Friday, 30 October 2015

ELBENSTAHL - update



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elbenstahl
Reason for update: A cassette tape version of this best-of collection, released in 2015 by the Swarz Klang Produktionen label [facebook.com/SKP666], cat ref SKP003.  The tape itself has a white body, as does the case.  Cover artwork features hand-drawn black and white orcs by Ruta Silders, which appeared in colour tint within the pages of the Metallic Media CD pressing.
Edition: 50 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Side 1:
01. Blessed Realm  
02. Shadown Dance  
03. Return Of The Fallen Warriors  
04. Magic  
05. At The Heart Of The Forest  
06. Elbisch Blut  

Side 2:
07. Western Shores  
02. The Orc  
03. The Golden Age Of Gondor  
04. The Ash Mountains  
05. The Orc (Pt. 2)  
06. Dark Shadows (Outro)

With the same track listing as graces the Metallic Media CD pressing of this 2015 best-of collection, and a edition of only 50 copies, you might reasonably wonder quite who this release was aimed at? The discerning collector of Hugin material, perhaps?  Or the strange, twisted fan who lives in a tumble-down backwoods cabin with only an old battered tape recorder to his/her name?  Or perhaps these two descriptions are in fact two sides of the same uber-fan?  Who knows...?

All we know is that a tape release often follows a CD release, much as the reverse is also true!

With the track listing being entirely the same here, the notable difference is the artwork used to grace the cover.  Rather hidden away in the inside of the Metallic Media CD booklet, the orcs penned by Ruta Silders (partner of Juris Silders, who you will recall from our interview with Beverina & War Bild und TonKunstschmiede in February 2010) take centre stage on the tape artwork, replacing the artistically enhanced picture of Lake Weikerlsee seen on the CD version.  Nazgul has something rather special planned featuring those two miscreant orcs, so keep your eyes peeled for that in a future post.

In truth, there's not an awful lot more to add to this particular release without simply repeating the gist of Nazgul's CD based review.  It forms a nice, old school addition to the collection but in all honesty if the mood strikes to give "Elbenstahl" a play then its the more convenient compact disc version that's more likely to get grabbed first.  Keeps this cassette edition - #1 of the 50 made - in mint condition though, of course. 

#1 ... !

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Nazgul's Horde #1: Tapes

Nazgul's Horde #1: Tapes

As the years have passed the odd email still pops into Nazgul's inbox asking about the ever-growing Castle collection, mostly variations on a theme: how many tapes/CD's/box-sets do you have, how many items are there in the collection now, why don't you put up more pictures, et al.

Now, it's been quite some time since a general overview of the vast library of Hugin-based releases was posted up on Honour and Darkness.  In fact, looking back over past entries, the last time any sort of notable coverage took place was as part of the 'An Interview with Nazgul' post in December 2010, which is an awfully long time ago when you consider how prolific Hugin is at releasing stuff!

That post made reference to an approximate total of 350 items in the collection at that date, which included tapes, CD's, t-shirts and everything else.  I think it's safe to say the number has grown a little since then...

And so - an opportunity for yet another mini-series!  Given the apparent interest expressed by you, my honoured readership, Nazgul thought it might be fun / interesting / a good chance to show-off (delete as appropriate) to re-document elements of the Castle Nazgul collection and the result is "Nazgul's Horde".  

Taking it in bite-size chunks seemed like the sensible way to manage the project, so we begin today just with cassette tapes.  Indeed, the entire collection began with the purchase of a humble C60 tape in the shape of the "Honour" demo, and since then a positive avalanche of the things have found their way into the Castle coffers.  Almost all in fiendishly limited editions, some come in bags, some have things stuck on the outside of their boxes, some are unique one-offs and many have bonus tracks never released on other formats.  

There are demos here from the very earliest days of all of Hugin's manifold projects and bands, and yet there are tapes so new they sit pristine on the shelves and have yet to be reviewed in these virtual pages.

