Monday, 27 June 2016

BONEMACHINE / JeFF untitled split - update


Band: BONEMACHINE        
Title: Untitled (split release with JeFF)
Reason for update: The penny drops - the double sided cover for the tape version of this split is previously unrecorded!
Format: Released by Altsphere Productions (France) in both cassette tape and CDr format circa 2006, the tape version came with reversible cover art bearing the names of both bands...and one side is previously unseen on Honour and Darkness.

In the quiet moments that occasionally crop up within the crumbling walls of Castle Nazgul, it's been Nazgul's practice to update the Discogs website for Hugin's various bands.  This task takes a number of forms, from the mundane (adding photos to existing listings, correcting spelling mistakes or amending release details for accuracy) to the more interesting, such as adding new releases to their database.

In the case of the Bonemachine/JeFF split release featured today, Nazgul's task over the weekend just finished had been to add the tape version of the split to Discogs as only the CDr pressing was previously catalogued.  In so doing, it became apparent that Nazgul's original post reviewing the split back in 2009 had not picked up on the fact that the inlay is in fact reversible, with an alternative cover on the reverse that had not previously been pictured on the Blog.  

So once again steps forward this long-shelved tape, for another rare moment in the spotlight!

The reverse artwork is certainly striking, coming from the art school surely known as 'demonic lunatic with pencil' and being quite hard to fathom and describe in rational language.  One of those strange pieces, in fact, that's somehow quite disturbing in a nightmarish sort of way.  Not that the original artwork (or - let's be accurate here - the side of the cover that happened to be on shown when Nazgul originally received the tape!) is any less disturbing, mind you, as the reminder photograph below will attest.

I rather like the newly discovered side, though, and will let it have pride of place for the next 7 years until a reason for another update comes up.

And what of JeFF himself, better known to us as Jeff Maurer of Altsphere?  Well the good news is that the Altsphere webpage seems to be thriving, and certainly is still live in 2016. Of JeFF the project, however, the site biography shows no releases from that band since 2011 so it may well be on indefinite hiatus at this time?  Which would be a shame.  For as JeFF is described on those very pages;

"Insatiable and terrorist, Jeff is a character out of the ordinary in the local music scene. At the same time a violent, autistic person and an aesthete from a universe he built with neurotic pieces"

And you can't really follow that!

the originally featured side

Thursday, 23 June 2016

METAL FORTRESS


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Metal Fortress
Format: This tape was part of the very limited edition Angband release on Runenstein Records in 2010 (cat ref RR1). It comes with a colour inlay card and a stock cassette tape, which has Uruk Hai logos on the white side panels and is hand annotated 'A' and 'B' on either side.  This tape has not been released commercially in its own right.
Edition: 21 unnumbered copies (each part of an individually numbered box-set)

Track Listing:
Side A
01. Metal Fortress (Part I)
Side B
02. Metal Fortress (Part II)

It can't be said that Nazgul never lives up to his promises.  It may take a while, but he gets there ... eventually!

The original review of Runenstein's monstrous "Angband" box-set was published in October 2012, and here - very nearly four years later! - is the follow-up review that was promised of the "Metal Fortress" cassette!

To recap - after all, I wouldn't expect you to have retained this information at the forefront of your mind since 2012 - the Angband release was in a very limited edition of 21 copies, all of which came with a 4CD compendium of Uruk Hai demos and an additional cassette tape called "Metal Fortress". 5 of the 21 copies came in a snazzy metal box (Angband was known as the Metal Fortress in Tolkien's lore, so you can see how this all fits together thematically) with bonus goodies including a 3"CDr and, ummmm.... a plastic orc figure. Well, why not?

The review in October 2012 focused very heavily on the 4 discs in the main, with a quick look at the 3"CDr whilst the going was good.  The available time didn't really allow for a close look at the tape element of the set, however, with Nazgul dropping a note into proceedings that said, 'The Metal Fortress tape is an interesting medley piece, and one that would benefit from a review of its own in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for that one!'

*Ahem*  '...Coming months' ... 45 months ...  it's all much of a muchness really, isn't it!?

