Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The 500th post!

500 posts old today

It's taken about 3 and a half years to get to this point, but today's post is the 500th in the short history of Honour and Darkness!  From an idea conceived in 2009 beside a swimming pool in Mauritius (with the inspirational assistance of a few glasses of export strength Guinness) to the heady heights of inhabiting its own little part of the internet, it's been a fascinating trip from this side and - I hope - from yours too.

To celebrate this auspicious event, Nazgul is going to take a little wander down memory lane and revisit some of his personal highlights from the last few years. 

And to begin with, of course, we have to start with Alex "Hugin" Wieser himself: the Middle-Earth maestro, the Austrian archer and other such alliterative nom-de-plume.  There's no doubt in my mind that one of the reasons that this Blog has prospered and gained a small yet loyal following is because of Hugin himself.  Part of being a success in any venture comes in part from being willing to be hands-on and looking after your customers/fan-base, but Hugin really cranks up this philosophy to the max and has been doing long before Nazgul was fortunate enough to become friends with him.  

One simple illustration of this comes through the number of individualised editions of releases that he's made.  They are quite amazing in both number and quality, and I'm sure there will be many readers of Honour and Darkness who prize their own personal one-off edition of a particular demo or album.  Occasionally Nazgul has been able to feature these editions, where the owners have kindly shared their items (for instance, you may recall the Eismond example) and even more rarely such an item has actually managed to find its way into the Castle collection: the odd one or two have appeared online for sale over the years, whilst very occasionally Nazgul has been able to purchase one from the owner.  

Nazgul has also been extremely lucky to have received some amazing items from Hugin over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me the time and effort he puts into this sort of enterprise, especially as he is plenty busy enough with his bands as it is. Here'sa photo of a few of these unique items, some of which have yet to be covered in detail on these pages.  Mouth-watering stuff to be sure....

There are some other extraordinary items in the collection yet to be featured on these pages, let me tell you, and as time allows over the summer Nazgul will try and slip a few into the schedule to show you.  And we're not just talking straightforward CD or tape releases here either, but other large and substantial pieces that have a very close link to Hugin himself.  In fact, to kick off the next 500 posts Nazgul will share with you in his next update a truly remarkable item that is a highlight of the entire collection, and which deserves a special post of its own...

On the other side of this equation, it's not all a one-way stream of traffic into Castle Nazgul, oh no! Occasionally the odd nugget finds its way to W.A.R. Productions too!  This has included a copy of the rare Bonemachine "Vogelfrei"wooden box-set (it turned out Hugin didn't have one), and a specially commissioned solid silver badge depicting the Uruk Hai logo, which Nazgul forged in the furnaces beneath the Castle (well - commissioned a goldsmith to make, in fact, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story!) of which only two copies exist: one made for Hugin, and one for one of his fiercest underground supporters, Skogen at Wulfrune Worxx.

A particular area that's been really good fun over the life of this Blog has been making friends online with a variety of fans, bands and record label owners during the course of researching posts or responding to emails.  Of course there have been some real characters encountered on the way: the ever-crazy Keegan over at SkullFuckingMetal in Canada, the equally crazy Leigh Stench down-under at Smell The Stench, gentleman Jim Kirkwood, the darkly vampyric Neon Ästhet, prehistoric Klat Ba, plus a host of other (sometimes) weird but always wonderful folk.  It's been a genuine honour to have been able to swap emails for the interviews undertaken with Vinterriket, Dysonsphere, Orcrist, and many others!  

And, of course, gigantic hails of greeting to all of you, my honoured readers,with thanks to all of you who drop me the odd email of encouragement orsimply just pop in to look at the pages from time to time.  It never fails to give Nazgul a warm glow to see on the world map icon that someone is viewing Honour and Darkness from a far flung part of the globe, be it the USA, Mexico, Europe or further afield.
There have been some significant finds for the collection that never would have happened without this network that's built up over time. Let's remind ourselves of some of these: the rare split promo CDr "Eine dunkle Symbiose von Blut & Nacht" that came through Azazel of Nachmahr; rare artwork for releases on the AMF Productions and Wulfrune Worxx labels courtesy of Alexander and Skogen respectively; the split CDr between Uruk Hai and Forgotten Land supplied by Lord Tetrarch; and a yet-to-be-reviewed DVD for Uruk Hai's "Felagund"song, produced by fellow fans Michele and Nick from Orange, California. The list goes on and on, and it's hard to look at a shelf in the library without seeing items with such connections.

And Honour and Darkness can even claim to have played a small part in the ongoing legacy of Hugin's music in as far as it became a catalyst in the reconvening of the professional relationship between Hugin and Skogen during the early days of the Wulfrune Worxx label, effectively reinvigorating the business link that existed during the Chanteloup Creations days and helping in the rash of Uruk Hai (and other) demo tapes that came onto the scene circa 2009 and onwards.  One might also reasonably hope that through reading Nazgul's meandering prose the odd soul out there has been tempted to part with some of their own money and buy a release or two, which is also a bonus in my book.

As part of these 500th post celebrations Nazgul has been busily gathering together a few genuinely rare pieces to auction on eBay, giving one lucky person the chance to collect some really desirable items and a choice opportunity to replenish the retirement fund for old ring wraiths.  The photo below shows what's up for grabs, and I've focused upon Uruk Hai as the band of choice given the popularity of this project.  The auction will include a copy of the impossible-to-find "Blutreich" compilation, an original vinyl split 7" pressing of "Schall Und Rauch", some early rare tape demos including "Orcish Battle Hymns" and "Battle Yells", and more besides.  Frankly you'll not find these items offered for sale anywhere else, certainly not as a group, and they would grace and enhance any collection of Hugin's material.  The auction will start after Nazgul has paid a trip to darkest Wales next week, and I'll post an update when it goes live.

With a collection spanning in excess of 500 pieces, a question often asked is what Nazgul's favourite items are.  And the answer will come back that it's virtually impossible to choose just a handful given the wealth of material on offer.  However, as it's a special occasion and since we've not done a post like it for some time, here is something slightly different: Nazgul's Top 5 most expensive items from the extensive Castle vaults, based upon items already featured in the Blog (this caveat becomes relevant when you understand that Nazgul recently dropped over 450 Euros to collect a particular set of items from Hugin, but as I've not posted about them yet I'm holding them for future updates, hence their exclusion!!)

