst this genre as a whole is largely new to Nazgul, this approach at times feels similar to that employed by French Pyrenean band Stille Volk, whose pagan-themed music evoked nature, myths, magical beings and sorcery, albeit in far more of an avant-garde (read: unlistenable) fashion than Hrefnesholt has crafted.

Steel Blazes have made a good fist of producing a tidy package for this album too, with the hand-crafted nature of the digipak rather suiting the rustic feel of the music. It's a shame that all of the teeth in the tray holding the CD fell out of Nazgul's copy on arrival, but then again perhaps this was a cunning marketing ploy to convey a 'toothless old man of the woods' vibe?!

In fact, "A Haund Voi Dreck" is one of very select group of Hrefnesholt releases to be released in this format, as the historical output of the band has largely been on cassette. The last CD release was 2010's "Uraungst", and apart from tracks on the "The First Evil Spell..." in 2007 compilation you'd need to go right back to 2001 and the "Wolf" demo to find another CDr pressing from the band, apart from the occasional unique one-off pressing for fans, such as "Nordlandschlacht", and songs on compilation albums like "Oak Folk".

As always, it never fails to amaze me that Hugin can convincingly create such a varied body of music across his many bands. The present musical direction of Hrefnesholt has taken the project away its early days of being a largely ambient-styled affair (Uruk Hai-lite, in some respects) to becoming a distinctive and innovative band with a genuine 'rootsy' organic feel. Contrast this to the industrial-hell of Bonemachine, the ethereal wisps of contemporary Uruk Hai, the mixture of neoclassical/black metal drama that was Elisabetha, or the electro-pop sensibilities of Ceremony of Innocence. Truly extraordinary that one man could master so many different genres with such apparent ease.

The bottom line is that any new Hrefnesholt release is cause for celebration: Well, in fact, any new release from Hugin at all is cause for celebration. The point is that in bring together some rare material and adding lots more to the CD, this represents both excellent value for money as well as a sensory experience not to be missed by any intrepid explorers in the Hugin universe.

And that means you, doesn't it.....?

Saturday, 3 March 2012

DARKNESS (PART IV)


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Darkness (Part IV)
Format: Formally a tape-only release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2010, cat ref WW172 although a CDr version does exist that compiles all parts of the "Darkness" series, but only within the very limited edition box-set version on WAR Productions. This tape comes with Wulfrune's standard black and white copied inlays.
Edition: 66 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Side 1:
01. The Last Ray Of Light (part I) 29.52
Side 2:
02. The Last Ray Of Light (part II) 19.58

And so to the fourth part of the epic "Darkness" series, last covered on this Blog back on 29 September 2011 with - believe it or not - 'Part III'.

'Part IV: The Last Ray Of Light' is a curious affair. Very dark and sombre in places, with plenty of chilling vocal effects and disturbing synth parts to give you the utter conviction that you - the intrepid listener - is embarking on a fateful journey into the deepest caverns of despair...

Only nearing the end of Side Two does a more uplifting keyboard melody kick-in (and by this time we've reached the 40 minute mark overall) to give some hope that there is a way out of these pits of despondency, and that the last ray of light mentioned in the title might be an avenue through which to effect an escape, rather than a trap to lure you to an early grave! Ultimate salvation comes through a neat change to a keyboard sound not dissimilar to a church organ which punctuates the gloom with occasional - but very welcome - shafts of light and hope.

In overall terms it's a epic expanse of claustrophobic sound, never quite giving you the impression that all is quite right in the world due to the unsettling nature of the track. Unlike much of the Uruk Hai output of this period there is a lot of, well, 'darkness' surrounding the music here. And, given the theme, one has to conclude quite rightly so!

Goodness only knows what the final part of this series will sound like! Nazgul has been saving 'Part V' for a special occasion, and who knows - that day might be just around the corner.

Curiously this particular instalment came in a tape issue of 66 copies, unlike the preceding 'Part III' that was limited to a run of just 33 tapes. Quite why this difference exists is unclear, although the general lack of any of the 'Darkness' series being offered for resale online suggests that either all the parts sold out quickly and nestle happily in collections around the globe, or alternatively that Wulfrune Worxx would welcome an email order from you to reduce their stockpile. In any event, the more accessible nature of this cassette (in volume terms, not necessarily musically) is something to be celebrated. Nazgul is delighted to note that his copy of the demo is #1 of the 66 produced.

Darkness continues to cover the land, and the contents of the "Darkness" box-set continue to entertain and enthrall.