In truth, Nazgul himself had rather lost sight of this ancient promise until it came to drafting the epic post on the Metal Archives story, in which "Angband" was referenced once or twice.  With a nagging feeling that something wasn't quite finished about that story, Nazgul double checked the archive and discovered that his promised update had never materialised.  Coupled with a new found access to a tape deck (long story about the demise of the old Castle death deck, not worth relaying), it seemed like the stars had fortuitously aligned to prompt your humble scribe into action and to get this little saga rounded off.

Now of course the usual problem with 'medley pieces' is two fold.  Firstly, they are highly likely to be a combination of new and recycled material, knowing Hugin's penchant for revisiting past pieces of music and sprucing them up at a future point.  Your first problem therefore is trying to determine if you've heard individual passages before and deciding if they are new or a remixed version of an older piece.  Then, where bits do sound familiar, you've got the secondary problem of trying to remember where the hell you've heard them from in the epic back catalogue of demos and albums.  And in this regard, Nazgul normally flaps around like a fish out of water and resorts to vague statements and platitudes in the absence of concrete attribution of the music!

And today may therefore be no different!!

And this very well may have been the reason that the tape wasn't really commented on the first time around, come to think about it.  But let's 'man-up' and approach this matter head-on: a review you were promised so a review you'll bloody well get.  Of sorts.  After a fashion.

The running time of this tape is approximately 88 minutes and within it's analogue clutches it holds samples and edits from over 30 Uruk Hai demos and recordings.  I may have made that last figure up.  It isn't immediately invigorating in the way that many Uruk Hai ensemble pieces are as there is only a limited amount of rousing melodies, silky-smooth keyboard interludes and other such synthesizer noodling.  In fact, other than some nice piano right at the start, there's precious little soothing anything on this tape. 

Instead, we are witness to a resplendent crashing and banging with big, booming percussive bursts that seems well suited to a place rejoicing in the name 'Metal Fortress', and which come pouring from the speakers in echoing blasts.  There's a few subtle nuances of choral chanting and keyboards pitched in occasionally, but by and large the overall effect is that of sitting in a big metal box whilst a thunderstorm wreaks havoc overhead.

Interesting, in a masochistic sort of way....

Saturday, 18 June 2016

SCHICKSALSWINDE - update


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Schicksalswinde 
Reason for update: Acknowledging the reissue of this very limited edition tape, in a slightly less limited edition!
Format: A standard C60 style cassette tape with glossy colour cover, originally released in March 2008 by W.A.R. Productions (Austria) as part of the limited edition Moloch box-set "Traumklange und Klagelieder". This version came with a magnet showing the release name and Moloch runic logo.  A subsequent reissue sees this tape available in its own right, in a small limited run with the same cover artwork (but no magnet), hand-numbered in silver marker.
Edition: Total edition now known to be 50 copies, of which 41 are available singly in hand-numbered edition, whilst the first 9 copies within the box-set are not numbered
 
Track Listing:
Side A
01. B-Machina  *  Schicksalswinde  34.21
Side B
02. Moloch  *  Berkana  6.46
03. Moloch  *  By The Winds The Pain Give Born On The Way  3.44
04. Moloch  *  On Overgroved Paths  6.46

"Schicksalswinde" was only the fifth post and fourth review on a fledgling Honour and Darkness way back when in February 2009, when this Blog was in its infancy and had a total readership of 2: Nazgul, it's author, plus Hugin!  It's highly likely that the very existence of the tape has therefore slipped the mind of all but the most dedicated of Huginophiles, so how handy it is that there's good reason to revisit it in today's post and update you all on a new development courtesy of W.A.R. Productions.

Let's quickly recap on the original story and it start's with black metal horde Moloch, the Ukranian project masterminded by long-time friend and sometime musical collaborator of Hugin, Sergiy Fjordsson  (who also runs the excellent Depressive Illusions label).  Now, Moloch has been reviled and/or revered over the years (delete as applicable according to personal taste) not least for the sheer volume of its discography.  Fans of Uruk Hai will have sympathy for this plight, given the similarity of online comments relating to Hugin's prolific output.

In 2008 Moloch released the weighty "Traumklänge und Klagelieder" box-set, which comprised (deep breath): 9 black CDr's in ancient sackcloth with colour pro-printed inlays, 1 DVD in white plastic case with colour pro-printed cover, 1 Tape in plastic case with colour pro-printed cover, a 3" card-disc in plastic envelope with colour pro-printed cover, 2 black/white pro-printed inlay cards with track lists, magnetic cards in two versions and a few pro-printed logo postcards, all in a rigid black leather box packed with straw. 

