Friday, 6 February 2015

GONDOR


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Gondor
Format: A plain silver CDr disc inside a single-sided colour cover, released in 2014 by Smell The Stench (Australia), no catalogue reference.
Edition: 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. When Gondor's Trumpet Sounds  4:48
02. Holy Metal (instrumental version)  11:30

Preconceived ideas are funny things.  On reading the title of the first song on this short EP Nazgul was immediately put in mind of a song by Spanish ambient band Lugburg, namely 'The Silver Trumpet Sound of Gondor' from their 2003 album "Behind The Gates Of Black Abyss".  That song begins with an approximation of a silvery trumpet note (score no marks for originality but full marks for relevance), and it's such a good song that since that time any reference to Gondor, trumpets or the like in a song tend to get Nazgul's mindset thinking along similar audio lines.


So - inevitably, perhaps - Hugin decides to to throw us a curve ball on his take on all that is trumpet-like from hallowed Gondor by kicking this song off with a colossal guitar riff and then barrelling through another epic and tasteful piece with scant regard to any brass or silver instrumentation!  Clearly this particular Uruk Hai has taken out in his forage pack one large axe (probably forged in the red-hot furnaces of Hohner) and has given it one almighty strum whilst bored one day. "Kerrang!" as someone once wisely proclaimed.

Still, we should learn not to be hung up on song titles and expect the music to necessarily match the words: After all, Nazgul doesn't recall hearing many orgasms in Motorhead's 'Orgasmatron'...

Far heavier than anything recently under the Uruk Hai banner, this new-found guitar and keyboard 'buffness' takes you by the scruff of the neck and persistently wrings the breath out of you.  It carries on in respect of the second song of the pair, an instrumental version of a new track called 'Holy Metal' which is similarly robust and metallic in its influences.  It will be interesting to see what the final version is like, in the sense of hearing what style of vocal delivery is married to the song.  'Holy Metal' is the perfect title for a Hugin song in many respects and one can also imagine it being used as a useful expletive, ringing out and through the Austrian Alps when disaster arises: "What do you mean the latest Uruk Hai shipment is lost in the post?  Holy Metal...!?!"

Gondor itself is described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age.  It was located in the west of the continent of Middle-earth, and the main part of its territory lay on the northern shores of the Bay of Belfalas and around the White Mountains. Tolkien noted that the capital Minas Tirith was situated on a latitude comparable to that of Venice and the total area of Gondor as represented on Tolkien's maps has been estimated by some well meaning soul at 716,426 square miles.  Honestly, and I thought I had time on my hands....?!

To the north-west of the kingdom originally lay the realm of Arnor; to the north, Gondor was neighboured by the Wilderland and, after its settlement, by Rohan; to the north-east, by the land of Rhûn; to the east, by Sauron's realm of Mordor; to the south, by the deserts of Harad.  The original borders of Gondor were: rivers Gwathló and Glanduin up to the Misty Mountains; eaves of the Fangorn forest and river Entwash; marshes of Nindalf and the Mountains of Shadow; and river Poros.

Many accounts have been written about the Siege of Gondor, which of course yours truly witnessed and can attest the written record to be scandalously generous to humankind.  The received wisdom for the start of the siege for example, is that in from beyond the outermost gate of Minas Tirith five dark Nazgûl swooping over a small, rapidly approaching group of Men on horseback. The leader of the horsemen sounded his horn; Beregond (Captain of the Gondor White Company) recognised the trumpet call of Faramir, Denethor’s son.   The men, thrown from their terrified horses, ran for the city gate on foot. Just as a Nazgûl descended on Faramir, Pippin sees what appears to be a brilliant white star in the north which proves to be that bloody nuisance Gandalf on Shadowfax. Gandalf raised his hand and sends a shaft of light shooting upward into one of the Nazgûl. 

The Nazgûl , so the story goes, allegedly cries and circles away, whilst the other Ringwraiths supposedly follow on behind.  Well, rubbish, let this Nazgul tell you, and when we've got a few minutes free one day we'll hear the true story of who sent shafts of what up where, and it'll bring tears to your eyes let me tell you....

Anyway, back to this item: There's been something of a glut of these CDr EP's from Smell The Stench in the past few months, which probably suggests we're looking at a big new Uruk Hai album coming out fairly soon in 2015 with final versions on that album to be collated from these separate releases.  The limitation on numbers for the EP's makes grabbing a copy a bit frantic, and with only 22 of these out there one suspects if you've not got one yet then you'd better get to Leigh Stench pretty darn fast!

There's a clue in the artwork on the front of "Gondor" to the subject matter of the next post on Honour and Darkness, incidentally, and in leaving you thinking about that cryptic note, let Nazgul bid you adieu....

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