Sunday, 26 July 2015

LEICHENWASSER > untitled demo

Title: Untitled demo
Format: A plain white cover surrounds a silver CDr disc, housed in plastic envelope.  No label or other reference information, but recorded by Hugin as a demo for further work rather than commercial sale.
Edition: Presumably few copies exist, possibly just this single copy

Track Listing:
01. Untitled 1  1.18
02. Untitled 2  1.51
03. Untitled 3  1.00

'Holy Hell', as our favourite Austrian might say!  Here's something unexpected, and yet another divergent trail into the shady history of Hugin's many and varied projects.  The charmingly named Leichenwasser (literally translating as 'Corpse Water', and being the water that ... well, leaches out of dead bodies) was the short-lived creation of Uwe Backer and Hugin, that - as far as can be established - recorded these 3 short instrumental tracks as their only known output.

Now then, this is not the first time that a side-project featuring Elisabetha band members has come into our sights: you may recall the one-off song recorded by Eupraxia, as featured on Atlantida Volume 15.  This project was described by Nazgul as Elisabetha meets Goth Pop, and as a hybrid of two different styles it worked quite well.  That same post also alluded to this Leichenwasser project, noting that:

"You'd think by now that every project that Hugin had been in would have been covered in Honour and Darkness, but oh no: as we near the 5th anniversary of the Blog this new one pops out of the woodwork and - even more startlingly -  Nazgul has in his possession another 3 song demo by yet another as-yet undocumented side-project of the madman of Linz.  Honestly, where he gets/got the time from I have no idea, given that it's taken Nazgul 10 days between updating his posts and fitting them in with normal life stuff!  Hell's teeth!" 

That was on 31 January 2014, so it's only taken about a year and a half to get to reviewing the blessed thing....!

So what's it like then, you cry?  Well, this time around the melding of styles is far more in the vein of Elisabetha meets Bonemachine, as there's definitely something of an industrial mix brought into the sound alongside the more histrionic instrumentation associated with the vampyric enterprise.  They do make for odd bedfellows on first acquaintance, and given the brevity of the demo there's not an awful lot to get a handle on before they're all finished and silence reigns.

Strange industrial noises and the sound of martial percussion merges with violins and more traditional Elisabetha instrumentation to create some odd song snippets here.  Sounds that could have emanated from the rubbing of metal radiators with a dead stoat together with staccato machine-gun style drum patterns meld with the sort of scary string instrument noises that set your teeth on edge in horror films.  

To give you a flavour, the first song has unsettling keyboard noises (very much Elisabetha releases circa 2002-03 period!) that normally would be the introduction to a spoken word passage were they to have fallen onto a demo from that band, but here end in a fast rat-ta-tat-ta-tat drum pattern, emulating a Vickers machine-gun!

Some two has sort of teeth-grating scraping of violins that horror films love to give you before the big evil guy (no, not Rich Davenport) jumps out from behind a tree at the hapless victim - again, classic Elisabetha radio-play material.  Here though, it ends just under the two-minute mark with a deep sonorous noise akin to a foghorn on an ocean liner as the industrial influence kicks in.

The third snippet starts with an industrial noise (this being the stoat-radiator combination previously alluded to) and then fades out into an eerie silence.

Nothing lasts for over two minutes, and with only three 'songs' on the disc it's very much a question of exploration and getting some ideas laid down as it is developing fully fledged songs.  But what is on here shows some definite promise, and if the thought of a vampire armed with military-grade rhythmic beats appeals to you then Leichenwasser could have been just your cup of .... errrm, corpse water.

During the research for this post, Nazgul came across a couple of notable products that are apparently available for sale online and which - in an alternate universe - would have allowed for some great product placement alongside releases from this project: you can buy - for reasons unknown, but there's some odd folk out there - both a perfume and a beer called (but presumably not scented or flavoured with) 'Leichenwasser'.

Leichenwasser perfume, anyone?
Or some Leichenwasser beer, perhaps?!
There was also a highly disgusting story carried in the UK press earlier this year withe the snappy headline "Dead body of aspiring actress found in city water tank after residents complain of 'strange taste' ", wherein the rotting corpse of a missing young woman has been discovered floating in a filtration tank in Mexico City after residents complained of a "strange taste" in their drinking water.  

