Monday, 16 June 2014

GORTHAUR / URUK HAI split


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Gorthaur / Uruk Hai (an otherwise untitled split release)
Format: Released on professional CDr in larger DVD size box by Aschefruehling Records (Germany) in January 2014.  The split release features tracks from Uruk Hai and German black metal horde Gorthaur, who formed in 2003.
Edition: 33 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
GORTHAUR
01.  Snow  1.36       
02.  Warwolves  3.12      
03.  The Great Shadow from the Eastern Kingdom  4.29      
04.  Alte Feinde Neuer Hass  3.26      
05.  Darkness  0.57   
06.  Frostking's Realm  3.55      
07.  The Dark Lord's Tower  6.59      
08.  Dusk  1.00  
URUK HAI
09.  The White Tower 6.06      
10.  Flucht  3.19      
11.  The Iron Doors of Angband  8.10      
12.  Numenor  6.20      
13.  In A Dream  3.23  

Nazgul did something quite unusual after playing the Gorthaur tracks on this release for the first time.  He stopped the CD before the Uruk Hai tracks could begin, and replayed the whole lot of Gorthaur songs again.  It's uncommon for Nazgul to forgo an initial blast of new Hugin material for any other band, but on this occasion I was glad to make an exception as the black metal on offer over the first 8 songs of this split release are really rather good.  Sure, opener 'Snow' does sound a tad like the background music for a 90's tv police drama series and is rather out of place here, but otherwise there's a vicious yet melodious mixture of songs here ('Dusk' excepted, being a calming little outro piece) that raises hairs and hackles as one.  Excellent.

 
If the band name is vaguely familiar to you, it's most likely from literature rather than music given their relative lack of released material.  Gorthaur, you may not be surprised to learn, is a name taken from the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.  During the First Era and shortly after the return of Morgoth, the Noldorin Elves also left the Blessed Realm of Valinor in the Uttermost West, against the counsel of the Valar, to wage war on Morgoth, who had stolen the Silmarils. In that war, Sauron served as Morgoth's chief lieutenant, surpassing all others in rank, such as Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs. 

Known as Gorthaur the Cruel, Sauron was at that time a master of illusions and shape-shifting; werewolves and vampires were his servants, chief among them Draugluin, Father of Werewolves, and his vampire herald Thuringwethil.  Blimey, there's a name to wrestle with after a few pints of Middle-earth's premier ale, Old Gothmog's Throat-Shafter!

If you're in the mood for a quick blast, you could have a listen to 'The Dark Lord's Tower' and see what you make of it...  

The Uruk Hai material, in contrast, is not black metal nor - arguably for much of its duration - could it really be called 'metal' at all.  It undoubtedly retains a full-on Middle-earth atmosphere about it, as much of Uruk Hai's music does, with interesting little influences of almost middle-eastern music going on in there.  The pieces are instrumental for the most part, lengthy and sinuous as is Hugin's wont, with the exception of 'Flucht' which contains some utterly bizarre vocal effects and peculiar music and is as incongruous in this company as it would be watching Gandalf in a naked foxy-boxing bout with Galadriel.  Not a pretty sight (well, not the first half; I suppose I could drag my blackened eyes towards a naked Galadriel if opportunity arose...)

'The Iron Doors Of Angband' gets things back on track with some effective female choral style vocals (courtesy of Asche) and some uplifting keyboards of the type that fill the soul with thoughts of gallant deeds and epic quests. 'Numenor' (a large island in the Sundering Seas, which was brought up from the sea as a gift from the Valar to the Edain, the Fathers of Men who had stood with the Elves of Beleriand against Morgoth in the War of the Jewels) continues the good work, throwing in some almost New-Wave style synthesisers and a rather COI-style club beat for good measure ... and manages to get away with it!  

The split ends with 'In A Dream', a very pleasant and wistful way to conclude with some nods in the instrumentation back to the classic release "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away....)" for good measure.

Other than the strange thing that is 'Flucht', there's much to admire here for Uruk Hai fans and with the nicely put together nature of the release it's certainly one worth seeking out whilst they are still out there for sale. 

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