Friday, 19 June 2015

ODIUM / URUK HAI split

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Untitled split with Odium
Format: Professionally released CDr in DVD size case, released on the Aschefruehling Records label (Germany) in 2014, no catalogue reference.
Edition: 33 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:  
All songs are untitled
Odium: Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13
Uruk Hai: Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12

Ye Gods - run for the hills, it's a split release featuring Odium!  The 'musical' output of this band is quasi-legendary and has seen a whole load of negative criticism and vitriolic abuse thrown at it, mostly by solitary band member Phil Knight himself!  You may recall the interview with Odium from December 2013, a terrifying process for reviewer and reader alike, and one that probably lowered tourism figures into Wales for many months afterwards.  

The Ungodly One, Mr Knight, alluded to this split release in that very interview, noting that:


"It was a planned split. The label at the time was interested until they heard my contribution. The label owner then had massive and unsightly anal leakage, passed out and had his eyes eaten out by a leprous badger. I then released my contribution as Odium 'Solitude'. It's nice to see the original plan come to fruition."

Good to know that the Aschefruehling label has a sufficiently strong stomach to release this split unto the world!

It's on the basis of that interview that the identity of Odium's songs have been pieced  together in the track listing shown below, as there's no detail whatsoever in the packaging as to what music is from either band.  All we know from the rear inlay is that - for both bands - they were songs recorded circa 2005, which ties in with the fact that the "Solitude" demo crawled from the festering pits of hell in February 2006 and - conveniently - the song durations all reconcile nicely too.  

Attributed Odium songs:
01. Solitude      
03. Voices of the Dead      
05. As I Die      
07. Descent     
09. Mind  
11. Come and See...    
13. Satan's Prophecy  

It's an unusual format for a split release, alternating the songs between bands rather than having the first half as one and the second with the other, but there you go.  However, there's something deeply satisfying about being able to write that all of the 'odd' songs are by Odium....!

What's actually quite surprising - even to someone who, in the spirit of research, has listened to more Odium demo's than is strictly healthy for one individual to bear - is that buried deep in the muddy mix of these clattering black metal songs are some *gasp* quite nice melodies, and, *heaven help us all*, some things that could even be called 'songs'!  It's as improbable as discovering that Jack the Ripper used to knit woolly hats on the side, but greatly lifts the potential replay value of this half of the split from zero to 'occasional', which believe you me is an unexpected triumph!

When we come to the Uruk Hai portion of the split, the tracks are equally as mysterious in being untitled and thus unattributable to any previously released songs, or parts of demo tracks reworked and recycled.  Hugin himself was a tad hazy when Nazgul asked him, only recollecting that 'I do not remember the song titles but I think they are from the "Enslaved In Evil Darkness" period' !

You know - and I know - that this means we're all set for another round of head-scratching and "now where have I heard that song before?" moments. Nazgul has chosen to defer the long (if enjoyable) task of pinning down the exact song list to another day, otherwise quite frankly this post will never get finished and then the whole Honour and Darkness review schedule will grind to a standstill!

If that sounds a bit of a cop out, bear in mind the prolific nature of the Uruk Hai project: assuming the songs to be from that 2004-2005 period, then just off the top of my head that would require re-listening to the relevant releases would encompass "Enslaved In Evil Darkness"; "Barbarians (Orcish Battle Hymns Part II)";  "The Battle"; "Dragons of War"; "War Poems"; "Northern Lights" and given Odium's tracks leached into 2006 then arguably one might also have to cast the net wider to include Uruk Hai releases from that year that were recorded in earlier periods, including "Across the Misty Mountains (...Far, Far Away)"; "Tawantinsuyu"; "United"; "Lothlorien"; "Valkyrian Romance" and "A Vikings Journey" !  And I dare say there are a few recordings I've missed from that list too.

For what it's worth, however, Nazgul strongly suspects that 'Mount Doom' and 'Dark (Are The Fires Of Mordor)' feature in the line-up somewhere, or at least elements of them, and whilst there is a familiarity in many of the tracks it's not universally the case: I imagine that this is a good example of Hugin's modus operandi of reworking and recycling demo material between releases, leading to a mix of finished songs and works-in-progress being featured.

Anyway, just because you don't know their name doesn't mean you can't spend an enjoyable night with them, as the actress said to the bishop....

It's fair to reflect that when this release first came crashing into the Castle library Nazgul was a little wary of it, as the prospect of a compilation of early raw and/or unfinished demos (particularly from the Odium side) had the potential to fall flat on its face in the context of the lush orchestration of modern day Uruk Hai.  Surprisingly, however, it has actually proven to be a very listenable set of songs, and the juxtaposition of the noxious black metal of Odium (biscuit tin drums and spiky guitar) and the keyboard driven ambience of Uruk Hai works as nicely as a hunk of strong cheese with your Christmas cake.  And there's a turn up for the books....

Nazgul's collection of sanity blasting Odium releases - "Solitude" top left

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