I bet they did!  

Police said 'residents in the area have been left horrified at the thought that the woman's decaying body tainted their domestic water supply for 11 months' (as you would be) although hardly helped assure the public further by revealing that 'when they opened the tank they found the body in a high state of putrefaction'.  Sounds like a theme for the next Autopsy album if ever there was one...

When will the discoveries stop coming, you might ask?!  Well, who can tell given the prolific nature of Hugin and his fellow musicians.  Given the high level of productivity and strange ideas stemming from their fertile brains, you'd almost have to assume that the water supply around Linz must have something in it too....?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Title: Quenta Silmarillion
Reason for update: Alternative artwork for the cover of this Uruk Hai demo from 1999

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

Our periodic trawl through the dark secrets of W.A.R. Productions has unearthed this little gem for today's post - an early, and ultimately unused, piece of art that was one early idea for the "Quenta Silmarillion" demo of 1999.

As fervent fans of Uruk Hai, you'll be looking at this illustration and thinking to yourself, "Hmmmm ... that looks vaguely familiar" and so you should, as it's something of a mash-up of two other demo covers used in Uruk Hai releases of back in the day.  Have you got them yet ...?

So - let's either put you out of your misery or confirm your success!  The most excellent colour border, replete with orcs, goblins and the One Ring was used on the "Land Of The Shadow" split release between Uruk Hai and Woodlands Edge, which was also recycled not so very long ago on the "Uber Die Nebelberge Weit" demo reissued by Depressive Illusions.  This element is one of Nazgul's favourite bits of cover artwork from all of Hugin's many and varied releases, and thus it is most welcome!

The black and white face, on the other hand, is from the "Long Forgotten Tales" tape release from way back when, which was used as a monochrome cover in its own right.

Put them together, and you have what has to be said is quite a striking picture and one that would have graced the actual release had it been used.  However, as the theme of these Vault posts so often imply, this was not to be the case as the actual cover used was quite different.  Even in the subsequent tape reissues this original design was not used, so it's something of a treat to see it here at all - a surviving relic from ancient times!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

GESPROCHENE PASSAGEN: Und Wirklichkeit erfüllt die Seele wieder demo

Title: Gesprochene Passagen (Spoken Passages)
Format:  This is a silver CDr in white sleeve containing just spoken word passages for 3 Elisabetha songs.  A demo CD only intended for use between band members
Edition: Presumed to be this single copy

Track Listing:
01. Einleitung: Visionen & Fieberträume    
02. Unheilvolle Kreaturen im Mondlicht (Erster Blutzyklus)  
03. Huren Dracula's (Zweiter Blutzyklus)  

One of those odd things hidden away at the back of the Castle Library, this demo CDr was clearly an internal mechanism used between band members of Elisabetha to mix the spoken lyrics for 3 songs with another disc containing the music.  Something of an oddity, though of interest to long-term Honour and Darkness readers one hopes, and originating from the depths of W.A.R. Studios in a parcel from Hugin many moons ago.

It's rather an odd thing listening to 3 long spoken word pieces in a foreign langauge with no musical accompaniment.   Booming deep lyrics intoned with a solemn, almost religious style of delivery - heavily spiced with echo and reverb - gives one the impression of being in a German Cathedral during Matins, and the urge to bellow 'Amen' at various points becomes almost overwhelming....

The three songs in question stem from the Elisabetha album "Und Wirklichkeit erfüllt die Seele wieder" which dates to 2004 for the original Black Attakk CD pressing, and 2009 for the much later Wulfrune Worxx tape reissue. Handily, we know from the inlay itself when these parts were recorded - 2 February, 2003.

Broadly translated, the 3 songs in question are called 'Introduction: a fever of Visions & Dreams', 'Sinister Creatures in the Moonlight (First Blood Cycle)', and 'Dracula's Whores (Second Blood Cycle)'.  This was an album influenced by the writing of Bram Stoker, and some of his lyrics were also used in the songs on the album.

