Wednesday, 15 October 2014

BLOOD & IRON


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Blood And Iron
Format: A wooden box-set on the Fallen Angels Productions label (South Korea), catalogue reference FAP048, released in August 2013.  There are two versions of this release, with the same albums inside but with colour and black & white artwork distinguishing them.  The box contains 1 x CDr and 6 x cassette tapes, featuring previously released Uruk Hai material.
Edition: There are 25 hand-numbered copies in total - 7 copies are in full colour, with 18 therefore being black & white.

Contents:
CDr  *  The_Nazgul

Tape 1  *  Lord_of_The_Rings
Tape 2  *  Wrath_Of_The_Ring
Tape 3  *  Gil-Galad
Tape 4  *  Blutreich
Tape 5  *  Felagund
Tape 6  *  Iron Age

This handy box-set unifies a number of past Uruk Hai releases into one tidy little collection.  The theme of unification is most appropriate, given the title of this release, as Blood and Iron (or 'Blut und Eisen' in the original German) is the title of a speech given in 19862 by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck about the unification of the German territories.  That eventually led to a war in Europe, and of course W.A.R. is in Europe and is the spiritual home for all things Uruk Hai.  A most cunning coincidence....

This beautifully presented set - as are all of the Fallen Angels Productions releases, to be fair - lacks the usual smattering of stickers, posters or accoutrements typical of such boxes, save for a couple of feathers.  One is taped to the inside of the lid, the other loose within the box.  What might they signify - who knows?!  White feathers were used as a symbol of cowardice in the First World War, but these aren't white (nor would they fit with the thunderous theme of the box either!)

So, strike Nazgul with down with, errrm, well, a feather, as it turns out that there's a whole sub-culture about the meanings behind feathers (well, it keeps people busy I suppose).  Feathers were worn by Native American Chiefs to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom, and also represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind.  In a Celtic context, the feather was worn by Druids in the form of ornate feathered robes to invoke the sky gods and gain knowledge of the celestial realm. It was believed that the feathered cloak along with the presence of the sky gods would allow the Druid to transcend the earthly plane and enter the ethereal realm.

The Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul. In Christianity feathers represented virtues.  Even dreams aren't out of the equation: here (apparently) dreaming of feathers means travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.

So perhaps we should infer from this that "Blood & Iron" will invoke both thunder gods (but hopefully not Gene Simmons) and virtue, and will elevate us fortunate to own it to ethereal realms in the sky as long as we wear ornate robes and travel extensively...?

Anyway, back to the other contents!  

This set is notably for compiling some genuinely hard-to-find Uruk Hai releases and for that there should be much rejoicing.  The CD pressing of "The Nazgul" is by far the rarest of the bunch, not least because there was only a single tape copy made of the release as a gift from Hugin to Nazgul back in the day!  This airing in CD format with new artwork too, and is an instant gem in a collection of many treasures.

Also of note in this box are a tape release for the highly elusive "Blutreich" compilation - again with bespoke artwork on this version - and a tape release for the previously vinyl only limited edition outing "Iron Age".  Those three releases alone would make any box-set worth acquiring as they are all pretty hard to find now (less so Iron Age, but it's hardly commonplace!) and copies can get pretty expensive if when you can track them down.

To this trio you can then add some classic tapes from a few years back - the "Wrath of the Ringsand "Lord of the Rings" both epic and grandiose in their scope, whilst the multi-song "Felagundis also well worth hearing and - despite being in an apparently unlimited initial pressing - suffered slightly by being on a relative obscure label.  Here all three get new artwork and a fresh breath of life and add value to the collection.

The sole 'oddity' in this release is the inclusion of "Gil Galad", which is a good demo in fairness but was made available in so many formats and versions that it hardly needed another release here.  There are plenty of other contemporary demos that would have benefitted from inclusion, but then again perhaps the game-plan is to save them for later releases and not put all of the golden eggs into one basket?

A stupendous release, in short, and a good excuse - if you need it - to listen to some classic Uruk Hai releases all over again!

And look at the fabulous artwork too - the black and white covers are the same as the colour ones in terms of design and content, so forgive Nazgul for majoring on those colour versions here.  Some awesome looking covers for these tapes and discs, which really establishes the quality of the box overall. 


A minor mystery to end with: the Fallen Angels Productions webpage listed this as being in an edition of 26 copies, 7 colour and 19 black and white.  Nazgul's copies show that the edition number inside the tape inlay runs to only 25 copies, so there is a presumption that there will be 7 colour copies and 18 black and white versions (although it could be 6 and 19 respectively).  

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