Monday, 30 March 2015

LORD OF THE RINGS


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Lord Of The Rings
Format: This was a planned but ultimately unreleased demo from Uruk Hai circa 2006-2007, which would have been in CD format judging by the artwork size.
Edition: Never released

Proposed Track Listing:
01. The White Trees Of Minas Ithil
02. Enter Mordor
03. Rohan Riders
04. Gates Of Summer
05. Lay Of Leithian
06. Into The Mirror
07. Galadriel's Message
08. Keeper Of Nenya
09. Beneath The Moon, Beneath The Sun
10. May It Be
11. Helms Deep

#18 From the Vaults of W.A.R.


Today's rummage through the vaults generates a case of deja vu with a past entry in the series, namely "The Great Unknown".

Both that unreleased demo and this one ultimately coalesced (for the most part) into the "Lothlorien" album, of which there have been multiple variants issued over the years on tape, 5" digipak CD and a 4 x 3" discs in a special box-set.  So, let's do the same exercise here as we did for "The Great Unknown" and map out where the proposed tracks from "Lord Of The Rings" did in fact appear in the Uruk Hai discography:

  • The White Trees Of Minas Ithil - retained, as the short intro to Lothlorien
  • Enter Mordor - retained, becoming track 2 on the Lothlorien CD release
  • Rohan Riders - retained, and appears as track 3 on Lothlorien 
  • Gates Of Summer - retained, and became track 9 on Lothlorien 
  • Lay Of Leithian - retained, and became track 4 on Lothlorien 
  • Into The Mirror - retained as song 5 on Lothlorien
  • Galdriel's Message - retained as song 6 on Lothlorien
  • Keeper Of Nenya - retained as song 7 on Lothlorien
  • Beneath The Moon, Beneath The Sun - whilst not appearing on the CD version of Lothlorien, this was the final track 9 on the original cassette release of the album and track 9 on the Valgriind tape reissue.  It also appears on tape and CD versions of  "A Dark Force Shines Golden"
  • May It Be - retained, and became track 8 on the Lothlorien release (but track 10 on the tape version)
  • Helms Deep - Not used on Lothlorien, it makes its appearance as the opening song on "A Dark Force Shines Golden" and thus is also compiled into the "War Anthems" box-set
Just to clear up any confusion, this demo has nothing to do with the Wulfrune Worxx tape demo of the same title released in 2010, which stands as an entirely different release with different music and artwork.

Some great artwork accompanies this sadly unreleased CD, especially that on the cover.  The runic border recounts Tolkien's Ring Verse:

"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."

and the image of a ship passing through Argonath (the Gate of Kings, a monument comprising two enormous pillars carved in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, standing upon either side of the River Anduin) is a classic fantasy illustration from Tolkien's realm and looks really striking here.

Like many of these unpublished releases otherwise lost to history it's a pleasure to see some insight into what Hugin was plotting and planning back in the day, and also quite poignant that many wonderful looking demos or albums never actually came to exist.  The good news, of course, is that the proposed material from them most often did reach the outside world in one form or other, so from the aural perspective we've not lost out.  

And with the existence of the 'From the Vaults of W.A.R.' occasional series we can now enjoy these treats for the eye too!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

MUSIC FOR CATGIRL LOVERS 06


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Music For Catgirl Lovers 06
Format: A CDr release on the Catgirl Records label (Germany), issued on 24 March 2012, cat ref PUSSYCAT.#006.  The release comes with three picture inserts and two large front and rear colour covers, plus part #6 of a 24-part jigsaw puzzle (one part in each of Catgirl's 24 releases in this series), all housed in a transparent A4 plastic bag/sleeve.  The CDr disc has a hand drawn pattern on it, though it is currently unknown if the design differs between discs.  Hugin's contribution was recorded at W.A.R. Studios in February 2012.
Edition: Hand-numbered to 20 copies only

Track Listing:
01. Catgirl & Kaelteeinbruch  *  'I Am Watching You - My Message For You'  6:34  
02. Bonemachine  *  'The Future... ...Kill Me'  18:12  

Not to be confused with Music For Catgirl Lovers 03 which featured back in June 2010, this instalment in the ongoing Catgirl series is number 06 and comes with its own curious inserts and alarming music content!