Slightly inhibited by an imperfect memory (some of these purchases were 4 or 5 years ago now) and a need to protect any remaining tatters of my credibility by not recording the actual prices paid, let's just say that the items are featured in ascending order and each piece will have cost in excess of *gulp* €50.  It may be that the odd item should have crept into this list and has been temporarily forgotten, but what the heck, let's roll the dice anyway and see what comes up:

#5 - Dieu Du Tonnere [Bonemachine]
A lot of money to pay for a card-shaped 3"CD in a large cardboard box, but as a limited edition of 5 copies this was quite a pricey thing back in the day.  To be fair, it's the one and only copy that I've ever seen so that in one sense justifies the premium unless, God forbid, that this is ever re-released!  The title refers to the God of Thunder, who in Germanic mythology is of course Gene Simmons...oh no, hang on, I mean Thor!

#4 - Vogelfrei wooden-box [Bonemachine]
A second Bonemachine item in this list, you cry - Nazgul, what gives!?  Well, look at the quality of this box-set, and it's hard to deny that it certainly is worth a good price for the work that's gone into it.  Being a band unlikely to sell a lorry-load of copies you can also see why the label upped the price on this one too, just to cover costs.  Comparing this to equivalent box-sets that you see on the internet for other obscure bands this probably works out as pretty fair value at the end of the day, and you end up with a four-disc set of material to enjoy as well.

#3 - March To War 12" vinyl [Uruk Hai]
This was another die-hard collectors release of just 5 copies, but as the songs were readily available across a number of Uruk Hai releases the incentive for purchase is less the content and more the concept.  It's rare for Hugin to make vinyl releases, and rarer still for them to be Uruk Hai related.  Worth the money? As an investment for the future probably not, but as a way to support the artist - definitely!

#2 - Darkness box-set [Uruk Hai]
Another box-set, and Uruk Hai once again. Containing the entire Darkness saga (or is it.....a new box-set reissue rather casts doubt on this?!) plus some goodies from the fertile imagination of Mr Wieser.  I know of at least one fellow collector who rues the missed chance to have purchased this item, deterred by strict Californian legislation prohibiting the importation of fruit, vegetables and the like into the State and the prospect of his purchase being impounded if discovered. Bummer!

#1 - Another Time wooden-box [Bonemachine]
Bizarrely, given the extensive range of releases in the collection, this is still the single most expensive item purchased.  Additionally, the cost was compounded by the expense of having to get it shipped with recorded delivery from Brazil, with extra import duties to pay on it once it had cleared Customs & Excise (bah!) on it's way to the Castle.  The things you do to maintain a collection. Again, however, Nazgul has yet to see another for sale although we've been lucky enough - through the goodwill of Blog readers once again, plus the splendid folks at The Eastern Front label - to see some of the other unique badges that each of the 7 boxes contained.

Of course, having taken the trouble to compile this list it's now a certainty that some other desirable release will appear with an even higher price that blows a hole in the order above,but if nothing else it keeps collecting interesting!

To finish, the big question: can there possibly be enough to keep Honour and Darkness busy for another 3 and a half years?!  Well, assuming that it's 'business as usual' at W.A.R.Productions and Hugin maintains his voracious release schedule then it's entirely possible, and I hope that you will continue to join me on the journey.  Of course, Castle Nazgul may well go bankrupt in the interim trying to keep up with it all, but it's a risk worth taking!

In the meantime, to spread the good word still further, if every current reader recommended this Blog to just two friends then between us we will generate yet more interest in Hugin's music, which has to be a good result.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support, and see you in August for post #501...

Sunday, 29 July 2012

MARCH TO WAR - update

Title: March To War
Reason for update: Reissued 3"CDr pressing of this demo on the Smell The Stench label (Australia) in 2012, no catalogue reference.
Edition: Limited to 11 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. March To War
02. Death Is Not The Only Path

Nazgul posted a piece on the die-hard fan vinyl edition of the "March To War" back on 23 March of this year, and in keeping with the recent trend of reissues of early Uruk Hai material it comes as no surprise to see a 3" CDr version of this EP arriving on the scene by way of Australian label Smell The Stench, following hard on the footsteps of the demo being including in the recent "Everlasting Wrath Of The Tyrant" box-set.

Only 11 copies of this pressing were made, which adds hardly anything to the overall total of available copies of the demo allowing for the aforementioned 5 vinyl copies, but at least gave a keen and alert Huginophile a sporting chance to adding this particular release to their collection (did you manage to get one?!)  As previously recounted, there's no need to despair if you missed out on both of these very limited editions as the pair of songs have appeared on a number of Uruk Hai's other releases, but for completeness sake it's always nice forthe obsessive-compulsives amongst us to lay hands on the harder to find stuff like this.

An action-packed cover greets you first off the bat, which to be fair is actually better seen here as a photograph (with some attendant lightening of the image) than in the flesh - so to speak - as the glossy card cover is rather dark and consequently it's hard to see the specific details of the scene.  Or perhaps old Nazgul is getting ... well, old?  Nonetheless, it's a fine cover and sets off the demo nicely.

As with many other recent Smell TheStench releases there is minimal information on the inlay other than the title and song details, and interestingly this particular 3" disc has had no second pressing as yet: we've seen a trend of this recently, with a first pressing on STS followed almost immediately by a second on the Polish TryBy label.

Even though these two songs are now pretty familiar they are still worth a listen, and the collectability of this release makes the effort to search it out worthwhile (assuming any are even left for sale at this stage...?)

And did you realise that this is the 499th post in the short history of Honour and Darkness?  Amazing but true, so we'll have something of a reflective post next time around to celebrate the 500th entry!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

W.A.R. Productions upcoming events

Updated Davenport/Matera gig venues

What's all this then, Nazgul?  It's some shameless promotion for two upcoming events being organised by Hugin's W.A.R. Productions label

Here's a quick update following the Manwe post of last night: if you're in the north of England in September you really should try to get to see the Rich Davenport / Joe Matera gigs that are being promoted through Hugin's W.A.R. Productions label.  There are three shows that have been arranged, and the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that there is a venue change in the poster above, so make sure you're heading to the correct place!  Bolton and Lancaster will very probably never be the same again...

Also of note is that the gig at the Blackjack Casino will also feature Blues sensation Trevor Sewell, who has also recently released a CD on the W.A.R. label.

If you're unable to get to these events (and it's a great chance to meet and greet Hugin in person, so why wouldn't you go along, and enjoy some awesome tunes at the same time?) then there's an alternative event planned by W.A.R. for earlier in September - the 1st Multi-Cultural Acoustic Festival in Austria on 22 September.

Joe Matera is set to play there, as the flyer below will confirm, and doubtless Hugin will be shaking his stuff along with the assembled masses too.

There's no excuse this September not to meet the man himself!