What you see below is the entirety of the tape collection as exist in standard cassette cases: to explain that caveat further, some tapes do pop up within box-sets alongside compact discs, and those sort of crossover releases will be scooped up under a general 'box-set' edition of this Series, at a future date.  So - to recap - we're purely looking at the standard C30-C90 style tape in a plastic hinged case in this post that were released in that specific format.  

By the way, these are physically released items too, of course: you'll appreciate that the 'From The Vaults Of W.A.R.' series had identified a number of pieces of inlay art that never were formally released, but that could be printed off with a decent printer and made into a mock-up of what an actual tape release could have looked like.  

Yes, Nazgul has been sad/keen enough to do that on a few occasions, but those are not included in the pictures below!

The tapes that don't exist....
Oh wait, I lie.... but that sneak peak is all you're getting of the tapes that don't get pictured in this post...!


I've pictured them all together to start with (gosh - there's quite a lot....!) and then have broken them down a little by band in order to make some sense of what you're seeing.  And of course, the odd note and embellishment keeps the whole thing moving forward until - quite frankly - you'll probably be sick of the sight of cassette tapes!

Right, so here we go - here's the current collection of Castle Nazgul tapes, some 245 in total at today's date!

Holy Hell - Smaug eat your heart out
Of course, this post and the accompanying pictures will be almost immediately out of date as soon as Hugin's next parcel drops onto the plush leather-wrapped desk in Nazgul's Library, but let's look on the bright side: any subsequent release can be the first entry in the update to this series that we'll schedule for ... ooooh, circa 2020 shall we say?


Breaking it down in to projects and groups, in which you can play the popular parlour game 'spot your favourite demo', we have the following subsets:

URUK HAI


Well you knew it would be the biggest sub-set of all, but 125 different demos?!  That's a hell of a lot from one project, and many of these are so rare they make sightings of the Loch Ness Monster seem common by comparison.  I thought I had quite a few Uruk Hai tapes but even I was shocked to see them all laid out together like this...


HROSSHARSGRANI

A total of 36 Hrossharsgrani tapes grace Nazgul's collection, which is second only to the mighty Uruk Hai in number per band.  Some legendary and rare demos here as well as bespoke one-offs, definitely a Viking treasure trove.


HREFNESHOLT

With more landscape format tapes in proportion to the total of band demos produced than any of Hugin's other projects (7 of the 14, or 50% if you'd rather) this is far from a project that's gone sideways, though admittedly we've not seen much in the way of new material for a while, and certainly not in tape format. 


BONEMACHINE / B-MACHINA

A collection of the truly odd here, including 3 different versions of the killer 'circuit board' split release with Novasak, the outstanding "Anti-Genesis" tape (here shown without the pink wire surrounding cage) and a copy of the Mystified/Bonemachine split without it's inlay ... which is somewhere else in the Castle at this time!  20 tapes in total.



ELISABETHA

14 tapes to get your teeth into here, including no less than 3 different versions of "Nosferat" alongside some rare demos and one-off master tape.


OTHER PROJECTS

The weird and wonderful underbelly of Hugin's creativity: 2 Manwe releases; 3 from Heimatleid; 3 also from Eismond; 1 self-titled Hugin tape; 2 Guts For Dinner abortions (one in draw-string bag); and 1 each from ILL and Raben Nacht.  That makes a lucky 13 in total 


MISCELLANEOUS COMPILATIONS

Some interesting bits and pieces find their way into this last sub-set, including the early Atlantida compilations, Hugin's "Hour Of Scare" collection and a rare Orcrist demo tape of "Fallen" released just for friends of the band. 23 tapes in this set.