This certainly comes as a very different listening experience from the recent glut of new Uruk Hai material that has featured in Honour and Darkness over the past weeks. Although being released almost exactly 3 years ago, Nazgul had been storing this one in a dark cupboard under lock and key waiting for a good chance to air its contents and put a long overdue Bonemachine entry back on his Blog.  The time was right, the mood was right ... so here we go!

Firstly, let's consider the packaging.  As we saw with the previous Catgirl Records release, they have developed a style of design that is pretty much unique to them.  Mix one part anime, one part pornography, one part oddity and one part insanity together and stir vigorously, and this is your end product.  No doubting the quality of the printing or artwork, nor the effort put into making it look appealing.  Kudos to them to for maintaining the extraordinary idea of including a single part of a jigsaw puzzle across all of the 24 releases in this series: a move of inspired genius if ever there was one.

Wrapped in the now traditional large plastic bag, and with 2 high visibility colour covers forming a sandwich with the contents, it's a striking looking item when out of the shelf and in full view, but one that becomes invisible once put back on the shelf as it's tall and thin and disappears accordingly.  The hand-drawn design/pattern on the silver CDr disc is ... ummmm, interesting?!  Nazgul has no idea what it attempts to be, or whether different discs have different designs (which seems pretty likely), so if you know more then drop me a line.

Hand-drawn disc art!
So on to the music.  Both songs have a similar theme coming through in them - a message from an unnamed individual to the listener that emerges through layers of static, noise, interference and other aural terrorism.  The Catgirl & Kaelteeinbruch effort throws all manner of effects at the unwary listener, and sounds for the most part like music being piped through the bathroom appliances in a submerged ship.  If you've ever hankered after the experience of hearing what the ghostly band on the stricken Titanic  might sound like from the vantage point of a distant toilet cubicle, here's your chance...!

Bonemachine's performance, on the other hand (and I'm not just saying this for the sake of it - if it wasn't very good you can trust Nazgul to give it you straight), is more compelling.  It may be due to the fact that the glamorous Lady Nazgul and I were watching the film 'Ouija' the other night, but there is a distinct feel from this song that it is channelling the voice of a spirit through some form of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) device.  Indeed, if you're the type of person who enjoys programmes such as Most Haunted or Ghost Hunters International then this could be very familiar territory for you....

...except that this guess, as it turns out, was a false one.  A quick check with Hugin determined that the song is actually based on Hugo-Award winning TV series Babylon 5!  Oh well, Nazgul's ghost box theory disappears in a puff of smoke.  

Not being au fait with Babylon 5, I can tell you just that the series is set between the years 2257 and 2262, and depicts a future where Earth has sovereign states, and a unifying Earth government. Colonies within the solar system, and beyond, make up the Earth Alliance, and contact has been made with other space-faring species. The ensemble cast portray alien ambassadorial staff and humans assigned to the five-mile-long Babylon 5 space station, a centre for trade and diplomacy. The various story arcs drew upon the prophesies, religious zealotry, racial tensions, social pressures, and political rivalries which existed within each of their cultures, to create a contextual framework for the motivations and consequences of the protagonists' actions.

Beyond that, you're on your own!

Another part of the infamous Catgirl jigsaw puzzle
It is a long song though, and quite a challenge to sit through if you're not otherwise distracted.  Being shrouded in static and noise-clad it can be repetitive on occasion, but just when you think there's nothing more to come a disembodied voice will cut through the murk and quietly urge you to "kill me", which is a rude awakening to say the least.  

Also murmuring away in the background is an apparent faint melody, possibly intentional or possibly a trick of your own perception in trying to find order in the chaos.  Overall, the song seems destined to be one of those tracks that you hear once (or maybe two or three times if you're especially dedicated) and think, "well, that was interesting" ... before dashing off to do something terribly important and leaving this composition in your wake.

