Tuesday, 14 April 2015

...AND ALL THE MAGIC & MIGHT HE BROUGHT - update II


Band: URUK HAI
Title: "...And All The Magic & Might He Brought"
Reason for second update: Jewel-cased second pressing of this album on CD, with different artwork
Format: Released in September 2013 on the Fallen Angels Productions label (South Korea), catalogue reference AngeL004, as part of their 'AngeL' series.
Edition: Unnumbered edition of 500 copies

Track Listing:
01. From the Ashes 03:37
02. Far Away 06:00
03. Ancient Wisdom 05:13
04. Rise & Fall 04:57
05. Fallen Leaves 03:42
06. The Door to the Paths of the Dead 07:06
07. Valinor 02:28
08. Immortality 14:04
09. Wrath 04:07

Today's short post is to update the Blog with the third version of Uruk Hai's epic "...And All The Magic& Might He Brought" release, following our previous contemplation of the limited edition digipak pressing and the cassette tape version, which shared the same artwork if not the complete track listing.

This jewel-cased pressing has the 'standard' 9 song track listing (e.g. without bonus songs) from the first pressing, but is wrapped in artwork of an entirely different nature to the fantasy themed cover of the first album.  Indeed, the artwork here is by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton, the English painter and sculptor.  The picture in question is his 'The Fisherman and the Syren', which he painted in 1857.  If you're keen on such things, you can see the original oil on canvas picture displayed at the Bristol City Museums and Art Gallery, in Bristol, England.  The image in the centrefold of the inlay booklet initially looks to be a different one but is actually the same picture, which has been turned sideways and then flipped over.

Leighton's works mainly depicted historical, biblical, and classical subject matter. On a note of pure trivia, Leighton was bearer of the shortest lived peerage in British history - he was created Baron Leighton of Stretton on 24 January 1896 but died on the following day, with the peerage became extinct after a life of only one day.  Mind you, if you consider that unlucky then ponder the sad cases of the two peers who 'enjoyed' their title for the shortest time: Firstly, Wilfred Carlyle Stamp, 2nd Baron Stamp, who was killed in a German air-raid on London on 16 April 1941. His father, the 1st Baron, was killed by the same bomb. However, it was assumed that the son had died after the father, even by a split-second, and on that basis the 2nd Baron was held to have succeeded to the title albeit for milliseconds!  

Alternatively, take the case of Charles Brandon, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, who succeeded to the title on the death of his brother on 14 July 1551 and died half an hour later, aged 23, of the same illness that killed his sibling - sweating sickness, also attractively known as "English sweate".  This was a mysterious and highly virulent disease that struck England, and later continental Europe, in a series of epidemics beginning in 1485. The last outbreak occurred in 1551, after which the disease apparently vanished, so our poor Duke was amongst the last of its victims.

Anyway, enough of the high and mighty and back to the 'Magic & Might', a release certain not to mysteriously vanish without trace.  Indeed, since Nazgul's original posts about this release the album has garnered a little more attention from other online sources, so this seems like a good moment to consider what a couple of other reviewers made of Uruk Hai's anniversary magnum opus:

Seance Records said, albeit rather succinctly:  

"This is what would happen if Steve Vai joined Summoning. Tolkien & Scandinavian mythology inspired ambient heavy metal which ranges from neoclassical passages to soaring guitars all blended with progressive rock, spoken word tales and clean vocals in a dark baroque rock opera."

Whilst a longer review in the German online magazine Amboss-Mag.de opined:

"Now that Uruk Hai has been deleted from the Encyclopedia Metallum because not enough 'metal' was present in its discography, it is relatively difficult to obtain comprehensive information about this project.  But following my review of "Cirith Ungol" in 2010 I do remember that the Austrian is extremely prolific.  In 2010 alone, Uruk Hai published 3 albums, 12 demos, 3 EP's, 13 split releases, 2 box-sets, 1 single and 1 compilation, with yet other bands active. That this still leads to such professionally produced music always amazes me.

The 78 minute 'Special Extended Edition' of "Cirith Ungol" I quite liked.  With "... And All The Magic Might & He Brought" Hugin does not quite match my taste. The "one-track" record of 2010 was leaning much more toward Black Metal,  roughly produced and "garnished" with typical BM screaming. "... And All The Magic Might & He Brought" has much clearer production and is different musically.  A little less guitar and more strings and synth sounds would more push this disc into the bombastic corner. In addition, in the first half there are predominantly clear vocals that do not always sit well with me. The song that impressed me most is the 14 minute "Immortality", which is with distorted guitars, a woman's voice, groovy mid-tempo double bass lines, sweet chimes and a 'children's choir'.  

On my limited-to-300 digipak version of the album, I have 4 additional bonus songs. The two and a half minute 'Legolas' interested me the most because of the title. And, unfortunately, disappointed me the most - artificial sounding folk rock that breaks off at the most interesting point. 'The End Of The Road' saves the bonus tracks though!

Although this disc to my mind is not as packed as the last Uruk Hai album it is really good, even though I was expecting something else. Once again I bow to the Austrian's productivity and quality. I am looking forward to the next release."


Somewhat mixed sentiments expressed there, which in many ways tallies with Nazgul's original review of the album.  It's one of those 'fine wine' releases I expect: if you drink it too quickly in anticipation of a classic vintage then you're almost certainly not going to enjoy it as much as leaving it to mature quietly for a few years to revisit when the time is right.

This particular pressing seems relatively common at the moment, based on a quick look at the usual places to buy these sorts of albums, so there's really no excuse for not adding it to your collection.  After all, there was a time when the "Honour" demo tape was relatively common on eBay, but time inexorably moves on and the commonplace is soon the 'hard-to-find' item of the future....

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