Sunday, 6 May 2012

DAGOR DAGORATH


Band: URUK HAI 
Title: Dagor Dagorath
Format: 2 formats of this release currently exist.  There is a pressing in 3" CDr format, released in 2012 on Smell The Stench (Australia), with glossy colour inserts and plain white disc.  A tape version has also been released on Wulfrune Worxx (France) in 2012, cat ref WW321, with a copied blue-coloured paper cover. The songs were recorded in 2011.  
Edition: The CD pressing came in an edition of 11 unnumbered copies, whilst the tape version is limited to 25 copies.

Track Listing: 
01. Dagor Dagorath 15.15
02. After The Apocalypse (Outro) 1.09

Probably the nearest thing that Uruk Hai has done to releasing a 'single' in recent times, although the odds of this charting in the national playlists are probably as slim as England's chance of winning the European football championships this summer.  Alas, on both counts.

Despite sounding like the arch-villain in a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, the improbably tongue-twisting title derives from our old friend Tolkien: The Dagor Dagorath (Sindarin for 'Battle of Battles' or 'Final Battle') is a fictional battle in the history of Middle-Earth.  As Tolkien's works were conceived as a fictional "forgotten history" of the world, the Dagor Dagorath represents the coming End of the World, and is often referred to as simply "The End".  This is the broadly the fantasy equivalent of Ragnarok in Norse mythology ('Doom of the Gods', also called Gotterdammerung, meaning the end of the cosmos) although the latter carries a pan-Universal connotation that is even more bleak and foreboding.  However you slice it, though, bad news all round.

As Tolkien originally wrote it, The Silmarillion ends with a prophecy by Mandos about the Dagor Dagorath. The published Silmarillion ends instead with the recounting of the voyage of Eärendil the Mariner (not to be confused with the Ancient Mariner, whose rhymes were apparently somewhat better...) due to an editorial decision by Christopher Tolkien. However, references to the final battle remain in the published Silmarillion, such as a statement at the end of the Akallabêth that Ar-Pharazôn and his mortal warriors who had set foot on Aman were buried by falling hills, imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten until the "Last Battle and Day of Doom".

Fortunately, despite its gloomy portents, "Dagor Dagorah" shows no sign of being the last will and testament of Uruk Hai, and instead Hugin's characteristic musical interludes provides a vivid diversion from everyday life.

Whilst you might imagine a musical representation of the end of the world to be full of the sounds of earth cracking, the seas boiling and the animals melting - generally the wailing and gnashing of teeth all round - Hugin's version presents a far more dignified end, and frankly if the world ended to the strains of this song, we could do far worse!

The title track begins with one of Hugin's characteristic introductions, gentle melodies and ambient nuances floating around in the air in all directions, like frogs in a tornado.  This all changes at the 6:23 mark, as a spiky guitar riff kicks in the metaphorical door to the song, complete with grim vocals from Hugin.  The buzz of the guitar reminded Nazgul of the same tone heard on the Diabolical Masquerade albums, and it gives this song a real hike in the quality and appeal stakes.  Shortly after the nine mark comes the sound of battle - although a relatively small skirmish by the sound of it, let us go with the flow and assume this to be the apocalypse in full swing! - followed by a final ambient segment of mellow yet spooky instrumentation that leaves you in just the perfect state of mind for the rest of the day.  This song is possibly Nazgul's favourite recording from Hugin right at this moment in time.

'After The Apocalypse' lives up to the billing of being an outro piece, as it's very brief and in some ways adds little to the epic song that preceded it.  Then again, it might well have some literary significance or other relevance in signifying a new dawn after the horrors that have gone before for all I know.  Any excuse to hear a minute or so of Hugin's magic on the keyboards is excuse enough for Nazgul - and a mini symphony of brooding instrumentation is your lot for this song.

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

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