However, it's a refreshing change from almost all of Hugin's other musical endeavours, and whilst not the sort of song you'd instinctively reach for to while away a few minutes it certainly fits nicely in the Bonemachine canon of work, and is entertaining and unsettling in equal measure.  What more can you ask for from a Bonemachine song?!

Dedication on the plastic bag from Hugin!

Monday, 23 March 2015

URUK HAI > Wallet


Band: URUK HAI
Item: A bespoke leather wallet, commissioned for Hugin!
Edition: a one-off item

As we approach the month of April and the upcoming birthday of our Austrian adventurer, thoughts at Castle Nazgul inevitably turn towards how Honour and Darkness will mark the event this year.  Well, rest assured that your old Uncle Nazgul has something suitably celebratory in mind so keep your eyes peeled on the big day!  

Meanwhile, all of this cogitation led Nazgul to recall that there was a particular gift made to Hugin in 2014 on his visit to the UK that would sit nicely in Honour and Darkness - and so here it is!  It is - presumably - the world's only Uruk Hai wallet!  Hand painted on leather, the designs represent the two of the band's logos from that time, the band name against the national Austrian flag, and the intricate design that was done for Hugin by renowned band logo artist Christophe Szpajdel.  

This piece was commissioned through a very nice chap called Rupert who maintains a website at www.paintedleatherjackets.com and who did a great job in getting the project completed in a very tight turnaround time.  He's done some excellent commissions on jackets, wallets, and pretty much anything that could be painted on, and comes highly recommended to you all.

Once in a blue moon Nazgul has these good ideas, with this wallet following the bespoke sterling silver Uruk Hai logo badge in 2010 of which only 2 copies were  made; one for Hugin and the other for Wulfrune Worxx owner (and long-time supporter) Skogen.  As the photo of that item was rather hidden away in the 500th Blog post celebrations, here it is again!  What might Nazgul's next bright idea be ... who knows?!


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

TALES FROM THE CATACOMBS VOL 1 [V/A]


Band: URUK HAI and ILL
Title: Tales From The Catacombs Vol. 1 [Various Artists]
Format: Free online compilation on Bandcamp from Greek label Black Death Industry, made available on 23 December 2014.
Edition: Unlimited (whilst available for download)

Track Listing:
01. Backyard Ghost  *  First Signs of Infection 06:20    
02. Sonologyst  *  Nephilim 06:40    
03. Gnomula Larvae  *  Diary 09:27    
04. URUK-HAI  *  Ringwraiths 13:13    
05. Cadlag  *  Asbestopluma 07:10    
06. 0  *  Demon 05:36    
07. Ruairi O'Baoighill  *  Black Prayer 06:03    
08. Sound Awakener  *  Dark Ages 04:52    
09. A Bleeding Star  *  Lovecraftian Madness Dwell'd Deep Within the Halls of Cumbria's Cavernous Mountains 06:51    
10. Oneirich  *  Nigrum Mortem 04:05    
11. Mean Flow  *  Empty Tired 04:39    
12. Phantasm Nocturnes  *  The Dance Macabre 03:40    
13. Dr.NoiseM  *  Death Noise Field 03:20    
14. Actarus Aksam  *  Hiuli 06:42    
15. T.R.I.v.M.  *  Hopeless 04:04    
16. ILL  *  Bleak 11:22    
17. Schattenspiel  *  King Pest 04:08    
18. M.Nomized  *  The Ossuary 09:44    
19. Der Domestizierte Mensch  *  Die with a Smile 08:00    
20. DruhaSmrt  *  Twilight Shines From Bones 07:19    
21. Midnightradio11  *  Do They Know It's Ebola Time 04:41    
22. Shotgun Suicide Victim  *  The Program Approaches The Wired 04:28    
23. V M Project  *  Searching for Gods Existence in Quarks 05:57    
24. SiJ  *  Black Wind 04:50    
25. Northwind  *  Underworld 10:47    
26. Bonechurch  *  Upon Plague Winds 07:18    
27. Caveja  *  Sacred Flame Rituals 06:26    
28. Hedge Wizard  *  Huffing Petrichor 04:13    
29. Nix's Eyes  *  Crypts of Torture and Death 04:11    
30. Hope Every Day  *  Funeral 05:53    
31. Meseonas  *  Ghosts of Transylvania 03:00    
32. Sardonic Zendik  *  Ohreule 03:21    
33. Steven Olaf  *  The Sinking Feeling 03:30    
34. Ashtoreth  *  Seance VIII: Channeling Black Bone 06:06    
35. Balrog  *  Across the Misty Mountains of Moria 04:21    
36. Unsung  *  Through the Sorrow 06:20    
37. Muldeponie  *  Awakening of Dragons 04:40    

