Saturday, 26 April 2014

RAGNARÖK

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Ragnarök (V/A)
Format: Free internet download from Body Music, all songs being free to download from 13 April 2014  after their Ragnarök special.
Edition: Unlimited download

Track Listing:
01. AURA NOCTIS - SPLA DRYAS
02. MARY SHELLEY & THE IMPLICIT ORDER - NEVERMORE
03. OPIUM DREAM ESTATE feat. SHAITA - DIE TOTENINSEL
04. SINWELDI - DIEVU SAPULCE
05. LES JUMEAUX DISCORDANTS - DIE GÖTTER SIND HIER
06. RHESUS FACTOR - DROPS OF VENOM
07. STARENFLUG - ANSUZ
08. ĒNU KALEIDOSKOPS - DIEVAINES
09. MOINEAU - DÄMMERUNG
10. SONNENKIND - ELFENTRÄNEN
11. SHATTERED HAND - FAR NORTH (SKAÐI)
12. PALE ROSES - LOKI YOU´RE NOT ALONE
13. BARBAROSSA UMTRUNK - LE GRAND SOLSTICE COSMIQUE DE LA FIN (2014 edit)
14. AMEPANTIN - FALL TO HELHEIMR
15. ÀRNICA - RECLAMO DEL NORTE
16. LANGEMARCK - KAMP OCH FÖRÄNDRING
17. BLOODSOIL - A NEW RACE
18. FALKENSTEIN & STRYDWOLF - ODIN
19. CORDE OBLIQUE - HERAION
20. ELIWAGAR - HEILRUNA
21. LE CHOEUR DES OMBRES - ATALI
22. IDIS ÖRLÖG - ASK AND EMBLA
23. IN VINO VERITAS - DRACODANZA
24. TROLLFAUST - DIE ENTFESSELUNG
25. ISTHAR - HO PRESO IL CAMMINO DEL FUOCO E BRUCIAVO NEL CUORE
26. DER HINKENDE VERGLEICH - EADGLIS
27. KINDEREN VAN MOEDER AARDE - TRAVELLING THROUGH YGGDRASIL
28. KENTIN JIVEK - ODE TO MARMÆLE
29. AWEN - GENTLY JOHNNY
30. ET NIHIL - +ULFBERHT+
31. HANDŽAR & KAMA - THE JOURNEY
32. CORAZZATA VALDEMONE - SON OF THE VALKYRIES
33. HUMAN NIHIL - THE LOKI
34. JANKA PUSZTA - THE RUNES
35. COTARD DELUSION - FINAL DESTINY OF THE GODS
36. LORD WIND - HOUR OF RAGNARÖK
37. DEAD MAN´S HILL - NEVELHEL
38. FRONTSVIN - FINAL SLAUGHTER (RAGNARÖK)
39. ~ UNUNE ~ - SKUMRING
40. FRONT SONORE - RAVEN DANCE PART II
41. IYMRYA - TALE OF FALLEN THRONE
42. DARMSTADT 1313 - THE DEATH OF BALDER
43. KARNNOS - THE GIANT SERPENT AWAKENS
44. NEBELWÄCHTER - RÚNATAL
45. LIMITED LIABILITY SOUNDS - YGGDRASIL
46. KLAUS VON ANNERN - THE NORNS HAVE SPOKEN
47. LES AFFRES DE LA MORT - BALDR VA REVENIR
48. NORS´KLH - OPPVÅKNING AV NIDAVELLIR
49. NIEMANDSVATER - HUGR EINN ÞAT VEIT
50. THE CRAIC - AWAKEN
51. REQUIEM ETERNAM - ROMAN EMPRESS
52. ERNTEGANG - NIÐSTÖNG (MMXIV)
53. DUNKEL AESTHETICS - RURIK SOKOL
54. 3 PIČKE MATERINE - HAFGUFA
55. MANMACHINE - THE EYE OF INFINITY
56. PUANTEUR DE CHARNIER - SVARTEDAUDEN PESTA
57. LENZ - HEARING I ASK FROM THE HOLY RACES
58. THALIE NÉMÉSIS - LE BAISER DE LA FIN
59. TSIDMZ - GLADSHEIM
60. SOLITUDE FOREST - FROSTFALL
61. FAHL - UNTITLED
62. HOPLITES - PRELUDE TO RAGNARÖK
63. SCHATTENSPIEL feat. JÖRVALLR - LETZTE VISION
64. URFYR - THOR
65. URUK-HAI - A BLADE OF FIRE
66. ZANDOZ CORP. - FENRIR
67. WIDUKIND - WELTRAUM HELTRAUM
68. VUKOJEBINA - THE HALL OF HONOR
69. BLEIBURG - YMIR
70. TOHU VA VOHU - GINNUNGAGAP
71. SUVERÄNA - DEN GYLNE TRÅDEN
72. TAPHEPHOBIA - Å FALLE I STRID
73. SILENT LOVE OF DEATH - JÖRMUNDGANDER
74. TURNAVEL - MIDGARDSORMR
75. DARK UNION - VOLVA
76. TRIBES OF MEDUSA - GUNGNIR
77. TO-BO - WALHALLA
78. K-N - THE HAMMER
79. FECALOVE - SKÁLDSKAPARMÁL
80. DETERIORO NERVIOSO IRREVERSIBLE - JÖRMUNDGANDER & FENRIR ARE SMOKING POT WAITING FOR HELA