Friday, 23 October 2015

...UPON THE STARS OF MORDOR


Band: URUK HAI
Title: ...Upon The Stars Of Mordor
Format: Professionally released CDr in large DVD-size box on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine) in May 2013, cat ref cut1110.  This is a split release between Uruk Hai and Ancient Tongues (USA), a band featuring Ceyatatar of Onyx.
Edition: 33 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
Uruk  Hai
01. The Mystical Path  3.49
02. The Light Of The Trees  6.13
03. A Song Of Wizardry  7.15
04. Immortal Flame  5.25
05. Orc Music  8.43
06. Valar - The Rulers Of Arda  7.28

Ancient Tongues
07. Nothingness Part I: Orcish Birth  7.13
08.  Nothingness Part II: Men In Ruins  13.49
09.  Nothingness Part III: Orcish Reign Over Middle-Earth  7.08
10.  Nothingness Part IV: The Last Hobbit Burns  4.03

There's nothing like a bit of confusion to get a new post off to a good start!

Nazgul's normal routine in drafting these missives is to have a peep online to see what other interesting information can be gleaned about a particular release.  Perhaps there's a review of the album somewhere that can be woven into the proceedings (rare, but it can happen), or maybe some interesting promotional details on the website of the band or label in question.  In this context, Nazgul started out with the intention of telling you a little bit about Ancient Tongues.

The Discogs entry for this very album identified three members contributing to the Ancient Tongues project: Ceyatatar, credited with guitar, bass and drum programming; Skeiron on vocals; and Northwood on guitar.  I can tell you nothing about the last two, but Ceyatatar we know as the man behind American band Onyx, who have featuring in past split releases with Uruk Hai.  So it seems a fair assumption that Ancient Tongues - who seem to have no other web presence - are also American.  Confusingly though, if you Google the title of this album you'll find a link to Bandcamp that shows the release in question, with all the tracks above, but credited to an entirely different group called Funerary Descent.

More delving was clearly required, and after much searching an interview with the band was uncovered at online blog Occult Black Metal Zine which happily for us sheds some light on the situation:

"Originally, this was a blackened crust-punk band called Ancient Tongues, but this shifted into a black metal band upon the line-up change that occurred in early 2013, but that then shifted to a doom/black metal sound. After the release with Uruk-Hai the band named was changed to Funerary Descent for legal reasons. But we are a three piece from three different cities in Maryland, consisting of Ceyatatar (guitars/bass/keys), Northwood (guitars), and Skeiron (vocals)."

Aha!  Asked to describe their sound and influences, the band continued:

"This is a sort of 'generic' USBM sound but taken with a grain of salt and met with a massive doom influence from the likes of Nortt, Cough and Thou...but to be more specific it is blackened sludge metal in the vein of Dragged Into Sunlight and Nortt.  A heavy veil of reverbed guitars and screams is cast upon the music.  We also incorporate keyboards/synthesizers into some songs and in the case of the split release, 2 of the songs were strictly keyboards.  Our songs are about ghost stories, misery, solitude, and general discomfort with life. Nihilism. Hatred towards organised religion ... Our influences include Moonblood, Nortt, Barbelith, Bathory, Dominium, Cemetery Piss, Sunn 0))), Xasthur and Burzum. Northwood has been really into neo-folk (Wardruna) and post-rock (GY!BE, This Will Destroy You) lately and of course progressive black metal (Enslaved) . Ceyatatar is thoroughly engulfed into ambient music (Ringbearer, Uruk-Hai) and some progressive metal (Myrath) as well. Skeiron is really into hardcore (Nails) lately."

Also rather handily, the interviewer asks the band about counterpart on the album in question, Uruk Hai, which reveals:

"All of us are enormous Uruk-Hai fans and truly enjoy Hugin's music and was very good to broaden our musical horizons and perform with a master of a some what different genre than ours. We have the utmost respect for Hugin and hope to work with him again one day." 

All good, and the songs aren't half  bad either!  Employing piano, synth, sibilant shrieks and whispers to good effect as the band themselves allude, it's an unnerving trip through parts of Middle Earth you'd not normally dare tread alone....