Another staggeringly vast online compilation for your delight, this time courtesy of Greek label Black Death Industry.  Their Bandcamp page details the fare on offer, which spans the gamut of ambient, black metal, dark ambient, doom, drone and ambient ritual genres.  A little something for everyone, then!

Our principal interest comes from the inclusion at track 4 of Uruk Hai, and at track 16 of the recently resurrected project ILL.

Now ILL we crossed swords with recently with their song 'JOY', and a welcome return to the fold it was to see their name back in Hugin's active projects list.  'Bleak' - the offering here - is also available as a self-titled physical release in it's own right, so whilst you're very welcome to point your browser towards the Greek mainland and listen to this song for yourself courtesy of Black Death, Nazgul is going to hold fire and deal with it in a post of its own in due course.

So instead let us delve into the murky depths of 'Ringwraiths' from Uruk Hai, which has been floating around as a free clip on Facebook for a while now too.  In terms of an actual physical release, however, only a couple of one-off bespoke copies have been floating around so far of this song, one of which is a special box-set version with a dedicated collector in Spain (you know who you are!) and the other (in a different format) lurks in Castle Nazgul.  This is, therefore, the first 'proper' outing for this 13:13 long epic.

And it's not your typical Uruk Hai song, this one.  After some subterranean sounding crashes and bangs, a choir of unhappy souls pipe up a dirge whilst sombre and melancholy musical misery abounds!  None of your tinkling bells and shimmering cascades of keyboards for this outing, as noted in recently reviewed albums!  And quite right too, as a gathering of Ring-Wraiths is a pretty grim affair, let Nazgul tell you from his personal experience.  Well, you only need to revisit Tolkien's description from The Silmarillion to get the idea that getting the nine of us together is hardly likely to lead to an impromptu knees-up:

"Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth, yet it turned to their undoing. They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men; but too often they beheld only the phantoms and delusions of Sauron. And one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and of the domination of the One which was Sauron's. And they became forever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows. The Nazgûl were they, the Ringwraiths, the Úlairi, the Enemy's most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death"

Truly a case of being as far away from 'Yo dude, where's the kegger?!' as it would be possible to get!

The song continues with an augmentation of male choirs, some cavernous percussion and then deep blasphemous vocals vaguely reminiscent of those of Spanish black metal band Lugburg, sans lisp.  Parping keyboards add a somewhat regal air, and in a nutshell there you have it.

Not necessarily the most easy to remember Uruk Hai song you'll have heard this year, nor one that's easy to hum along to after it's ended, but one possessing a power and darkness nevertheless that fits well with the content of this compilation and demonstrates the variety of music that Hugin is able to generate within this highly regarded project.

Despite all of this wondrous majesty and splendour, however, the real hidden treasure on this compilation is A Bleeding Star for the brilliant title of their contribution: 'Lovecraftian madness dwell'd deep within the halls of Cumbria's cavernous mountains'.  Genius!  Nazgul defies any song with such a title to suck, and indeed this track has an unwholesome atmosphere that's hard to beat.  A Bleeding Star, it is written, is a dark-ambient-Gothic-experimental project created in 2008 wherein its creator - and I quote - "usually only works with his own gathering of ghosts, spectres, spirits & wraiths."  Mad as a hatter, God bless him!  Bring on a collaboration with WACH and world domination will surely follow....