The Austrian event also has the bonus that 100% of the proceeds are being donated to a children's care program in Ghana, so an extra incentive to dig deep and support a worthy cause.

The first such festival, and a worthy cause

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Song Title: Tears In A Burning Eye

Something a little different today,as this post concerns a single song rather than a demo or formal album release. However, given the dearth of Manwe material over the past few years Nazgul has bitten the bullet and decided to get this apparently long-dormant project back into the glare of the (fiery) public eye.

The potted history to date is as follows: the original Manwe project (formed of Hugin along with Padre Adamo) release their first and only demo "First Battle" through the Ukrainian label De Profundis in 2005, in both tape and (rarer) CDr pressing.  You can find the original review on Honour and Darkness on 15 February 2009. Following this release an all encompassing silence followed, and then a few years later this original line-up went off in separate directions. Fast forward to circa 2011 and Manwe is given the kiss of life as Hugin reanimates the project with a new member on board - Rich Davenport, ex-See Red and Atomkraft.

The rumour mill suggests that this new incarnation of Manwe have been busily recording material, and indeed on the band's MySpace page a new song called 'Tears in a Burning Eye' had been streamed for quite a while now at www.myspace.com/trollmatal/stream and was intended to be a contribution to the compilation CD/DVD "The First Ring Volume Two" due sometime in 2012 on the Nocturnal Production label (for a review of "Volume One" see Honour and Darkness for 9 October 2009. A recent visit to the MySpace site actually shows that 'Tears In A Burning Eye' is no longer actually streaming, making this post a little untimely (oops!), but other goodies await you should you visit!"

So let's take a walk across the drawbridge of Castle Nazgul, down through the bone-strewn marches beyond the Castle walls, taking a listen to 'Tears...' on the iPod as we stroll.  First impressions are good - from the outset, the immediate thing to strike you is that there is proper singing on this release, both melodic and tuneful! This clearly is the influence of string-bender Davenport, who - as it turns out - can sing as well as play.  That gives the material a wholly different dimension from the guttural vocals of Padre Adamo.  The next striking thing is the relative commercialism of the music - not in a 'sell your soul to the devil for five minutes of fame' sort of way, but just in the sense of there being a clearer sense of melody in the music from the previous iteration of the band.  Doubtless the influence of that man Davenport again, who in a recent online interview with The Metal Review cited his influences as the NWOBHM (look it up if you don't know!) and bands such as Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash.

You're left with a hummable song with a memorable chorus which - with all due respect to other projects within the Hugin canon - hasn't always been the end result when a song finishes. This bodes rather well for the Mawne project as a whole you would have to feel, and it will be interesting to see how things develop as the year progresses.

Speaking of which, the superpowers of Wieser/Davenport should be coming together in Autumn this year when Hugin invades the UK once again as part of an extended reign of terror, and your old Uncle Nazgul will try to get the inside scoop on what's going on in the Manwe camp and when you might be able to thrust money their way to purchase an album!  

Part of the reason for Hugin's visit is to witness the first UK gigs of Rich Davenport and W.A.R Productions artist Joe Matera, which should be something very special indeed.  Why not try to get yourself along to join in the fun and meet your heroes...

In the meanwhile, check out Manwe's pages to sample other aural delights for yourself.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

An interview with ... Dysonsphere

Vyranis, of Dysonsphere

Following Nazgul's last post concerning the Eismond/Dysonsphere split release, it seemed like a good opportunity to get into that seldom seen part of Honour and Darkness - the interview - and see what was the back-story behind this album.  Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the very cool Vyranis from Dysonsphere, and his thoughts on the album, his project, and more besides....

Welcome to Honour and Darkness, Vyranis
Hails to you and the whole Honour and Darkness connection!

Q1. Can you tell us something about Dysonsphere - about yourself, and where and when you formed this project, etc?
A1. Firstly let me thank you for this interview.  Dysonsphere is a one man project by me and it is the way to show my dreams and my fantasies. I want to create a sound that is psychedelic and hypnotic and I think that I made it good so far with the cold and melancholic atmosphere. Dysonsphere was founded in the year 2011.

Q2. The band name comes from the realms of physics, I believe?  What's your connection there?
A2. Well... the Dysonsphere is one of the biggest illusions of researchers. Humanity gets more and more insane with their ideas and inventions and that is the exactly the meaning of this Project name. I hate humanity for it and I want it to end.

Q3. What is the philosophy behind your band and music - do you have a particular message or statement?
A3. There is no deep philosophy in the project or in each song. No. it is only the possibility, to do what I love - music!  I digest my past with this music, you hear my past in the sad, melancholic melodies. There is something cold in my heart that has to break free, and that is the reason for Dysonsphere. If there is a philosophy, then it is: 'You have to know the fucking black side of life to live it carefully'.

Q4. Tell us a little about some of whether you have released other demos, and where we might find them?
A4. I didn't release any demos before the split with Eismond, but i can tell you that more will come!

Q5. Your recent split with Eismond has just been released on the Kadaath label - how did you come to the attention of this Russian label, and what is this latest album all about?
A5. The founder of Eismond (Alex Wieser) told me that Kadaath Records is a good idea, and that was true. This split has no really sense: Alex is a very good friend and we just want to make music together, and there it is!

Q6. How pleased are you with the final album, and what reactions have you had from others about it?
A6. Yes I'm very proud about the album but there were no reaction to me, hehe. Dysonsphere is a very unknown project and because of that nobody has heard of it!

Q7. How did your contact with Hugin begin - have you known him long? How did the decision record this split release happen?
A7. Hugin is a  member of the "Circle of Honor", that is a Brotherhood formed by me. There we had our first contact. I asked him about doing a split tape together, and he said 'yes'. By the end it was a split "CD" but that didn't matter.

Q8. What is your opinion on Hugin's own various projects and recordings - do you own any of his work, or have any particular favourites?
A8. Oh, his recordings are awesome! The sound is really powerful and spacial. When I hear it i feel like I am in space on the way to a strange world.

Q9. What is next for Dysonsphere - where do you see the project going from here?
A9. I think there is a big future for Dysonsphere. This music has to be more public and then it will go its way. I hope Dysonsphere can inspire people to open themselves for new things.

Q10. Do you have any message for Hugin via the pages of Honour and Darkness?
A10. No, I can do it all the time. but there is one thing.. I am proud to be part of his music and I'm very thankfull!

Q11. And any message for the readers of Honour and Darkness?
A11. Yes...Sorry for my bad english guys, i hope you can understand me.

Thanks for your time, Vyranis, and best wishes for the future!

