Thursday, 9 May 2013

URUK HAI / NOLDOR split

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Untitled split release with Noldor
Format: There are three versions of this album: the original CDr pressing was released in 2013 by Cvlminis (Russia, a sub-label of Rigorism Productions), no cat reference, with 5 songs.  This was followed by a cassette released by Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW350, and a second CDr pressing on Parkbench Records (Australia), cat ref RAR224, both of which have 1 bonus track.  Both CDr versions have the same colour cover, although the second pressing has rear tray artwork too.  The Wulfrune Worxx tape has a black and white inlay.
Edition:  The 1st CDr pressing was limited to 33 copies.  The second CDr pressing came in an edition of 30 copies, whilst the tape version is in a numbered edition of 66 copies  

Track Listing:
All versions contain the following tracks:  
URUK HAI 
01. Magic  12.00      

NOLDOR
02. Maiar  2.48      
03. Einsamkeit  1.23      
04. Moorthal  4.11      
05. Lorien  3.12  

Bonus Noldor track on the tape and 2nd CDr pressing:
06. The Dark Lord (new version)  2.29 

Resolutely from the 'old school' in terms of its presentation, this untitled split release between Uruk Hai and German project Noldor takes Nazgul back to the good old days of multiple-format releases, coming as it does in two different CDr pressings and with an accompanying tape release on the ever faithful Wulfrune Worxx label.  

The original CDr pressing on Cvlminis contains the lengthy and exclusive (at the date of writing) 'Magic' track from Uruk Hai plus four Noldor songs, whilst the 2nd CDr pressing and tape versions contains the bonus song 'The Dark Lord (new version)' from Noldor, which is to be found on their "Best Of" compilation of 2012 and the recent "In Woods Of Elfes" CDr.  It's rather nice to see this style of release again, with a CD and a tape version with different artwork, bringing back as it does memories of previous multi-format releases such as "Black Blood, White Hand" from years past.  On the downside it does make for a more expensive collecting experience, of course, but with relatively modest prices for each piece shown it's hardly going to break the bank.

CDr 1st pressing
The meat and potatoes of this release, of course - at least as far as Nazgul is concerned - is 'Magic' from Hugin's Uruk Hai.  And what a lovely, whimsical song it proves to be.  One tend to feel that magic probably comes in two forms: the first, dark and evil, with lightning bolts crackling and buzzing cruelly over a battlefield of warring protagonists (think Bal-Sagoth album artwork meeting the Halls Of The Things 8-bit computer game), whilst the second type involves the delicate weaving of intricate spells, intimate and subtle chanting, and ethereal wonderment. 

This song falls very much into the latter category, and if it had a role in a movie it could be that famous scene at the beginning of Gladiator when Russell Crowe walks through the fields trailing his hands through the wheat field.  Incidentally, did you know that wheat in the field in that scene in the film is in fact an octaploid variety which was developed in the 1950's for the Green Revolution, so totally not of the period depicted?  You didn't?  Well, gosh - now you know!

The Uruk Hai project has had a long history of conjuring up epic songs with Middle-Earth themes and imagery, and this delightful one fits beautifully into the overall scheme of things.  It is entirely instrumental and contains no 'heavy' passages at all, relying purely on Hugin's ability with keyboard to structure and populate an aural tapestry sufficient to entertain and delight over the duration of the piece.  And it should go without saying that it meets those noble intentions without deviation or hesitation, although a little repetition is permitted on the way. 

CDr second pressing
Turning to the other side of the tape (literally, as the Wulfrune Worxx variant is in play as Nazgul types this) in Tolkien's work, the Noldor were the most skilled of all peoples in lore, warfare and crafts and were known as the "Deep Elves" (the name means 'those with knowledge' in Quenya).  On this release, Noldor (a one-man project from Germany) play in what is described as a 'dark ambient' style, clearly influenced by the work of Tolkien.  

Nazgul didn't discern much 'darkness' within the ambient tracks on the Noldor side of this release, rather a display of melodic and up-beat songs.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but anyone purchasing this demo in the expectation of enjoying an evil ambient experience is going to be unpleasantly surprised.  The sounds generated by Noldor are a very effective counterpart to the Uruk Hai half of the release, which is a pleasant change from many split releases where the Uruk Hai song stands out amongst Black Metal fare like a tomato at a celery convention.

Credit must be given to both bands for what is a really enjoyable album; not remotely 'metal' in nature, but immensely enjoyable, uplifting and well worth tracking down.  Credit is also due in respect of the excellent piece of artwork that adorns both CDr pressings, which certainly encourages you to want to take a closer look at the album.  Whilst it does not have the same immediate visual impact, the Wulfrune tape artwork is also a nice fit with the theme of the album, and you do have the benefit of two covers, one for each band, as you see fit to choose.

Wulfrune Worxx tape edition

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