A recent stock-take-cum-spring clean at the Castle has rediscovered a few odd promo and work-in-progress demo CDs from various bands in Hugin's extensive repertoire, so Nazgul will add one into the mix here and there just for fun ... and after all, there's precious little chance of anything new from bands such as Elisabetha emerging after all this time, so these oddments could be the last 'new' items we get a chance to share.

Mind you, in an exciting development, in amongst these odds and sods was another innocent looking CDr which turned out to be another long-lost, never before heard or seen one-off project from the hands of our Austrian hero!  Nazgul has featured a few of these over the years but who'd have thought after all these years another one could possibly exist?!  Well it does, and watch this space for the grand unveiling soon....

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Black & White version (left), Colour version (right)

Title: Lieder von Feuer, Eis, Winter& Krieg ['Songs of Fire, Ice, Winter & War']
Format: This is a wooden box-set that was released by Fallen Angels Productions (South Korea) on 15 December 2012, cat ref FAP029.  It came in two versions: a colour edition, and a black and white edition.  Both releases contain two CDr discs and four cassette tapes (with colour or monochrome covers throughout, depending on the edition), 1 woven patch, one white sea-shell, and multiple Uruk Hai logo stickers.  The catalogue reference is the same for both versions
Edition: Only 17 boxes were released in total: 11 of these were with colour, whilst 6 were strictly in black and white.  

Track Listing:
CD1: Lieder von Feuer, Part 1  47:15
CD2: Lieder von Feuer, Part 2  78:53
Tape 1: Eis  55:36
Tape 2: Krieg  22:20
Tape 3: Feure  57:50

Tape 4: Winter  16:21
(i)  Hidden Path (different version)
(ii) Lebensende: Winter (different version)

Another sumptuous box-set released by Fallen Angels Productions and housed in a little wooden casket.  This label really has got the bit between its teeth in producing fine compilations of material from a variety of bands, and its no wonder that Hugin has turned to them in recent times for his compilation box-sets.  Joining this illustrious list here is Hugin's sprightly old Viking war machine, Hrossharsgrani, chariot wheels freshly oiled and horned helmets especially polished for the occasion, alongside seasoned old campaigner Uruk Hai!

In an unusual move for editions of this ilk, the black and white version is the more limited version with a mere 6 editions being made, whilst the (one would have assumed) more desirable colour version sports a total of 11 copies.  In either case, though, it's hardly a matter of there being a surfeit of this desirable release being made available, and as ever in these matters it's a reasonable guess that had you not got your order in pretty sharply then you will now be without this splendid item in your collection.

As ever, virtually nothing exists online to detail this release save for the entry on Fallen Angels Productions own site.  Oddly, most of the internet links that do crop up for this box-set appear on Russian chat forums (perhaps a bulk order was placed by the Russian Mafia?!) and with the hope of being able to provide you with some external review Nazgul ventured forth into this murky world to see if any reviews lurked out there.  Sadly, the answer is no: one site sported a promising looking piece of text under the title of the release, reading "Цены приведены без учета почтовых расходов" and for a fleeting moment it looked as if an independent view might have been expressed.  Alas, this translated as 'Prices do not include postage costs'...!

If we tried to cover off every song on every format we'd probably be here until Winter, and this is bourne out by the fact that Nazgul's original draft for this release started on 12 September 2014 and I've still not listened to everything in the box!  Compounding that issue, the things I have listened I'd need to re-hear to remind myself about them, so the best approach at this juncture seems to be to to have a tantalizing look at the contents with a plan to cover off the individual parts in due course, much of which of course is reissued anyway from earlier demos and releases.  


You'll hopefully forgive Nazgul therefore, as he enters into something of a brisk canter through the landscape of "Lieder von Feuer, Eis, Winter & Krieg" in order to give you a broad orientation of what's on offer.  

So - majoring on the colour version as the inlays are easiest to see - this is principally a reissues programme for Hrossharsgrani demos dating to the 1998/99 period.  Back in 1999 Hrossharsgrani released a very limited tape release (10 copies only) called "Feuer & Eis".  The 14 songs therein have popped up here and there as bonus songs on more contemporary releases - the "Pro Liberate Dimicandum Est" being one such location - but a re-release of the original demo had been long anticipated, split here into the two constituent parts on separate tapes.