Also of note is Balrog, at track 35, who may yet prove to be the very same band that have a split release with Uruk Hai in the works as I type.

Highly recommended, this compilation, and one to get your juices flowing over.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

ELBENSTAHL



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elbenstahl
Format: Professional CD in jewel case with 4 page full-colour booklet released on the Metallic Media label (Illinois, USA) on 22 January 2015, cat ref METALLIC 050.  This is an all instrumental compendium of previously released and new songs, recorded between 2013 and 2014.  Cover artwork and design by Hugin, while the 'Orc' illustrations inside the booklet are by Ruta Silders.
Edition: Limited to 500 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01.  Blessed Realm  8.15
02.  Shadow Dance  4.14
03.  Return Of The Fallen Warriors  5.00 
04.  Magic  12.02 
05.  At The Heart Of The Forest  6.26
06.  Elbisch Blut  3.35 
07.  Western Shores  6.02 
08.  The Orc  8.02 
09.  The Golden Age Of Gondor  7.32 
10.  The Ash Mountains  10.49 
11.  The Orc (Part 2)  2.41 
12.  Dark Shadows (Outro)  1.23 

No time for a vacation this year?  Plans for a summer holiday thwarted by lack of time or funds?  Then invest in Uruk Hai's "Elbenstahl" CD, an affordable and convenient way to lose yourself in exotic other worlds without the need to leave the comfort of your own home....

Such is the mesmerising amount of music offered on this twelve song album it could easily have been advertised on these lines, and well advertised it certainly has been for this is quite probably the most publicised and readily available release from Hugin's ambient fantasy project for many a year.  Amazon has it in stock, Discogs has it in stock, you can find copies on eBay and a myriad of online outlets and distros, both underground and overground (no Wombles selling it yet though, as far as known) *  It's not available at your local HMV store quite yet, but this is one of the more widely distributed of Hugin's releases for quite some time, and that can only be a good thing in terms of raising his profile and getting his music out to the great unwashed.

It is, in short, something of a best-seller in relative terms even though only 500 copies of the album were pressed in total.  This means that if you've not yet invested your loot you still have a good chance of being able to buy one (but don't hang around - send your order through to Hugin immediately!) and to enjoy the journey from your armchair to Middle-Earth courtesy of a dozen magical interludes.

Oddly (or maybe not that oddly really, based on our experience over the years) despite the online presence there is little online written commentary about the album, save the usual repeated advertising 'puff' that most of the sites have copied from one another.  Cue Metal Soundscapes, for example: "The band follows its characteristic style of epic ambient fantasy music, combined with electronic elements and few distorted guitars, remains of Alex’s early black metal experiments. Except for some background choirs, "Elbenstahl" is practically an instrumental album that will most probably satisfy the fans of this genre." 

Leaving aside the unnecessary word 'probably' (in this regard, it's a bit like saying that remembering to breathe with 'probably' keep you alive) it sets the scene well enough: this is predominantly an instrumental album, with everything in the mix that you'd expect from Uruk Hai and nothing that grates or detracts from setting an ambient mood squarely in the middle of the Great Lands and its environs.  There are none of the harsh vocals of other recent Uruk Hai mini-albums and limited amounts of guitar too, but bags and bags of lush instrumental keyboards invoking all manner of feelings and moods.

Song titles become largely redundant and practically interchangeable without lyrics or a specifically tailored theme, so in many respects the point of the album is not so much to think about it song by song but in totality, immersing oneself in the universe it creates and basking in the artificial sunlight of its glory.  The packaging and presentation all help in this regard too, with the pastel colours and welcoming scenes of tranquillity on the outer cover tempered by the monochromatic dangers posed under the surface by Ruta Siler's excellent orc illustrations on the inside.  Nazgul will be trying to get a little interview arranged with Ruta to discuss her artwork, so watch this space....