You can also check out some more Dysonsphere music through this YouTube link 

Friday, 20 July 2012


Title: Untitled split release with Dysonsphere
Format: Professional CDr release on the Kadaath label (Russia) in 2012, cat ref Kadaath 30.  The screen-printed CDr comes inside a two-sided glossy colour cover.
Edition: 20 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Halos  5.46
02. Xaver  10.20

03. Dragons From Outer Space  15.35
04. Space Death  10.24

OK, so let's address the elephant in the room - what on earth is a Dysonsphere?!

Well, as it turns out it's quite interesting (no, really!).  A 'Dyson sphere' is a hypothetical mega-structure originally described by theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson. Such a "sphere", he theorised, was based on the theory that all technological civilizations constantly increased their demand for energy. He reasoned that if our civilization expanded its energy demands long enough, there would come a time when it demanded the total energy output of the Sun. He proposed a system of orbiting structures (which he referred to initially as a shell) designed to intercept and collect all energy produced by the Sun. Dyson's proposal did not detail how such a system would be constructed, but focused only on issues of energy collection. Dyson is credited with being the first to formalise the concept of this so-called Dyson sphere in his 1960 paper "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infra-Red Radiation", published in the journal Science.  Alas - the number of crafts required to obtain, transmit, and maintain a complete Dyson sphere far exceeds our present-day industrial capabilities so it remains solely in the realm of science fiction.

So there you are - Nazgul told you it was interesting!

All of which has very little to do with Hugin you might say, and you'd be correct other than the fact that this split release with German project Dysonsphere also happens to be the vessel for delivery of the second batch of Eismond demo tracks.  You may recall that back on 16 April 2011 we examined the first Eismond release,"Demo 1/2010", and took stock of its icy coldness in the bleak and barren wastes of tundra unknown.  So cold and barren, in fact, that the project has evidently headed further north: beyond the arctic wastes and upwards into the black, fathomless reaches of outer space, where no one can hear you scream and where distant echoes of Saturn Form Essence demos linger in the Van Allen belt....

The Dysonsphere track 'Halos' maintains the outer space theme if indeed it does refers to the optical phenomenon of halos that are produced by ice crystals creating coloured or white arcs and spots in the sky, many near to the sun or moon.  'Xaver', on the other hand, remains a complete mystery unless it's a reference to the rather obscure film ofthe same name in which an alien lands outside of Munich, whereupon everyone thinks he's just another tourist (of course), leading to a 'naive countryboy' who doesn't realise he's an alien meeting up with him, naming him Alois (ok...) , and taking him to the city with him.  Let's just hope that the alien morphed into something suitably horrible and ate the young fool.

Such goings-on have even less to do with Hugin, so let's move on once again.  The two Dysonsphere songs are rather good actually, particularly 'Halos', and the overall musical effect is like an unholy cocktail comprising 2 parts Ewigkeit (UK),1 part Depeche Mode, and 1 part Ibiza clubland, shaken with a couple of glow-sticks and garnished with an interstellar vibe.  In comparison with such overtly 'danceable' music the Eismond tracks come across as rather pedestrian in tempo, reflecting perhaps a vision of the endless drift through space and time of ambient sound waves as opposed to an all out attack on the dance floor.  These longer songs build in elements of ambient noise, keyboard effects and a mean guitar buzz at various junctures, and manage to generate a sound that differs substantially enough from the remainder of Hugin's other projects to justify publication under the Eismond name.

Through being such lengthy pieces the pair of Eismond songs do fall into that trap of sacrificing punchiness for atmosphere, and in falling onto the same demo as the hyperactive Dysonsphere songs it brings the issue of accessibility into somewhat.  For all that they remain a interesting listen - and the intrepid Huginophile will find much to amuse them in spotting little references and melodies (intentional or otherwise) that seem to come from Hugin's other work - they do pale beside the more effervescent Dysonsphere music.  Talking about spotting references, even the title 'Space Death'seemed to be a familiar one but this is presumably because of the similarity with the title of Bonemachine's outer space adventure, 'Extraterrestrial Death'?!

Taken overall, it's certainly good to see that the Eismond project is alive and well and putting out some interesting music.  Nazgul would certainly listen to the entirety of this demo on a regular basis, so something is obviously going in the right direction.  Should you also wish to join in the experience then a swift purchase is advisable, given the very limited availability.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Radio Rivendell interview

On 25 June 2012 Hugin gave a rare interview to Radio Rivendell - the self-proclaimed 'one and only fantasy radio station in the world playing fantasy music 24-7', and which has been active since 2001. Here's the interview in full, which adds some interesting new information to past interviews reported here on Honour and Darkness.

"Uruk-Hai's concept was born in 1999 by Alexander Wieser (Hugin), who produced a handful of recordings for friends under the band name of Hrossharsgrani. After receiving positive feedback, Uruk-Hai became its own musical entity with influences mainly coming from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Now, 13 years later, the tracks are well received and enjoyed by many of Radio Rivendell's listeners.

Radio Rivendell (RR): Welcome Alexander, thanks for talking to us!

Alex: Thank you for getting in touch! I´m deeply honoured to be a part of Radio Rivendell!

RR: For how many years have you been composing and creating music, and what got you started?

Alex: I started back in 1984 playing in a Punk band called SCHLAGANFALL, we did cover songs but also self composed stuff! After that I played in several Punk and Metal bands till the middle of the 90s In 1998 I decided to start my solo project HROSSHARSGRANI, and in 1999 created a HROSSHARSGRANI tape called "Uruk-hai" Only 6 copies were made for good friends of mine, who told me after listening to that tape that they like it very much. So I decided to start a new project doing this kind of "Battle Ambient" under the name of URUK-HAI.

First I decided to do music only regarding Tolkien's world, but later in 2004 I lost a bit the fascination about it and I started to create Nordic mythology influenced music. I also created a concept album about the ancient Inca culture in South America. But Tolkien Hailz, the fascination about the wonderful world of Tolkien's books comes back to me stronger than ever. The ideology of URUK-HAI I only can say is that I try to create a soundtrack to Tolkien's world as good as possible. Hmmm what you never heard before, I always mix sounds from old URUK-HAI tracks with new ones to create something like a concept through all the releases I´ve ever done...

RR: What musical instruments do you play?

Alex: Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Programming. Nowadays I do more a mix of computer based music and real instruments that makes the typical sound of URUK-HAI I think!

RR: Do you ever use session musicians in your work?

Alex: Yes, a lot of good friends and well-known musicians did guest appearances on several URUK-HAI albums! For example on the upcoming album "And All The Magic An Might He Brought“ we will hear Joe Matera (AUS / Guitar), Rich Davenport (UK / Guitar/Vox), Trevor Sewell (UK / Guitar/ Vox, Pr. Sergiy (Screams),... It gives the music of URUK-HAI much more life and authenticity in my opinion!