Notice, if you will, the cunning segue between the last post - "Fimbulwinter" - and today's outing, "Ragnarök", with Fimbulwinter being the immediate prelude to the events of Ragnarök.  As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University, to be sure.

Coming out of the blue but a welcome surprise all the same, this is a monster free download available through Body Music and it features some pretty cool bands and music.  Unusually, for this type of release, Nazgul has actually heard of some of these bands before (this should be read as a damning critique of Nazgul's limited knowledge, rather than a slight against the bands featured!)  Lord Wind are well known to Nazgul, and scanning the list we have old favourite Dead Man's Hill too.  Along with Uruk Hai, that only leaves 77 new bands to discover....!

Body Music is a label and radio station for Electronic Body Music, Anhalt EBM, Dark Electro, New Beat, Aggrepo, Coldwave, Flexi Pop, Synth Pop, Acid, Future Pop, Neue Deutsche Welle, Neofolk, Electronic 80´s, Rhythmic & Old school Industrial, Martial, Miami Bass, Street Beats, Freestyle and lots more besides.  And if you understand what all those genres represent then you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.  Apologies for the 'shouting' in the track listing, by the way, it's a straight lift from the label's website and Nazgul couldn't face retyping all 80 songs and artists in lower case!

Nevertheless, if Ragnarök is approaching it's a chance to enjoy (at track #65) a new Uruk Hai song, 'A Blade Of Fire', which is currently unreleased and taken from the upcoming split album with Italian project Skoll.  And to encourage you to check out this material yourself, Nazgul will remain enigmatically quiet about what he thinks of it, at least until that Skoll split disc is in hand!  Suffice to say it is of epic stature, more heroic than a Viking funeral, and mixes traditional keyboards with some tasty guitar licks.

A venture well worth supporting, so get on with it!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

FIMBULWINTER (DEMO)


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI 
Title: Fimbulwinter
Format: Previously unseen cover artwork for an unreleased album circa 2000.
Edition: None - unreleased

#11 From the Vaults of W.A.R. 

Another killer item in our occasional series featuring items conjured up in the fevered imaginings of Hugin's mind but never reaching fruition, for one reason or another!

Today's excellent piece of artwork was set to grace a Hrossharsgrani album, due to be called "Fimbulwinter".  You will recall that there was a song  by the same name, which has appeared on a host of Hrossharsgrani demos over the years including the "Ewig Winter" EP, the "From The Dark Ages" compilation, and the latter "The Long Grey Road" release.  You may also recall a special card-disc format version that Hugin made for Nazgul, which was featured in these pages way, way back on 21 May 2009 (nearly 5 years ago, how time flies!)

All good stuff, and a song that combined the vicious pneumatic percussion of battle drums and severed limbs with Hugin's blood-curdling vision of Viking-fuelled black metal vocals and themes.