"Elbenstahl" (Elvish Steel) is the latest in an unconnected series from Uruk Hai, which has included "Elbenmacht", "Elbentraum", "Elbentanz", "Elbenwald" and the compilation volume "Elbenlider" amongst its entries.  Oddly, for a volume bearing a title referencing elves and steel, are those inner portraits of the two orcs, which in the circumstances you might think should be ... well ... elves?  Hugin's logic, however, runs like this: 'Elbenstahl means elvish steel – and its the steel they used to fight against the orcs!!'
 
Speaking of Hugin, as we were, the cover art is again one of this own creations and based on one of his photographs: "It was taken at Lake Weikerlsee close to my home, I was there in early morning on a misty day, it was the perfect mood to take some pictures. As I saw this tree it came very fast in my mind to take a picture and use it for a further Uruk Hai cover – I think it fits perfect  - it has something mighty & sad in its mood, just like the elves are!'  And, for completeness, this original photograph is shown at the foot of this post, plus a bonus shot across the lake's misty waters.

Clearly many of you will have already added this album to your collections and will be enjoying your own personal journey into realms of magic and mystery.  For those of you yet to take the plunge (and illegal downloading from dubious Russian websites doesn't count!) then Nazgul urges you to seek this one out and enjoy a slice of Uruk Hai 2015 style.  A most worthy investment of time and money.


* if you weren't around in the UK in the early 1970's this comment will mean nothing to you, but don't panic: you're missing very little! 

Original photo at Lake Weikerlsee

Thursday, 5 March 2015

ATLANTIDA VOL. 22 [V/A]


Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Atlantida Volume 22 [Various Artists]
Format: Another entry in the long-running Atlantida compilation series, on plain silver CDr with professionally printed covers.  No catalogue reference, year of release or label details given, but as for previous editions it was compiled and released by fellow Ravenclaw member Ruslanas Danisevskis.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing:
01. Profane Existence  *  Eternal Domination
02. Bestial Devastation  *  Vomit On Allah
03. Conquest Of Steel  *  Conquest Of Steel
04. Bloodfeast  *  Jason
05. Mortyfear  *  Rotten Corpse
06. Endless Pain  *  Flesh Fair
07. Toxic Virgin  *  Sailor
08. Entrophia  *  Blood And Darkness
09. Maple Cross  *  The Spirit Of Northern Brotherhood
10. Brudevalsen  *  The Purpose Of My Failure
11. Anhkrehg  *  Rage Of Berzerker
12. Dol Amroth  *  Eyes That Sword and Fire Have Seen
13. Dysthymia  *  One Of Melancholy
14. Homicide Hagridden  *  Scream
15. Ravenclaw  *  Pergale  4.00
16. Lechery  *  Why?
17. Thorshammer  *  Brich
18. Sanity  *  Victims
19. Chapel Desecrator  *  Prepare To Take Your Life
20. Falling Elbow  *  No Fur
21. Cipher System  *  Suffer Stream

If this compilation were a film, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" would certainly spring to mind.  Chock-full of all manner of oddly titled bands and songs, it's a smörgåsbord of the rather good and the deeply distasteful.  One cannot work through the 21 songs on offer (and Nazgul uses the word 'songs' in the loosest sense, on some occasions here) without having some form of physical reaction; whether that is banging one's head or sprinting for the fast-forward button will vary person by person...

It is, therefore, business as usual on this Atlantida compilation album. Volume 22 is a late entry into the series established by the late Ruslanas Danisevskis, Hugin's former Ravenclaw partner-in-crime and member of the Folkearth metal collective.  You have to admire the single-mindedness of this series in pulling together all manner of the great and the not so great for the listening 'pleasure' of the masses, and crazy as some of the final results are the world is a less interesting place now that the series is no more.

This outing gives us a chance to revisit the long defunct Ravenclaw project: 'Pergale' was a song from that band's split CD release "Zalgirio Musis / Baxas Xebesheth 1883" released in 2003 with Svarrogh.  12 years ago now; that gives one pause for thought to consider just how long Hugin has been making music, as that came some years after his fledgling releases of the late 1990's!