Uruk Hai also employ synthesiser on this release to great effect, and unlike contemporary releases from this project the guitar is absent from the mix this time around.  That leads to some songs feeling a touch old-school in places, but with more polished melodies and production.  The best of both worlds, in fact.  The opening song, for instance, is an absolutely perfect one to listen to should you be out on a dark, foggy morning as Nazgul was recently, whilst track two 'The Light Of The Trees' is a classic portmanteau song bringing together everything that is wonderful and joyous about Hugin's most popular project into one song.  Marvellous, and an inspired feat of instrumental composition.

Speaking about instrumentation, by the way, how exciting it was to hear the return of the twangy-elastic sound of what might well be a didgeredoo that appears in the middle of 'Immortal Flame'!  For Nazgul this led to an immediate flashback to the "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away)" album of 2006, where it was last heard!  Perhaps the only relatively low point on the Uruk Hai side of proceedings is 'Orc Music', which does drag a little (much like their knuckles on the ground!), but then it was never likely to be a jaunty and toe-tapping song in the style of the similarly named (but happily unrelated) 'Ant Music'...

Definitely worth a purchase should you come across it in the racks or online, it's an album that will delight and surprise in equal measure.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

ÜBER DIE NEBELBERGE WEIT... - Master CD


Band: URUK HAI

Title: Über Die Nebelberge Weit...
Reason for update: This is the master CDr of the 2013 release, prepared by Hugin for the Depressive Illusion label official release in 2013 (cat ref cut1216)
Format: A CDr release, with yellow and black artwork rather than the full colour presentation of the final release.  Track details and overall design remain the same as the 2013 pressing.
Edition: 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. Nebelberge (Kapital 1 & 2)  15.54
02. Nebelberge (Kapital 3 - 6)  18.57
03. Nebelberge (Kapital 7 & 8)  8.18
04. Covered In Black Fog (Nebelberge Kapital 9)  7.11
05. Nebelberge (Kapital 10)  1.47
06. Durch Folde & Fenmark  15.25

Today's coverage of this Master CDr of "Über Die Nebelberge Weit" adds nothing particularly new to add to the existing review of this excellent Uruk Hai release on Depressive Illusions, but for completeness it's nice to recognise its existence in the ever expanding Honour and Darkness collection.

The Depressive Illusions version came out in a small edition of only 33 copies in 2013, which did seem a very small number for what was - and remains - and excellent album, compiling as it does all of Hugin's 'Misty Mountain' themed tracks from 2004.  This disc - the Master copy - was essentially the final version of the album prepared by Hugin for the label to duplicate and distribute on the official release, so is the same other than the 'draft' printing employed on the cover, and a plain silver CDr being used rather than the final picture disc.


There are a couple of points to note, which evaded the original Honour and Darkness review.  Firstly, the spine of the CD (for both this and the official release) actually bears the rather longer title "Über Die Nebelberge Weit, Von Ländern Tief, Aus Alter Zeit", which broadly translates as 'Of The Far Misty Mountains, From Countries Deep & Times Past'.  This is shorted on the front cover to "Über Die Nebelberge Weit..." and then simply to "Nebelberge" on the rear inlay.


Secondly, on the rear inlay the text '(Eine Weitere Ode An Die Macht Der Natur)' appears; a sub-title meaning 'Another ode to the power of Nature'.

To end this post, let's consider the wider 'family' group surrounding this release, which is somewhat extended family due to there being two distinct versions of the same-named demo, plus reissues of both within different box-sets.  To begin, we can identify the original demo from 2000 (containing different songs, contemporary to that period) and the associated tape release of that demo, which was called "Elbenwald".  

Then we have the 2014 Depressive Illusions CD, plus its Master CDr, containing the track listing detailed in this post.  Adding to the fun is the addition of "Everlasting Wrath Of The Tyrant", the 6CD box-set which included the 2000 version of the release (and which also expanded it slightly by adding the song 'Moria'), and "Across The Misty Mountains (Far, Far Away)" which compiled the songs under a different flag back in 2006.  Oh, and which came in both CD and tape pressing too!


