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....

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