Friday, 24 May 2013

BROTHERHOOD OF LIGHT [V/A]

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Brotherhood Of Light [Various Artists]
Format: Currently a tape-only release from 2012 on the Brotherhood Of Light label (USA), cat ref b.h.o.l-05. The tape has professionally printed colour inlays and a standard C60 style cassette tape.
Edition: Hand-numbered and limited to 200 copies

Track Listing:
Side A
01. Lascowiec * Ulfhetnar      
02. Surt * Deeper Into The Void      
03. Vinland SS * Anti-Communist Minutemen      
04. Uruk-Hai * The Fall Of Gil-Galad      
Side B
01. Sunchariot * In The Distant Fog      
02. Cosmic Breath 88 * Land Of Shit And Undesirables      
03. Lord Foul * Misanthropic Journey      
04. Svetovid * Blood On The Ground      
05 Aryan Art * България

Maybe Nazgul has been living in a cave for the last few years, but he'd never heard of the Brotherhood Of Light.  Consequently a little research was in order for this unexpected release: unexpected, in as far as it was a tape discovered through some random online searching rather than being one that came directly from Hugin, as is usually the way.  More about that anon...

So - in most cases of this nature, Google is your friend.  The phrase 'Brotherhood Of Light' was duly typed into this august search engine and a rather strange thing happened:

"The Brotherhood of Light are Beings from other Dimensions of Light and other planetary experiences who have been with all Mankind since millions upon millions of years ago. They have come forth to dedicate their Light Beings, their whole experience, to help beings of lower densities of Light; like Earthlings. They have been helping Earthlings ever since and even before they came into the Third Orbit. For millions of years they have been helping peoples of this Third Dimension of Light; not only here upon Earth, but into thousands of other Quadrants of the Cosmos that they help with."

Well, that didn't seem quite right.  Nazgul could easily believe that some of Hugin's projects might have secret backing from extra-terrestrial sources - have you heard any of the Eismond demos? - yet Uruk Hai are so steeped in Tolkien and Middle-Earth tradition that this couldn't possibly be right.

So on the search went.

The next find identified the late C.C. Zain (Elbert Benjamine), one of the most prolific astrological writers of the 20th century, who wrote over 50 books and thousands of magazine articles including the 21 Brotherhood Of Light courses.  No, damn it, that didn't look right either, and nor did the reference to the Brotherhood being an organisation formed by knights, whose main objective consisted of removing the forces of darkness that plagued Europe in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.  Bugger.

No, surely this Brotherhood must be something entirely different?

And, indeed, the truth was finally revealed on - of all places - the forums at Nuclear War Now:  "For people unaware still, Brotherhood of Light is a new label to pop up into the world from California that is a vehicle for the projects that belong to the "circle" that is home to Lascoweic, Svetovid, Surt, Sunchariot and Cosmic Breath 88."  It goes on to note that this compilation is a sampler of all the projects affiliated with that label and a couple guests, and Nazgul is guessing that Uruk Hai are one of the guests so referenced.

Oh....so it's a music collective!  Of course, of course....

The description of the music on offer from the bands above varies, from 'satirical avant-garde industrial noise' (Vinland Special Services) to plain old Black Metal (Lascowiec, Sunchariot, and Svetovid) through to acoustic material (Surt).  The Uruk Hai contribution is described as sounding "closer to Summoning then his spree of LOTR ambient demos, guess he got serious", which is damning by faint praise if ever I heard it, but ultimately is presumed to be well intentioned!

A quick look through the band names and song titles does raise a few worrying spectres, however, mostly of a distinctly right-wing variety.  Not many bands would use the suffix "SS" in their name, or "88" for that matter (commonly, 88 translates in alphabetic 'code' to the eighth letter H, so 88 becomes HH, which is either reference to 'Heil Hitler' or comedian Harry Hill, depending on your view of life).  Similarly, some of the song titles have a whiff of the crooked cross about them - 'Land of Shit and Undesirables', anyone?  Equally, a quick trawl through the discographies of these bands tends rather to reinforce this preliminary view.

Now, Nazgul is in no position to determine what the ideological or political leanings of these various bands are or to judge them for it, and to be fair at least one of the bands make great efforts on their website to distance themselves from the right-wing or the National Socialist Black Metal scene. NSBM typically melds Neo-Nazi beliefs (such as fascism, white supremacy, white separatism, antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia) with hostility to "foreign" religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). Bands often promote ethnic European paganism, occultism, or Satanism.  The Brotherhood Of Light's Wordpress webpage records their position as an intention "to remind everyone and anyone of our ancient cultures and traditions, and not let Judeo-Christianity kill/buy/steal everything we care about."  Make of that what you will, I guess.

One thing Nazgul is absolutely sure about is that Hugin wouldn't knowingly associate himself with anything remotely like fascism or the NSBM genre, so the presence of an Uruk Hai track on this compilation gives as good assurance as anything that it is more about national pride than nationalism.

The bottom line is that music on this tape is actually pretty decent all round, and the harder edge of Uruk Hai's 'The Fall Of Gil-Galad' fits well with the general sound.  This particular song, incidentally, was culled from the tape "Gil-Galad: The Whole Story" and also appeared as a track on free CD in Infernal Zine #13.

A cautionary note to end on, however: this tape in its edition of 200 copies has been around for a while now, yet still the label has yet to let Hugin have his artists copies to sell on.  Another BHOL release - a split tape between Surt and Uruk Hai - similarly has yet to find its way to Austria.  Perhaps if anyone knows the guys at BHOL they might give them a gentle reminder on the subject, lest Nazgul send his terrible Fellbeast across the Atlantic to wreak havoc upon them....

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