If that wasn't complicated enough, one has to remember that there is an actual song going by the same title that features on a number of other demos too, including "Valkyrian Romance" and the epic box-set "Courage Is Found In Unlikely Places".  'Nebelberge (Kapital 7 & 8)' also pop up on the Bulgarian "We Worship (Volume 2)" compilation album too, just for the record!  And if that's not starting to make your head spin, try factoring in the fact that 'Über Die Nebelberge Weit...' appears as a different song on the Hrossharsgrani demo "Lieder Aus Mittelerde" too, so we're starting to mix bands now, not just releases by Uruk Hai!  

However, let's consider this latter branch of the family as distant cousins and move on rapidly, otherwise we'll end up with half of Nazgul's collection being pictured here by dint of tenuous connectivity!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

ATLANTIDA


Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Atlantida
Format: A single silver disc CDr that was specially created for Nazgul by Hugin in September 2015, following dramas encountered with the Atlantida Volume 13 compilation CD.  For more details, see preceding post! Bespoke colour cover, housed in a black wallet case.
Edition: 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. Atlantida  2:57

You join us hot-foot on the trail of the mysterious lost track of Atlantida, last spied off the coast of Volume 13 of the Atlantida compilation featured in Nazgul's last post.  To quickly recap: old Atlantida CDr throws a wobbly on the final track, necessitating an emergency trip via Austria to obtain a copy of the exclusive song to complete the circle and reveal the mysterious city of gold.  Possibly I'm getting my stories confused at this stage, but the point is that the previously unplayable final Ravenclaw song is now accessible, and it's all systems go from hereon!

Let's cast a beady eye over the artwork - Ravenclaw's band name splashed across the top in what Nazgul tends to think of as 'Bathory' font (I guess some form of Gothic font is a more accurate description), with a fiery circle over water (or is it the earth aflame - answers on a postcard to the usual address) combining the forces of nature with the Viking passion for pillage and wanton destruction.  Rather good, actually, and certainly whetting the whistle even more ahead of pressing the play button to give this disc a spin.

The song kicks in: lapping waves against the side of a boat, the sound of a pounding drum to set the rhythm of the oars.  It's all shaping up to be an epic longboat quest to the hidden realm of Atlantis.  Cue some thumping percussion, throaty shouts, screamed vocals, and a splash of salty brine and we're off to adventures new!  According to Plato's writings circa 360BC, the Hellenic gods of old divided the land so that each god might have their own lot; Poseidon was appropriately, and to his liking, bequeathed the island of Atlantis. The island was larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined, but it was sunk by an earthquake and became an impassable mud shoal.

There's all manner of fluidity around the supposed dates of the sinking of Atlantis, let alone the issue of whether it was an actual place at all or just a political allegory.  The connection to Vikings is equally disputable and tenuous, depending which timeline you ride your armoured horse down.  Let's set all that to one side, and simply revel in the imaginary sight of a longboat full of fur-clad Vikings, armed to the teeth and headed by our resolute Ravenclaw heroes Ruslanas and Hugin, bearing down on the fabled island with the crazed fervour of a true Berserker....

A corker, no less, and a real case of 'go-Viking or go-Home'.  And yet, on repeat listens, it begins to dawn on Nazgul that this is a familiar song, one that's definitely been heard before albeit in times long past.  But how can that be, given the exclusive tag appended to this track on the Atlantida 13 compilation?  

The answer, my friend, isn't so much blowing in the wind as it was hitting Nazgul over the back of the head.  You see, the Atlantida compilation (although undated) must have been released in around 2001 based on the dates of demos from the bands featuring upon it.  So the addition of 'Atlantida' as a bonus track only for this CD was entirely true at that point, and remained so right up until the release of the first full Ravenclaw demo "Where Mighty Ravens Fly" back in 2002, where the self-same track appears with the fuller title it subsequently held: 'Atlantida (Fighting For Atlantis)' !  Oh yes, that's right, knew I'd heard it before somewhere: sheepish grins all round, and all that....

