Saturday, 12 April 2014
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.