In the annual spring clean of the Castle Library, where the dust of ages is pushed under the carpets and the rock of ages is cleft for me once again, this intriguing piece of never-before-seen artwork emerged from the dimly lit corner near where the Castle monkey has his lair.  It forms part of the unholy collection of peculiar material stored in the vaults below W.A.R. Productions, now resident in Castle Nazgul, and once again offers a fleeting glimpse into the mysterious world of the unreleased works conceived by Hugin in ages past.

This album is the 'missing link' between "Ancient Tales" & "Of Battles..." (both from the year 2000), and was planned to have the extended edition of the track "Fimbulwinter" on it.  Then Hugin got the contract with CCP Records, and this particular release never happened.

Fimbulwinter itself - simply put, 'Mighty Winter' - refers to the harsh winter that is destined to precede the end of the world (Ragnarök) and put an end to all life on Earth.  Fimbulwinter is three successive winters where snow comes in from all directions, without any intervening summer. During this time, there will be innumerable wars and ties of blood will no longer be respected: the next-of-kin will lie together and brothers will kill brothers. The event is described primarily in the Poetic Edda. In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, Odin poses the question to Vafþrúðnir as to who of mankind will survive the Fimbulwinter. Vafþrúðnir responds that Líf and Lífþrasir will survive and that they will live in the forest of Hoddmímis holt.

It is conjectured that this mythology might be related to the extreme weather events of 535–536 which resulted in a notable drop in temperature across northern Europe. There have also been several popular ideas about whether or not this particular piece of mythology has a connection to the climate change that occurred in the Nordic countries at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age dating from about 650 BC, as before this event the Nordic countries were considerably warmer.

Nazgul is led to understand that it's still common in Nordic countries for the term to be used to refer to an unusually cold and harsh winter - perhaps one of our regular Swedish readers can confirm or deny such rumour?

Of trivial but relevant note is that Fimbulwinter is also a spell in Dungeons & DRagons (allowing the user to change the weather to a state of permanent winter, or strengthen winter conditions already present) and is a Mythic Age god power available to Tyr in Age of Empire - it summons four packs of Fimbulwinter Wolves to attack enemy towns on the map for twenty seconds.

With the passage of time, Hugin has some hard words to say about his own design: "...it's a bad artwork - the logo still has its black background and I don't like the font too :/ " but Nazgul finds it rather more pleasing to the eye, and with a bit of tidying up before formally being released it would have looked awesome.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

HUREN DRACULA'S

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Huren Dracula's (demo)
Format: A plain silver CDr housed in a bespoke card sleeve, signed and numbered by Hugin
Edition: Only 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. Einleitung (Visionen & Fieberträume)  3.33
02. Kinder Der Nacht (Die Musik Der Toten)  7.55
03. Fluß der Tränen - Elisabetha's Fluch (Eine Ode An Die Ewige Liebe)  9.31
04. Unheilvolle Kreaturen In Mondlicht (Erster Blutzyklus)  14.40
05. Huren Draculas (Zweiter Blutzyklus)  3.39
06. Zurückgewonnene Jugend (Manifest Des Blutes)  6.50
07. Kloster Der Hoffnung (Bittersük Setzt Ein Das Leiden)  7.44
08. Ausklang  12.18

In recent years new Elisabetha posts have become as fleeting as sightings of The Flying Dutchman.  The project was shelved back in 2008 and other than one or two archive recordings that came Hugin released circa 2010, activity in the world of vampyric black metal has been a pretty quiet one for the past 4 or 5 years.


This changed a little with the advent of the 'From the Vaults of W.A.R.' series, of course, as the artwork for the odd (sometimes very odd!) unreleased demo or two were dragged kicking and screaming into the light of day for your amazement and delight.  These instances have been hypothetical at best though, with glimpses of what might have been rather than anything tangible to get one's fangs into.  The relevance of this to today's post you will have spotted from the familiar track listing, of course, as it strongly resembles that of "Konkubinen - Eigentümliche Entrücktheit Im Nebel Der Verdammnis (Ein Hörspiel In Acht Akten)" from 30 November 2013.  In that post the story of this very same unreleased demo was told, tracing it through from the original "Huren Dracula's" demo to finally becoming the official "Und Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder" album.