Hugin had been far too polite to comment on Nazgul's absent-mindedness of course, and had very kindly burned off a one-off copy of this song (presumably with the thought, 'poor old sod, doesn't know what he's doing any more' to accompany it!)

Mind you, look on the bright side: when did we ever enjoy back-to-back entries from Ravenclaw on Honour and Darkness?  And, to be absolutely fair, that Ravenclaw demo was reviewed back on 10 March 2009, which is an astonishing 6 years and 7 months (or 2,409 days) between entries.  It's hardly surprising that Nazgul has forgotten the odd thing during that time, is it?!  

It's quite scary looking back so far into the history of Honour and Darkness, actually.  The Ravenclaw "Where Mighty Eagles Fly" was the 26th post in the Blog's history; this current epistle, on the other hand, is post number 719.  That produces an even more alarming statistic: that for the last six and a half years Nazgul has been turning out an ode to Hugin in this Blog on average once every three and a half days!

Let's try and keep that up for the next 6 years.... 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

ATLANTIDA VOL. 13 [V/A]



Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Atlantida Volume 13 [Various Artists]
Format: The traditional silver disc CDr pressing on Ruslanas Devisekas' Atlantida label (Lithuania), no catalogue reference, year of release not stated but circa 2001 based on the content.  A compilation release that spans the globe, and which features Ravenclaw.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing:
01. RAVENCLAW  *  In Battle (Intro)
02. RUNIC  *  The Search
03. JAILOR  *  Corpus Christ
04. CRUACHAN  *  The Children Of Lir
05. DARKMOON  *  Far From Heaven
06. LAW OF THE PLAGUE  *  Pi$$ On My Grave
07. VIGGEN  *  Armageddon
08. AMON HEN  *  Placer Des Sangre
09. FOREFATHER  *  Fifelder
10. ELENIUM  *  Shadowed Grandeur
11. SPEERHEAD  *  Bloody Ways
12. VALHALLA  *  Defenders Of Midgard
13. WOLFCRY  *  Nightriders
14. MIDNIGHT SCREAM  *  Lost In The Dark
15. REQUIEM  *  Tormentor
16. PROFOUND  *  Tragedy
17. FAUST  *  Immortality
18. CRIMSON  *  Starry Eyes
19. VLE  *  AMTheme
 'Special track for compilation only'
20. RAVENCLAW  *  Atlantida
 
Material degradation.  

No, not the name of some crazy noise/industrial band from Serbia with a song on this release, but two words that should make any committed Huginophile shudder in terror.

Although opinions vary on how to preserve data on digital storage media, one expert in the field - Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland GmbH - has said, "Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD," Gerecke said in a past interview. "There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but not a whole lot more."

The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam.  "Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years," Gerecke said. "Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five years.  Distinguishing high-quality burnable CDs from low-quality discs is difficult because few vendors use life span as a selling point ... and for those sitting on terabytes of crucial data, that could be a colossal problem."

Such information - if true - suggests that significant proportions of past CDr releases from Hugin's manifold projects could well become unreadable circles of plastic within a relatively short period.  The possible result: loss of crucial demos and limited releases from across his entire discography.  Such events are not entirely unknown within the fortress that is Castle Nazgul: past problems have already been logged, for example with Uruk Hai's exceedingly rare "Blutreich" disc.  A "colossal problem" indeed!

The rationale for such musing is connected to this Atlantida release, as you will doubtless have surmised by now.  It is, on the face of it, a 'typical' Atlantida compilation from the Lithuanian label, bringing together a mighty racket from bands scattered across the globe.  You name a continent and they'll be a band on here from it is pretty much the result.  Of most interest to Nazgul, however, was the inclusion of a pair of Ravenclaw tracks: a veritable pair of stylish book-ends either side of a cacophony of chaos.