The tape, naturally enough, was "Schicksalswinde", as can be seen in the picture of the entire contents below.  This featured 3 original Moloch songs on the b-side and a re-mix of the title track (also a Moloch song) by Hugin's B-Machina on side a.  For those keeping notes, the b-side tracks had previously featured on the 4-way split tape "Khvorost", this time featuring Uruk Hai and 2 other projects, released in 2007 in a limited edition of 50 copies.

Schicksalwinde, in the original box-set
"Traumklänge und Klagelieder" - literally translating as 'Dream Sounds & Lamentations' - was only released in an edition of 9 copies, and hence "Schicksalswinde" similarly was limited to just the 9 copies.  Nazgul was fortunate enough to have been able to buy a copy from Hugin at the time.  Whilst the rest of the contents were interesting Nazgul's ultimate goal - and no disrespect is intended to Moloch's offerings from this comment - was purely to get his hands on the B-Machina tape.  Which made it rather an expensive purchase at the time, all things considered.  At some latter point, in order to finance other collecting activity, the decision was made to sell the box but of course the dilemma was that if the tape only appeared in the box one couldn't simply keep it and sell the box as an incomplete set, as that would be a nonsense.  So - what to do?

Well, as it happens (and this is fairly dimly remembered from 8 or so years ago, bear in mind) Hugin solved the crisis by having a spare copy of the tape available.  Presuming a few extra had been done before the box-set limitation had been agreed, Nazgul thought this was jolly handy so happily accepted a copy, enabling him to off-load the Moloch box-set and still keep his collection complete.  A typical act of generosity by Hugin, and a perfect solution to the issue.

Which in light of the latest development now makes a lot of sense.  For what's come about recently is that there's been a reissue - or, more accurately I suppose, an enhanced issue - of the same tape making the edition up to 50 in total.  This seems like a good idea, when you think about it, as (a) it hardly devalues the originating box-set as such items always keep their value and the tape was a pretty incidental part of item in the grand scheme of things, and (b) there will be more than a few fans out there willing and interested to purchase a copy.

And so it is that "Schicksalswinde" has re-emerged.  Now, I have to say that I've normally got a fairly good nose for finding out about such things but this one came as a bit of a surprise to me and it was actually only when I saw a copy for sale on Discogs last month that I became aware of it.  That copy has been added to the collection, suffice to say, so I've now got #19/50 of the later edition to add to my unnumbered copy from the first edition (which, actually, is a bit of an anomaly when I think about it in that it can't have been one of the first strictly speaking - unless Hugin took it from an unsold box-set - so really it's arguably an unnumbered part of the second wave numbered edition and not from the first edition.  Still with me?  Over-thinking this one too much, methinks?!  Let's move on....)

So far so good then.  However, something else interesting has come to light as Nazgul has spotted there's now an entry on the Metal Archives page for "Schicksalswinde".  This entry suggests a much earlier release date for the tape, noting: "originally this tape was printed in 2008, limited edition 50 hand-numbered copies. 9 copies were included in "Traumklänge und Klagelieder" boxed set and the remaining 41 copies were hold-on. Now in 2010 label started to spread the remaining 41 copies of this tape."

It seems hard to believe that the tape has been more widely available since 2010 in this way, as I'm sure Hugin would have mentioned it, and more copies would have appeared for sale and/or resale?  That said, the Metal Archives page for the entry was created back in March 2010, which sort of adds credence to that timeline, although the same author edited it again in May 2016 so could have added the quoted details then, and not when originally posting the release?

The only logical thing to do was to check with Hugin himself, who said, "I just printed 50 covers - 9 I added to the Moloch box and the final 41 covers I released circa 2 years later, they are numbered too: 10-50"  

Clearly the supposedly all-seeing eye atop Castle Nazgul is in need of a bloody good polish!

Which then confirms what I was fairly sure about regarding my original tape - the one that came in the box, and which is pictured in the original 2009 post - which wasn't numbered in the way that the new copy is.  I'd would have mentioned it in the description in the original blog post too.  Anyway, this information does make the comment in the Metal Archives post about the entire edition being hand-numbered technically inaccurate.  