Anyhoo - back to Ravenclaw for the moment.  And who knew that the boys were big chocolate fans?  It turns out that Pergale is currently the leading confectionery factory in the Baltic States, established in 1952 in Vilniaus and offering the widest range of confectionery in the Baltics including chocolates, chocolate candy, unglazed candy, toffee, chocolate bars, halvah bars, Hematogen, wafers, liqueur fills, biscuits, caramel, marshmallows and hard candy.  

Hang on, that can't be right surely?  *consults notes*  Oh wait, it says here that 'Pergalė' means "victory" in Lithuanian - that seems more in keeping with the general theme of national pride and battle that the band's releases focus upon.  Yes, let's run with that!

'Pergale' is a classic four-minute Ravenclaw song, as it contains all of the prototypical elements of that band's musical structures: there's an atmospheric introduction (which, listening to it again this morning with the benefit of hindsight, sounds rather like Cradle of Filth's 'At The Gates Of Midian' meeting Bathory's 'Odens Ride Over Nordland' one night in a dark alley) which leads into a musically enhanced spoken word part (deep male vocals, almost certainly a commentary of a noble battle or event in the history of Lithuania), followed by a colossal riff so good and out of keeping with what's gone before you wonder if another song has started, before it all ends.  Bish, bosh and - indeed - bash.  That's how you write 'em.

But wait - there's more!  Against all the odds this particular Atlantida entry has a review online, courtesy of Italian metal site Metalitalia.  Who'd have thought it?  This is an opportunity far to good to pass up, so let's see what they made of the thing (and apologies for any wonky translation: blame Google!  If you can read Italian I suggest following the link to the original text):

"You might not vote on a compilation -  it would not even be fair to take an average of a CD that contains over twenty bands. This underground compilation is only meant to highlight some unknown bands and is in fact a good showcase, but whoever set it up didn't  want to propose just interesting groups; participation is free, it's for everyone, you just pay for the space. And so the quality inevitably goes to hell, because in every compilation of the genre there are two groups: those that are worthy of attention, and then those myriad of groups that will never go anywhere being neither fish nor fowl, and then there are those that you can do without. [Nazguls' note: that makes 3 groups by my count, but less of my exemplary mathematics...]

The twenty-second chapter of the Lithuanian Atlantida compilation contains all of this puzzling multitude of groups, and it would be surprising if it were to the contrary. Only four groups have outstanding quality, although amongst the hordes it is pleasing to see the Tuscan Dysthymia, capable of death / technical thrash, but also most dynamic and aggressive. Not only is the song in question pleasant, but also the demo of the band deserves a listen. The German Thorshammer have a name and "Brice" is a violent hued epic that manages to capture the attention.  Among the few really valid groups (at least based on songs presented on this compilation) there is also Profane Existence, authors of a symphonic black metal and Mortyfear, with "Rotten Corpse", who weave melodic death metal that inevitably follows the traces of the old In Flames, but the riffing guitar remains of a good standard. Perhaps the best are the Anhkrehg with their crude but devastating death / black metal.  

Unusually for Atlantida there are a fair number of power and classic heavy metal bands, although none impress on originality grounds. There are also some bad groups, mediocre and uninteresting."

Hmmm, no mention of where Ravenclaw falls within this spectrum, but perhaps the less questions the better on that score!?

On a final note, the consistency in cover art over the course of the Atlantida compilations is worth commenting upon: each cover image is different yet very much in the same vein as its predecessors in the series.  Universally black and white, the recurring themes of skulls and other metal-related images are cunningly refreshed for each volume and as a set look rather spectacular.  As Hugin's many and various bands don't appear on all of these volumes there will inevitably be a number of releases that will never grace the pages of Honour and Darkness; as a future one-off special Nazgul will post a photograph of the complete set as a tribute to our fallen comrade Ruslanas, long may he party on in Valhalla.