Likewise, the "Krieg" demo tape of 1999 has long been impossible to find and is a rare thing indeed.  The tape version in this box is therefore a great chance to become acquainted with this long-lost slice of prime Hrossharsgrani musical pummelling.


The CD entry in the box - looking rather resplendent in its full colour livery - is the equally ancient release "Lieder Aus Mittelerde", previously a tape release on the Irrlichter label.  Nazgul's favourable observations at the time of his review read:

"Musically this sits fair and square in that early period of Hrossharsgrani that polarises opinion so firmly - you either love it, or hate it! Plenty of snarling vocals, long and atmospheric synthesizer passages, pounding drums and unexpected odd snippets from what sound like a square-dance (!) in 'Felagund' and spoken word (in German) in the final track. As a rehearsal tape it is prone on some occasions to sounding primitive, both in terms of the sound quality and also in the construction of the songs - not always do the keyboards and other instruments stay in time with each other... :o)"

and yes - that is a favourable comment!

So a prize box containing long forgotten and dust-gathering Hrossharsgrani work, all now a rather mind boggling 15-16 years in age.  They'll be smoking fags and off down the pub before we know it....

Lieder Aus Mittelerde

Also shoe-horned into this Fallen Angels presentation - and creating a split release by virtue of its presence - is an Uruk Hai tape.  Now, this one also contains a couple of songs that are versions of historical releases, but as an entity this particular two-song tape hasn't ever been released independently before in this guise so it is something of a box-set exclusive!  Bedecked in suitably chilly looking artwork (and a great inside picture really brings the big freeze to your door even in the muggy summer weather Castle Nazgul is currently basking in), it's a nice thing to own for sure.

Song-wise we've got two on offer here: the second of the pair is an alternative version of the title track from the "Lebensende: Winter" demo whilst opener 'Hidden Path' was tucked away on the relatively obscure "Under The White Hands Flag" tape demo of 2010 in this same version.  An interesting couple of songs to choose to pop onto this single tape, one with a clear winter theme and the other ... not so much.  But hey, any Uruk Hai tape is a good Uruk Hai tape in this book, so let's be glad to have it at all !


Augmenting the music are three bonus items in the set: a white sea-shell which, I am assured by someone who knows about these things, tells us that "by being in contact with seashells, we open and activate our intuition and sensitivity. This allows us to be able express our imagination, and our creativity".  


Also present are a handful of Uruk Hai logo stickers and a nice woven patch with red band logo against a black background.  Both the black& white and colour box-sets contain the same items.

Of course, there's much future fun to be had in re-playing these old releases and living in the memory of olden days of yore.  When Nazgul gets a free moment in his ever more hectic schedule, he'll tell you just how much fun was had in that endeavour!

Monday, 13 July 2015


Title: Destroyer (Part 2)
Format: Silver disc CDr in a colour paper sleeve, issued in 2014 on the Smell The Stench label (Australia), no other catalogue information.  Information on the sleeve tells us that this track was an outtake from the "Glaurung" recording sessions.  Front cover shows "Destroyer" as the title, but given the remaining references cite "Part 2" in the name too and the original "Destroyer" song is on "Glaurung", this post bears the longer title.
Edition: 22 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Destroyer (Part 2)  8.43

With a title like "Destroyer" you can't reasonably expect this song to deliver anything other than the proverbial 'kick in the testicles and upper cut' combination, can you?  Any namby-pamby ethereal wibbling around surely wouldn't meet the implied violence quota.  Just because Kiss toned down the original album art for their 1976 album 'Destroyer' as it was deemed too violent by their record company doesn't give Uruk Hai the excuse to go all limp-wristed on us, surely?

And behold - a tooth-loosening titanic guitar riff launches us off in properly belligerent style, and whilst the remainder of the song does gravitate down paths familiar to the patented Uruk Hai keyboard sound rather than take a Slayer or Cannibal Corpse musical detour through the woods, it's still a robust and rip-roaring song that breathes fire and head butts you all in one fell swoop, leaving you weak and trembling on the ground.  Much like Lady Nazgul's renowned gut-rot chilli, in fact, which packs a punch strong enough to leave a Barbarian speechless. 