Amusingly enough, though, it does also mean that B-Machina are now one of the elite few of Hugin's bands to now appear on Metal Archives!

And in researching this post, something else interesting has happened!  It turns out that hidden away amongst the various other CDr's in the original box-set there were 2 other songs with a B-Machina connection, which I'd completely overlooked at the time!  Now, in Nazgul's defence, my vague recollection is that most of the inlays and track listings were not in English (that's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it) but the fact remains that there's been a missed opportunity to add something about these songs to Honour and Darkness.

So we can correct that superficially by acknowledging the existence of:
  • On the 3" CDr card-disc, there's an exclusive Moloch track 'Palast der Sturme' remixed by B-Machina; and
  • On CD3 'Unreleased tracks' there is a version of 'Berkana' remixed by B-Machina

However, not having the bloody box-set to hand any more means I can't immediately tell you anything more about the pair of them.  B'ah!

Original copy (unnumbered, left) with reissue (numbered in silver)
With unusual ineptness, I also have noticed the original Honour and Darkness post was inaccurate in that it only referenced the 3 Moloch songs on side b of the tape, and not the title track from side a in the 'track listing' information. Most odd, must have been an errant pink of Old Foghorn's Fart Blaster consumed during drafting that led to such a monumental error?  The original review of these tracks concluded that:

"All three tracks are, in essence, capturing elements in Mother Nature in an ambient soundtrack. It's rather difficult to distinguish between the three too, as they run together as you listen to the music, but the outset of the tape is heavily dominated by a blustery wind, over which is lightly phrased some acoustic and string elements. Imagine yourself out in the woods at night, wind swirling around your ears and the faint sounds of distant music coming from out the darkness between the trees, and you're there really!

Very ambient, not overly memorable, but if you're of a mind and temperament to enjoy a heavily wind-based ambient experience (and I know I could have phrased that a little better, but you get my meaning I'm sure) then this particular 40 minutes or so could be right up your avenue."


Heavily wind-based ambient? Definitely the work of that pint of Fart Blaster, I reckon?!

And what of the 34 minute title track you may ask, having been left in limbo for 7 years for any news of that song: well,  Well, in actual fact, it too is a blast of windy ambience with a solitary keyboard to keep a melody in the background for the most part, so perhaps the original review - as confused as it may appear to be - had actually hit the nail on the head.  

Listening to it again with the benefit of hindsight it is very reminiscent of an early Hrefnesholt track, and you can picture yourself sitting on the side of a Welsh mountain looking down the valley on a windy day with this as your ideal soundtrack.

Oh - did Nazgul ever explain that "Schicksalswinde" translates broadly as 'Winds of Fate'? Well, it does, and dovetails nicely within the broad theme of the host box-set itself. 

Original tape release with magnet (left) alongside reissue

Thursday, 16 June 2016

ELVES & ORCS


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Elves & Orcs
Format: Limited edition CDr released on Hugin's own W.A.R. Productions label (Austria) in 2012, cat ref WAR076.  The disc is sandwiched between two glossy front and rear A5 panels, and there are 2 W.A.R. Productions business cards and 20 photographs inserted in the set.
Edition: 11 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:
01. Elbenmacht  15:40  
02. Orc Part 1  30:19  
03. Orc Part 2  28:58  

Now here's a jolly thing!  It ticks most of the boxes for die-hard collectors like you and I, and presents some interesting music and content to boot.  What's not to like?!

It's something of a throw-back to the days of very limited edition releases, and the paucity of 11 copies being released has only added to the mystery and myth about this particular release.  I've never seen one for sale, and imagine that all 11 were earmarked for particular collections when the idea to put this package together sprang into Hugin's ever-fevered imagination.

Whilst none of the songs are ultimately unique to this release (something of a blessing to the collecting community, given the tiny edition number) they derive from interesting places and - in the case of 'Elbenmacht' - did appear here first ahead of a wider release.

Let's quickly sum up the history of the tracks, then.  Slightly confusingly, the Elves song 'Elbenmacht' does not derive from the tape demo of the same name, which was reviewed back in 2009. Instead, it is from the Uruk Hai / Lousberg split CDr which dates from 2013, the year after "Elves & Orcs" was released.

