Sunday, 23 September 2012

MIDDLE-EARTH (PART IV)


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Middle-Earth (Part IV): To Valinor
Format: Initially a tape-only demo release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2011, cat ref WW300. Subsequently this and the other 'Middle-Earth' demos have been compiled onto CD in the 2012 box-set "Tales Of Glory & Mystery". The Wulfrune Worxx cassette version comes with black and white copied inlays, and is hand-numbered.
Edition: 66 copies only


Track Listing:
01. To Valinor  26:24

Splice the main-brace and avast me hearties, as the good ship Uruk Hai sets sail once again into the realms of Middle-Earth. As a scurvy sea-dog loyal to the Uruk Hai flag you too are invited to join this perilous voyage, deep into the uncharted misty depths of ambient battle hymns and nautical metaphor. So take a tot of rum, shake the weevils from your biscuits and rest your wooden leg as we hear tell of strange tales from far lands in the company of our esteemed Captain Hugin.

Such nautical thoughts are stimulated immediately by the sight on the cover of this Wulfrune Worxx cassette of Elven vessels at sea, presumably on the way to the Valinor. And for those not up to speed on their Tolkien, Valinor (literally 'Land of the Valar') is the realm of the Valar in Aman, also known as the Undying Lands. Only immortal beings were allowed to reside there, but the land itself, while blessed, did not cause mortals to live forever.

Amongst the exceptions to this rule were the surviving bearers of the One Ring, who were permitted to enter the lands — Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and also Samwise Gamgee, who bore the One Ring for some time during their perilous journey to Mt. Doom — and Gimli son of Glóin who, it is said, accompanied his friend Legolas to Valinor.

The relevance of the cover artwork comes from the history of the realm: After the destruction of Númenor, the Undying Lands were removed from Arda so that Men could not reach them and only the Elves could go there by the 'Straight Road' and in ships capable of passing out of the Spheres of the earth. 

The Straight Road was the route that leaves the Earth's curvature and moves through sky and space to reach the land of Aman and is so-called because it follows the old path across Belegaer from before the Akallabêth when the Flat World was made Round. It is only kept open to Elves, who are allowed to sail to it on their ships by a special grace of the Valar. A ship departing on the Straight Road, when observed from the shore, would slowly become smaller to sight until it disappeared in a point, and not drop behind the horizon. The Straight Road contains some kind of ethereal sea the ships of the Sindar can sail over through space to Valinor.


Once again, to accompany us on our voyage of discovery, comes an extended symphony of ambient majesty from Hugin's ever-fertile mind. Although probably longer than it needs to be, the pacing of the piece along with the balance of almost-mournful chords with uplifting string sections keeps the song in check, and makes for an excellent background tapestry upon which to weave imaginative quests of your own into Middle-Earth. Just mind you don't fall off the side of the boat as you daydream. 

As always, more of a track to immerse yourself within rather than to try and describe moment by moment, although Nazgul would venture to add that it is one of the best parts of the entire Middle-Earth series and consequently a must-have item for any collector.

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