All the more reason to celebrate this oddity, therefore, unearthed by Hugin and existing in a single edition and now proudly housed within the library of Castle Nazgul.  Nazgul is honoured to be given the responsibility to be the home for such a rarity, more so when you consider the demo has been signed and numbered #1/1 on the reverse by the man himself.  

The trail of discovery really kicked off with Hugin's recent visit to the Castle, when in a quiet moment between being jumped on by Nazgul Junior and rushing around between tourist sites Hugin had a chance to glance through some of the paperwork held in the Library that documents his many ventures into the musical realm.  In the midst of one such file was a mock-up cover for an unreleased "Huren Dracula's" demo, as featured in the Blog on 5 December 2009. This rang a distant bell in Hugin's mind ('b-o-n-g!') and on his return to W.A.R. Productions this small but interesting disc was discovered in the cobweb-shrouded archives.

And essentially what we have are the instrumental demos for the "Und Wirklichkeit..." release, recorded without any vocal or spoken word parts (well, save for a few haunting bits of chanting here and there).  Possibly even more alarmingly gloomy and eccentric in instrumental form than on the final album, it's certainly a unique piece to listen to and and interesting part of the history of compilation of that release.  And after all of the history of the demo, with it's various proposed releases and artwork, how nice to finally have something physical to demonstrate how near to completion this demo came.

For completeness, you might also like to remind yourself of Neon Asthet's alternate artwork for the unreleased "Huren's Dracula" release on 20 January 2010 (Nazgul trusts you're keeping up with the various twists and turns?!) and the post for "Und Wirklichkeit Erfüllt Die Seele Wieder" itself.

Time to head back to your coffin and the fresh soil of your homeland for the long sleep before the next Elisabetha post rises once more from the grave...


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Forthcoming W.A.R. attractions


Featured Items: Promotional posters for upcoming events, organised by Hugin's W.A.R. Productions

Firstly, an apology.  This year marks the first time in the History of Honour and Darkness that Nazgul has failed to do a post to celebrate Hugin's birthday.  A shocking omission, albeit it one caused by (i) being away from the Castle for the weekend and being spun stupid by excessive roller-coaster riding, and (ii) being appallingly disorganised.  Honestly, old Nazgul is going senile here in the dust of his crumbling library, and were it not for the super-organised Lady Nazgul who knows where his failing faculties would lead him...?

So - let us take this opportunity to wish our Austrian brother a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and hope that the belated (online at least) greetings make a swift journey over the Alpine passes to W.A.R. Productions.

Secondly, this presents a good opportunity to plug a couple of forthcoming events being sponsored and/or organised by W.A.R. and which you would be wise to check out should you have the chance.  The first of these is the second Acoustic Festival being held on the 2nd May at the Elia Church in Linz, just down the road from Hugin HQ.  As with last years inaugural show, this is a charitable event raising money for good causes in Ghana and features a range of musical talent across the spectrum of genres.  Most familiar to readers of this blog will be the appearance (for the second time) of Australian Joe Matera - a precursor to his European Tour 2014, more of which in a moment - and also for the performance by W.A.R. Productions label-mates Seeking Raven.

Take a look at the poster featured herein, and if you find yourself in Linz on 2 May and fancy supporting a worthy cause - well, it's a no-brainer really, isn't it?

Our final gratuitous plug is for that Joe Matera European Tour in support of his recently released "Terra Firma" album, which has by all accounts has been critically well received already reached Platinum sales status in the Faroe Islands.  Unlike Joe's last European sojourn that took in Austria and the UK only, this tour takes in a lot more countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and The Netherlands.  Will Joe's travelling Swedish fan base follow him around central Europe as they did around the UK - be there, and find out!?

Enquiries, album orders, updates on extra gigs etc. can all be found via Hugin's various Facebook sites and on Joe's page too.  Support the label and the artists in their quest to promote quality music across Europe!

After the hardships of touring life have taken their toll, both Hugin and Joe will be visiting Castle Nazgul for some well needed rest and recuperation prior to flying back to their respective countries, so with luck a future post will have some photos of both tour/gig action and the England aftermath...!


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

UBER DIE NEBELBERGE WEIT...