The two-part "Orc" release, on the other hand, was originally a tape-only release on the Hexenreich label from August 2012 - cunningly called "Orc" - which featured re-mixed "Black Blood..." demo tracks.  You may recall from that original Honour and Darkness review both parts of the song were, to quote the label, an "orcish journey through dark worlds where Orcs rule the night!"  

The songs were based on two working tracks for the "Black Blood..." album and Hugin's logic for the reissue was simply that he thought they would sound great as a re-mix two years down the line. And, by George, he's not wrong!


Completing the set are twenty (intentionally) grainy black and white photos of snowy forest scenes, and Hugin himself, and together with the glossy front and back cover panels they make for a strong and impressive package. The pictures bear the date 24 October 2012 on the reverse side, thus helping us date the piece fairly accurately.  A wonderful set of images they are too, really packed with grim vibe and positively oozing atmosphere.

With a limited edition of only 11 copies out there - this one is #1 of the set - it's highly unlikely that any are going to come onto the market any time soon.  So if you do see one, waste no time in picking it up....  

Thursday, 9 June 2016

THE BATTLE YEARS


Band: URUK HAI
Title: The Battle Years
Format: Bespoke 2-disc set put together by Hugin for a lucky fan.  Contains a music CD (tracks in MP3 format) with a compendium of past albums, together with a video CD with promotional Uruk Hai video clips.  Both discs housed in black wallets with custom colour artwork, in a transparent and stickered sleeve.  The music disc also contains an image of each album or demo cover. There is a separate black envelope which contains a hand-written card stating the limitation of the item. The package also contains a number of freebies, including Uruk Hai stickers, a business card and a guitar pick.  No catalogue references, released circa 2012.
Edition: 1 single copy

Contents:
Music CD
Note: the listing for the audio CD lists the albums and demos therein, not individual song titles.  It also shows the year and format of release from where the music is taken (MC = tape, DoMC = double tape, CD, CDr, MCD = mini-CD, and Vinyl)
01. 1000 Lightning Strikes (CDr and MC, 2003)
02. A Night In The Forest (CD, 2004)
03. Across The Misty Mountains (CD, 2007)
04. Ash Nazg (MC, 2010)
05. Barbarians (CD, 2003)
06. Black Blood, White Hand (CD, 2010)
07. Blutreich (CDr and MC, 2006)
08. Cirith Ungol (CD, 2011)
09. Cirith Ungol rough mix (MC, 2010)
10. Darkness Part III (MC, 2010)
11. Dragons Of War (CD, 2005)
12. Elbentanz (CDr, 2002)
13. Elbentraum (MC, 2009)
14. Elves And Men (MCD, 2011)
15. Emyn Muil (CD, 2011)
16. Felagund (MC, 2011)
17. Gil-galad (DoMCD, 2011)
18. In Durin's Halls (CD, 2010)
19. Iron Age (LP, 2010)
20. Lebensende: Winter (MC, 2009)
21. Lord Of The Rings (MC, 2010)
22. Lost Songs From Middle Earth (CD, 2007)
23. Lothlorien (CD, 2006)
24. Middle Earth, Part I (MC, 2010)
25. Middle Earth, Part II (MC, 2010)
26. Nargothrond (DoMCD, 2011)
27. Natt Skogen Jubileum (MC, 2011)
28. Northern Lights (CD, 2005)
29. Orkstahl (DoCDr, 2009)
30. Quenta Silmarillion (CDr, 2004)
31. Quenta Silmarillion re-mastered (MC, 2009)
32. Songs From The Woods re-release (MC, 2011)
33. Spirits (From Ancient Worlds) (MC, 2011)
34. Spirits (From The Past) (MC, 2011)
35. The Barbarian (MC, 2010)
36. The Battle (CD, 2005)
37. The Nazgul (MC, 2010)
38. Upon The Elysian Fields (DoCDR, 2009)
39. War Poems (CD, 2006)
40. Wrath Of The Ring (MC, 2010)

Video CD
V1. Untitled
V2. Lebensende:Winter
V3. Ravens Empire
V4. Tales From The Misty Mountains
V5. Enter Mordor
V6. Cirith Ungol
V7. Conan The Barbarian
V8. 2012 promo clip for what became the "And All The Magic And Might He Brought" album

I told you in the last post that you'd like this latest one - tell me I'm wrong?!