RR: Have you performed live?

Alex: I did some live shows in the 80s but not with URUK-HAI yet! There is a plan to do a one song only live acoustic performance with URUK-HAI on a great Acoustic Festival in Linz / Austria in late September 2012. It will be something special. I call it Orcish Music, very shamanic & archaic. This show will be filmed too, to use as bonus for an upcoming release. Joe Matera will come from Australia to play guitar at this gig too!

RR: Why did you choose Tolkien as inspiration for your music?

Alex: I´ve been a huge Tolkien fan since my childhood, and as I listened to some Black Metal bands for the first time like Summoning, Valar, and Druadan Forest in the middle of the 90s, I was really fascinated because I thought "This is the sound of Middle-Earth...", I really had all these pictures of Orcs, Mordor, and Isengard in my mind when I listened to these bands. So it was just a small step to create my own sounds of Middle-Earth too. :-)

RR: What themes are your favourites to write about? For example, the great battles of Middle Earth, or the tragedies of the Silmarillion?

Alex: My all time favourite story is "Of Beren and Luthien“. It is so full of emotion and beauty! But I like very much the story about Durin and Durin´s Halls too. There is so much; the whole world that Tolkien created is full of fascinating stuff, you can pick a little of each I think! The Silmarillion is still my favourite book; there is so much background knowledge in it. It makes the whole of Lord of the Rings much more interesting!
RR: Have any other Tolkien themed bands inspired you?

Alex: As I mentioned before it´s Summoning, Valar, Druadan Forest but also Nargothrond & Heresihra.

RR: You hail from Austria. Have the scenery of the mountains and the folklore of your country affected your musical style?

Alex: Yes for sure, I always get a lot of inspiration being in Nature! The mysticism of a dark green forest or mountains covered in mist inspires me a lot! After I´m back from vacation in the mountains I´m always ready to create a new album, I´m so full of emotion and mystic thoughts and the only way I can share these thoughts with others is through my music! I have another project called HREFNESHOLT it is inspired by nature and mystic folklore too; it's a kind of Dark Side of Folk Music, so to say. :-)

RR: Although the music of Uruk-Hai includes lighter themes, many would describe your style as "avant guarde dark ambient". Would you agree with this?

Alex: Yes you could say this too, but I also have a lot of very epic tracks or Black Metal parts in my music so the style changes each time. That's why I call it often "Soundscapes from Middle-Earth“. The new album for example, will include a lot of Heavy Metal parts too. So we have again a little change in genre!

RR: What is the philosophy behind your music?

Alex: There is no special philosophy behind the music of URUK-HAI it is more based on my personal mood, so you will find in each track I have recorded over the last 13 years the mood of the day I did it! And the mood often depends what I feel when I´m in nature; so maybe the philosophy behind this project is to transfer the mystical mood of nature to the listener...

RR: I think of Uruk-Hai as a soundtrack for Middle Earth. Have you considered other fantasy settings such as Conan's Hyboria?

Alex: Yeah perfect; I call it often a soundtrack for Middle-Earth too!!! I like also the Nordic mythology a lot, that's why some of the URUK-HAI tracks based on these themes too. There is also a very strong connection between Tolkien's novels and the Nordic mythology, which is why it fits perfect with URUK-HAI too in my opinion!

I like Conan a lot, and the Soundtrack Basil Poledouris did is awesome!! I did some cover versions of that soundtrack for the Demo tape & 3"CDr release "The Barbarian“ and both tracks on the split album "~2~“ with Vinterriket are based on the "Secret Of Steel“ story from Conan too! But to be honest I don't like the new Conan movie at all!!!

RR: There was a period when Uruk-Hai left the boundaries of Middle Earth and produced music with themes from Nordic mythology and also the Inca people of South America. What made you decide to do this?

Alex: That's very simple; the "Tawantinsuyu“ album is based on Inca mythology because it was created after a trip to Peru & Bolivia, so you see again I try to transfer the mood I captured there in my music! And as I mentioned before, I think there is a very strong connection between the Nordic mythology and Tolkien. There are also a lot of similar names in Tolkien's universe and the Nordic mythology!

RR: Did you enjoy doing something different?

Alex: Definitely yes!! I always love to go my own way, but I´m also happy when other people like what I did because it never was and will be music for the masses!

RR: You are working on many projects, including other musical concepts besides Uruk-Hai. Could you talk to us about those a little?

Alex: We begin with HROSSHARSGRANI, my first solo project, which I started with Dark Ambient music, then came into Black Metal / Metal, and the last album I did in 2010 with HROSSHARSGANI was Martial Industrial.

EISMOND is a project I run together with Jaron Good from Funeral Fornication, its Melancholic Black Metal.

ELISABETHA is based on 60s Horror movies especially the Hammer Studio Dracula films. I did it together with Uwe Backer but a few years ago he decided to stop doing music so now this project is on ice!

BONEMACHINE (B-MACHINA) was founded under the name HEIMATLEID and its Noise Industrial Music sometimes with Folk elements!

WACH is an high quality Noise Ambient project I run together with Reverend Kim. It's very dark and scary music like a never ending Nightmare!

SOLID GREY is the most catchy project I do. It's Gothic Rock/Pop in the vein of The Cure or Fields Of The Nephilim. I do it with my good friend Bart Piette from Dead Man´s Hill, a very talented musician!!

C.O.I is a mix of 80s Dream Pop & Neo Classic. I work on it from time to time when I´m in the right mood for it. C.O.I. Stands for CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE.

DRACHENFEUER is an Electronic Instrumental project I do together with Jim Kirkwood. The whole music is based on Tolkien too!

MANWE is another Tolkien Based Epic Rock project I do together with Rich Davenport!

HREFNESHOLT is my dark and mystic folk project, it sounds very different to all my other projects, hell yeah it sounds different to everything I think :-) All the vocals are done in native Upper Austrian dialect and the stories are based on Upper Austrian sagas!

RR: You also manage the independent label, W.A.R. Productions. How many artists are currently on the label, and what themes do you cater for?

Alex: W.A.R. Productions have about 100 releases so far with bands, like Uruk-Hai, Hrossharsgrani, Mystified, Svarrogh, Allerseelen, Hugin Munin, Pope On Acid, Nova Sak and many more. A full list artists, including sold out and still available releases can be found here:

RR: Are there any forthcoming releases from Uruk-Hai for the listeners to look out for?

