Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Title: "...And All The Magic And Might He Brought..."
Item: Alternative artwork for the cover of Uruk Hai's magnum opus

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

For your delight today is an opportunity to see one early but abandoned plan for the cover for the epic Uruk Hai album, "...And All The Magic And Might He Brought...".

Now, it was only a month ago that we looked at the second, official version of this release courtesy of Fallen Angels Productions , so you'll probably be wondering where this other version comes into the story.  Well, quite simply it was an early concept that was painted by someone well known to Hugin, the man of a thousand tattoos, namely Markus Grabner, a tattoo artist from Linz.  You can check out his website you're after some ink for yourself.

Which does remind Nazgul to ask the loyal readers of Honour and Darkness to email him with some pictures should any of you be sporting tattoos of any Hugin-related band logos, album artwork or the like.  We could have a little post on the subject if there's anything out there worth seeing...?

Markus' picture is a world apart from the final artwork used on the original pressing, which is very 'dragon and fire' themed with a Middle-earth back cover image to boot.  The Fallen Angels version is quite different again, using classical imagery.  This version - all unicorns, swans and mermaids - is interesting but ultimately probably not quite the look that was needed for such an important album, which may have contributed to it not being used at the end of the day.  It is - perhaps - a little bit too 'Uruk Hai vs. My Little Pony' although to be fair it wasn't specifically created for this album, being an existing piece of art to which Hugin had added the border and lettering.

Symbolically one could read all manner of things into this artwork (although given it wasn't designed for the album, as we now know, we probably shouldn't!). By circa the 11th Century, the Valkyries as demi-goddesses of death had their legend conflated with the folklore motif of the swan maiden (young girls who are able to take on the form of a swan, sometimes as the result of a curse). In her role as swan-maiden, the Valkyrie could travel through air and through water, and the swan was popularly associated with the concept of augury/premonition.  Apparently, If one could capture and hold a swan maiden, or her feathered cloak, one could extract a wish from her.

The unicorn is both part of the world of nature and part of the world of dreams, and usually symbolises the spirit of purity and innocence.  As a general rule, Mermaids usually meant trouble to the people of Europe, and fishermen and sailors in particular. The presence of these odd creatures could mean a terrible storm was a-brewin’ at sea, or that your luck was about to change from good to bad, or that you were about to be taken down to the bottom of the sea to die.  

Read into that what you will....

On a very trivial note (read: pedantic) you'll notice too that the name of the album on this design uses the word "And" whilst the final two official pressings uses an ampersand "&" in the title.

Hugin recalls that another reason for the artwork falling by the wayside was that he only had a photo of it, which was of insufficient quality to expand into a quality final inlay booklet, with the original painting being too big to put in a scanner - a far more prosaic reason for an alternative design being sought!

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