Monday, 23 April 2012


Title: Middle Earth Part III: The Orc Inferno
Format: Cassette tape release on Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2011, cat ref WW299.  The tape comes with the 'standard' Wulfrune presentation featuring a good quality black and white copied inlay.  
Edition: 66 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Side A
01. The Orc Inferno  
Side B 
02. The Orc Inferno  

Here we have Part III in Hugin's 'Middle Earth' saga, a series which so far on Honour and Darkness has garnered one hit ("Part I - The Hither Lands") and one rare miss ("Part II - The Outer Lands").  Let's see which way this third instalment tips the balance...

But before we do - just for some unnecessary suspense - a quick word on the artwork for this release.  Given the sub-title "The Orc Inferno" it comes as little surprise to see a motley crew of orcs featured on the inlay (indeed, one of them looks suspiciously like Motley Crue's own Mick Mars, but that's another story).  None of them appear to be on fire, however, which then begs the question of where the 'inferno' fits into the overall theme.  

So, out comes Nazgul's battered old dictionary, and an inferno is defined as 'a place or condition suggestive of hell, especially with respect to human suffering or death: e.g. the inferno of battle' or simplistically as 'a place of fiery heat or destruction'.  Hmmmm, sounds like the vast cauldrons of heated oil on the battlements of Castle Nazgul have got themselves a new nickname - 'Inferno Towers' has a nice ring to it.

Anyway, back to the plot, and the inferno in question is therefore presumed to be the blazing fire of orcish battle as opposed to a widespread conflagration of the green-skinned brethren.  Carrying this expectation one might imagine the music would match this scene, being full of incendiary ferocity and heat-seared battle-samples.  Well, you would be quite wrong!  Hugin has created something quite gentle and atmospheric here, and rather than going for the throat the lengthy recording transports across a number of ambient levels with a sensitivity of touch quite out of keeping for anything with the word 'Orc' in the title.

It's quite haunting in places, and very much one of those tracks that will play out in your mind's-eye, creating vivid scenes from the realm of Middle-Earth.  I think we can safely score this one as a 'hit' too, tilting the balance back into credit for the Middle-Earth series as a whole (so far - there's more parts to come, folks!) and proving to be an unexpectedly relaxing listen.

And let's take a moment to give some kudos where it's due for Wulfrune Worxx and Kommando Skogen, who tirelessly and with no fuss whatsoever continues to issue these great demos from Hugin.

Let's end today's post with some random orc-related trivia!  Do you know that Tolkien once expressed an intention to change the spelling to 'ork', but the only place where that spelling occurred in his lifetime was in the published version of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, in the poem Bombadil Goes Boating: "I'll call the orks on you: that'll send you running"?  What's that you say - you did know?  Pah!  

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