Alex: TRYBY Label in Poland has already finished a 3“CDr series and a 6xCDr Box Set called "Everlasting Wrath Of The Tyrant“, and S.T.S. Label from Australia will do 3 different 3“CDr´s soon too! Rigorism Productions In Russia will release soon a 3xCDr Box set called "Legacy Of The Tyrant“ and a Split Cdr with NEBULA.

I have been working since September 2011 on my upcoming Full-Length album "And All The Magic And Might He Brought“, which is in my personal opinion includes the best URUK-HAI songs so far! Really Epic and powerful stuff, and also deep melancholic hymns. Be prepared for something special in late 2012!

RR: Last but not least, the obligatory silly question! If you could be anything in any fantasy setting, what would you choose and why?

Alex: If it is not based on LOTR I would choose the everlasting life of an Vampire. I love Ann Rice´s "Interview With The Vampire“ a lot and I would love to see all those ages by my own! In LOTR I would choose Glaurung the Dragon, because I love this mystic story around him and the magic spells he could use. Sad that he died in the end. :-(

RR: Thanks again for answering our questions. Best of luck with your many creative projects!

Alex: Thanks for asking me to do that. It's really a pleasure and I´m always here for further questions/answers. May the Valar guide you!"

The full interview (including Uruk Hai's extensive release history) can be found here

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hrossharsgrani > Schattenkrieger shirt update

Item: Schattenkrieger long-sleeve shirt
Edition: 30 copies

Another item of apparel from the extensive wardrobes of Castle Nazgul!

We've seen some t-shirts promoting the Hrossharsgrani "Schattenkrieger" release on the Blog before: the helmet-fronted, orange and black shirt (posted 20 June 2010) and the band logo black skinny-fit shirt depicted on 3 October 2009.

A recent addition to the collection was the shirt pictured, the long sleeve version of that latter double-sided black design, with Hugin standing to the right of the figures on the front image.  It's in a suitably large size too, which is convenient given Nagzul's 6' 5" frame takes a bit of covering, and recent experimentation has shown it to be very cosy when worn in summertime - clearly, this is designed to withstand the freezing blasts of an Austrian winter.

It also turns out that this shirt is quite scarce: whilst there were 70 short-sleeve shirts produced, the long-sleeve variant only came in an total of 30 copies, making this now quite a collectible piece.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Title:  Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places
Format: A 10CD-r box-set from 2011, a joint release between Kadaath Records and Rigorism Productions (both Russian), cat ref Kadaath14.  The box is DVD-sized and comes with full colour artwork and screen-printed discs.  The release compiles Uruk Hai material from the 2004-2006 period.
Edition: Limited to 20 unnumbered copies only

Track Listing:

CD 1 "Northern Lights (Part I)"
01. Ancient Pride
02. Northhammer
03.  Mount Doom
04.  Iceland
05.  May It Be
06.  Moria

CD 2 "Northern Lights (Part II)"
01.  Hermodr A Helferd
02.  The Plague
03.  The Shire
04.  Gollum - Bounded In Eternity

CD 3 "A Night In The Forest (Parts I - III)"
01.  Enter Fangorn
02.  The Spirit Of Wood
03.  Elvenpath

CD 4 "A Night In The Forest (Parts IV & V)" 
01.  A Light Into The Darkness
02.  Fire

CD 5 "Tawantinsuyu (Parts I &III)"
01.  Introduction
02.  The Land Of The Four Suyus
03.  The Ceque System
04.  Viracocha (The True Sun)
05.  Mountains Of Palpa
06.  Catequil (God Of Thunder &Lightning)
07.  The Dream Goes On
08.  Signs Of The End
09.  Indian Spirit
10.  The Arrival Of The Conquerors

CD 6 "Tawantinsuyu (Parts II & IV)"
01.  Flight Of The Condor
02.  Ka-Ata-Killa
03.  Arrival Of The Gods
04.  ...From The Stars
05.  The Lake
06.  Gold (The Sweat Of The Sun)
07.  Occupation
08.  Years Of Darkness
09.  End Of It All

CD 7 "Dragons Of War (Part I)"
01.  Remember The Ancient
02.  Minas Morgul
03.  Dragonfire
04.  Lebenin

CD 8 "Dragons Of War (Part II)"
01.  Isengard
02.  The Eternal Halls
03.  Hill Of Tears

CD 9 "Across The Misty Mountains (Part I)"
01.  Asenheil (Intro)
02.  The Misty Mountains
03.  Into The Passes Of The Mountains
04.  The Forge
05.  Covered In Black Fog
06.  Something Evil
07.  Through The Majestic Fields
08.  Weltenbrand (Outro)

CD 10 "Across The Misty Mountains (Part II)"
01.  Über Die Nebelberge Weit
02.  Land Of The Shadow

"But where shall I find courage?" asked Frodo.  "That is what I chiefly need."
"Courage is found in unlikely places,"said Gildor.  "Be of good hope!"
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship Of The Ring)

Not a commentary on the unexpected availability of Courage beer in the taverns of Middle-Earth (as Nazgul's initial reading of the title led him to assume) but rather another reference to Tolkien's evergreen realm and the denizens within!   "Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places" was one of the first of the recent glut of Uruk Hai box-sets, and in this ambitious 2011 release Kadaath Records re-packages a number of albums from the 2004-2006 period into a handy compendium. There are no insert cards, posters or freebies, but instead simply a breadth of music that covers a number of quite hard to find releases together with one or two more widely available albums.

Let's quickly recap on the content, and how it stacks up on the Castle Nazgul 'Value-for-money-ometer'.  Disc 1 gives us the "Northern Lights" album from 2005 with the same 6 songs that appear on the original release.  In terms of scarcity, this is one of those albums that does appear in tape form here and there, and less occasionally in the original CDr pressing, although of course the 2011 Valgriind reissue makes this a more commonly found item now. It makes sense that the effort spent in re-mastering the original songs would not lead to them appearing on just the one reissue: that's not the Hugin way! Disc 2 is "Northern Lights Part II", which interestingly doesn't stick to the same content as the limited edition tape release of 2012.  Instead it keeps 'The Shire' and 'Gollum' but adds to them the Burzum cover song 'Hermodr A Helferd' (from the split release "-2-"with Vinterriket) plus 'The Plague' from "A Viking's Journey". In fairness again, none of these tracks are particularly hard to find, but you'd need to dig up a few different releases to obtain them individually.

