Tuesday, 1 September 2015

THE DUSK, THE DAWN, THE EARTH, THE SUN...

Band: URUK HAI
Title: The Dusk, The Dawn, The Earth, The Sun...
Format: Professionally released CD in full colour covers on the WinterWolf Records label (Germany) in 2014.
Edition: 100 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Follow The Wind  5.02
02. When Gondor's Horn Sounds  4.50
03. Welcome To Isengard  6.50
04. Elvish Might  8.32
05. Of Beren & Luthien  13.56
06. The Grey Elves  3.26
07. The Twilight Of Meres  11.19
08. The Ballad Of Morgoth  9.07
09. The Eagles Of Thorondor  16.42

WinterWolf's website (try saying that quickly after a few pints) promotes this Uruk Hai release thus: "Without words… just Uruk Hai !!! Great and perfect Dark Ambient inspired by Tolkien."  This would be a damn short post if Nazgul also went down the 'no words' route, so in the absence of any other coverage of this terrific album on t'interweb it seems only fair and reasonable to make a decent stab at telling you - the cold, huddled masses soon to be in thrall of the Dark Lord - a little more about it.

And the first thing to note is that it is a corker of a release, and by 'corker' Nazgul means of course a remarkable or astounding thing.  This pithy epithet is encapsulated neatly by the very first song, 'Follow The Wind' which - Spinal Tap innuendo aside - has some very tasty melodic guitar playing on it and makes for a sure-fire 'hit' should Hugin ever venture into releasing singles!  Well, actually this is sort of the case already as there is a very limited release of that track by Smell The Stench, but not in numbers that would give even the chart compilers in the Faroe Islands much to worry about let alone mainstream European markets.

This virtuoso opening is more than matched by the songs that follow, many of which may well sound familiar from their titles because - as is often the case now - this album compiles previously released songs from other EP's and demos.  So, for example, 'When Gondor's Horn Sounds' appears on the 2014 release "Gondor"  whilst 'Welcome To Isengard' and 'Elvish Might' were the two songs on the "Welcome To Isengard" EP also on the Smell The Stench label.

Other songs are new to this release, including the closing triumvirate of 'The Twilight Of Meres', 'The Ballad of Morgoth' and 'The Eagles Of Thorondor'.  All reference parts of the Tolkien canon, of course: the Meres of Twilight (as it's written in the literature, although maybe the German translation puts the name t'other way around?) is the name given to the wetland region of Aelin-uial, where the Aros met the Sirion on the borders of Doriath.  

Numerous trackless fens and intertwined pathways made this a dangerous region for travellers.  Morgoth we've extensively covered in historical posts, although we've never had a ballad dedicated to this fearsome lieutenant of the dark forces before!  

The Eagles of Thorondor would presumably be the progeny of Thorondor, the Lord of the Eagles, was the greatest of the Eagles of Manwë king of the Valar.  Most notable for helping Fingon rescue Maedhros; wounding Morgoth; rescuing Beren and Lúthien; and rescuing the survivors of the Fall of Gondolin, Thorondor also had an impressive wing span of around 180 feet (55m) giving him a distinct advantage in the annual Middle-Earth swimming championships...

And, of course, 'Beren & Luthien' also appear as a song on this release, weaving the whole thing together in typically Huginesque fashion!

Musically this instrumental album (with one notable exception, which we will come onto in a moment) is packed with strings, piano, keyboards, percussive effects and guitar to the point that some magical songs and melodies pour out of your speakers one after the other.  Without sounding like a broken record, let Nazgul repeat himself once again and observe that this sort of modern Uruk Hai album played back to back with an early demo from, say, 2001 period, is such a revelation that you'd scarcely believe that it was the same artist!

It would be a little unfair to pick on particular songs as they are all of a high standard, and so varied are they that it would be a pretty rash commentator who tried to dissect them all in one review.  It's worth pointing out that if Hugin did singles then 'Follow The Wind' would be a clear front runner for that accolade, and would have a pretty fair chance of charting somewhere too I would imagine, as it's packed with tasty guitar licks and lovely keyboard melodies and something that sounds like a dulcimer early on in the piece too.  Priceless! 

There are some rather odd vocals on track 8 that take a bit of getting used to (think Hugin in a slowly spoken word dirge mode), otherwise it's all instrumental all of the way and really is quite spectacularly brilliant.  Awash with colour and feel, there's enough here to lay down the soundtrack to a Middle-Earth mini-series and it's all Hugin at the very top of his game.  Quite simply, it's this years must-have Uruk Hai release (and it's in some pretty stiff company in that regard already) so point your browser towards the WinterWolf shop or ask our Austrian hero for your own copy.

Oh - and Nazgul can't really end this post without exploding with pride at being named in the dedication on the back of the rear inlay - what a splendid fellow Alex is...

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