The guitar riffs continue to mount up like the mutilated victims of a spree killer loose in Orange County, as keyboards build to a crescendo around them.  Simultaneously, percussive explosions (Hugin on his drums) detonate around the rapidly escalating crime scene like thunderclaps atop Mount Doom, and all this continues until a relative calm breaks out in the proceedings after around 6 and a bit minutes, as a piano (but note - a 'heavy' piano!) plays us out with a bit of class and a pause for breath.... 

The song is described as an outtake from the "Glaurung" sessions, which as you may know is part of a series of Uruk Hai releases known as "The Wars of Beleriand", which we will be covering in due course on these pages.  Glaurung himself was a fire-breathing Dragon,  known as Fire-drakes. Glaurung's body was covered with hard armour except for his underbelly which was soft and vulnerable. Unlike most dragons of fiction, he did not have wings and could not fly. 

He crawled or slithered on his belly like a worm. He was swift and lithe though he was of great size. Glaurung had sharper eyesight than the Eagles or Elves, and his hearing was keen as well. Glaurung's strength came from the evil spirit within him which also enabled him to speak. Those who looked into his eyes fell under his spell and he was able to manipulate them. Glaurung had a strong will and he was cunning and malicious. His body gave off heat and a terrible stench.  

Sounds like a tremendous dinner companion....

Partial to a bit of destruction himself, Glaurung broke the bridge into Nargothrond and burned the land around the entrance. He drove away his orcs and claimed the empty halls for himself, gathering all the treasures into a hoard to rest upon.

Nazgul will doubtless be having a poke around this Uruk Hai Trilogy and the stories surrounding Glaurung when "The Wars of Beleriand" hits the Honour and Darkness review schedule.

Only 22 copies of this release were pressed by Smell The Stench so very limited opportunities exist to buy one, though remarkably enough one is up for sale on Discogs as I type courtesy of an old friend of Honour and Darkness - check out Darkman's listings for this release and more from Uruk Hai (as well as a host of other weird and rare stuff), and if you purchase anything say "Hi" from Nazgul on your way through the checkout!  

Not entirely sure what the cover artwork is supposed to represent on this release, although it's laden with suppressed violence and looks vaguely dragon-like in nature, so let's assume it's the claws of Glaurung poised to strike us down in our tracks - and on that note we'll make a swift departure....!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Band: URUK HAI (featuring Trevor Sewell)
Title: Men Of Straw
Format: Unique promotional tape version in special box, with metal pendant, colour poster folded into a black envelope, W.A.R. business card, and Uruk Hai patch.  Hand-made by Hugin, and most generously gifted to Nazgul in 2014.
Edition: Just the 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. Men Of Straw  3.41

An intriguing image to begin this post with, is it not?  What on God's green earth is that thing, you may well be thinking?!

Well let Nazgul enlighten you: It's a bespoke box-set edition of "Men Of Straw", a collaborative track between Hugin's Uruk Hai project and UK singer-songwriter Trevor Sewell.  Now, Trevor is a splendid fellow, and Nazgul can tell you this in all sincerity as I had the pleasure of meeting him in Bolton during the Joe Matera European Tour of 2013.  An accomplished and acclaimed musician, Trevor has been described by no less than Stuart Epps (the producer who has worked with Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Oasis and more) as "a brilliant musician with a fresh approach to the Blues".   

We also discover, via his website that our Trev is a 'Hollywood Music in Media Award winning Guitarist' who has gained a prestigious British Blues Award,  further prize nominations in Hollywood, and also has had a Number 1 album on the American Blues Scene Chart.  Clearly a man who knows one end of a guitar from the other, then....

Hugin's own W.A.R. Productions label had released the last two Trevor Sewell albums in Europe ("Calling Your Name" in 2012 and "Independence" in 2013), so with a working relationship between the two firmly established it's perhaps no surprise that a collaborative track should appear one day.  And, incidentally, your humble scribe can claim to have been there on the fateful date in Bolton in 2013 when the two first met, as your old uncle Nazgul was actually took the picture of Trevor and Hugin that appears on the inlay and poster on this special release!  

And, going off at a slight tangent, I can confirm from that evening that Trevor plays a mean acoustic version of that old chestnut, 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' too!

