Tuesday, 6 March 2012


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.....?

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