'In Battle' is the opening track here, as is was on Ravenclaw's "Where Mighty Ravens Fly" demo of 2002.  So far, so familiar, and it's your classic instrumental opener that invokes the smell of the Vikings and the fury of pillaged buildings.  Or should that read that the other way around...?  No matter, it gets things off to a flying start before general chaos wades in with bucket loads of riffs, pummelling drums and all manner of screamed and croaked vocals.

Nineteen tracks into this sonic fury you're about ready to throw in the towel, except that there's a pot of gold at the end of this particular blood-soaked rainbow: a bonus Ravenclaw track called 'Atlantida' that's unique to this release!  "Woo-hoo, it's going to be another exclusive for Honour and Darkness" thinks poor naive Nazgul, bracing himself for the ultimate revelation at the end of the disc.  Except ... humm, hiss, phutt ... nothing.  The final song won't play, an unholy silence replaces the unholy racket; computer says, 'No'....

Material degradation.

Well, not to be deterred by such singular misfortune, Nazgul immediately approached Hugin with a plea for help, on the lines of, "I don't suppose you have a copy of that exclusive Ravenclaw track anywhere to hand, do you?"  And do you know, he did!  Not only that, Hugin saved the day in his inimitable style by copying said song onto another disc (Hmmm.... you think to yourself, 5 years from now we'll be revisiting this disc and finding it doesn't work either...!) and giving it a nice natty cover of it's own, which is the subject of the very next post in this Blog.  

Gosh, what a dramatic build-up....

Thursday, 8 October 2015

IRON AGE - update


Band:
Moloch

Title: Iron Age
Item: A CDr created by Sergiy Fjordsson of Moloch for tracks to be included on the split vinyl release "Iron Age" released in 2010 with Uruk Hai.
Format: Recordable silver disc in plain black paper wallet, with hand written covering note
Edition: 1 copy

Track Listing:
01. I Remember Your Pain, Cartu
02. Coldness Of Mimir
03. Skold's Tears
04. Ancient Essence Of World Are Dead
05. Isengard (Uruk Hai/Moloch collaboration)

Something buried in the box marked 'random items' for you today.

We've seen a few of these sort of CDr's in the past on Honour and Darkness; items sent to Hugin from other artists, containing material for inclusion as their half of upcoming split releases.  Recent examples in this vein have included the Symbiosis contribution for "United" and the splendidly titled Maskinalegg with their "War Against Banana" tracks.

The item before you today originated in deepest Ukraine, and are the tracks for inclusion on what became 2010's "Iron Age" split vinyl 12" release between the mighty Uruk Hai and Moloch, prolific ambient black metal merchants from the town of Rivne.  Moloch is another one-man band affair, masterminded by Sergiy Fjordsson (also of Saturn Form Essence, who released the "Anti-Genesis" split release with Bonemachine).

The name Moloch, incidentally, derives from a deity to whom child sacrifices were made throughout the ancient Middle East.  The title comes from combining the consonants of the Hebrew melech ('king') with the vowels of boshet ('shame'), the latter often being used in the Old Testament as a variant name for the popular god Baal.  The laws given to Moses by God expressly forbade the Jews to do what was done in Egypt or in Canaan: 'You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Moloch, and so profane the name of your God' (Leviticus 18:21). 

Contemporary scholars now debate whether the Hebrews did initiate their children to Moloch by fire or whether the law is a prohibition against the possibility that they might take up this custom.  Rest assured, there's no immediate evidence of burned bodies in Sergiy's back yard.

The accompanying note with this CDr identifies the 4 Moloch songs as 'only for the vinyl split' and includes the collaboration song 'Isengard' for good measure.  Sergiy requests that Hugin translate his song titles into German and to keep him in the loop with progress on the split and that's would be pretty much that, you would imagine.