Rumours abounded years ago of an Uruk Hai 40CD compilation that would be housed in a warrior's armoured helmet.  Whilst rumours continue that such a physical item may indeed exist (possibly with a former Bonemachine member, I seem to recall) it certainly never made it to commercial release nor does Nazgul have a copy.

What Nazgul does have though, is this astounding collection of 40 albums and demos, plus a further 8 promotional videos, put together by Hugin for one very lucky fan ... who in time sold it to another even luckier fan: yours truly!

It really is a remarkable collection of exclusively Uruk Hai releases from the 2002-2011 period, though is not a complete body of work as you will have noted as it doesn't include, for instance, the full complement of parts for either of the "Middle Earth" or "Darkness" tape series.  Quite frankly though you'd be nit-picking if you really wanted any more, and I suspect it was more a factor of available disc space than a lack of effort that led to the final running order detailed above.

For those interested, this equates to 181 individual Uruk Hai songs on one disc, in compressed format obviously!

It really is a wondrous thing, and a look into the dates on the discs identifies that the music was all compiled on 13 July 2011 whilst the video disc was put together a little later, on 13 January 2012, hence the presumed 2012 issue date.  You might be wondering quite why the original owner decided to let such a magnificent item go after the care and love that Hugin had put into crafting all the artwork, even down to the hand-decorated audio disc, and it's a baffling question isn't it.  

Would you have sold it?  Not me, that's for certain!


Anyhow, it's a real boon to the Castle collection and as it's been a bit of a lean period in getting regular posts up on Honour and Darkness I thought you'd enjoy seeing it.

The videos are very interesting, and at least two of them - 'Conan The Barbarian' and the 2012 promo clip I think were new even to Nazgul when I first viewed them, and I've seen an awful lot of output from W.A.R. Productions over the years.

Will we ever see its like again ... well, I'd put nothing past a man who has been known to decorate CD covers with bits of broken records and tape cases with computer motherboards, but don't hold your breath as I imagine the time and effort involved must be considerable.  But it's nice to imagine that lurking as yet unseen in the world at large could be other treasures still to be discovered....

Monday, 6 June 2016

ERZSEBET BATHORI: KAPITAL 2 (promo) - update


Band: ELISABETHA
Title:  Erzsebet Bathori - Kapital 2
Format: Double CDr disc housed in a plastic wallet with typed lyric sheets.  This was a promotional item originally issued by Uwe Backer circa 2002-2003
Edition: Still presumed to be 1 sole copy
Reason for update: Look what's arrived at Castle Nazgul...

Track Listing:  
CDr1  
01. Erzsebet Bathori - Kapitel 2: Eine Mär Aus Fleisch  22.25
CDr2  
02. Wenn Docn Der Morgen  8.31
03. Der Vampyr  8.29

When Nazgul originally broke the story that this rather unusual Elisabetha promotional CDr existed, it was back in October 2014 and the item resided in the collection of a Portuguese reader who kindly shared pictures of his rare find with Honour and Darkness.

The story behind that post revealed that the item had been put together by Uwe Backer  (aka Elisabetha's own Blutgraf Gha'gsheblah) in the period around 2002-2003 when the band were out 'shopping' for a label to issue this on vinyl, as part two of a planned trilogy.

As far as is known, there's only 1 copy of this particular item (or, more accurately, only 1 copy known to exist at this present time) and since the October 2014 post no other copies have come to light anywhere else.  And now, through the tremendous gravitational pull that Castle Nazgul exerts on the world of Hugin memorabilia, this collectible piece has come home to roost in the collection in Nazgul's library.  Rather splendid it looks there, too, and equally splendid is Fernando over in Portugal, who kindly let me acquire it from him for the purpose of archiving it for posterity.

So to celebrate the occasion a small update to the original post seems merited, adding some pictures of my own and filling in details such as track durations, etc.

Yesterday was Nazgul's birthday (feel free to crack open a retrospective beer to mark this momentous event) so by way of celebration I plan to unearth another collectible from the Library shelves later this week, also a one-off item and never before seen online before despite having been in the collection for a good few years now.  Stay tuned - you'll like this one...!