Saturday, 2 February 2013


Title: Trostlos
Format: 6CD box-set housed in a DVD-style box, released in 2012 as a joint presentation on the Ancient Ceremonies/Tryby label, no catalogue reference. The set compiles most of the Hrefnesholt discography, and is completed with three colour photo inlay cards.
Edition: 19 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
CD1. Hrefnesvinter
01. Hrefnesholt (part 1)
02. Glorie Draconis
03. Hrefnesvinter
04. Marsch zu neuen Zeitaltern
05. Hrefnesholt (part 2)

CD2. Heidensturm
01. Heidensturm
02. Zwei Raben
03. Nordlandschlacht

CD3. Wolf
01. Hrefnesholt (part 3)
02. Wolfsnacht
03. Metamophose
04. Das Tier
05. Hrefnesholt (part 4)

CD4. Fl├╝sterwald
01. Asaland
02. Wald
03. Uralt

CD5. Uraungst
01. Percht (da Einbringa)
02. I bin da Woid
03. Hexnfeia
04. Hoamat
05. Wurzlmann
06. Unruahnocht
07. Fuchtelmandln
08. Dunklmoos
09. Stoana (da Aussischmeissa)

CD6. A Haund voi Dreck
01. S' Perchtenzeit
03. Die Glockn von Dahoam
04. Aufi Zua
05. A Haund voi Dreck (1)
06. Schworzeichn
07. Berg
08. A Haund voi Dreck (2)
09. Kuah
10. Nocht
11. Kum mit mit uns
12. Wurzlmann Intro
13. Wurzlmann (extended Uraungst version)
14. Wurzlmann (Wurzelwelt Version)

Now, regulars readers will know that the recent influx of box-sets associated with Hugin's projects have predominantly been focused upon Uruk Hai releases, with the odd foray into Hrossharsgrani territory. Whilst there is no sign of the sure-fire Guts For Dinner expanded edition deluxe fan-pack box-set, there is some news to celebrate as "Trostlos" has now hits the streets, compiling the vast majority of the early and recent releases from everyone's favourite Alpine band, Hrefnesholt.

The 6 CD's included here cover the band's output between 2001 and 2011 inclusive, although not strictly in chronological order: the "Wolf" CDr pre-dated the "Heidensturm" demo tape by a few years, despite appearing here as discs three and two respectively. Not exactly a show-stopper, but worth noting if you planned to listen to all the discs sequentially to trace the development of the project over time. 

What you don't get on this compilation are odd songs from other releases in the same period: 'Trollsturm' and 'Erinnerung' from the "Rabentanz" compilation for example. 'Ravnagund' from another Smell The Stench compilation CD "The First Evil Spell" is also omitted, although interestingly the other Hrefnesholt song on that release - 'Nordlandschlacht'- does appear as the final song on disc 2 "Heidensturm", which in turn means that the last song from that original 2004 demo - 'Hermodr A Helferd' - has been expunged. Keeping up, I trust?

Carrying on with this diligent (read: anal) reconciliation of past releases to the current box-set, Nazgul also notes that the song 'Eine Ode an Midgard (Heil dir Midgard Krieger)' from the split tape "United By Heathen Blood' is also missing, although 'Asaland' from the same tape does appear. The one-track "Furchtelmandl" demo does appear though, as it was compiled on the "Uraungst" release, and the same goes for the songs off the "Woid Und Geist" demo of 2010. 

The single track demo tape "Wolfsnacht" from 2006 is, of course, a song already on the "Wolf" CDr and finally, you'll be pleased to read, let's just note that the track "Schworzeichn II" from the 2012 split with Joe Matera is also not featured, by dint of having been released after "Trostlos" was issued!

There, that gets us up to speed with what isn't on here, but enough of that: let's look at the good stuff that is present!

And what you'll soon come to notice is that this is very much a game of two halves. The early years of Hrefnesholt were pretty hard to distinguish from early Uruk Hai demos with the same keyboard driven atmospherics, although perhaps more in the spirit of being at one with the Earth amid howling winds and dense forests rather than through Middle-Earth themes and imagery. As such, demos up until "Heidensturm" all carry the hallmark - and unintentionally primitive- sounds of Hugin's early synthesiser noodlings and flourishes. 

 The omission of the Burzum cover 'Hermodr A Helferd' helps keep this continuity actually, so seems like a shrewd move in retrospect. One major boon for fans is the inclusion of the tracks from "Wolf", as this demo has long been impossible to lay hands on and hasn't (yet) featured on any reissue from W.A.R. Productions (well, save for the offshoot "Wolfsnacht" tape referred to above which dragged the 20 minute epic song kicking and screaming onto a self-titled demo of its own). This alone creates a unique selling point for "Trostlos" that makes it hard to ignore as a good value package.

There was a gap in the Hrefnesholt story between this first chapter (broadly speaking, 2001-2004) and chapter two (2007-present), caused in the main by Hugin's attention being focused on the increasingly popular Uruk Hai project. When the Hrefnesholt project was eventually resurrected it became apparent through the likes of "Uraungst" that this was a very different beast indeed. 

 Gone was the project skulking in the shadows of Uruk Hai, here was a nascent Percht-folk project using intentionally primitive (read: authentic) instrumentation to create something very different and very interesting. Past reviews on Honour and Darkness will fill in the details regarding the recorded content, and there's plenty to enjoy when dipping into the body of recorded material that Hrefnesholt has put together.

It's no secret that Nazgul always had a soft spot for the Hrefnesholt of old - it always came across like Uruk-Hai's slightly geeky sister, the one with funny glasses but nicer legs. The new direction, however, is genuinely quite exciting and one has to feel that given enough time to develop and grow the geeky sibling could blossom into something surprisingly attractive. On the theme of image, an old friend of the Blog made the passing comment to Nazgul that perhaps the new style of Hrefnesholt music should be officially recognised by giving the project a new logo, as the old battle-axe theme no longer seems appropriate. Food for thought, perhaps....?

A quick word on the packaging for this release: the cover artwork is unusual but works well enough, whilst the photo card inserts are rather good images in fact, particularly the one of the fungi on the tree trunk. The one criticism worth levelling is at the actual case itself, which despite being used to house 6 discs only actually has space to properly house 4, with the remaining 2 being slotted inside plastic wallets and left loose inside. Frankly, a bit of a nonsense (note to record labels: if you intend to release a box-set, make sure the inner trays can accommodate all of the discs properly!) and potentially damaging to the loose photo cards that also float around unsecured in the box.

Ironically the English translation of Trostlos means something on the lines of 'without pleasure or happiness', or 'wretchedly', which is far from the case in terms of listening pleasure. As a compendium of all things Hrefnesholt it really is the business, and copies are still out there to be bought (a quick Google search today reveals one at the SkullLine website)

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