The third and fourth discs on this compilation sees us revisiting "A Night In The Forest" (cue animal sounds in the undergrowth and pale, bulbous eyes in the darkness).  The inclusion of this album is a good thing for a number of reasons: firstly, the original CD release is now quite a rare find and commands some high prices online on the rare occasions it breaks cover.  Secondly, and more importantly, is that this re-mastered version includes all five chapters: Part V 'Fire'was formerly only available on the tape pressing of the album, and seeing as tapes seem to be only bought by Nazgul, the inhabitants of Poland, and limited numbers of crazed Huginophiles, the possession of the whole masterpiece on CD is not to be sneezed at.  Chalk up a definitive point in the 'value for money' column.

And so to discs 5 and 6, the epic Incan saga "Tawantinsuyu".  Presented in a slightly odd running order (presumably to do with the amount of available time per disc), the recording here gives Part I and III of the story on disc 5, and parts II and IV together on disc 6.  As the saga is entirely instrumental then a less than congruous running order doesn't really make a difference, and one could argue spices up the album as it now sounds somewhat 'different'. Then again, the same effect is achieved by pressing the shuffle button on the death-deck, so there's your handy top tip for the day.  On the value-for-money-ometer this ranks fairly low down I fear, as extensive years of online searching for Uruk Hai releases identifies that the original digipak pressing of this album is one of the most easily obtainable recordings from the band, and a copy could be yours for very little effort or financial outlay.  Can there be any fans of the band who don't yet have this convenient (and affordable) item in their collections...?

Up next, and once again spanning a pair of CD's on discs 7 and 8, we unleash the "Dragons Of War".  Scores clank back into the positive in terms of value and collectability, as this release is becoming quite hard to track down either in tape or CDr format. What you benefit from here is the full track listing of the original CD pressing with the added bonus of the songs 'Lebenin' and 'Hill Of Tears' that were only on the original tape version of the demo.

Our final pairing is "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away)" and here we deviate from the norm somewhat.  Disc 9 - "Part I" if you will - is the longer version of the release including the intro and outro parts, previously the prerogative of the CDr version of the album.  "Part II" (or disc 10 if you're keeping count) gives something far more interesting in the shape of 'Über Die Nebelberge Weit', which was only on the tape version of this demo, and - drum roll please - 'Land Of The Shadow'.  The second song is of particular significance at it was only to be found on the now impossible-to-find split release with US band Woodland's Edge (see the post on Honour and Darkness for 2 September 2009 for more details), and as such its presence here winds the value-for-money-ometer right around to 10 and rings the little brass bell on the top.  Nazgul is pleased.

So in terms of drawing overall satisfaction ratings, what conclusions do we draw?

Taking the value for money issue first and foremost, it must be accepted that putting out a 10CD box-set is hardly going to be the work of a few moments, and that there was always likely to be a fairly large price-tag given that only 20 copies were pressed from which the costs (and a little profit) would need to be recouped.  You might consider paying £10 for a new CD release, so would £100 price tag (10 discs x £10) be justifiable for such a release?  Well, possibly it would, althoughin the event the final price was somewhere in the mid-£50-£60 range, not bad value at all but not exactly cheap.

The question thus becomes whether it would be possible to collect all of the individual releases for the same price (or less), and - given the re-mastering on these newer updates - whether one should even bother?  Nazgul's conclusion is that with sufficient patience you could probably locate 90% of these individual releases for around £30-£40 in outlay, but that you would be buggered (technically speaking) when it came to finding a copy of "Land Of The Shadow", and some of the tape-only songs would also take a lot of searching. This failure would make your quest incomplete, reveal you to be a penny-pinching baboon, and ultimately doom a kitten to a fiery fate for attempting such outrageous behaviour.

In terms of packaging this certainly looks the part, and despite the lack of any embellishments within the box itself the overall effect is both professional and satisfying, and the cover artwork is certainly eye-catching!

Ultimately the beauty of this box-set comes in the celebration of a swath of Uruk Hai music that has stood the test of time well and still represents the band well some 8 years or so after its original release.  In buying this set you are also supporting both the artist and an up and coming label, and that too is a worthy cause. It's not cheap, for sure, but if you're missing a number of the releases above or you want something unusual and impressive in your Uruk Hai collection, then this is certainly worth seeking out.  Take courage...

Friday, 6 July 2012


Digital download artwork

Title: Forsvunnet Filosofem - A Tribute to Burzum [Various Artists]
Format: Currently a free digital download on the Bandcamp site, cited as "A Black metal, Dark Ambient, Acoustic, Ethereal, Electronic, Experimental compilation album that pays homage to the Norwegian Black metal legend Burzum and the music of Burzum.  An international effort!".  This is the product of an exercise by Marc AzraelHoyland for Mirkwood Productions, http://mirkwoodproductions.bandcamp.com/album/forsvunnet-filosofem-a-tribute-to-burzum. This was made available online on 2 June 2012.
Edition: unlimited download at the moment, see text for more details 

Track Listing:
01.  Symbiosis - Dauði Baldrs 05:56
02.  Æþelruna - Ðæt þe Hwilum Wæs;Wearges Leoþe (Det Som Engang Var) 14:37
03.  Uruk-Hai - The Crying Ork 01:25
04.  Waldschrat - Black Spell of Destruction 06:14
05.  Tamerlan - Die Liebe Nerþus 02:50
06.  Hrafnblóð - War 02:39
07.  Hoyland - Jesus Tod 08:12
08.  Vørgum - I Heimr Heljar 03:38
09.  Forgotten Land - Moti Ragnorokum 07:49
10.  Melankolia - Det Tod Wuotans 06:59
11.  Frostwork - Dunkelheit 07:34
12.  Almófar - Han Som Reiste 05:48
13.  Werther - Erblicket Die Töchter Des Firmaments 07:54
14.  Soufferance - Hermoðr á Helferð 02:40
15.  Garden of Grief - GlemselensElv 11:53
16.  Walden - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss 02:46
17.  Nordfolc - Stemmen Fra Taarnet 06:53
18.  Gorthorn - Illa Tithandi 09:22
19.  Winternight - Balferd Baldrs04:32
20.  Alvheim - Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen 09:13
21.  Arboretus - A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit 06:14
22.  Skygge - Lost Wisdom 04:37
23.  Dysonsphere - ChannellingThe Power Of Soul Into A New God 03:27
24.  Antecantamentum - My Journey to the Stars 07:39
25.  Kzag Bhat - Feeble ScreamsFrom Forests Unknown 07:45
26.  Wrapped in a Sheet - Ea, Lordof the Depths 05:35
27.  Plaguewielder - Tomhet 14:43

And they say you get nothing for free anymore?!

