Thursday, 11 October 2012

FATHER:LAND [V/A]

Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: FatheR:LanD [various artists]
Format: Digipak CD pressing on the Steinklang Productions label (Austria), 2012, cat ref SK62, and released in association with Beverina. This compilation is dedicated to the memory of Zigfrids Silders (the late father of Juris Silders, of Beverina).  Mastered at Luftschutzkerker (Switzerland) in spring 2012.
Edition: 300 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Sagittarius * Song VII  1.50
02. Jännerwein * Quell  4.18
03. Von Thronstahl * Northern Sons Under Southern Skies  4.24 
04. Stormfågel * En Gång När Jag Ska Dö  4.28 
05. Verdandi * Weland (Deimos Mix)  4.30 
06. Svarrogh * Heimkehr  5.57
07. Atomtrakt * Kalte Relikte Des Verfalls  7.06 
08. Hrossharsgrani * Es Dziedasu Par Tevi, Tévu Zeme  6.51 
09. Dead Man's Hill * In The Spheres  8.38 
10. Werra * Sturmesweihe  3.35
11. Vinterriket * Jenseits Der Berge  6.34 
12. Rasthof Dachau * Vater, Ich Rufe Dich!  7.16 
13. Oda Relicta * Heavenly Trumpeter  2.07 

Marking the return of Hrossharsgrani to the pages of Honour and Darkness, this lovingly crafted compilation album has been a real pleasure to listen to from start to finish. The concept for the album was that of Juris Silders, son of Zigfrids, as a tribute to his late father, and has evidently been assembled with love and attention to detail. You may remember Juris from a previous interview on Honour and Darkness, way back on 27 February 2010.

Described on the label website as a "brilliant compilation with mostly exclusive songs (or never before released versions) ... a kind of soundtrack for the human being, of life and death, joy and sorrow..." this indeed proves to be the case, and for once an album lives up the hype. 

The album contains a mixture of (mostly) acoustic and electric tracks with all the hallmarks of the Neofolk/Industrial genres stamped across them, with folk elements, medieval instruments, poetic lyrics and martial rhythms very much to the fore. Ordinarily at this juncture Nazgul would revert to quoting you an online review or two, normally from authorities like Heathen Harvest, but much to his surprise there is nothing to speak of online that critiques this release. This is a shame, as it's a very special release and one that deserves far more attention than it currently seems to be getting.

Whilst Nazgul is far from the authority needed to pass judgement on the album as a whole (other than to whole heatedly recommend you go and buy a copy), the merits of the Hrossharsgrani track does fall within the ambit of Honour and Darkness to comment upon. For starters, let's focus on the title, 'Es Dziedasu Par Tevi, Tévu Zeme' which literally translates as 'I will sing for you, fatherland' from its native Latvian. Yes, Hrossharsgrani covering an old Latvian patriotic song- another unexpected twist from this entirely unpredictable project! The song utilises an original recording of the lyrics in native Latvian, and overlays both martial percussive effects and some synthesiser horn sounds, both of which complement the piece nicely. The 'scratchy gramophone' style introduction is also in keeping with the age of the song.

Quite where the Hrossharsgrani project is heading is an interesting point of debate: originally the Hross' battle-machine was very much in the black metal style but has dallied with Viking influences, Roman epic themes, a more industrial sound in the remix of "Sanguis", whilst now moving into this Neofolk influenced genre. It may simply be that in being asked to contribute a song to the compilation Hrossharsgrani was the most appropriate (and flexible) of Hugin's various projects to record with, and perhaps we should not see this departure from the norm as evidence of a fundamental change in direction for the band. That said, with a reissue of older demos underway through "The Ancient Path" box-set and a newly reissued tape release of "Ewig Winter", it may be that a line is being drawn under the past canon of recordings with the intention of another re-launch of the Hross' brand. Only time will tell...

Back to the music - it appears that 'Es Dziedasu Par Tevi, Tévu Zeme' pre-dates WW2 and was re-activated (if that's the right expression) in Latvia by Silvija Silava circa 1988, at the Rehabilitation of the Latvian Flag ceremony. Additionally, according to the organisers of an online project, it is number nine in the list of all-time favourite Latvian patriotic songs, as voted for by Latvians the world over (the homeland’s national anthem, “Dievs, svētī Latviju!,”ranks as the No. 1 song that has kept up the spirits of Latvians in what was known as the diaspora - the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland),

The song was composed in 1903 by Jēkabs Graubiņš (1886-1961): Juris Silders noted to Nazgul that due to the use of old Latvian words in the song it is difficult to translate into English, but that the spirit of the words can be captured in the following quotation:

"I will sing for you, fatherland,
For your old cornfield fields.
And, when I will be tired by the burden of life,
Then I will lay rest at your side"


The song was chosen for this release as it was a particular favourite of Zigfrids Silders, representing a dream for Fatherland and recognition of the beauty of home.

Contributors to this compilation include bands that will be familiar to you from past features on Honour and Darkness, including Vinterriket, Svarrogh and Dead Man's Hill. Others will be recognisable as major players in their genre, whilst some - as you find on all good compilations - will be new bands that you've yet to discover. With the promise of largely previously unreleased and exclusive material - presented by the bands personally to honour the tribute being made - it is a splendid reason to give this album a try.

If you are interested in buying a copy of this CD, then Nazgul advises you to head to the shop at Steinklang Records.

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