What is interesting then, is when you look at the track listing of the final "Iron Age" release.  The final pressing features two songs from each band, plus the collaborative 'Isengard' as the final fifth offering.  Of the songs on Sergiy's CDr the two selected for inclusion were 'Die Alte Essenz Einer Inzwischen Toten Welt' ('Ancient Essence Of A Now Dead World', which tidies up the original song's title) and 'Skuld's Tränen' ('Skold's Tears').  Which then begs the obvious question: what happened to the other two tracks on this CDr, and was the original plan for this split release to be longer in duration?

Checking the obvious first, Nazgul had a quick peek on the Metal Archives search engine for the missing pair of Moloch songs - nothing there.  A quick check of the other Moloch splits with Uruk Hai also drew a blank: neither the 3" bag-set (if such a term exists?!) "Vereint Durch die Kraft Uralter Wälder" nor the 4-way split tape "Khvorost" feature the relevant songs.  Sergiy's note did clearly state that the songs were for this vinyl split only, so could it be possible that they are currently yet to feature in any of the band's official output.  And, whilst we're on the subject of asking awkward questions, who or what is the 'Cartu' being remembered in track one?  

The only online references to a 'cartu' brings up the Canadian entrepreneur and Ferrari tester Josh Cartu, who seems an improbable subject for Sergiy's paean, and Sorin Cartu who was sacked as manager of Romanian football champions Cluj in 2010 after he went berserk and smashed up the Basle dugout during a Champions League defeat - I think we can safely discard him too?!

Well, for the time being the second of those questions will have to go unanswered I'm afraid.  Hugin's recollections of this release suggest that there was a lot of last minute re-jigging and re-selection of songs by Sergiy as the release date neared, and that the final pair of songs were probably chosen later on and may also have been the result of time restrictions on the final running length to ensure optimum audio quality.  

Let's finish with a visual interpretation of the god Moloch: just hope that you don't bump into him on your way back from doing the school run...

Thursday, 1 October 2015

THEATER DES GRAUENS


Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Theater Des Grauens (Theatre Of Horror)
Format: Although unreleased, the artwork looks to have been gearing up for a tape release
Edition: N/A

Proposed Track Listing:
01. Des Abends Rotes Seelenblut
02. Wurdulak
03. Das Blut Meiner Ahnen
04. Todessehnsucht
05. Nachtherrschaft
06. Wenn Doch Der Morgen...
07. Fleisch
08. Der Vampyr
09. Verwoben Im Netze Ewiglicher Finsterniss
10. Leb Wohl Lieb Land
11. Kabinett Der Ängste

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

The latest in our series of rarities from Hugin's archive features a unissued demo from Vampyric project, Elisabetha.

Based on the proposed track listing above, and to a degree the theme of the chosen artwork, it's evident that this release is what eventually became the "Nosferat" demo of 2003.  Most of the 11 songs above feature on the "Nosferat" cassette, with the addition of songs 'Akasha' and 'Bathori (Sturm einer Winternacht)' at tracks 9 and 13 respectively and the omission of 'Wenn Doch Der Morgen', which is supplanted by 'Im Schatten Jener Nacht, In Der Ich Starb'.  So it's broadly the same, but not quite!

The cover features renowned actor Max Schreck, the insanely creepy 6' 3" German who vividly portrayed Nosferatu in the 1922 film of the same name.  He died on the morning of February 20th, 1936 from a heart attack, presumably after forgetting to change out of his make-up prior to looking in the mirror to shave.  For posterity, and as he has such a cool look, he's another somewhat clearer picture of the old vampyr himself.  

Similarities to Kenji Siratori are purely coincidental...


There's a 1973 film by this title starring another classic actor, Vincent Price.  He stars as Edward Lionheart, an actor overlooked for a critics' acting award, despite producing a season of Shakespeare plays. After confronting the Critics' Circle, an attempted suicidal dive into the Thames results in Lionheart being rescued by your typical paraffin/meths/turps swigging tramps. Lionheart then (presumed dead) exacts his grizzly, and - apparently - 'quite amusing' revenge on the critics who denied him his finest hour.  

So there's an advance heads-up what to expect should Hugin not win the Global Rockstar this year...!