And what, you might ask, is a 'man of straw' anyway?  Not a olde English corn dolly, surely?!  Nope, in actual fact it's a phrase with a number of different (albeit similar) interpretations: 'a person or an idea that is weak and easy to defeat' being one, 'a person compared to a figure made of straw; a sham' being another, and/or 'a person undertaking a financial commitment without adequate means' being yet another.  Skyclad have a fantastic song by this name on their "A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol" album (on the thorny subject of re-offending child sex abusers), whilst metal band Viking also had a song of this title in their repertoire too.  Not that this version is a cover of either of those, mind you!

Let us have a quick delve into the special box - itself a lovely thing, with a cunning elasticised fastening, and resembling in shape one of those old-fashioned metal lunch boxes you see sitting on girders on pictures of the guys who built American skyscrapers back in the 1920's!  Inside, carefully nestled in bubble-wrap, are a number of items: a cassette tape with bespoke inlay bearing the song itself, a pagan-design metal pendant with inverted pentagram motif, a woven Uruk Hai patch, and a small black envelope with the edition number (#1/1) on the back.  Inside this envelope is a folded poster of the cover art, the picture of Hugin and Trevor.  What a great set of items!

The gestation of the 'Men Of Straw' song is an interesting one, though, and more convoluted than you might imagine.  Although shown here as a joint release with Uruk Hai, it would appear that this attribution may well not have been the original plan - as you can see from the picture below, an alternative (and presumably earlier) version shows this song on a proposed split release between Trevor Sewell and Hrefnesholt, with 'Men Of Straw' billed as Trevor's own contribution.

This particular story was found during Nazgul's research for this post on an Italian rock website, with the entry reading:

"Label sought to produce a split vinyl 7" that would see Trevor Sewell, known blues man who mastered for five weeks at No. 1 on the American Blues Scene Chart , and Hrefnesholt, dark-folk project of Alexander 'Hugin' Wieser of Uruk-Hai. 

This would be the hypothetical track list: 

Side A - HREFNESHOLT - 'New Song' 
Side B - TREVOR SEWELL - 'Men Of Straw

Presumably by 'New Song' they mean an as yet unreleased song - either that, or Hrefnesholt was gearing itself up to cover Howard Jones' 1983 smash hit...?!

What is interesting is that if you follow the link above to Reverbnation you'll see two entries in Trev's playlist for 'Men Of Straw' - one called 'acoustic version' and the other called 'Men Of Straw (cover by Uruk Hai)'.  Curiouser and curiouser, though neatly completing the circle back to Uruk Hai and away from Hrefnesholt! 

Anyway, back to the song.  It's carried largely by Trevor's rough but tuneful vocal delivery, a touch of sandpaper in the lungs methinks as he rasps his way though the lyrics (shown below).  It's essentially an acoustic/folk guitar track with the melody principally coming from the vocals, with a complementary percussion coming from Hugin that manages to be weighty but not overly domineering at one and the same time.

A very interesting song, and beautifully delivered.  It sticks in the mind and is easy to whistle as one potters around one's realm, as the inhabitants of Castle Nazgul will readily attest.  Great stuff, and if there was more of this material recorded and as yet unreleased then I'll be the first in line hammering on the W.A.R. Studios doors to hear it!

The lyrics to this track are:

'You tell me you're honest that I could trust you
with my life if I had to
but how do I know that you are what you say
I don't - but you gotta trust someone someday
we'll demolish the walls that we made
that diminish and enslave
but how do you know that I am what I say
well you don't but you gotta trust someone someday
someday, somewhere, somebody may tell you that you have no right to be
so be strong - and don't let them put you somewhere that you don't belong.
hold on - to what you believe in and watch how they crumble and fade
Men of Straw - they come and they go
they're just made that way
someday we'll demolish the walls that we made
that diminish and enslave
but how do you know that I mean what I say
you don't but you gotta trust someone someday
someday, somehow, somebody may tell you that you have no right to be
so be strong and don't let them put you somewhere that you don't belong.
hold on - to what you believe in and watch how they crumble and fade
men of straw they come and they go
cos they're made that way
they are what they.
Men of Straw they are what they are
cos theyʼre made that way
just Men of Straw'