This excellent compilation is free to download from the Bandcamp site, either by cherry-picking your favourite bands or just dumping the whole kit and caboodle onto your hard drive,and well worth the time and effort it is too.  Featuring Uruk Hai,a couple of projects that have (or will be...) gracing the pages of Honour and Darkness - Symbiosis, and Dysonsphere to name but two - and a host of established and new & upcoming bands, this really is a treasure trove for ambient black metal music fans.

Word in the dark corners of Castle Nazgul is that there will be a physical release in 3CD format via Wodfreca Recordson 6 August 2012 , limited to 100 copies, with brand new exclusive artwork by Richard Smythe (designer of the Æþelruna logo) and layout by Black Raven Design.  Definitely one to look out for, and as a treat for his honoured readers Nazgul has copied below what looks to be the intended artwork for the August release.

Forthcoming artwork for the Wodfreca release

Drawing material from a variety of Burzum's early releases, the 27 songs on offer here encompass a wide spectrum and will doubtless provide every listener with a little bit of something to enjoy.  Tribute albums of this nature don't always work, as it depends very much on the proficiency of the artist recording the song and their interpretation of it: after all, there are more than a few dismal Iron Maiden tribute albums out in the world, and some bands are really hard to cover successfully as they are so distinctive in their original delivery (Skyclad being a prime example of a band with more than a few excellent songs but such a distinctive vocalist it wouldn't quite work using anyone else...as the modern iteration of the band is finding out for themselves).  Whilst Nazgul hasn't delved into every song on this release those that have received an airing convey sufficient of the mystery and power of the Burzum originals to be worthy of a place here.

The title 'Forsvunnet Filosofem' literally translates from the Norwegian as 'Filosofem Disappeared'.  Filosofem was the title of Burzum's fifth album, and is Norwegian for Philosopheme (and before you ask, a philosophme is a philosophical proposition, doctrine,or principle of reasoning).  You would, frankly, have lost your reason were you not to take advantage of this particular freebie!

I asked Hugin about his involvement with this project, and this is what he reported: "in terms of getting involved in the first instance it was Mike O'Brian from the band Gil-galad who gave me the contact to Marc Marc Azrael Hoyland, and from there I asked to be a part of it too and he was very happy about it like me :o)" In terms of the choice of song (the shortest on this release, as befits a busy man like Hugin!) "Well, "Ork" fits best with the Uruk Hai concept so I think that's why I choose that track!"  And what of the release in its totality? "The result is awesome, a great mix of bands both ambient as well as black metal too; I´m honoured to be a part of it!"

Until the 3CD pressing is released,have a look at this release via  http://mirkwoodproductions.bandcamp.com/album/forsvunnet-filosofem-a-tribute-to-burzum and see what you make of it...?

NORDWAND > album artwork

An original artwork creation...
...pictured alongside the final CD release

Band: WACH
Title: Nordwand
Item Description: Artwork for the album cover.
Edition: Presumed to be a one-off item

Actions, as they say, speak louder than words.

With that in mind, the gift from Hugin of this simply superb piece of artwork depicting the cover of the most recent WACH release is an action almost beyond compare.

Framed within a tasteful black border, the clever silvering effect used in this design (the talents of Reverend Kim being very much on display here) are wonderful, and bring to a sharp focus the majesty and vastness of the mountain ranges illustrated on the final artwork.

This looks fabulous on the walls of the library in Castle Nazgul, and you can be sure that Nazgul is both humbled and honoured to be in a position to have such an item in his collection.

The effort involved to create this stunning image must have been considerable, and when the light catches it the effect is sensational.

And that's enough words on the subject: a review of the album proper will be along in due course, but until that time let Nazgul thank his lucky stars once again to have a friend such as Hugin: truly a giant amongst men :o)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Title: Orc Funeral
Format: There is a 3" CDr version of this release on the TryBy label (Poland) together with a cassette pressing on Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW317.  The music was recorded in 2011, but both releases date to 2012.
Edition:  CDr and tape pressings both limited to 25 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing: 
01. The Mystical Path  3.48
02. Orc Funeral  15.11

It's hard to believe that we're now more than halfway through 2012. With the number of posts on Honour and Darkness being fewer than ever before due to the incessant demands on Nazgul's time, it's become something of a rare treat to have the time to settle down in the castle library, enjoy the sounds of Uruk Hai combine with the screams of tortured souls in the dungeons, and jot some thoughts down for you - the honoured guest and readers of these hallowed pages.

So onwards and upwards we go, with "Orc Funeral", which joins the current fashion of receiving a 3" CDr release alongside the resolutely old-school tape approach offered by Wulfrune Worxx.  Both editions are limited to a mere 25 copies, Nazgul's being #1 of the cassette release and #2 of the CDr pressing.

Sonic comparisons aside, the real difference between these two versions lies in the majesty of the cover artwork as seen in colour on the TryBy version - it really does come alive in a way that a black and white copy (even on blue-tinged paper) simply cannot do.  Great rear cover art (although don't ask me what it represents, suffice to say that one sighting of that thing on your daily rounds would be enough to evacuate your bowels fairly sharply) and an intriguing premise to explore based on the cover: it's definitely a humanoid hand burying something in a grave, but would a human bury an orc?  What would be the reason?  Is the spade named 'orc funeral' in the same way that a sword might be called 'goblin splitter'?

Lots of questions and - as always - no answers whatsoever from your Uncle Nazgul.  Hey ho, what I am, an oracle or something?!

Moving on to 'The Mystical Path' - a shortish morsel before the main course, as it were - and keen ears will spot some familiar melodies lurking in the mix for this tit-bit.  There's nothing wrong in giving one of your own songs a bit of a dusting down and reworking, and it's a pleasant enough way to get proceedings afoot.

The main track on this EP is the title track, 'Orc Funeral', running in excess of a quarter of an hour.  There's no 'clever' effects of samples on this piece, just a gently crafted ambient trip through ... well, pretty much any place that your mind happens to wander.  There may well be a sub-plot involving grave-digging and cadavers somewhere in there, but Nazgul has to own up to the fact that such images were not readily conjured to mind by the music.

It's very light and airy in nature, with plenty of gossamer-thin melodies and chiming bells to keep things ambling along at a gentle pace.  It's at the lighter end of the spectrum in terms of 'heaviness', and nothing that you'd find the likes of Pr. Sergiy or Krom contributing to, but for all that it is an entirely acceptable and pleasurable way to spend a small portion of one's day, and for that Hugin must be congratulated.

In keeping with the funereal theme, there's a pretty thin line between creating a lament and birthing something lamentable (just ask Cradle of Filth to explain their latest abortion), and whilst this may not be everyone's cup of tea it's certainly well worth a home in the Uruk Hai discography.