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Uber Die Nebelberge Weit...
Format: A CDr release in colour covers on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine), cat ref cut1216, released in 2013.
Edition: Limited to 33 copies

Track Listing:
01. Nebelberge (Kapital 1 & 2)  15.54
02. Nebelberge (Kapital 3 - 6)  18.57
03. Nebelberge (Kapital 7 & 8)  8.18
04. Covered In Black Fog (Nebelberge Kapital 9)  7.11
05. Nebelberge (Kapital 10)  1.47
06. Durch Folde & Fenmark  15.25

It's a truism to say that for each of us there are specific times in life that resonate more strongly than any other.  It may only take a particular smell, image or experience to bring memories of old flooding back, sometimes painful and sometimes pleasant.  Nazgul, for example, always finds the that the first day in Spring that delivers the sweet smell of blossom and mown grass brings back happy childhood memories of running around in his parent's garden, kicking the decapitated head of a hobbit into a make-shift goal in the pursuit of dreams of football stardom.  Similar childhood memories are evoked by the onset of Autumn, or the first chill airs of Winter.

Equally powerful, and the reason behind this bout of happy reminiscing, is the effect that particular pieces of music can have on one's psyche.  And here's a case in point - the "Uber Die Nebelberge Weit..." album from Uruk Hai.  Literally translating as 'Fog Over The Mountains Far' - let's just call it 'Misty Mountains' - this fine album is said to be a 'long lost recording' from 2004 and successfully brings back every happy memory of the classic Uruk Hai compositions of that time.  

This album positively screams Middle-Earth at you, from the stylish cover artwork (framed with a collage last seen on the very obscure "Land Of The Shadow" split release, also of 2004) to the titles of the songs.  There is so much of the atmosphere of Tolkien's realms on this recording that you can almost hear the swish of Gandalf's cloak and smell the stench of orcs hidden in the mists on mountain passes.

This is a seriously good release, as good as anything of the period that the project recorded.  Well it should be really, as these recordings compile all of Hugin's Misty Mountains-related demo tracks, which were later released in better quality as "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away...)" on Stuka Sound in 2006.  The overwrought prose about this release from one online shop (which will remain nameless) tells us that "blood freezes in the veins at the sound of clenching steel, a further, more giant battle is fought. The way of the warrior is sealed, created out of flesh and steel, baptized in fire and ice the warlord Uruk-Hai rises with iron force to fight his battle in the land of shadows. Dark Pagan Ambient hymns, mystic and bombastic battle-sounds lead you to deadly moors, rise up high in the sky and chase the dark creatures through enchanted woods. Mighty atmospheres, war-drums, cymbals and fanfares build a symphony like the ride of a Valkyrie. Recorded back in 2004 will tell this album about the long forgotten ode to the magic of the Misty Mountains. Surely a favourite for Lord Of The Rings fanatics!"  Fantastic - 'clenching steel' indeed, both hilarious and painful in equal measure!

If you don't have a copy of this then you really need to head straight off to either the label (Depressive Illusions) or to Hugin himself to purchase one.  However, the one truly strange thing in this happy tale is the limitation placed on the CD: only 33 copies have apparently been released?!  For a recording like this, steeped in elves blood and more heroic than a single-handed assault on Helms Deep, that is a bizarre decision indeed, as it ought to be flying off the shelves to anyone who considers themselves a fan of the project or of this particular genre of music.  The "Across The Misty Mountains" release had an edition of 500 copies by comparison, and Nazgul suspects that the vast majority of those sold pretty well.  Most perplexing, unless the presumption was that anyone interested in this period of the band's history would already own the Stuka Sounds version?

It would also be slightly strange - albeit flying in the face of the advice Nazgul has just proffered - if Depressive Illusions actually had any copies left for sale at this time, really, as you would have to imagine sufficient die-hard fans exist to have snaffled the paltry number of copies up already.  Actually, on the subject of die-hard fans, there were/are two different options available for the purchase of this album from the label: one as the CD by itself, and the other slightly more expensive 'die-hard' option coming with your choice of fabric patch with the Uruk Hai band logo.

If one wanted to be particularly picky there are one or two issues that grate a little, most evident on the final track where the percussion sounds unsuited for the general atmosphere of the song.  But such niggles aside, and allowing for the fact that these were demos after all, Nazgul would unhesitatingly recommend this release to you.  If you can find a copy....